15 of the Best Places in the U.S. to Travel Back in Time
Learning about history can take place outside of the shushed halls of a traditional museum. Instead of gazing at dusty artifacts behind glass, immerse yourself in a different era by heading to some of the best living-history exhibits, festivals, nostalgic destinations, and events across the country.
We pored over travel sites and visitor reviews, and whether you want to experience traditional colonial crafts or a Wild West gunfight, here are 15 of the best places in the U.S. to travel back in time.
Location: New Mexico
What to do: Explore the adobe buildings of the Pueblo tribe in one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Sights include ancient homes, ceremonial sites, archaeological remains, and the ruins of a mission constructed after Spanish explorers discovered the community.
Cost: $16 for adults; $14 for students 11 and up and seniors 65 and up
Camlann Medieval Village
Location: Carnation, Washington
Era: 1300s (medieval England)
What to do: Transport yourself to a rural English village from 1376, exploring shops, a cider mill, a forge, and a knightly battlefield. Stuff yourself while enjoying a medieval show at Bors Hede Inne, or visit during special feasts and festivals for concerts, performers, and crafts.
Cost: Starting at $5
Texas Renaissance Festival
Location: Todd Mission, Texas
Era: 1500s (Tudor England)
What to do:The nation’s largest Renaissance fair is held on weekends in October and November on 55 acres northwest of Houston. Enjoy 200 daily performances, browse 400 shops, and gorge on massive turkey legs and other “ye olde” classics.
Cost: $32 for ages 13 and up; $17 for ages 5 to 12
Castillo De San Marcos
Location: St. Augustine, Florida
What to do: In the nation’s oldest city, don’t miss Castillo de San Marcos, constructed by the Spanish when Florida was part of their empire. Re-enactors are on hand to give historical weapons demonstrations, firing cannons and muskets every weekend.
Cost: $15 for ages 16 and up
Maritime Museum of San Diego
Location: San Diego
What to do: Permanent exhibits teach visitors the history of how sailors negotiated the high seas. For an extra fee, you can sail aboard explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s San Salvador, a PCF-816 Swift Boat, or a replica Gold Rush-era tall ship.
Cost: Starting at $18 for ages 18 and up; $13 for ages 13 to 17 and seniors 62 and up; $8 for ages 3 to 12
Location: Plymouth, Massachusetts
What to do: Stroll around Plymouth’s re-created English village, engaging with costumed interpreters as they live and work as Pilgrims did in the 17th century. More expensive tickets allow a visit to the Plimoth Grist Mill, constructed in 1636, for everything you could ever want to know about corn grinding.
Cost: Starting at $30 for ages 13 and up; $28 for seniors 62 and up; $18 for ages 5 to 12
Location: Dearborn, Michigan
What to do: Discover firsthand how big innovators of the past, including Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers, lived and plied their trade. Historic districts re-create homes, workshops, government buildings, and more. You can even hop on a Model T for a ride.
Cost: $28 for ages 12 and up; $25.25 for seniors 62 and up; $21 for ages 3 to 11
Mission San Luis
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Era: Early 1700s
What to do: In Mission San Luis, the Apalachee tribe and Spanish settlers lived together, and this open-air museum allows visitors to explore both aspects of the village. Highlights include an Apalachee Council House, a Franciscan church, a fort, and more.
Cost: $5 for ages 18 and up; $3 for seniors 65 and up; $2 for ages 6 to 17
Location: Ticonderoga, New York
What to do: Highlights include guided tours of the fort, musket and cannon firings, hands-on horticulture demonstrations in the garden, and soldiers’ life programs on tailoring, shoe-making, and the like.
Cost: Starting at $24 for ages 13 and up; $22 for seniors; and $12 for ages 5 to 12
Williamsburg Historic Area
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
What to do: Explore Williamsburg’s historic area on foot, stopping to chat with costumed townspeople and peeking into colonial homes and trade shops. Pricier tickets include tours of the Capitol and the sprawling Governor’s Palace.
Cost: Starting at $41 for ages 13 and up; $20.49 for ages 6 to 12
Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
What to do: Boston is jam-packed with historical sites, but visitors who want to really immerse themselves should check out the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, where they can rub elbows with costumed colonial interpreters and, of course, dump some “tea” overboard.
Cost: Starting at $29.95 for ages 13 and up; $21.95 for ages 4 to 12
Living History Farms
Location: Urbandale, Iowa
What to do: Learn how Iowa became one of the most fertile agricultural areas of the country by exploring three eras of farms: a 1700 Ioway Indian farm, an 1850 pioneer farm, and a 1900 horse-powered farm, as well as an 1875 town.
Cost: $16 for ages 13 and up; $15 for military and seniors 60 and up; $9.50 for ages 2 to 12
El Rancho De Las Golondrinas
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
What to do: This picturesque living history museum includes original colonial buildings that have been reconstructed. Craftspeople showcase traditional New Mexican weaving and colcha embroidery on most days, and several festivals take over the 200-acre grounds throughout the year to celebrate local food, wine, and history.
Cost: $6 for ages 19 and up; $4 for ages 13 to 18 and seniors 62 and older (higher prices for festivals)
Location: Mackinac Island, Michigan
Era: Late 1700s-1800s
What to do: Michigan’s oldest building features daily rifle and cannon firings, as well as special exhibits that provide an overview of this strategically important site. Down the hill, the historic Mackinac city center also seems suspended in time — cars aren’t even allowed on the island.
Cost: $13.50 for ages 13 and up; $7.75 for ages 5 to 12
Location: New York City
What to do: The Tenement Museum is more than dusty exhibits. Visitors can tour restored apartments, meet residents from three families and three time periods, and explore the Lower East Side as it might have been viewed by new immigrants.
Cost: Starting at $27 for adults; $22 for kids 6-17, college students and seniors (65 and older)