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Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown etc questions

Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown etc questions

Old Mar 3rd, 2022, 05:32 PM
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Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown etc questions

My son (age 9; third grade) has April vacation coming up. We had just spent Feb vacation in Philadelphia and enjoyed learning about the colonists and the American Revolution. Originally I was considering heading to Chicago for April vacation, but several Fodorites suggested I look into Colonial williamsburg/Jamestown area.

I have never been to that part of VA before, so I'll need to do a lot more research if that's where we decide to go. My son really enjoys history, reenactments. We will be coming from Boston, so does it make most sense to fly into Richmond (there is nonstop) and rent a car? We can stay for as long as 9 days, though that might be way too long. If we spend 7 days how would you suggest I divide up the time? Is there anything in Richmond that's interesting to a 9-year-old? If we fly to Richmond, I would want us to visit Monticello as well. So perhaps we can either begin or end our trip in Richmond (1-2nights) so we can visit Monticello, and the rest of the time staying IN Williamsburg? Based on trip reports I've read on here, we can easily spend 2-3 days in Colonial Williamsburg alone, then 1 day in Yorktown and another day in Jamestown?

Sorry this is very early in my trip-planning process but I need to make up my mind soon so any help you can provide is much appreciated.

(I checked public school calendar for VA, MD and DC. Looks like their spring break is the week before our Spring break, so hopefully these places won't be too crowded.)
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Old Mar 3rd, 2022, 07:36 PM
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I think you and your son would LOVE Williamsburg. I'd plan on a minimum of 3 days in the area (four or five would be better). From one base in/near Williamsburg you could also visit Yorktown and Jamestown. Four days (five nights) would give you 2 full days for Williamsburg and one each for Yorktown and Jamestown.

There is so much to see/do in Williamsburg you could even use three days there.

In Charlottesville not only is there Monticello but also James Monroe's home.

Plus there are all sorts of Civil War sites all throughout the area
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 12:20 PM
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I'd spend a night or two in Charlottesville to visit Monticello and the grounds of University of Virginia. You could also visit the other two US Presidents homes (do Monticello last if you do this, otherwise they will be a letdown IMO) and maybe drive a part of Skyline Drive. Might be a little early for the dogwood and rosebud to be in full bloom but you never know. Personally I found Williamsburg boring but I was an adult when we visited, and enjoyed visiting a couple of the James River plantations a lot more but everyone is different.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 12:21 PM
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Weather is usually beautiful in VA in April.

There is a lot to do in and around Williamsburg, and on the way. I would even consider driving down.

Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home near Alexandria. There are other really interesting plantations nearby. The Pope-Leighey House is only about 10 minutes away, on the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation (gift from George Washington to his stepdaughter), and well worth a tour. Check hours and dates it is open. If you are not familiar with it, do take a tour. Woodlawn is interesting for the connection with Washington, if you have time, but the Pope-Leighey House is really unique.

Fredericksburg. People go right by Fredericksburg, but it is a historically interesting and pretty small city where several famous Americans lived and worked. There are some interesting buildings, homes, etc. and you can do a walking tour.

Richmond. Do not miss Age Croft Hall! It will take a couple of hours to tour and is well worth it. If you have any interest in Art, the Virginia Museum of Art is excellent.

Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. I am not personally a fan of Amusement parks, but BG is nice - clean, pretty, well run, great for a family day while in Williamsburg. Be prepared to spend a whole day.

Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, just South of Williamsburg is super interesting and you can rent a canoe for an hour or two on the adjacent lake.

Check calendar of events in Williamsburg so you do not miss something you would like to see. Also, there are often re-enactments in Yorktown, Jamestown and Newport News. Check those also.

The James River Ferry across to Smithfield area is fun in the evening.

Isn’t Monticello close to Charlottesville, not Richmond?
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 06:18 PM
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How about we fly down to Richmond, pick up a car and drive to Charlottesville and stay 1-2 nights, visit Monticello +/- other sights.

Then drive to Williamsburg and spend 4-5 nights there, plan for 2 days at Colonial Williamsburg, 1 day at Jamestown, 1 day at Yorktown, and 1 day at wherever else that we missed/need more time? Then drive back to Richmond to fly home.

(no thanks to amusement park. I get motion sickness so I can't go on most rides.)

P.S. I want to focus this trip on Colonial times/Revolutionary war. My son has just started learning more about it from our trip to Philadelphia, so we will leave Civil War for another trip.

Last edited by yk; Mar 4th, 2022 at 06:24 PM.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 07:58 PM
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I think 2 nights Charlottesville and 5 nights in Williamsburg would be great. In Williamsburg be sure to do some of the evening events -- concerts, dinner in one of the historic taverns, reenacted trials, etc.

Staying on property would be a special treat.
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Old Mar 4th, 2022, 08:04 PM
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Colonial Williamsburg is the ultimate experience of living history and eco-museum all rolled into one. It is the father and grandfather of such experiences. Because, on top of everything else, these are the actual streets exactly where it took place, not just a collection of buildings imported from somewhere else. There is enough there with activities (at least in normal times) to occupy and entertain you for many days on end. The restaurants are awesome experiences too. Add to that the actual Jamestown site, plus the Jamestown reenactment, plus the Battle of Yorktown, and it is quite the experience.

I recommend going to CW first before the Charlottesville sites.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 03:00 AM
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There are both revolutionary and civil war sites in Yorktown which might give you a link between the two areas.

if you take route 5 from Richmond to Williamsburg, you can stop at some of the plantations along the way and avoid some of the boredom of highway travel.

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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 06:14 AM
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Since i was one of those who suggested Williamsburg/jamestown/Yorktown as a possible April vacation destination I obviously think it would be a good choice. My husband and i both lived in the general area many years ago .we were last there five years ago and in Charlottesville in October 2019 and
we've been talking about going back in late April. There is plenty to do in the time you have.

i would agree with your idea of staying in Charlottesville if you want to visit Monticello. The Rotunda at the University is also right there. In addition to Ash Lawn (monroe home) you could also consider Madison's home, Montpelier. Its only about 30 miles away. I wrote a TR about visiting that site in 2010.

i would say at least two days in Williamsburg plus additional days for Jamestown and Yorktown. There will be a calendar showing events in williamsburg for the time you are there.
in 2017 my husband and I stayed in a room in a tavern owned by Colonial Williambrg right on the central street of the historic area. It is simply furnished in period style and might not appeal to your son but we really enjoyed it especially in the evenings and early mornings

if you wanted to do something else nearby, you can go to the south shore of the James River via a ferry from Jamestown. There are places to see there, too, including Bacon's Castle and Smith's Fort. A personal favorite is a lovely state park with plantation buildings, Chippokes.

i'm not sure what week you have off, but if it's the week of April 23, that's Garden Week in Virginia with many special tours around the state.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by shelemm View Post

I recommend going to CW first before the Charlottesville sites.
What is the reasoning for this suggestion?
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 05:04 PM
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You should never save the best for last on vacation. Always do the most important first. Two reasons:

It could very well be much more interesting, involved, and worthwhile than you can imagine. If you do it first, maybe you could spend more time there.

Second, you never know what might happen on vacation to disturb your plans. So do the most important thing first so you know you at least experienced that.

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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 02:55 PM
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Here's my Fredericksburg TR, yk, FYI:

Gabfest in Fredericksburg VA

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Old Mar 8th, 2022, 03:42 PM
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Just re-read that TR and see that it doesn't show much about touring...sorry. M and I returned for a second visit and took a horses drawn carriage tour that was very interesting but I still think Williamsburg and Charlottesville will give you plenty to see. Can anyone confirm?
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Old Mar 9th, 2022, 04:44 AM
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This is the TR i wrote about Madison's home, Montpelier, and a nearby section of tbe shenandoah park. In charlottesville you are very near to the end of the Skyline drive/beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Long weekend Virginia trip: Montpelier/shenandoah Park
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Old Mar 10th, 2022, 02:31 PM
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Thank you TDu and VT. I will take a look at them when I get some down time!
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Old Mar 10th, 2022, 04:39 PM
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With all respect to shelemm, I would stick with your original plan to fly into RiC and do Monticello before heading to the Williamsburg area. My reasoning for is that RIC is southeast of Richmond proper and a much easier drive from Williamsburg than Charlottesville for your exit plan.

I think the best bang for your buck with an 8 YO history guy who likes historical re-enactments will be the Wmbg-Jamestown-Yorktown triangle.

You may already be aware that there are paired sites to visit in both Jamestown & Yorktown. The NPS operates the original sites but Virginia's Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation has adjacent and related sites with more re-enactment and historical/cutural context. Visit them both if you can, especially Jamestown.
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Old Mar 11th, 2022, 06:42 AM
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My husband and i have been considering spending a few days in the Shenandoah park area and i was looking at staunton for the wilson library. I see there is also a museum of frontier culture that might appeal to your son. It is recommended in the Fodors destination section
https://www.fodors.com/world/north-a...e-museum-92576

this is not far from Charlottesville (although in the opposite direction from CW)
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Old Mar 11th, 2022, 04:19 PM
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All of you have given me tons of excellent ideas and suggestions. I went ahead and booked our plane tickets, and we will end up with 7 full days plus 2 half days. (We arrive Monday midday and depart the following Monday late afternoon.) Therefore, apart from 4 full days in the Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorkstown area, we will have 4 days in Charlottesville area and beyond, which gives us lots of time to go further afield. I need to do more research and decide if we want to head to Shenandoah area, vs Fredericksburg, or both. A friend of mine also told me about a cavern which seems really cool.
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Old Mar 11th, 2022, 05:27 PM
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Sounds good, yk. Is that Luray? Looks driveable from Charlottesville. I've never been and hope others will weigh in. Looking forward to reading your TR!
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 07:54 AM
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TDudette, I was also thinking of Luray Caverns. I'd think an 8 year old boy would be fascinated by the caves. It's got some touristy bits but in a fun kitschy way. I still recall going there as a kid and also had a great time taking our daughter there when she was 10. It's an hour or so from C'ville and takes you through some pretty parts of the Shenandoah.

Personally, I'd save Fredericksburg for the next trip b/c its sites are more focused on the Civil War than the Revolutionary War. Also it involves traveling on I95 which can be a nightmare any day, any time of day or night.
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