CAHOKIA MOUNDS STATE HISTORIC SITE Est. 1982 | Illinois
Why it’s UNESCO-worthy: Considered America’s first city, the largest prehistoric Native American settlement north of Mexico once covered 3,500 acres and numbered 10,000 to 20,000 residents. Today, 80 out of 120 earthen mounds dating from A.D. 1050 to 1200 still exist, including the 100-foot-tall Monks Mound, the largest earthwork in North America and the only mound visitors can climb. How to reach it: The site is a few miles from Collinsville, Ill., eight miles east of downtown St. Louis. Best time to visit: Weekdays in June and July, when archaeologists are up to their elbows in excavations. Insider tip: For independent and interactive exploration, rent an iPod Touch ($3 at the gift shop) and time travel back to the Mississippian civilization.
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