Fodor's Expert Review Port Royal National Historic Site
Downriver from Annapolis Royal is this reconstruction of Sieur de Monts and Samuel de Champlain's fur-trading post. The French set up shop here in 1605—two years before the English established Jamestown—making this the first permanent European settlement north of Florida. Port Royal also set other New World records, claiming the first tended crops, the first staged play, the first social club, and the first water mill. Unfortunately, it didn't have the first fire department: the original fortress burned down within a decade. At this suitably weathered replica, which is ringed by a log palisade, you're free to poke around the forge, inspect the trading post, pull up a chair at the dining table, or simply watch costumed interpreters perform traditional tasks in the courtyard. Children can play dress-up, too, donning period outfits and wooden sabot shoes.