Any time you try to mix education with fun on a family vacation, you’re never quite sure whether the fun part will actually come true. Luckily, attractions in Virginia’s Historic Triangle — Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown — both entertain and enlighten visitors about our country’s history and its earliest residents.
You’ll discover interactive displays, meet historical interpreters, play Colonial games, immerse yourselves in outdoor living exhibits, and maybe even hear a fife-and-drum band! Here are travel tips for planning your family’s adventure in historic Virginia.
Take a trip back to the time when the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery brought newcomers to America on a 144-day journey across the Atlantic. Start your Jamestown Settlement visit at the recently expanded museum, which explores the various cultures of Jamestown’s three communities: English colonists, Powhatan Indians, and African people who began arriving in Jamestown in 1619. Don’t miss the docudrama, “1607: A Nation Takes Root,” about the Virginia Company, which sponsored the colony.
Next walk down to the James River pier and discover life aboard the recreated ships. In an outdoor living history exhibit, learn about the Powhatan way of life. Inside the recreated fort are wattle-and-daub structures with thatched roofs, a blacksmith’s forge, and games your kids can play.
Fun Tip: Let your kids try on armor and take photos you’ll treasure.
Travel Tips: 2022 admission is $18 for adults and $9 for ages 6-12. A value-priced combination ticket and annual pass are available with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Parking is free at both museums. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Allow 3 hours for your visit.
The York River was the scene of one of the American Revolution’s most important battles in 1781, during which General George Washington, aided by the French, trapped the British army, which was forced to surrender. Two years later the Treaty of Paris declared the U.S. its own sovereign nation.
Not far away, The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which opened in 1976, celebrates the story of our nation’s beginnings with an engaging museum offering period artifacts, dioramas, and an experiential theater. Outside a recreated Continental Army encampment invites visitors to learn what life was like for soldiers. There’s also a Revolution-era farm with interpreters who share insight into everyday life for 18th-century Americans.
Fun Tip: Don’t miss the display of 18th-century surgical tools. Kids find them both fascinating and gruesome.
Travel Tips: 2022 admission is $18 for adults and $9 for ages 6-12. A value-priced combination ticket and annual pass are available with Jamestown Settlement. Parking is free at both museums. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Allow 3 hours for your visit.
3. Colonial Williamsburg Travel Tips
One of Virginia’s top tourist destinations, Colonial Williamsburg is the largest outdoor educational living museum in the U.S. and offers an immersive historic experience unlike any other. Serving as Virginia’s original capital from 1699 until 1776, the colonial city takes visitors back in time to the 18th century, where you’ll meet historical interpreters, learn about our country’s founding principles, watch silversmiths at work, and much more.
Colonial Williamsburg’s website is the perfect place to begin planning your trip. You’ll find ticket information; sample itineraries; suggestions for family fun; and travel tips for first timers, foodies, Hamilton fans, garden enthusiasts, military buffs, and more. Pick up the Colonial Williamsburg Planner, which lists daily activities, at the visitor’s center.
Fun Tip: Get lost in the hedge maze at the Governor’s Palace or take a carriage ride.
Travel Tips: Single-day and three-day tickets available ($32.99-$47.99 for adults; $16.99-$24.99 for ages 6-12). Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Free parking and shuttle at the visitor’s center. Plan to visit for at least one full day.
Bonus Tip: Purchase America’s Historic Triangle Ticket, which includes a seven-day pass to all three of these attractions, plus Historic Jamestowne, where you can explore the site of the original settlement and see archaeological excavations ($109.90 for adults; $48.45 ages 6-15).