Come Home to Virginia
Weekend Guide: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown
A NOTE TO OUR READERS:
"Come Home to Virginia" is from the May 2007 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.
Raise your hand if you've ever said this: "Jamestown? My mom made me go there when I was a kid." Or this: "I read about that history stuff in school. Why would I want to visit now?"
You're not alone. I uttered those very words myself, but here's the deal. Jamestown has changed--a lot. If you haven't been recently, you haven't been at all. Millions were spent to update the attractions and facilities in the Historic Triangle, an area that includes Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg, all within 23 miles of each other.
If you're expecting dry, boring history lessons, you'll be disappointed. Today's historians use the most up-to-date science and technology to tell stories you'll want to hear. Kids love this area too. It gets their imaginations moving. Don't tell them this, but they may actually learn a thing or two while they're there.
Even if they don't know they are learning, your kids are sure to make memories that last a lifetime. So will you. As Jamestown commemorates its 400th anniversary, plan a trip for your family.
left: Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant--re-creations of the three ships that brought the settlers to Virginia--dock on the James River at Jamestown Settlement.
- The 411: America is born. On May 14, 1607, a group of settlers stepped ashore at Jamestown Island, establishing the continent's first permanent English colony.
- What's new: An engaging Visitor Center briefs guests on the Jamestown journey, while a museum showcases archaeological finds, including the remains of two of the first settlers.
- Don't miss: The film at the Visitor Center is a must-see. You'll leave misty-eyed--and proud to be an American.
- "Wow" factor: Just call it CSI: Jamestown. Archaeologists use forensic science to identify the skeletal remains of settlers, determine how they died, and reconstruct their appearances.
- For kids: The skeletons are cool, but kids love to romp through the 1,500 acres of Jamestown Island, part of the Colonial National Historical Park, when they get tired of history.
- Price: $10, which includes admission to the Yorktown Battlefield. Children 15 and under get in free.
left: A timeline that runs down the hall at Jamestown Settlement helps visitors keep their dates straight.
- The 411: This is hands-on history. The museum features a new film and gallery exhibits, re-creations of circa-1610 James Fort, a Powhatan Indian village, three English ships, and a riverfront discover area.
- What's new: Virginia Indian, English, and African cultures came together first at Jamestown. A 30,000-square-foot gallery traces their paths.
- Don't miss: Climb aboard Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant, replicas of the ships that brought the settlers to Virginia. Costumed interpreters will help you imagine the trip.
- "Wow" factor: Explore new, full-size replicas of the Godspeed and Discovery.
- For kids: You can get your hands dirty here. Help make a dugout canoe, plant a garden, or grind corn.
- Price: $13.50 adults, $6.25 ages 6-12.
left: Kids pitch in to help build a dugout canoe at Jamestown Settlement's living-history museum.
- The 411: The capital of Virginia moved to Williamsburg in 1699. In 1926 John D. Rockefeller donated the money to restore the historic area and create a living-history museum
- What's new: Become part of the political events and discussion during a fast-paced, two-hour program called "Revolutionary City." Visitors witness the collapse of the royal government and listen in as citizens get ready for war with the British.
- Don't miss: Peek behind the gates of the houses to see spectacular gardens and newborn farm animals.
- "Wow" factor: The colonial governor rides into Revolutionary City in a hand-crafted, gold-trimmed coach.
- For kids: The Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitors Center sells hats and rents costumes.
- Price: Ticket prices vary with the seasons. Visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com for current prices.
left: Visitors traveling the Colonial Parkway get wonderful views of the James and York Rivers and their tributaries.
Yorktown Victory Center
- The 411: This living-history museum chronicles the final major battle of the Revolutionary War.
- What's new: Renovated galleries explore the legacy of Yorktown.
- Don't miss: Get a taste of life in the Continental Army at the re-created encampment. (You can see a tent that belonged to George Washington at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center.)
- For kids: Costumed interpreters tap volunteers to help with cannon demonstrations at 3:05 p.m. each day.
- Price: $8.75 adults, $4.50 ages 6-12.
left: The 23-mile-long Colonial Parkway, part of the Colonial National Historical Park, connects Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.