The Historic Triangle encompasses three areas that tell an in-depth story of American History. From the very first settlers to the battle of the American Revolution you can walk in the footsteps of history. Take a look as we dive deeper into the areas that helped to form our great nation.
The Historic Triangle
Linked by the scenic 23-mile Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown were important stops on our nation’s journey from the first lasting English settlement to the final battle that secured liberty and independence for the citizens of the new nation.
We just returned from a fantastic visit to this area, and I have to say I was blown away. Most historic places aren’t much more than a plaque commemorating what happened, or a small tour. The Historic Triangle is a living history museum where you can experience what life was like for the first settlers, and learn hands on. You don’t have to worry about taking kids, as they are encouraged to touch, see and experience what life was like.
You will want to begin your tour here, as this was the first permanent settlement in North America. Did you know 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, a group of English settlers arrived along the banks of the James River?
When you visit Jamestown Settlement you will learn how settlers acclimated to their new life, and how the Powhatan Indians adapted with new neighbors. You begin your tour in the beautiful exhibition galleries, where you will learn more about the area, it’s original inhabitants, The Powhatan’s and how the English soon moved in. Some exhibits are hands on and interactive, which is perfect for curious minds.
We walked out of the exhibit hall and into a Powhatan Indian settlement, it was really neat. We could go into the huts, skin a deer with oyster shells and play games that kids would play in the 1600’s.
Once you are finished learning how the Powhatan’s lived, you will make your way down to the piers to see the three ships that brought the English Settlers to Virginia. Full size replicas of the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed sit along the James River just as they would have in 1607. The ships are completely hands on and it is encouraged that guests of all ages come aboard.
Lastly, you will make your way to the colonists fort and see how they would have lived in their first years in America. We learned how valuable the blacksmith was to the colonists, we saw how simple life was and that the colonists were at the ready for any intrusion into their new life in America. Historical interpreters bring this fort to life teaching you how to make a bullet and then load and fire a matchlock musket!
We spent an entire morning into the afternoon exploring and it was fascinating. I think that hands on learning is the best way for kids to really get into the role of history, you can’t get much more hands on than Jamestown Settlement.
In 1699, the capital of Virginia colony moved to Williamsburg, a city that became the capital of Great Britain’s largest and richest colony. It was here that patriots such as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington pursued lives of public service, and the idea of a free and independent country began.
Explore this 300 acre city full of taverns, tradeshops, homes, government and community buildings. With your Historic Triangle ticket you can explore 35 historic sites from the Governor’s Palace, to the Capitol and so much more. It takes more than one day to see all that Colonial Williamsburg offers visitors. It is best to start at the visitors center to get your map and familiarize yourself with this area. There is a free shuttle to the historic area direct from the visitors center.
We began at the Capitol to learn how government worked in the 1700’s and how it would make an impact for those who formed our nation. After exploring the Capitol we started our way down Duke of Gloucester Street and explored the silversmith, bakery (be sure to get a ginger cookie), courthouse and a few shops.
Treat yourself to an authentic Colonial dining experience at one of the five taverns along Duke of Gloucester Street. My personal favorite is Chowning’s Tavern, here you will dine by candlelight and enjoy shared plates including Bangers and Mash, and Shepard’s Pye. Be sure to complete your meal with their root beer, my absolute favorite Williamsburg treat.
Open 365 days a year this living history museum offers self guided tours, special programming and daily events. I have been many times since I was a child, and always learn something new from this period in history.
The Declaration of Independence signed in 1776 eventually led to a revolution that ended with the Battle of Yorktown, where, in 1781, the Continental Army defeated British General Cornwallis and his Redcoats in the last great engagement of the war, ending King George III’s tyranny over the 13 original colonies and fulfilling the promise of July 4, 1776.
Finish out your Historic Triangle tour at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, where you will learn stories of soldiers and civilians during the American Revolution. Be sure to start inside in the 22,000 square foot permanent exhibit. Here dioramas, immersive exhibits and artifacts take you through the Revolution. You can experience the Seige of Yorktown just as the soldiers did.
Step outside in the re-creation of the Continental Army encampment, where you will talk to soldiers, and learn about daily life as it would have been in 1781.
When you are done at the museum, you can visit the Yorktown Battlefield and stand in the same spot as the American and French forces did when they defeated the British. This is run by the National Park Service so be sure to get your kids Junior Ranger Badges here!
Historic Triangle Ticket
The best way to experience all that the Historic Triangle offers is with the five attraction ticket that includes, Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown, Jamestown Settlement, American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield. Kids under 6 do not need admission.
- Seven (7) consecutive days’ admission
- Complimentary shuttle service around the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area
- Interpreter-led tours of Colonial Williamsburg’s Governor’s Palace, the Capitol Building, and all Government Buildings
- Admission to two world-class art museums
- Seasonal discounts on carriage rides
You can purchase tickets in advance and redeem your voucher at any of the visitor centers. All ticket purchases help to support the preservation and education projects.
We had an absolutely amazing time exploring the beginnings of American History in The Historic Triangle. I feel like we barely scratched the surface, and cannot wait to return.