If you want to see what life was like in the years that Williamsburg served as the capital of Virginia (1699 to 1780), spend a day or two in Colonial Williamsburg. The 301-acre site is filled with historic buildings, homes and shops, where you can watch performers and craftsman performing jobs as they were performed hundreds of years ago.
The Black Creek Pioneer Village transports visitors back to the early days of Toronto during the 1800s. Some 40 historic buildings furnished with antique artifacts and furniture are staffed by interpreters in period dress from 19th-century rural Ontario. The village is also the site of the Black Creek Historic Brewery, a replica of an 1860 brewery that's the only of its kind in North America.
The 5.5-acre Kona Coffee Living History Farm is the only historic coffee plantation in the country and a great place to learn about the history of Hawaii's Japanese immigrants from 1920 to 1945. The site includes the original 1913 farm house, a traditional Japanese bathhouse, a coffee mill and a traditional drying platform. Historical interpreters demonstrate the daily tasks of early coffee farmers, bringing the farm to life.
Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts is one of the largest and oldest living history museums in the United States and a favorite gathering place for Revolutionary War re-enactors. The historical village portrays life from 1790 to 1840 with 40 original buildings, including a school house, bank, sawmill and blacksmith.
In the heart of Kentucky Bluegrass Country sits the village of Pleasant Hill. This outdoor living history museum showcases the culture and heritage of a historic Shaker village, with 14 original buildings, Shaker music performers and craftspeople demonstrating traditional Shaker crafts, like broom making, woodworking, weaving and spinning.
Visiting Plimoth Plantation is like walking through a 17th-century village where the Pilgrims once set up a maritime community upon arriving from England. Highlights include the Plimoth Gristmill, a working, water-powered mill, and the restored Mayflower II, a recreation of a 17th-century sailing vessel.
At New Mexico's Acoma Pueblo, history doesn't so much come to life as it says alive through a Federally recognized tribe who has managed to preserve its architecture, family life and religious traditions for hundreds of years. Staff of the Sky City Cultural Center offer tours of the historic pueblo perched atop a 367-foot sandstone mesa.
If you've ever wondered what it must have been like to live in the Wild West, pay a visit to Tombstone, AZ. The Town Too Tough to Die allows families to sip sarsaparilla while listening to Jimmy Apel, the Singing Cowboy of Tombstone or watching the famous gunfight at the OK Corral. Here, Wyatt Earp still patrols the same streets where you can ride a traditional horse-drawn stagecoach.
If you want to learn about life as a viking – or experience a taste of it firsthand – you'll have to cross the Pond to the Jorvik Viking Centre in Yorkshire. Located on the same ground where the viking town of Jorvik stood more than 1,000 years ago, Jorvik Viking Centre comes complete with pigsties and a fish market.
Located in the town of Mystic, Connecticut, the Mystic Seaport is an open air maritime museum that brings to life a 19th-century maritime village. More than 30 trade shops occupy the historic buildings of the village, where you can ride a horse-drawn carriage or learn how to set the sails on a square rigged ship.
Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, located just a few miles south of Springfield, is a recreation of Abraham Lincoln's homestead during the 1830s, before he became President of the United States. Explore the 23 historic and renovated log cabins and experience what daily life was like for Abe during his young adult years.