10 great places to swashbuckle down

Avast, ye mateys! Saturday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day (talklikeapirate.com), the perfect time to roam like a rebel. Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates, shares with Sarah Sekula for USA TODAY his favorite spots to don an eye patch and yell 'Arrr!'

Colonial WilliamsburgWilliamsburg, Va. This reconstruction of the 18th-century town features horse-drawn carriages, local militia drills and the lavish palace of Gov. Alexander Spotswood. "It's just one of the scores of buildings you can tour, many of them manned by period re-enactors," Woodard says. "Blackbeard's men were tried in the genteel Capitol and incarcerated in the jail, which is still standing after three centuries." If you have energy left, nearby recreational opportunities run the gamut from lawn bowling to croquet. 800-447-8679; history.org

Blackbeard Pirate FestivalHampton, Va. Plan ahead for this raucous annual festival (the next one is July 9-11, 2010, Hampton's 400th anniversary) where you'll land smack-dab in the middle of "re-enactments, swordfights, music, and lots of arrr — all taking place in the actual city where some of Blackbeard's men were captured and later hanged," Woodard says. Next, stroll downtown Hampton's outdoor art gallery and step into the Cousteau Society for underwater photography and relics from Cousteau expeditions, including a shark cage, mini sub and a rhinoceros-dented jeep. blackbeardpiratefestival.com

White Point GardensCharleston, S.C. "Stede Bonnet (sometimes called the gentleman pirate) met his end on the gallows at White Point, and you can see the foundations of the building where he spent his final days under the old battery," Woodard says. Beyond the history, the meticulous gardens are the kind of place where string quartets aren't uncommon and during high season jasmine and honeysuckle scents are as inviting as the local Southern charm. 843-853-8000; charlestoncvb.com

Pirates of NassauNassau, Bahamas Step back into the Golden Age of Piracy in what was once a popular pirate paradise. For kids: The interactive Pirates of Nassau attraction offers a dungeon tour and room to romp aboard a pirate ship-replica. For adults: A nearby pub serves up pirate punch and happy-hour deals to boot. Before leaving, test your bartering skills at the Straw Market and stock up on rum cakes at Bay Street's duty-free shops. pirates-of-nassau.com/museum.htm

Pyrate InvasionBeaufort, N.C. Come August, 70 pirate actors will bombard this quaint town during the Pyrate Invasion (which uses the Old English spelling of the word). If you're lucky, you may spot a Capt. Jack Sparrow look-alike. For a more relaxing route, Woodard recommends picnicking by the water and strolling through the North Carolina Maritime Museum, full of cannons and gild guineas recovered from the Queen Anne's Revenge. beaufortpyrateinvasion.com

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