If you’re one of the many history buffs attracted to the Washington, D.C. area, consider taking a two-and-a-half-hour drive south from D.C. to Williamsburg, Virginia, for a unique window into America’s colonial and revolutionary days.
The center of the town itself has been restored as Colonial Williamsburg, which bills itself as “the largest living history museum in the United States.” You can visit the colonial capitol, a tavern, courthouse, and jail, and watch blacksmiths, milliners, wigmakers, and other tradesmen go about their work as they would have more than 200 years ago. Kids can rent colonial costumes and watch local actors re-enact scenes from the time of the Revolutionary War. Scenes might include two slaves discussing whether emancipation will mean anything for them, or one of Virginia’s leading patriots (Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, or Patrick Henry, depending on the day) recounting his life.
Twenty minutes to the east of Williamsburg, you’ll find Yorktown Battlefield–the spot where British forces surrendered to George Washington, ending the Revolutionary War. An hour-long, self-guided auto tour shows you American siege lines and the location of the decisive surprise attack that ended the battle. A second, half-hour auto tour reveals the locations of American camps during the siege, including Washington’s headquarters. You can also take a tour with a park ranger.
Ten minutes to the west, you’ll find Historic Jamestowne, the first permanent English settlement in America, now an important archaeological site. At the Archaearium you’ll see some of the objects that have been unearthed at the site, as well as the location of the current dig. Just next door is Jamestown Settlement, where you can tour a recreation of Jamestown and listen to costumed actors describe daily life in the early 17th century.
For more about Colonial Williamsburg, visit www.history.org. For more about Yorktown Battlefield, visit www.nps.gov/york. For more about Historic Jamestowne, visit www.historicjamestowne.org. For more about Jamestown Settlement, visit www.historyisfun.org/Jamestown-Settlement.htm.
For vacation packages, hotels, tickets, and more, see our Busch Gardens Vacations page.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year, with evening programs many days.
Admission: $41.95 for adults, $20.95 for children ages 6 to 12, children 5 and under free.
Parking: There is parking available at the Visitor Center.
Driving directions: Interstate 95 south to I-295 south at Richmond, then take I-64 east to Exit 238 and follow the signs.