In these parts, we like our history alive and possibly a wee bit dangerous.
As the daughter of a history buff, I went to nearly every random historical site on the East Coast. Do you know what a 200 year old battlefield looks like? Well, it looks like a field. Sometimes, there are plaques. Occasionally, a bee hive may liven things up a little.
Here in Washington, things are a little more lively than that. One of our favorite spots to take out of town visitors is The Pioneer Farm Museum in Eatonville, which begins it's season in a few weeks on March 19th. At the Pioneer Farm Museum, guides are happy to inform you that they are extremely happy to see your children. Why is that? Because they make great workers. Children are encouraged to work in the blacksmith's shop, split wood, feed the animals, hunt for eggs under the chickens, do the laundry with a hand crank machine, and grind their own flour and meal. On one visit a few years back, they had a former race horse who got a little jumpy around kids and gave my then three year old a bit of a wild ride. (He's since been replaced with a more placid animal.) Pioneer life is not whitewashed or romanticized, and the kids have a wonderful time anyway. (Adults, too.) When it's all over, you can grab some old-timey candy or hand-sewn bonnets in their very affordable gift shop.
Another living history favorite is Fort Nisqually, at Point Defiance Park. If you go when the buildings are open, living history actors are there to give you a taste of what life was like when the Fort was in operation in the 19th Century. Not for those squeamish about the fur trade. You can also climb to the top of the look out tower and have a look across the Narrows. Until May, admission to the Fort is free Wednesday through Friday, when the buildings are closed. (Admission charged on weekends when they're open)
Tacoma wouldn't be Tacoma without maritime history, so it's fitting that we have our own Working Waterfront Museum on Dock Street. We haven't tried this one out yet, but the Museum boasts boatbuilding classes, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (call to confirm - 253-272-2750) and a hands-on area where children have an opportunity to make their own boats.
For adults and older teens with a taste for military history, there's (shameless plug)Battlesim.com, a local company that hosts regular WWII, Vietnam, and Cold War-era military simulation events around the area. (/shameless plug) There's also the Fort Lewis Museum, free Wednesday-Sunday noon to 4. (Must request access.)