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Manassas, Va.
Manassas, Va. / Dylan Moore, The Potomac News/AP

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Your family's trip to Civil War sites will go much better if you do some planning. Here are some tips that will help all of you get the most out of your visits:

Get the children excited. Let them start exploring the Civil War sites before you even hit the road. Check out civilwaranimated.com to preview the battlefields, hear a narration and meet the generals.

Find your family ties. Your children will love searching for their great-grandfather on civilwar.nps.gov. The website allows visitors to find their ancestors who fought as soldiers or sailors in the Civil War.

Build memories. Pick up a national parks passport at any visitors center. Each battle site has its own commemorative stamp children can collect to remember their adventures.

Avoid the wait. Especially if you're planning on hitting more than one park this summer, look into getting a National Park Pass. Not only will the pass save you money on entrance fees, but it also gets you in the shorter lines at the entrance station.

Plan ahead. When mapping out your trip, give yourself enough time to explore. Some sites can be seen in a day, but others may require more time. Call the visitors center before you go to see what it recommends.

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