Traveling back to Colonial times is easier than you think with a trip to America’s Historic Triangle! Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown Virginia are rich in historical attractions for all ages. Because these locations are so close to each other, staying in Williamsburg is a great option.
My suggestion would be to visit these locations in order of how the events happened. Jamestown, Williamsburg and then Yorktown. In each one of these locations there is a living museum in one form or another. In Jamestown and Yorktown there are also National Parks on the actual sites.
In my opinion, if you are short on time, do the National Parks first. If you have time to devote to both, you can easily do both in one day per location.
Let’s first talk about where to stay. Williamsburg is easily accessed from multiple main roads and freeways. While there is a variety of options in hotels from basic lodging to extended stay locations, there are also many condominiums available. If you would like to stay “on property” we can reserve your stay at a Colonial Williamsburg hotel.
So, when talking with your Memories and Moments Travel Consultant, make sure to let them know if you are looking for a standard hotel room, an extended stay hotel, or a condominium complex or resort.
Williamsburg is filled with many restaurants from fast food to colonial to different ethnicities. So, finding something for even the pickiest eater is easy to do here. You will notice a variety of pancake locations as well. If you are staying in accommodations that offers a kitchen and you are planning on preparing some of your meals, a variety of grocery stores and big box stores are available.
Let’s now talk about the things to see in each city.
Located in Jamestown are two distinct areas to see.
HIstoric Jamestowne National Park is where the events took place. Through the guides, you can hear the history of Pocahontas and all that took place there. There is an onsite archeological dig as well as historical sites to visit and an introductory film.
There is also a working glass house where you can not only watch how items are made, but also purchase them.
While in the park, grab lunch at the café and sit by the river to enjoy the beautiful view while you think about what it was like all those years ago.
After lunch, head on over to the Jamestown Settlement. This is a recreated location where you can tour ships, a fort and a Powhaten Village.
In the city of Williamsburg, there is Colonial Williamsburg. Without a ticket, you can walk through town, but not enter any buildings or see any presentations. With a ticket, the colonial time period is yours to experience and participate in.
You will enter in through the Welcome Center and can either walk to the attraction or you can take one of their coach busses. There are stops throughout Colonial Williamsburg.
Yes, there are buildings to walk in to and witness how life was in that time period. Silversmith, bookbinding, and wig making are just a few of crafts that you can witness. Different types of homes are also available to tour including a palace! During warmer weather, the gardens there are beautiful to explore!
Not only can you hear about home and work life, but you can also participate in it! The docents are excellent and very knowledgeable! They will interact with you as if you were all still in that time period. They will explain, what they are doing, answer your questions, and in some cases allow you to try or touch whatever they are working on.
Of course, governmental functions were a very important part of Williamsburg. You will be able to experience the different levels of government as your tour the buildings including the capitol, listen to the stories, and even participate in court and legislative proceedings.
If you want to go a little deeper, make sure to check out the performance schedules. Depending on the time of year, there are reenactors and other presentations based on historical anniversaries.
Also, there are behind the scenes tours (some at an additional cost). One of my favorites is the archeological lab tours. This tour explains how they dig in the area as well as showing you the process of creating Colonial Williamsburg. The highlight of this tour is the walk in to the lab where the findings of their currant dig are.
Don’t forget to make time for the museums which are a bit away from the rest of town, but still walkable or accessible by coach.
As far as food in concerned within Williamsburg, there ae Colonial Taverns and a couple of grab and go locations. If you are looking for someplace different, you can walk to the Market Square just outside of Colonial Williamsburg. There you can find a variety of restaurants and shops.
I would suggest a solid 2 days to be able to tour Colonial Williamsburg without feeling rushed. While, if can be done in one day, you will only get an overview and not be able to experience most everything.
Typically, it closes at 5pm which leaves plenty of time to experience Market Square in the evening.
Outside of Colonial Williamsburg
As, I said before, there is no lack in restaurants in town! What is there to do when you are done with your historical sightseeing? There are your typical outlet malls, miniature golf, and boutique stores.
One surprise for me was the quality of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not that is located in town. I have learned that most Ripley’s Believe It or Not has themes that they try to keep to. This location was very educational and not just filled with the bizarre, although they were not lacking in that either! They also had a very good 4D movie as well as a mini golf on site.
Looking for some fast- moving excitement? Check out Busch Gardens Williamsburg. From looping coasters to tame amusements there is something for everyone. Great shows, animal exhibits and special events make this park well worth the visit. The Verbloten Coaster is one of the best due to a huge surprise in this fast- passed ride!
In Yorktown, I would start with the Yorktown Battlefield National Park. Watch the introductory film and sign up for a tour. You will see some of the battlefield sites and hear the stories.
Yorktown is a quaint waterfront town. You can park and take a free trolley to many locations including the battlefield and the American Revolution Museum.
Between visiting the battlefield and the museum, grab lunch at one of the seaside restaurants, take a ride on a schooner, or sit on the beach for a bit.
Once you arrive at the American Revolution Museum, you will be able to walk through history with hands on exhibits, riveting films, and an encampment equipped with friendly and knowledgeable volunteers.
If you want more, there is a CD normally for sale in the giftshop that will take you on a driving tour of more of the battlefield sites.
Outside of the Historic Triangle
If you are done with the Historic Triangle, but still have more days left to fill take a 30 minute drive to Newport News. There you will find the Virginia Living Museum. I was completely impressed with this museum! If you combined a history museum, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a zoo together you would end up with something like this museum.
With fantastic hands on activities, this location is great for all ages! Besides the fascinating exhibits inside and out, there is also a revolving exhibit. While I was there, it was The America Adventure. We were given “life status boards” to keep track of our score.
Each one of our boards had a corresponding name to it. Mine was John Smith. As we proceeded through a maze, we needed to make choices based on given circumstances. Each decision ended in a reduction or addition of food, health, moral, and wealth tallied on that board. When we were done, we either survived or died. At the exit we could check to see if we had the same fate as our person assigned.
The Mariners’ Museum was very fascinating and at the admission price of $1 it can’t be beat! It contained the story of the USS Monitor. It is designated by Congress as America’s Maritime Museum. A combination of true artifacts retrieved from the sea’s floor to recreated exhibits this museum is worth a few hours of your time.
Looking to add some beach time to your Virginia vacation? Just one hour from Williamsburg is Virginia Beach. This beautiful stretch of beach is prefect for the quick day trip or we can easily add a day or two here to your historical vacation. Standard hotels and beachside condos are plentiful here.
Your Memories and Moments Travel Consultant is ready to help you plan your perfect combination of history and relaxation. Call us today for more details! 440-298-1427 or firstname.lastname@example.org .