A Brief Overview of America’s Historic Triangle
Williamsburg, Virginia, is centrally located 150 miles south of Washington, DC, midway between Richmond and Virginia Beach. Here, three places made famous in early American history — Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown — are linked by the 23-mile long Colonial National Historical Parkway. Bordered by the James River at one end, and the York River at the other; this scenic drive offers a breathtaking view of history.
Perhaps more vividly than anywhere else in America, the exciting story of our nation’s past comes to life in Virginia’s restored colonial capital, Williamsburg and its Historic Area. Much more than just buildings, museums and artifacts, the Historic Area is a living community — and a visitor’s delight. Here, merchants sell their goods, tradesmen practice their crafts and brave patriots whisper plans for revolution. Located on 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area is an outdoor living museum with more than 88 original and reconstructed buildings including homes, stores, taverns and the Great Hopes Plantation. Set in the backdrop of lush gardens and greenery, craftsmen practice 30 historic and domestic trades while interpreters and character actors bring to life the heroes and everyday people of this colonial era. Other highlights in the Historic Area include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum; Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of John D. Rockefeller Jr.; the Governor’s Palace; and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
The College of William & Mary, located adjacent to Williamsburg’s Historic Area, was established in 1693 as the second oldest college in America. Three early presidents — Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler — all attended William & Mary. Classes are still held in the Wren Building, designed by England’s best-known architect, Sir Christopher Wren. This building is believed to be the oldest, still functioning academic building in America and is open to the public for tours.
Next door, Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia, explores the world of America’s first permanent English colony. History truly comes to life at Jamestown Settlement as visitors board full-size replicas of the three ships that arrived in 1607 — the Godspeed, Discovery and Susan Constant. Costumed historical interpreters depict 1600s life at recreations of the colonists’ fort, the three ships, a Powhatan Indian village and a seasonal riverfront discovery area.
The nearby Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, recaptures the true-life drama of the Revolution through powerful galleries that tell the stories of men and women who lived during that period. The Continental Army encampment depicts life in the military, including the use of medicine during colonial times. At the re-created 1780s farm site, visitors learn through hands-on adventure the everyday tasks of cultivating crops, preserving and preparing food and turning flax into cloth.
In the 1700s, Yorktown flourished as a colonial tobacco port. Today, this historic town is comprised of a variety of local artisan and antique shops, homes and waterfront activities. The scenic Riverwalk along the beach and Riverwalk Landing, with its quaint village atmosphere connects the Yorktown Battlefield with the Yorktown Victory Center. Enjoy an array of distinctive shops and food stores, restaurants, piers, an outdoor performance venue and free parking. And April through October, you can relive sailing’s Golden Age as you cruise the York River on the 105’ Tall Ship, the Schooner Alliance or her sister ship, Serenity.
Although known for its history, the Historic Triangle offers a timeless and exciting destination sure to please everyone in the family. Again voted the world’s “Most Beautiful Park” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association, a title it has held since 1990, Busch Gardens Williamsburg offers an action-packed European adventure featuring 17th-century charm and 21st-century technology. Already home to more than 50 rides and attractions, including Verbolten, a world-class coaster experience like nothing before. Utilizing the very latest in electromagnetic technology, this new ride propels visitors through a high-speed thrill packed with twists, turns and plunges. Busch Gardens Williamsburg extends the season of fun into the fall featuring “Howl-O-Scream” and “Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration” where holiday traditions come to life.
Always making a big splash with the entire family, Water Country USA is a flashback to the surfin’ safari days of the 1950s and 60s. This largest water park in the mid-Atlantic offers more than 30 state-of-the-art water rides and attractions, spectacular entertainment and delicious eateries.
For the strange and unusual, visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum and 4-D Theater. This museum contains 11 themed galleries, with more than 350 one-of-a-kind exhibits. And don’t miss the comedy, murder and mystery of the Mystery Dinner Playhouse, now in its 16th year in Williamsburg. These fully scripted shows engage the audience in the evening’s performance … with dinner included. A fun dining and entertaining treat for travelers of all ages.
In the Lightfoot area of Williamsburg you can visit Go-Karts Plus, a family fun park for all ages. Take a ride in a Super Stockart and race around a Figure Eight, Euro or Rookie track; splash and spin on the Blaster Boats and take a knock about in the bumper cars; visit the arcade featuring the latest video games; or test your putting skills on the brand new “Gold Rush” themed mini golf. Be courageous and ride the park’s thrilling spinning attraction from Italy, the Disk’O!
For more family fun, visit Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. In the midst of cascading waterfalls, shipwrecks, caverns and caves, try your putting skills in this pirate-themed golf course. Swashbuckling fun for all buccaneers and groups alike!
West of Williamsburg, along scenic Route 5, discover Berkeley Plantation, the most historic plantation on the James River. Home of America’s first Thanksgiving held in 1619, Berkeley is also the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and ancestral home of two United States presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. A Virginia and National Historic Landmark, in 1862 the plantation served as Union General George McClellan’s headquarters for his 140,000 battle-worn troops at the close of Civil War’s Peninsula Campaign.
Further up Route 5, be sure to visit Sherwood Forest Plantation, the ancestral home of President John Tyler. Tyler’s grandson and family still live today in this home built in the 1720s.
A short drive east of Williamsburg brings you to Newport News, VA, home of the Virginia Living Museum. The Virginia Living Museum features the state’s furry, feathery and slithery residents all living in naturalized habitat settings, both indoors and out. You’ll also find aquariums, a planetarium and observatory, native plant gardens and green living exhibits.
See all this and much more as you visit America’s Historic Triangle. Contact us to start planning your group vacation!