Travel With Kids: Virginia's Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown)

Travel With Kids: Virginia's Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown) 1

"How do you like living here?" I asked an acquaintance nonchalantly during a summer visit to the Historic Triangle in Virginia.

She leaned in conspiratorially as her face broke into a genuine smile, "THIS is the very best place to raise a family. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else!"

Her reply didn't surprise me a bit. I had heard the exact same sentiments over and over again as I interviewed various families and business owners. After the first day, it was immediately apparent that Virginia's Historic Triangle was well-loved. To put it simply, people who live in this area seem content - truly grateful for the deck of cards they had been dealt in terms of location.

What kinds of amenities can inspire this kind of affection of place? Is it the weather? The food? The attractions? The personality of the people, comprised of many individuals who make up a united warm and friendly whole? Read on to find out more about what makes the Historic Triangle so special.

WEATHER IN THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE

The weather in Virginia's Historic Triangle is mild most of the year.

The best months to visit the Historic Triangle are April/May (highs are in the 70s and lows are in the 40s to 50s) or September/October (highs are in the 70s and 80s and lows are in the 50s and 60s). July and August are the warmest months with average highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s. December, January, and February tend to be the coldest with highs between 49-53 degrees and lows between 29 and 33 degrees. March and November are shoulder months, which can also be a pleasant time of year to plan a visit.

GETTING TO AND AROUND THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE

We enjoyed driving between Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown in the month of June. The weather was lovely, the scenes were picturesque, and even a sudden rainstorm along the coast made for a marvelous memory.

THINGS TO DO IN THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE

There is no lack of fun activities and attractions in the Historic Triangle - particularly if you are a history buff!

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

If you have a trip planned to the Historic Triangle, make time for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown!

As a somewhat new attraction (this museum replaced the Yorktown Victory Center in 2016), the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown "tells the story of the nation's founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond." The indoor exhibits and outdoor living history area uniquely and beautifully capture "the transformational nature and epic scale of the Revolution and its relevance today." Our entire family (two adults and four kids, ranging in age from 5 to 15) was awed by how well-done this museum is. Note, too, that we visited this museum directly after a weeklong getaway to DC where we had been inside a number of Smithsonian museum. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is definitely in the same league, probably outshining some of the DC museums in cleanliness, friendliness, state-of-the-art exhibits, and immersion in history.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Liberty Fever is the museum's signature introductory film, which plays in a theatre not far from the entrance - and it is well worth your time! Don't be tempted to skip it. It's an imaginative and amazing introduction to the people and places of the revolution. The way the story is told and the impressive cinematography is worthy of an award. In fact, it's among the best films I have ever seen at a museum.
  • Speaking of movies, Siege of Yorktown was an incredible and immersive film also. The movie experience includes smoke, rumbling seats, and flickering lights to help viewers to engage more fully with the content and the historical time period.
  • There are 22,000 square feet of exhibition galleries so be sure to give yourself enough time to study the artifacts, dioramas, short films, etc.
  • Outdoors, you will find a re-created Continental Army encampment and a Revolution-era farm with a costumed cast to help demonstrate what life was like in the 18th century. *This part of the museum was closed on the day of our visit due to a storm, but it looked really neat!
  • The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is a different attraction than Yorktown Battlefield, a National Park Service site.
  • If you have a few days in the Historic Triangle area, you may want to purchase a combo ticket, which will also grant you admission to Jamestown Settlement.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • LOCATION: 200 Water Street, Yorktown, VA
  • HOURS: Open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, year-round. Closed on Christmas and New Year's Day.
  • COST: $18 for adults, $9 for ages 6-12; Children 5 and under are free. Parking is free.
  • LEARN MORE

Colonial Williamsburg

Of the three cities in the Historic Triangle, Williamsburg is the most well-known and, more specifically, Colonial Williamsburg. Tauted as "the world's largest living history museum," Colonial Williamsburg's 301 acres feature iconic sites, working tradespeople, historic taverns, and two world-class art museums. To put it in another way, walking into Colonial Williamsburg is like wandering right back in time to the 18th century. Watch a carpenter, tailor, shoemaker, wigmaker, gunsmith, or apothecary at work. Visit the tavern or the market. You might even catch a glimpse of James Madison, Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Marquis De Lafayette, or George Washington!

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Admission tickets are required to enter buildings and experience programming in the Historic Area. With your ticket, you can enjoy interpreter-guided tours of the Capitol, Governor's Palace, and Courthouse. Expert tradespeople will also share their crafts with you in workspaces, gardens, yards, and at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Your admission ticket also grants you access to multiple programs throughout the day on the Charlton and Play House stages, as well as the newly expanded and updated Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, including stage-programs and performances twice a day in the Hennage Auditorium. Another perk of your ticket is that you’ll be able to take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service, which runs all day long. That's a lot of value!
  • The Historic Area is a mile long and a half mile wide. Look for the Grand Union Flag in front of shops, taverns, historic sites, etc. The flag will let you know that a particular venue is open.
  • You can buy colonial period clothing and hats (including ready-made coats, waistcoats, breeches, petticoats, short gowns, cloaks, mitts, caps, and beautifully decorated straw hats) to don around town at Tarpley, Thompson, and Company. If you prefer to rent a costume for the day, you can do so at Williamsburg Revolutions.
  • What is NOT included in your admission ticket? Carriage rides, special events, dining, souvenirs, and the musket range.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Admission tickets are not required to wander around the cobblestone streets, to pop into the gift shops for a souvenir, or to dine at one of the restaurants inside Colonial Williamsburg (where the waitstaff is in costumes!). The buildings in the Historic Area make you feel like you are entering 1763-1783, leaving behind modern worries.
  • Colonial Williamsburg is within easy walking distance of several area resorts - Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge, the Griffin Hotel, Williamsburg Woodlands, and authentic colonial homes.
  • Colonial Williamsburg has Homeschool Days (with discount tickets) and an itinerary specifically recommended for Homeschool Families!

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • LOCATION: 101 Vistor Center Drive, Williamsburg, VA
  • HOURS: Colonial Williamsburg is open 365 days a year. Most Historic Trades and Sites are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Evening Programs run well into the night. The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are open daily from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Restaurant and store hours vary.
  • COST: $46.99 for adults (ages 13+), $25.99 for youth (ages 6-12). Discounted multi-day tickets and annual passes are also available. A Historic Triangle Ticket option is also available.
  • PARKING: Ticketed guests are encouraged to park at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center and take advantage of the complimentary shuttle buses to the Historic Area. Free parking is also available at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Paid parking lots require use of the free Passport app but also offer free two-hour parking in most cases (a Passport app $0.35 convenience fee may apply).
  • LEARN MORE

Jamestown Settlement

Operated by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation (the same foundation that operates the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown), Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum which chronicles the history of America's first permanent English colony of the same name. Jamestown was founded in Virginia in 1607 and this space masterfully explores the Powhatan Indian, English, and West Central African cultures that converged there.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The indoor component is somewhat small with a limited number of exhibits. If you are pinched for time and have to choose between the two films (1607: A Nation Takes Root and Bacon's Rebellion), we recommend the latter. It's a super interesting and well-done retelling of the armed rebellion of Virginia settlers, led by Nathaniel Bacon.
  • The best part of Jamestown Settlement is outdoors - where you can clamber aboard three ships (Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery). These ships transported 104 men and boys from England to Jamestown in 1607. On board, you can interact with costumed historians, go below deck, and take some lovely thematic photos with water in the background.
  • Also on-property is a re-creation of a Paspaghegh town as well as a palisaded fort.
  • Jamestown Settlement is a different attraction than Historic Jamestowne, a National Park Service and Preservation Virginia site.
  • Fast Fact: Jamestown served as the capital of Virginia until 1699, when the seat of government moved to Williamsburg.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • LOCATION: 2110 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA
  • HOURS: Open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily, year-round. Closed on Christmas and New Year's Day.
  • COST: $18 for adults, $9 for ages 6-12; Children 5 and under are free. Parking is free.
  • LEARN MORE

Jessica Barrett Photography

If you are on vacation and looking to book a Williamsburg photographer, we highly recommend Jessica Barrett Photography. She is a professional photographer, a mom, and a master at harnessing light. Plus, she knows Williamsburg inside-and-out! She'll be able to direct you to all of the best and secret spots for perfect photos that you can treasure for a lifetime. Above you'll find a *sneak peek* of our Christmas photos! Jessica Barrett is a PRO and a pleasure to work with.

  • Don't hesitate to BOOK Jessica Barrett Photography!

Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Petite Cafe

For a picture perfect vacation memory, book afternoon tea at Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters. Located in the Cole Digges House (built circa 1726), afternoon tea is held on the upper floor in a charming room with natural light streaming through the windows. Decorated in delightful colonial style, the afternoon tea menu is robust and absolutely delicious.

Mobjack itself is a must-see location in the Heart of Historic Yorktown Village. Even if you don't book tea, you should DEFINITELY still stop in to enjoy expertly roasted coffees, espressos, teas, wine, beer, sweets and delicious sandwiches. The building itself (as well as the street it is on) is quaint and adorable. Plus, if the weather is nice, you can sit outdoors in a gorgeous event space that is both serene and picture-perfect.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The afternoon tea has incredibly flavorful gluten-free options, including petite sandwiches and delightful desserts. The chef specializes in gluten-free and vegan options - and it shows!
  • Jo and Celeste Gucanac are the motivated, friendly owners of Mobjack and they are clearly keystone members of the community. Humble and locally-based, these owners exemplify a strong community mindset and a winsome entrepreneurial spirit.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • LOCATION: 411 Main Street, Yorktown, VA
  • HOURS: Sunday - Thursday 9:00am-4:00pm; Friday 9:00am-5:00pm; Saturday 8:00am-5:00pm
  • LEARN MORE

Posh Salon

Sometimes business names don't live up to their names. Posh Salon, however, does. It truly is a posh space - in the best possible way. In other words, it's sparkling clean, stunningly modern, clearly upscale, and wonderfully luxurious. From the moment you walk in to when you step back out the front doors, you'll feel like a million bucks. I'm not a local so I can't say for sure, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is the best salon in Williamsburg!

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • Make-Up Artist Whitney is an absolute PRO. Whether you need a makeover for a photo shoot, wedding, prom, or other special event, don't hesitate to book her. She knew exactly how to match colors and work with skin of various ages. Whether you are 16 or 40+, you'll leave with glowing, gorgeous skin that will yield mountains of compliments.
  • Posh Salon offers complimentary water, beer, and wine to patrons.
  • Posh Salon is Williamsburg’s premier Aveda Lifestyle Salon so if you love Aveda's products or philosophy, this is the place for you. Even if you aren't a beauty queen or an Aveda enthusiast, you're bound to love this salon anyway!
  • Love your new 'do or makeup? Posh has a photo spot at the back of their shop with a spotlight and green backdrop!
  • If you are new to the salon, you can take advantage of a $20 coupon.
  • Gift cards are available for purchase. Perfect stocking stuffers for the holidays if you live nearby!
  • Posh Salon is in the same parking lot as Target so you can stop in there after your appointment for any quick groceries or necessities.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • LOCATION: 4640 Monticello Avenue, Suite 11B, Williamsburg, VA
  • HOURS: M-TH 9:00am-8:00pm; FRI 9:00am-6:00pm; SAT 9:00am-3:00pm; SUN By Appointment Only
  • LEARN MORE

Yorktown Beach

You may already know that the Siege of Yorktown, which occurred in 1781, was the last major battle of the American Revolution. What you may not know is that Yorktown itself is the most adorable seaside town with quaint shops, waterfront restaurants, and non-crowded beaches where you can enjoy a delightful afternoon in the sunshine. After visiting the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, we took a driving tour of the area and were pleasantly surprised by the surrounding area. In fact, we actually started looking up real estate in the area and dreamed of buying a colonial home right then and there. Yorktown is a special place.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • The beach offers free public parking in several lots throughout town with a complimentary Trolley service to transport guests and their beach gear. There are also restrooms, nearby hotels, bed & breakfasts, shops, and several restaurants.
  • Bike, walk, or drive the historic trails and battlegrounds. Stop to read the various plaques with information about the battles that took place in Yorktown during the Revolutionary War.

WHERE TO STAY IN THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE

We stayed in our RV at Williamsburg Campground (formerly Williamsburg KOA), which is a pristine campground with plentiful family-friendly amenities with convenient access to all three cities in the Historic Triangle.

OUR NEXT TRIP TO THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE

I can't wait to go back to Virginia's Historic Triangle! In fact, I'd do a repeat trip to this location next summer in a heartbeat.

On our next visit, I'd love to check the following items off my Historic Triangle bucket list:

  • Bike the Virginia Capital Trail.
  • Admire the architecture on the William & Mary campus.
  • Dine at Food for Thought Restaurant in Williamsburg. The décor features biographical pictures of inventors, scientists, and social leaders while the walls display thought-provoking quotes. Yes, please!
  • Have dessert (a giant piece of carrot cake!) at Carrot Tree Kitchens.
  • Stay in the Churchill Suite at Williamsburg Inn. While there, eat al fresco for lunch at The Social Terrace and enjoy fine dining for supper at Rockefeller Room.
  • Spend more time at Colonial Williamsburg - especially at the Apothecary, Capitol, Courthouse, Foodways, Governor's Palace, Governor's Palace Kitchen, and Bruton Parish Church.
  • Attend ticketed events in Colonial Williamsburg, such as the Palace Concert, Revolutionary Points of View, or a Ball at the Governor's Palace.
  • Walk through the American Beech arbors near the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Be immersed in even more history at Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield.
  • Plan a trip to the Historic Triangle during Christmas - and visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens too!

HAVE FUN IN THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE, VIRGINIA!

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