Yorktown Victory Center
Biking at Yorktown Battlefield
Biking at Yorktown Battlefield
Ships at Jamestown Settlement
Ships at Jamestown Settlement

Two-Day History Itinerary

History is fun.

The beginning and end of colonial America. Only a few miles from where America’s colonial history began at Jamestown in 1607, colonial America came to an end with the Siege of Yorktown 174 years later, and a new nation began.

Today at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center, the struggles, adventures and hopes of those momentous early years are brought to life in vivid detail through engaging exhibits and dramatic living history.

And, thanks to one of history’s amazing coincidences, you can visit both places — and Colonial Williamsburg, the restored 18th-century colonial capital — all within the 20-mile span of Virginia’s Historic Triangle.

Day 1

Enjoy the day at Jamestown Settlement. Within hailing distance of Jamestown’s original site, three tall-masted ships lie at anchor in the James River. A discovery area that explores the role of waterways in 17th-century commerce and travel lies between the riverbank and a re-created colonial fort. Beyond the fort, whose wood palisade encircles wattle-and-daub buildings, smoke wafts from reed-covered dwellings of a Powhatan Indian village.

This is Jamestown Settlement — as close as you are ever likely to get to the sights and sounds that Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, Jamestown’s colonists and the Powhatan Indians encountered in the early years of the 17th century.

Jamestown Settlement’s indoor gallery exhibits are an ideal starting point for your visit. Original artifacts, engaging exhibits and an informative 15-minute film detail events in Europe that led up to the founding of Jamestown, describe the land and lifestyle of the Powhatan Indians, explore the origins of Africans who were brought to Virginia, and trace the history of the colony through its first hundred years.

The history depicted here is more than just something you’ll observe or hear. You’ll touch it. Smell it. Even try your hand at some of it.

When all is said and done, you won’t just know about Jamestown’s special place in the history of America. You may have a sense that you were actually there.

Gift items in the colonial era often had to be shipped from England. Today you’ll find an ample supply of period replicas, educational toys and games, gift and food items, books and souvenirs in the delightful gift shops at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center.

Jamestown Settlement’s cafe’ offers soups, sandwiches and beverages. Picnic tables are located at both Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center.

Day 2

Within a musket range of Yorktown Battlefield, the sun rises on a military encampment like those that housed General Washington’s army on the eve of victory over the British in October of 1781.

On a re-created late-18th-century farm, the everyday tasks of raising crops, preserving and preparing food, and processing flax and cotton for cloth go on once more.

At the Yorktown Victory Center, outdoor living-history interpretations, hundreds of original artifacts and an evocative film, "A Time of Revolution," paint a vivid picture of the times surrounding the war’s end.

Your path through history will go deep into the lives of ordinary people caught up in the struggle and spirit of the American Revolution. In the innovative Witnesses to Revolution Gallery, 10 of those who were there will speak to you in their own words. Among them, a Continental Army officer, a woman captured and adopted by Seneca Indians, a plantation owner and a slave.

You’ll learn about Yorktown’s history and the diversity of the international military forces that converged on the town in 1781. From exhibits depicting the lot of the ordinary soldier and medical care during the war, you’ll descend to an exhibit devoted to Yorktown’s sunken fleet — vessels scuttled by the British in a vain attempt to forestall defeat. The American Revolution and the Siege of Yorktown were events of epic proportions. Here, you’ll discover that both also had intriguing human dimensions.

Take time for lunch at one of the various cafes or restaurants in Historic Yorktown. And save time to browse the unique shops at the revolutionary Riverwalk Landing, which is located on the riverfront.