- Living history museums like the Boston Tea Party Museum and Old Cowtown in Kansas recreate historic events and ways of life.
- Neighborhoods with historic architecture include Miami’s Art Deco District and Philadelphia’s Old City.
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If you’ve ever wished that you could travel back in time and see what life was like hundreds of years ago, it’s not as impossible as you might think.
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Tombstone was founded in 1887 and became a mining town with a peak population between 7,000 and 9,000 people. The population dropped to around 150 people by the 1930s.
The Crystal Palace Saloon in Tombstone remains an authentic portrait of the Wild West with copper ceilings and an ornate wooden bar. Other original buildings still have bullet holes from gunfights, which are reenacted daily.
The greater Williamsburg area contains three iconic sites of American history. Jamestown was the first English colony established in 1607. Yorktown Battlefield is where America won its independence in 1781 when the British forces surrendered. And Colonial Williamsburg itself is now a living history museum where interpreters in period costume show visitors what the town was like in the 17th century.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War when southern Confederate troops were defeated by the Union army in July 1863. President Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address in November that same year at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg where the battle was fought.
The battle comes to life with Civil War reenactments in modern-day Gettysburg. There have even been efforts to bury power lines at the Civil War battlefield to restore it to the way it looked in 1863.
Old City — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously inhabited street in the US. Set in Philadelphia’s Old City, it still has 32 historic houses and cobblestones that are over 300 years old, plus a gift shop and museum that offers tours.
Connor Prairie — Fishers, Indiana
Connor Prairie is a living history museum that demonstrates what life was like in Indiana in the 1800s with workshops and reenactments in period costume. Visitors can also tour William Conner House, one of the first brick homes built in Indiana.
Garden District — New Orleans, Louisiana
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New Orleans’ Garden District contains streets lined with 19th-century mansions, Victorian-style homes, colorful cottages, and its famous oak trees. The area remains a cultural hub in Uptown New Orleans with restaurants, shops, and carriage rides.
Santa Fe Historic District, New Mexico
Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the US. The 400-year-old plaza in its historic district is surrounded by buildings of varying architectural categories including Spanish-Pueblo, Territorial, and 19th-century styles. The plaza also hosts concerts, a traditional Spanish market, and other attractions.
King William District — San Antonio, Texas
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The land comprising the modern-day King William Historic District was owned by Mission San Antonio de Valero, also known as The Alamo, in the 1790s. It was then sold and settled by German immigrants in the 1860s. Today, it’s the oldest historic district in Texas, full of mansions, Victorian homes, and cottages.
Art Deco District — Miami, Florida
Miami’s Art Deco District transports visitors back to the 1930s with over 800 authentic Art Deco buildings. One highlight is the Colony Hotel designed by Henry Hohauser in 1935, one of the earliest examples of Tropical Art Deco.
Castillo de San Marcos — St. Augustine, Florida
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According to many historians, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the US, having been established by the Spanish in 1565. The fort of Castillo de San Marcos holds historical weapon demonstrations with the Spanish colonial canons set along the water every weekend.
Boston Tea Party Museum — Boston, Massachusetts
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Tourists at the Boston Tea Party Museum can get in on the action with interactive tours led by 18th-century hosts, tagging along to colonial town meetings and reenacting the iconic Boston Tea Party protest of 1773 on ships in the Boston Harbor.
Old Cowtown — Wichita, Kansas
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Cowtown is an appropriately-named living history museum set in an old cattle town with 54 historic and recreated buildings and 10,000 artifacts from its heyday, between 1865 and 1880. Historical interpreters also lead wagon rides, reenact gun fights, and demonstrate blacksmith skills.
- Read more:
- Disappointing photos that show what US historical sites look like in real life
- The oldest thing you can actually visit in every state
- THEN AND NOW: What 10 famous US landmarks looked like when they were first built
- THEN AND NOW: Photos of 10 abandoned US resorts that were once popular summer hotspots