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Travel with Terri
Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown: Virginia’s Trifecta of Family Fun
Story by Terri Marshall, Photos by Gregory Holder
From lazy days at the beach, to backyard barbeques to family road trips, summertime is special. If you’re looking for a family vacation getaway, Virginia serves up a trifecta of family fun at historic Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown. Each community showcases the early days of America and the American Revolution, but the experiences are so much fun the kids won’t realize they are learning history.
Let’s start at America’s birthplace – Jamestown. Walk in the footsteps of Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and the men and women who settled England’s first permanent colony in North America. At Jamestown you can meet archaeologists and watch as they uncover the remains of the first settlement. Don’t miss the Archaearium where you will see skeletons reassembled from the remains found in the settlement along with numerous other artifacts and a newly opened Pocahontas exhibit.
Wandering around Jamestown, you may encounter Anas Todkill, one of the first settlers, or Rachel Stanton and her chicken, Giribaldi, or muster with Captain Bruster. Living history programs and tours are offered daily in the summer.
The kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge by exploring the island and learning about the history of Jamestown through the Jamestown Adventure scavenger hunt. Complete the hunt and earn a Junior Ranger Patch and certificate. www.historicjamestowne.org
Remember the Battle of Yorktown from your history lessons? I confess, I didn’t remember much until I experienced the driving tour of the Yorktown Battlefield. Pick up a CD in the gift shop of the visitor’s center and drive the battlefield under the direction of an American and English soldier. As you might expect, they don’t always agree or get along, but they bring the battle to life as they share the places where each battle occurred.
The people you meet at the Yorktown Victory Center have been around for hundreds of years. They will welcome you into their campsite and show you where they stayed during the American Revolution. If you want to appreciate your modern day doctor, stop by to see the camp’s surgeon. Once presented with the bone saw and other assorted medicines and “tools” you will never complain about another doctor’s visit. It is both eye opening and horrifying but it is definitely a history lesson. Don’t miss the boats at Yorktown; you will have a new appreciation for the conditions early Americans endured to reach their promised land. www.historyisfun.org
A walk through the streets of Williamsburg is a walk through history. Impromptu solicitations for military support of the American Revolution, cobblers working on the latest shoe fashions – from the 1800’s – and traditional chocolate making at the American Heritage Chocolate experience will leave you wondering if it is still 2014.
Explore the Revolutionary City through the eyes of an undercover agent with RevQuest The Old Enemy. Side streets become secret meeting spots, shop signs reveal hidden message and people aren’t always who they seem. You will receive top secret orders. Using your cell-phone to text headquarters for clues, you will move through the city to find and solve clues. Your wits and code-breaking skills will be the keys to solving this interactive spy game for your family. Best of all, the RevQuest experience is included in your Williamsburg admission.
Mission accomplished, take a walk to the Governor’s Palace to watch a demonstration by American Heritage Chocolate of eighteenth-century chocolate making that uses authentic original techniques and recipes. Yes, there was plenty of chocolate in the Colonial days. How do you think they coped with the loss of tea as a beverage? www.colonialwilliamsburg.com
Even school days have breaks for physical education and Williamsburg does the same at Go Ape Freedom Park, a tree top adventure course unlike any you’ve ever experienced! Go Ape has five zip-lines and about 40 obstacles spread over a series of loops. Conquer the obstacles and you can zip to the finish at each loop. You’re experience starts with on-the-ground training with an instructor. After graduation from training school, you are responsible for your own safety. Participants on the adventure course must be 10 years old and over 4 foot 7 inches tall. But, for the little ones, there is a junior course where the height requirement is only 3 feet 3 inches and there is no age limit. www.goape.com
For more entertainment, treat yourself to the luxury of an Elite VIP Tour at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. You will be paired with your own personal park tour guide who will contact you for a brief pre-visit consultation and plan a day at the park based on your interests. Animal lovers, coaster enthusiasts, show fanatics and dozens of other interests can be accommodated. The only limit is your imagination. During your visit, enjoy exclusives like front-of-the-line access to all of the rides, including world-class roller coasters. You will also enjoy reserved seating at all shows, complimentary meals and snacks throughout the length of your tour. www.seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/
Just think, when school starts again your kids will be at the top of their history classes – and they won’t even realize why!
Where to stay:
The Williamsburg Woodlands Lodge has 300 guest rooms and suites with modern amenities. Each room includes free WiFi, an iron and ironing board, coffeemaker, refrigerator, television, and digital clock radio. Those booking a Suite will also find a small microwave and countertop sink to enjoy during their stay. A Kids Fun Zone includes a playground, miniature golf and pool. The Huzzah Bar & Grill onsite serves a selection of burgers, sandwiches, barbeque and pizzas. Something for everyone in the family! www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/stay/williamsburg-woodlands
Terri is a freelance writer with regular columns on travel, chocolate and bar reviews. She is busy each month visiting new places to bring unique travel destinations and events to you. Yes, it is a sacrifice – but she is willing to do that for her readers! You can see more of Terri’s writing at www.examiner.com where she is the National Chocolate Examiner and at www.barzz.net. Also, check out her blog at www.trippingwithterri.com. You can contact Terri at email@example.com.
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