AMERICA'S HISTORIC TOWNS & OLDEST PLACES
Although America is nearly 250 years old (born in 1776) some towns date further back to the colonial days before America was established. If you are looking to visit some of America's most historic towns we have you covered. Not only have we visited some of these incredible places but we can help you plan your own trip. We are proud to announce that we have partnered up with both HotelsOne.com and Viator.com as a paid affiliate to offer you tickets to the most popular events, tours and hotels in all of these historic towns. Some of these towns listed below are not the oldest in the country (see our oldest towns page) but they are host to some of the most important events in American history and are a must visit for your travel bucket list! To determine the best spots in America for history buffs, we considered history, preserved landmarks, historical markers, notable monuments, town friendliness and interesting tours.
Cape May (estimated population of 3,450) is a city and seaside resort at the tip of southern New Jersey’s Cape May Peninsula. It’s known for its grand Victorian houses such as the Emlen Physick Estate, now a museum with a preserved interior from the era. Shops and restaurants line the Washington Street Mall, 3 pedestrianized blocks of Washington Street. The Cape May Lighthouse provides views across the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Cape May is America's oldest seaside resort. It has welcomed visitors for generations with its hospitality and Victorian charm. Cape May boasts highly rated beaches (second in the nation and ninth in the world by TripAdvisor), fine dining, lodging and shopping, and is even a top worldwide destination for bird-watching.
Cooperstown (estimated population of 1,765) is a village in central New York State, at the southern tip of Otsego Lake. A must-visit for lovers of America's pastime. It’s known for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum with its interactive exhibits, artifacts and Plaque Gallery. Also home to the historic Double Day baseball field as well as the very popular Dreams Park. Cooperstown is not just for baseball lovers. You can visit The Farmers’ Museum that depicts 19th-century farm life, and includes craft demonstrations and a hand-carved carousel. The Fenimore Art Museum features American fine art and folk art plus a garden with lake views. There is also the oldest covered bridge in America, the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard, the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad and so much more. Architectural Digest named Cooperstown one of 'The 25 Best Small Towns in America'.
Gettysburg (estimated population of 7,720 ) is a borough and town in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Gettysburg is steeped in the history of the Civil War. In 1761, one of these early settlers, Samuel Gettys, established a tavern in the area. Just twenty-five years later, his son James had laid out a town of 210 lots with a central town square on the land surrounding the tavern. It’s known for Gettysburg National Battlefield, site of a turning point in the Civil War, now part of Gettysburg National Military Park. The park also includes the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center, displaying Civil War artifacts, and Gettysburg National Cemetery, where a memorial marks the site of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address. Gettysburg is one of the USA's most iconic historic destinations. Smithsonian Magazine named Gettysburg America's best small town to visit.
New Hope (estimated population of 2,527 ) is a town in eastern Pennsylvania. It lies on rolling hills that climb from the west bank of the Delaware River about thirty-five miles north of Philadelphia. The decor of Parry Mansion reflects the different generations who lived there from the late 18th century onward. Nearby, Cintra is a distinctive 1800s mansion. New Hope Arts Center exhibits works by regional artists. Vintage trains run along the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad to nearby Lahaska. Delaware Canal State Park features an extended trail along the Delaware River. New Hope won second place in a nationwide competition for the best small town in the Northeast. The Best Small Town in the Northeast competition was part of USA Today's "10 Best" contest series. More than one hundred buildings in New Hope are over one hundred year old and many of the original buildings from the mid-1700’s have been preserved. Today, New Hope has the image of a tourist town with a heritage profound in its roots in theater, art and the antiques trade.
Salem (estimated population of 43,560) is a city on the north coast of Massachusetts above Boston. It's famous for its 1692 witch trials, during which several locals were executed for allegedly practicing witchcraft. Landmarks from this episode include the Witch House, the former home of a trial judge. Founded by Roger Conant and a group of immigrants from Cape Ann. The settlement was first titled Naumkeag, but the settlers preferred to call it Salem, derived from the Hebrew word for peace.The Peabody Essex Museum has a massive collection of global art and artifacts, including a rebuilt Qing-era Chinese house. Salem is often listed as a top spot for Halloween season getaways. Salem is one of Massachusetts’ best destinations for families, couples, domestic and international travelers who are seeking an authentic New England experience, cultural enrichment, American history, fine dining, unique shopping and fun. The classic Halloween hit Hocus Pocus was filmed at numerous locations here in Salem.
Sleepy Hollow (estimated population of 10,060) is a village in New York State’s Hudson Valley. It’s known as the setting of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” The author is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Kykuit, the Rockefeller family’s opulent hilltop estate, has gardens with 20th-century sculptures. Northeast, vast Rockefeller State Park Preserve includes a network of carriage roads traversing woodlands, fields and streams. Sleepy Hollow is often listed as a top spot for Halloween season getaways. Defying the passage of time, this magical area has managed to preserve much of the history and natural beauty which have always drawn people to it. In addition to its great history and fabulous legends, the village offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures and activities, with parks, forests, rivers, lakes, streams and trails along one of the most scenic stretches of the Hudson River—from trout fishing to horseback riding, to biking, boating, hiking, or just escaping into the woodlands of Sleepy Hollow.
Mystic, Connecticut (estimated population of 4,200) was once a shipbuilding seaport village and a safe harbor for tall ships to weather a storm. Although the first community of Mystic wasn't named until around 1665, the first settlers in the Mystic area arrived some years earlier, about 1654. Mystic celebrates that year as its founding, and in 2004 celebrated its 350th Anniversary. Today, the shoreline community with iconic Bascule Bridge is reminiscent of it’s rich maritime past, but clad with quintessential New England charm. Old sea captain’s homes dot the scenic roads along the Mystic River just outside of Downtown’s booming food and drink scene. Find out about Mystic haunted legends and spooks. The town rose to prominence as a shipbuilding center during the clipper ship. Mystic is now known for its quintessential New England charm, as well as being home to two of Connecticut's most visited attractions including he country’s largest maritime museum. Mystic, Connecticut is comprised of two towns, Groton and Stonington, separated by the Mystic River but unified by a common United States Postal Service zip code, a Fire District, and a heavily-used bridge.
Woodstock, Vermont (estimated population of 860) was first chartered in 1761. It became the shire town, or county seat, twenty-five years later in 1786. As a shire town with the county's courthouse and jail, Woodstock attracted a host of professional people and entrepreneurs. Within a short period of time, Woodstock became a commercial and manufacturing center with shops and mills that produced everything from woolen products to linseed oil. Today, Woodstock continues to honor its heritage in artisan culture and tourism, celebrating its historic American charm, outdoor recreation, boutique shopping, farm-fresh dining, and a thriving community of artists, makers, and local tradespeople with those who are inspired to discover the wonderful treasures of Woodstock, Vermont. Tour Main Street and learn about ghosts of the past and the history of our quaint town. Informational tours let you in on old Woodstock folklore secrets and mystery. Woodstock is often listed as a top spot for Christmas season getaways. You'll find a parade of horses and buggies, carolers, and all of the historic homes and farms.
Montauk, New York (estimated population of 3,575) in located on the eastern tip of Long Island. In 1686 the Montauk Indians sold Montauk to a group of East Hampton settlers, known as the proprietors, who owned the land in joint trust for almost 200 years. So began Montauk's history as a summer pasture for cattle, sheep and horses. There are tales of spooks and spirits a-plenty from the ghost of an Indian chief who haunts a farm to a haunted staircase in Quogue to the Montauk Lighthouse where a drowned girl whispers at night, there are many spine-chilling Montauk ghost stories. The Montauk Lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington and built in 1797. Legend has it that treasure chests of pirate booty are buried in Montauk. Montauk is also home to Camp Hero is a 755 acres a decommissioned military base thought by many to have once been the site of graphic, government-sanctioned human experiments comparable to the atrocities committed by the Nazis in concentration camps during World War II. The abandoned military base was the inspiration for the popular Netflix show ‘Stranger Things’
The French Quarter, Louisiana (estimated population of 3,286) , also known as the Vieux Carré, is the oldest neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. In the mid-twentieth century, historic preservationists successfully began the authentic restoration of this eighteenth-century “time capsule," a project that continues to this day. When you’re visiting New Orleans, especially if you take the time to walk around the French Quarter at night, it is easy to see why many people make this claim. The spooky streets and alleyways come alive as your imagination plays tricks on you. It seems as if every alleyway, every door, and every window into an historic home, can be harboring one of New Orleans’ ghosts. Every home you come to is easy to imagine it being haunted, with the ghosts inside tormenting the living. Today the French Quarter is among the most recognizable half-square miles in the world and is synonymous with the city as a whole. It is bounded by Rampart Street, Esplanade Avenue, Canal Street, and the Mississippi River. Although certain areas are well known to tourists, there are actually several distinct neighborhoods.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s largest city (estimated population of 1,584,15) is notable for its rich history, on display at the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed) and other American Revolutionary sites. With a past that dates back to the early 1600s, Pennsylvania teems with historic sites known for paranormal activity and unexplained happenings. Check out these spooky locales, where you’ll discover fascinating history – and possibly a ghostly encounter. The oldest sections of Philadelphia—Southwark, Society Hill, and the Independence Hall area—lie to the east, along and inland from the Delaware. Southwark is the oldest, having been settled by Swedes in 1643. Those of its ancient and dilapidated houses that have escaped bulldozing for riverfront expressways resemble the edifices of Society Hill before its restoration began in the 1950s. This latter area contains some of the city’s finest old houses, taverns, and churches, though some high-rise apartment buildings.
Greenport Village, New York (estimated population of 2,224 ) is a historic seaport located on Long Island's North Fork. It is well known for its fine restaurants, shopping, and accommodations. In the mid 1600s, a group of colonists from New Haven, Connecticut crossed Long Island Sound and settled in the township of Southold, which includes what is now the Village of Greenport. Over the course of its long history, Greenport has been known by several different names including Winter Harbor, Stirling, and Green Hill. At a public meeting in 1831, the name Greenport was officially adopted. Greenport became a huge oystering center during the first half of the 20th century and at one time there were over a dozen oyster processing plants in town. As the oyster industry began to shrink, the Village turned its attention towards tourism and has developed into a vibrant destination for visitors from all over the world. In 2011, Forbes magazine named Greenport one of the prettiest towns in the United States.
Nashville (estimated population of 669,053) is located located on the Cumberland River in the state of Tennessee. Named for Francis Nash, a general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, Nashville was founded in 1779. In 1806 it was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named as the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee. Tennessee became the sixteenth state in 1796. If you are a fan of paranormal, Nashville is a place to go. Nashville is perhaps best known as the capital of country music, as evidenced by such attractions as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the city's famous Music Row district. Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County It is the 23rd most-populous city in America.
Silverton, Colorado (estimated population of 700) is a Statutory Town that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in San Juan County, Colorado. It is a former silver mining camp, most or all of which is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District, the Silverton Historic District. Silverton has been a beloved destination since its mining days, especially those pursuing outdoors, from OHV trails, backcountry camping, hiking, and fishing. The Denver & Rio Grande Railway (now the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad) reached the town in 1882. The surrounding region experienced a mining boom that lasted until the 1910s. In the summers Ute Indians hunted and lived in the Silverton area before the first explorers, the Spanish, arrived. The Utes remained until 1873 when the Brunot Treaty opened the San Juans to settlement. The first permanent white settlers came for diverse reasons, but gold and silver served as magnets to the region.
Newport, Rhode Island (estimated population 21, 815) was founded in 1639 on Aquidneck Island, which was called Rhode Island at the time. Its eight founders and first officers were Nicholas Easton, William Coddington, John Clarke, John Coggeshall, William Brenton, Jeremy Clark, Thomas Hazard, and Henry Bull. They say Rhode Island is especially haunted because it was one of the 13 original colonies and the native American souls are still not at rest . Newport helped lead the way toward the Revolution and independence. Because the city was such a well-known hot-bed of revolutionary fervor, and because of its long history of disdain for royal and parliamentary efforts to control its trade, the British occupied Newport from 1776 to 1779, and over half of the town’s population fled. Newport’s history is remarkable in many ways, but perhaps the most unique aspect is the fact that so much of its history is still visible on the landscape in an impressive concentration of preserved architecture.
Portsmouth is a New Hampshire port city on the Piscataqua River. Notable 17th- and 18th-century houses include several within Strawbery Banke Museum, where costumed staff demonstrate traditional crafts. Nearby, the 1855 North Church presides over downtown’s Market Square. Prescott Park has riverside gardens and boat docks. Northwest, former research submarine USS Albacore is in a park, alongside a visitor center.