Two Days in Yorktown: An Itinerary
Yorktown's past is both beginning and end. The epic 1781 battle here signaled the end of the colonies and the beginning of a grand experiment in democracy. While the town occupies an important place in history, it also offers a vibrant present from Main Street to the Yorktown Beach.
Day One: Live the Past
Morning: Yorktown Battlefield
1000 Colonial Parkway
Walk Yorktown Battlefield in the footsteps of the American and French soldiers, 17,000 of them, who pounded 8,300 British troops with artillery day after day until their surrender on Oct. 19, 1781.
Watch a short film at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, then explore museum exhibits that include tents used by George Washington. Take a ranger-guided tour of the battlefield, and experience the earthworks and siege lines built by the two sides.
George Washington’s victory wasn’t the only important battle of Yorktown. In 1862, the Union forces of Major Gen. George B. McClellan defeated the Confederates and held Yorktown through the end of the Civil War. Stop by the Yorktown National Cemetery, selected in 1866 as a Civil War burial site, and pay your respects at the 1,596 marked graves, nearly all Union Army casualties.
Lunch: The Carrot Tree
323 Water St., Suite A-2
Enjoy lunch in the cozy confines of the nearby Carrot Tree in Riverwalk Landing for melts, wraps, crepes, quiche, and home-cooked specials. Save room for their signature carrot cake dessert, of course. Want to grab something and sit along the river? No problem. They offer takeout.
Afternoon: Yorktown Victory Center
200 Water Street, Route 1020
888-593-4682 or 757-253-4838
Become a part of history at the Yorktown Victory Center, home to a re-created Continental Army encampment and an American Revolution-era farm.
At the camp, interpreters fire muskets, demonstrate military drills, and showcase 18th-century surgical techniques. Explore solders' tents, officers' quarters and a kitchen staffed by women who followed the armies.
At the farm, tobacco, corn and dozens of vegetables and herbs are grown year-round. Hang around and get to work weeding, combing cotton or breaking flax into fiber. Pick up some cooking and health tips from interpreters who explain how herbs were used in 18th-century dishes and medicines.
Dinner: The Riverwalk Restaurant
323 Water Street, Suite A-1
Enjoy the sunset view and the creative dinner fare at The Riverwalk Restaurant. Lobster, crab cakes, scallops and the signature fish fry are menu highlights. Try a different take on a local oyster, which is char-grilled and topped with Sriracha lime butter and candied basil. Don’t let nippy weather slow you; there’s a stone fireplace to keep you warm and cozy even on cool nights.
Day Two: Be in the Present
Morning: Yorktown village
Stroll Historic Yorktown, a charming waterfront village. Step into the Watermen's Museum and learn about the role of the Chesapeake Bay watermen through history, then venture into the working boat shop. Be inspired by Grace Church, built in 1697, and walk through the cemetery with the graves of men who shaped the early nation, including Thomas Nelson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. During the warmer months, stroll to the Yorktown Farmer’s Market if it's a Saturday to shop for everything from local fruits and vegetables to baked goods and gift baskets. Live music, art exhibitions and chef demonstrations at the market change weekly.
Finish with a walk along the York River, two acres of beach with a fishing pier, a picnic area and sweeping views and serene waters.
Yorktown Sailing Charters
Riverwalk Landing Pier
If you have kids in tow, don’t miss the Pirate Cruise aboard the traditional gaff-rigged schooners Alliance or Serenity. Helped by the costumed crew, young pirates can help raise the sail, steer the ship, fire the cannon and get themed tattoos!
Lunch: The Yorktown Pub
540 Water Street
Slip into a locals' favorite, the Yorktown Pub, for a lunch of comfort food including mammoth sandwiches and build-your-own burgers. The seafood is local and fresh; the portions are generous. Discover why the joint is often packed with natives.
Afternoon: Segway tour
Patriot Tours and Provisions
321 Water Street
Leverage new technology to make the most of your time in an old village. Hop on a Segway with Patriot Tours and immerse yourself in a one- or two-hour tour covering the waterfront and historic Main Street. Relax, enjoy the views, and listen to the guide’s stories of the city's Revolutionary and Civil War battles.
Riverwalk Landing and Yorktown village
Yorktown offers an unusual array of shopping opportunities. Start at Riverwalk Landing. Stop by Auntie M's American Cottage for handcrafted pottery, jewelry and more, including a flower bar to make your own recycled wool flower pin. Check The Yorktown Onion for unusual gifts from Nora Fleming serving pieces to Farm House Fresh body oils. Stop by Viccellio Goldsmith and Fine Jewelry, where Hank Viccellio has three decades of experience creating one-of-a-kind collectible art, whether you're looking for a ring, necklace, earrings or bracelet.
Then browse the fine art galleries in town: Nancy Thomas gallery, which has Colonial and patriotic art, among other things; Black Dog Gallery, which specializes in antique and reproduction prints; On the Hill Gallery, featuring work by local artists; and the Gallery at York Hall, which exhibits and sells works ranging from quilts and watercolors to photographs and pottery.
Dinner: The Water Street Grille
323 Water Street, Suite A-1
In mild weather, try the outdoor seating for a casual dinner on the river at the Water Street Grille, home to a seemingly never-ending list of beers on tap, live music, and an eclectic menu of sandwiches, pizzas and burgers. A Port City Long Black Veil IPA on tap will go nicely with The Sinatra, a pizza topped with cappicola ham, salami, pepperoni, hot banana peppers and Fontina cheese sauce.