Reconstruction of wooden fort in the Historic Jamestowne Settlement in Virginia.

© Steve Heap/Shutterstock

Historic Jamestowne

Top choice in Virginia

Run by the NPS, this fascinating place is the original Jamestown site, established in 1607 and home of the first permanent English settlement in North America. The settlement's ruins were rediscovered in 1994; visitors can take a free guided tour of the excavations (daily 11am, also 2pm on weekends and between April and September). On arrival, view the orientation film and then head to the Archaearium, an archaeology museum with more than 4000 artifacts and a 'World of Pocahontas, Unearthed' exhibit.

Ask one of the docents to share the real story – not the Disney version – of the relationship between Pocahontas and John White, a British soldier and explorer who was the leader of the Virginia Colony based in Jamestown from 1608 to 1609 and was the first English explorer to map the Chesapeake Bay area. The plaque on White's statue here in the site isn't complimentary, calling him 'an arrogant and boastful man.'

Entry is discounted to $10 for visitors with a ticket receipt for Yorktown Battlefield and to $5 if you have a National Parks pass. There's a cafe on-site.

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