Area Attractions and Activities
Colonial Williamsburg: Walk through time in this reconstructed colonial capitol. Follow in the footsteps of the founders as you walk the same streets they did.
The Historic Area of Colonial Williamsburg stretches over 301 acres, and includes 88 original 18th-century structures. Hundreds of houses, shops and public outbuildings are reconstructed on their original foundations. Some buildings are open to the public, while others are private residences and administrative offices.
In the Historic Area, don’t miss: the Governor's Palace, the embodiment of British order in the colonies, The Capitol, where you witness the vote for America's move to independence, The Raleigh Tavern's neutral setting which encouraged free debate, and The Magazine which held the colony's guns and ammunition.
Colonial Williamsburg features scores of events and activities that change weekly. On any given day or evening, you'll find a variety of walking tours, arts performances, political speeches, trades demonstrations, military exercises, fife and drum parades, and more.
Historic Jamestowne on Jamestown Island: The site of the first permanent English settlement in America. The mission of Historic Jamestowne is to preserve, protect and promote the original site of the first permanent English settlement in North America and to tell the story of the role of the three cultures, European, North American and African, that came together to lay the foundation for a uniquely American form of democratic government, language, free enterprise and society.
Come, walk in the steps of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas as we explore America's beginnings.
Yorktown Battlefield: On October 19, 1781, a British army under General Charles Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender to General Washington’s combined American and French army. Upon hearing of their defeat, British Prime Minister Frederick Lord North is reputed to have said, "Oh God, it's all over." And it was. The victory secured independence for the United States and significantly changed the course of world history.
Yorktown Battlefield offers Ranger guided tours of the battlefield and town. The park also has many events going on throughout the year that commemorate Yorktown's role in American history.
Yorktown Victory Center: America’s evolution from colonial status to nationhood is chronicled through a unique blend of timeline, film, thematic exhibits and outdoor living history. An outdoor exhibit walkway details events that led to American colonies to declare independence from Britain.
Indoor exhibition galleries recount the war’s effect on 10 ordinary men and women who witnessed the Revolutionary War, highlight the roles of different nationalities in the Siege of Yorktown and explore the story of the Betsy and other British ships lost in the York River during the war. Exhibits also describe experiences of ordinary soldiers, Yorktown’s importance as an 18th-century port and the development of a new government with the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Outdoors, visitors can explore a re-created Continental Army encampment, where historical interpreters describe and depict daily life of American soldiers at the end of the war. A re-created 1780s farm, complete with a house, kitchen, tobacco barn, crop fields, and herb and vegetable garden, shows how many Americans lived in the decade following the Revolutionary War.
The Colonial Parkway: The Colonial Parkway is a twenty-three mile scenic roadway stretching from the York River at Yorktown to the James River at Jamestown. It connects Virginia's historic triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Several million travelers a year use this route to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Virginia.
Along the Colonial Parkway, don’t miss:
- Archer's Hope where on May 12, 1607, the three ships that would the next day establish Jamestown stopped at this point of land, calling it Archer's Hope, after Gabriel Archer, who favored establishing the new settlement there. Today, it provides visitors with a panoramic view of the James River, of the western end of Jamestown Island, and a sweeping vista of the Colonial Parkway.
- C&O Railroad Underpass which is two bridges connected by overhead brickwork, carrying both railroad tracks and a road over the Colonial Parkway. The first of nine overpasses and underpasses to be built along the Parkway, this structure set the style for those that would follow. Built in the Colonial Revival style, this structure uses handmade bricks laid in Flemish or English bond with vitrified clay to present a more "historic" appearance.
- Accessed from a turnout on the Colonial Parkway, wayside exhibits at Jones Mill Pond tell of the pond and the mill dam showing on Civil War maps (and may have existed in Colonial times), as well as the advance made across the dam by Lt. George A Custer on May 5, 1862 during the Battle of Williamsburg. When the Colonial Parkway was opened in 1935, Jones Mill Pond was considered to be one of the most beautiful areas, with open vistas to both the pond and stream sides.