After falling to the British twice, the French fortress at Louisbourg, on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island, was finally razed in 1760, but that doesn't keep soldiers from standing guard and maids from serving in lively taverns. No, they aren't ghosts, but costumed animators who help faithfully re-create life as it was hundreds of years ago.

In 1744, Louisbourg was the center of French military might in North America. Today, with scores of animators doing daily chores on the sprawling reconstructed site, it seems equally busy. Whether you take a free tour or simply amble around solo, be sure to break for a meal on-site. Choose L'Epee Royale for its authentic 18th-century four-course meal: The dining room is small with dark paneling, and in keeping with the custom of the time, you eat at long tables with other "lodgers." Alternately, you can head to the King's Bakery and buy a soldier's daily ration of bread.

Although most tourists come just for the day, the site does host seasonal evening programs. Furthermore, the surrounding village—itself called Louisbourg—has some lovely heritage B&Bs as well as a summertime theater and a smattering of outfitters. It is a magical place to spend the night.

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