British influence on U.S. culture is so widespread it almost seems unnoticeable, "as American as apple pie" -- which, yes, came to us from British colonial settlers. In fact, one prominent historian calls Britons the "invisible immigrants," who, after founding our colonies, establishing English as the predominant language, and jump-starting our legal system, slid quietly into the mainstream. But ardent Anglophiles need not despair; there are still lots of fun ways to discover both the old and the new in across-the-pond culture.
History buffs can discover our nation's British colonial past at the lavishly restored Colonial Williamsburg of Virginia (pictured), the world's largest living history museum. And that's only the beginning; at dozens of sites throughout the country, history comes alive with historical reenactors, craftspeople, monuments, and villages. At Old Sturbridge Village of Massachusetts, New England's preeminent living history museum, visitors (or kids at the annual summer camp) can explore the lives of the early British settlers, learn their crafts, taste their foods, and hear their music. Other great places to explore include the Freedom Trail of Boston, Massachusetts and other New England sites; Historic Jamestowne, a 1600's English Farm, and other Virginia sites; the American Heritage Festival of Queen Creek, Arizona; and many more.
Longing for the Tally ho glamour and excitement of a classic British-style steeplechase? Look no further than the Maryland Hunt Cup or the Virginia Gold Cup, both world famous races whose winners qualify for England's prestigious Grand National race. Steeplechase races have been popular in the U.S. since the 1800's, and can be enjoyed in Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and other states. Or for simpler sport pleasure, cheer for your favorite British soccer team via cable at a British sports bar.
The beauty of an English manor house, cottage, or cathedral is incomparable -- and apparently, for the well-endowed, worth taking apart, carrying overseas, and painstakingly rebuilding. You can explore these stunning British transplants, while also enjoying a slice of British life. At Agecroft Hall, a Tudor manor house built in the late 1400's in Agecroft England and moved to Richmond, Virginia in the 1920's by a wealthy American entrepreneur, you can stroll the house and gardens and, if you plan ahead, enjoy an English play. The lovely St. Mary's Church, which stood in London from 1677 until damaged by the Blitz bombing of WWII, now serves as America's National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri. And at Cotswold Cottage, moved from the southwest English hills by Henry Ford to his Greenfield Village of Michigan, don't miss the tea, scones and savories served in the elegant garden.
British drama, music, and dance range from inspired to just plain fun, and can be enjoyed nationwide. Shakespeare fests, often outdoors and free in the summertime, bring the bard to a new generation. The British Players of Kensington, Maryland offer more modern English fare, while DC's Washington Revels draw from ancient Anglo-Saxon traditions. Morris Dancing, a folk style dating back at least to the 1400's, is so fun to watch, you might even want to join a troupe. And for a rousing party, it's hard to beat a Guy Fawkes bonfire, commemorating the downfall of a famous British traitor.