We spent a week in Virginia staying close to Williamsburg and we thoroughly explored the historic triangle during that time. You really need a week as there is so much to see in this area.
This particular little town known as Historic Yorktown, is just a short 15 minute drive from Williamsburg along the scenic Colonial Parkway. IT is remembered best by Americans as it was place where the battle that resulted in their victory in the American Revolutionary War.
We spent a full day in this area and during that time we took the Alliance tall ship sailing cruise up the river. We took the free trolley ride through the town and you can walk around the town with a marked map by yourself but if you actually want to go in any of the historic places then that is when you have to pay. It was actually a lovely little town to walk around and many of the buildings were picturesque and photogenic and it helped that the afternoon we were there it was lovely and sunny even if it was not quite as warm as we might have liked.
PRICES AND OPENING TIMES
Adult - $14; good for 7 days entrance to Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield.
We chose to buy the LOCAL PASSPORT for America's Historic Triangle which is $83.50 for 5 Days this year and covered all the sites we wanted to see in the Historic Triangle from Jamestown through Williamsburg to Yorktown sites. All park grounds are closed at sunset. Yorktown Visitor Center: Opened daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
We started our day at the YORKTOWN BATTLEFIELD
This is part of the National Parks and as such the America the Beautiful card will get you in free or pay the price at the time. The entry fee also covers some of the other places of interest in the town so check to see if you are interested as then you get your full money’s worth. This is where the actual battle took place and they have built a Visitor centre there where you can watch a very good film telling you the story to the lead up, the battle and what happened after. There are exhibits and also the inevitable shop.
From the battlefield centre you can walk over the actual fields and into the earthworks where the battle took place. We drove around using the guide map to the battlefield sites, siege lines and encampments. It is too big to walk around and they have done the drive tour very well. If you are very into this area of history then you can go on a guided tour of both the battlefield and the town.
One of the interesting facts we learned during our visit was that Artillery played a decisive role in defeating the British at Yorktown. "According to Brigadier General Henry Knox, the American artillery commander, the Americans and French fired 15,437 artillery rounds at the British during the eight day bombardment. This is an average of 1.2 shots a minute!"
One of the sites you can explore are CORNWALLIS’ CAVE where he is reported to have his headquarters but in fact history has recorded that as actually located in a bunker near Tobacco Road.
The first place we visited when we arrived at Yorktown was the VICTORY MONUMENT which was built to commemorate the victory at Yorktown between 1881 and 1884. "ONE COUNTRY - ONE CONSTITUTION - ONE DESTINY" is the inscription and it is a tall monument with the figure of Liberty at the top . It is a memorial to those who died in the battle.
MOORE HOUSE is where they negotiated the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. This was well out of the lines of fire and on neutral ground and convenient for both sides to reach. The house was derelict until 1881 when repairs were carried out ready for the Centennial Celebration of victory.In the years between 1931 and 1934, the National Park Service restored the Moore House to its original colonial appearance. It is an interesting house and attractive too so worth a stop to visit.
NELSON HOUSE which is a restored mansion of Thomas Nelson Jr.who was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. The house was interesting to see as it still had a cannonball embedded in its outside wall. Inside the house is fully restored to its colonial appearance with reproduction furniture and is also part of the National Parks service so entry is included with your ticket.
The YORKTOWN VICTORY CENTER is open every day and in here you can learn the full story of the American Revolution, from colonial unrest to the formation of the new nation. There are many interesting exhibits and mini recreated scenes showing different aspect of the Revolutionary war such as an army camp and a farm of the 1780s. It was well done and s but not so large as to make you suffer information overload which we tend to suffer if a museum has too much in its halls.
There were many small museums and even more shop and places to explore but after walking all around the town with our map showing sites of interest, we decided we need some lunch before our sail on the Alliance sail so we headed to the river side shopping area and found a café for our lunch where we could sit outside and watch things along the river and enjoy the sunshine.
The shops in this area we all rather twee and gifty and very expensive so not tempting to us at all. Expensive children’s clothing and American home decorations as well as nik naks that were not to our taste at all.
If you are not interested in the historical Revolutionary stuff then you can explore the history of the river and those who earned their living on the river at the WATERMEN'S MUSEUM & GIFT SHOP which does cost extra and tells the story of the people who worked on and harvested the bounty of the bay in the past and to this day too. Then head for the WATERMEN'S MUSEUM MARITIME EXHIBITS which is free so we peeked in there and inside there are many artifacts and bits used by those involved in earning a living on boats .
This is but a quick taster of this rather lovely little town with its rich and interesting history. If you are there for a few hours then you will more than likely be able to catch the FIFES & DRUM band playing wearing their uniforms of the American soldiers in the Revolutionary war. They march through the town at different times and if you ask someone will point you in the direction of their performance times.
If you are interested in American history then Williamsburg and the historical triangle is well worth a visit. We spent a week in the area and managed to see quite a lot of both the Revolutionary period and then the Civil War as well. It is full of so much history and the stories are well told, the museums created in a family friendly way and the re enactments done brilliantly.