Published: May 2016
Travel Back in Time at These Five Living History Sites in the South  

Thanks to a diverse range of living history sites in the South, a time machine is unnecessary to experience the past.

All you needed is a free half-day or day.

Here are five places you'll enjoy going back in time.

vermilionvillelafayettela2Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park
Lafayette, La.

Established in 1990 by the Bayou Vermilionville District, Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park in Lafayette, La., is a living history museum/park highlighting the Acadian, Native American and Creole culture from 1765 - 1890. It is said to be one of the world's largest physical representations of an early Acadian settlement.

Situated on 23-acres along the banks of Bayou Vermilion, the self-guided walking tour introduces you to 19 attractions, seven which arevermilionvillelafayettela restored original homes. Some have local artisans, such as cotton spinners, carvers, musicians and trapper, demonstrating crafts from those times and sharing stories about their heritage.

Further your experience by taking a boat tour of Bayou Vermilion, attending a Cajun jam session or participating in any of the other monthly events. Complete your experience with lunch at La Cuisine de Maman and enjoy crawfish etouffee and bread pudding.

Biblical History Center
LaGrange, Ga.

biblicalcenterlagrangegaThe Biblical History Center (former Explorations in Antiquity Center) in LaGrange, Ga., was founded by Dr. James Fleming, whose background includes archaeologist, lecturer and professor. He opened the center in 2005 so people could "understand the Bible and the ancient world in its historical and cultural context" in a non-denominational format.

Fleming uses precise replicas, demonstrations and research to educate guests about life in the village, the life of the shepherd and life of the farmer. There's also a market street and a Roman theater.

The tour at the Biblical History Center includes a four-course biblical biblicalcenterlagrange2meal in a setting that reflects around 2,000 years ago. Learn about ancient meal practices as you are served foods that represent what would have been served during the period.

Don't miss visiting the Biblical Life Artifacts Gallery. Displaying 250 biblical period artifacts on permanent loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority, you can view such items as funeral dowry artifacts and two of the eight oldest board games in the world.

Mission San Luis
Tallahassee, Fla.

MissionSanLuisTallahasseeFlaLocated a few miles west of Florida's state capitol and downtown Tallahassee sits Mission San Luis. Built by the Apalachee Indians and at their request, Spanish friars, soldiers and civilians, it served as the principal village of the Apalachee Indians and the site of Spanish Florida's westernmost military, religious and administrative headquarters from 1656-1704. In 1704, the residents destroyed the Mission so that it would not fall into the hands of their enemies, most notably - the English.

Three centuries later, Mission San Luis is the only one out of over 100 Spanish colonial missions that existed in Florida to be reconstructed and opened to the public.

Based on actual archeology, view and tour structures like The Council House, which stands over fiveMissionSanLuisTallahasseeFla2 feet high and 125-feet in diameter, and is the largest known historic period Indian building in the Southeast, the Spanish Village that includes a two-room Spanish house and El Castillo de San Luis, the military fort. Inside the structures and on the grounds are costumed docents. You are encouraged to ask them questions about their daily lives and tasks on the Mission.

Inside the Visitor Center is the exhibit gallery filled with artifacts unearthed on-site during digs as well as donated period-related artifacts.

Old Salem Museum and Gardens
Winston-Salem, N.C.

OldSalemWinstonSalemNCWatch as with period-costumed interpreters highlight 18th to 19th-century Moravian traditions on the ground of Old Salem Museum and Gardens in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Said to be one of America's most well-documented attractions, thanks in part to the Moravians careful note and journal keeping, Old Salem was established in 1950 by a group of forward-thinking volunteers who sought a way to preserve and restore the town of Salem for future generations. As it grew, a new name was adopted in 2005 to reflect the overall experience - Old Salem Museum and Gardens that consist of three distinctive museums.

At the Historic Town of Salem, take in such structures as the Single OldSalemWinstonSalemNC2Brothers' House (1769/1786), Miksch Gardens and House (1771) and the Market-Fire Engine House (1803). Learn more about the gardening techniques and tools Moravians used in The Gardens at Old Salem. The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) highlights a varied and vast collection of early American South decorative arts from 1660-1860.

Don't leave without visiting Winkler Bakery and purchasing a Moravian sugar cake or Moravian cookies. If time permits, stop at Salem Tavern Museum (1784) where George Washington stayed in 1791.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
Harrodsburg, Ky.

ShakerVillageHarrodsburgKyBest known for their architecture, craftsmanship and spirituality, you can discover the legacy of the Shakers at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Ky.

In the early 1800s, Shaker missionaries made their way to central Kentucky and settled a permanent community on a plateau just beyond the Kentucky River and named it Pleasant Hill. In the 1830s, around 500 people lived in the community on nearly 4,000 acres. Pleasant Hill was the third largest Shaker community in the country between 1805 and 1910. However, as the country moved forward, the Shakers community began to fade and in 1923, the last Shaker died, leaving a shell of Pleasant Hill.

About 40 years later, a preservation group was formed to restore 34 of the over 260 original buildings,ShakerVillageHarrodsburgKy2 built between 1809-1875, and saved 3,000-acres of farmland. It's the country's largest private collection of original 19th-century buildings. Today, you can enjoy talks, stories, demonstrations, hands-on activities and more going on in The Historic Centre, The Farm and The Preserve.

Don't miss taking a ride on the Dixie Belle paddle wheeler that'll transport you along the Kentucky River Palisades.

Be sure to check out the daily activities and monthly events, and don't forget to try the baked Kentucky country ham and Shaker lemon pie at The Trustees' Table restaurant.

photos personal collection

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