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Historic Triangle

Three historic hot spots that decided the course of America

There’s no better way to learn about the European settlement of North America than by paying a visit to the Historic Triangle. Situated between Richmond and Norfolk in southeastern Virginia, the Historic Triangle consists of Jamestown, the New World’s first permanent English settlement; Williamsburg, the colonial capital during the American Revolution; and Yorktown, the site where the nation gained independence from Britain.

Packed with living history museums, cultural exhibits and fun events, the Historic Triangle transports you back in time so you can experience a history lesson unlike any other. Get to all three areas by cruising along the gorgeous 23-mile Colonial Parkway. Along the way, you’ll be treated to sweeping vistas of the James and York rivers and lush pine and hardwood forests.

Visit the Americas’ First Permanent English Settlement 

Start your Historic Triangle adventure in the place where it all began: Historic Jamestowne, located on the James River near the Atlantic. This living history museum immerses you in 17th-century Virginian life, thanks to recreated British ships, a Powhatan Native American village and a replica of a colonial fort.

Begin by watching “1607: A Nation Takes Root,” a film that reenacts the landing, and then visit exhibition galleries for an in-depth overview of Jamestown’s beginnings. Afterward, make your way to the Powhatan Indian Village to gain insight into the indigenous way of life. Learn about Pocahontas, the Native American woman who played a pivotal role in the colony’s success. Demonstrations show how the Powhatans made food, tools, cordage and more. Walk past the village, and you’ll stumble upon replicas of the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, the first ships to arrive in Virginia and start the permanent English colony.

Step aboard the moored vessels to learn how sailors piloted the ships during their journey and to see what shipboard life was like. Costumed interpreters add to the experience, and visitors will even get to try steering with a whipstaff—the predecessor to the steering wheel—or tiller. Finish your journey at the recreated James Fort.

Featuring an Anglican church, court of guard, storehouse, governor’s house and many thatched-roof houses, this fort takes you back in time to 1610-1614. Exhibits educate visitors about the trials endured by settlers who braved the tough conditions of the New World.  During your stay, you’ll get to put on armor, play games, try your hand at farming and watch interpreters make wood and leather goods using tools from centuries ago.

History and Thrills Come to Live in a Revolutionary City

Fast-forward a century and visit the biggest living history museum in the country. Colonial Williamsburg is a 300-acre “city” boasting an entire neighborhood of original buildings, replicas of colonial homes and reconstructed trade shops and taverns. Experience what life was like in the 1770s as you tour 88 authentic colonial buildings and 90 acres of picturesque gardens. While you’re here, see where Patrick Henry gave his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech. Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson, and stop by George Washington’s favorite seafood joint.

Costumed interpreters add authenticity to the streetscapes, as shopkeepers, marching soldiers, tavern patrons and farm families never break character. Here, you’ll also find the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Meander through its halls to see an impressive array of British and American antiques from the 17th to 19th century. Featuring everything from ceramics and furniture to firearms and art, this museum gives you an even deeper glimpse into vibrant colonial life.

During your visit, you can see famous figures such as Benjamin Franklin walk the streets as the Revolutionary War gains steam. Hear fiery orators exhort the crowd and watch the local militia march out to face the British. Colonial Williamsburg offers evening programs that focus on witch trials and ghosts.

After exploring Colonial Williamsburg, pop into the present and head to Busch Gardens Theme Park for the ultimate adrenaline rush. Ride pulse-pounding roller coasters, savor phenomenal dining options and take part in fun events.

If you’re here in the spring, sample delicious food from all around the world at the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival. Not far away is Water Country USA, the largest waterpark in the mid-Atlantic. Cool off during the hot summer months on over 40 slides and water rides.

See Where the Revolution Ended in Battlefield of Yorktown 

Nestled along the York River, visit the site of the 1781 Siege of Yorktown, in which forces led by General George Washington vanquished the British army. Today, it’s part of the Colonial National Historic Park, with the Yorktown Victory Center and Yorktown Battlefield open to the public. Within the Yorktown Battlefield is the visitor center, which plays the 16-minute “Siege at Yorktown” film. Peruse the museum showcasing George Washington’s field tent and other intriguing artifacts from the battle.

Outside, take a guided or self-guided tour to see the siege lines and visit the place where terms of surrender were accepted. Another popular attraction here is the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Home to dynamic exhibits, films and outdoor living history, this museum covers colonial beginnings leading up to the creation of the Constitution. Play with interactive exhibits, watch artillery demonstrations or drill with wooden muskets in the outdoor living history section.

For More Information

Virginia Tourism Corporation

804-545-5500

www.virginia.org