As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
One of my absolute favorite places to visit is the Historic Triangle in Virginia. I remember visiting the area as a child. I loved it so much that I chose it as a honeymoon destination. As a family, we have visited several times over the years. You always hear people talking about Colonial Williamsburg, but the area has so much more to offer. In fact, in recent visits, my family has enjoyed our time spent at Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center much more.
Recently, we visited during a time when all 3 locations were hosting Homeschool Days. At Colonial Williamsburg, we were handed our wristbands and a map and sent on our way. When we checked in at Jamestown Settlement a few days later, we were handed a large packet of information that was made up especially for homeschoolers. It made us feel like we were special guests. I’ll be talking about our experience at Yorktown Victory Center in a later post, but wanted to share about our day at the Settlement. Even though we’ve visited several times before, it’s definitely a place that we can return to again and again and still find new things to learn and to do.
Jamestown Settlement is divided into 4 distinct sections. I’ll share a bit about each and what you can expect to find there …
The Gallery is a very well-done museum that contains exhibits that depict the cultures of the Powhatan Indians, Europeans, and Africans who converged in 17th-century Virginia and trace Jamestown’s beginnings in England and the first century of the Virginia colony. There is also an introductory film housed in a very nice, stadium seat-type theater. Going to the movie first, followed by a trip through the Gallery, is a great way to introduce what you will be seeing when you step outside.
Because it was calling for rain on the day of our visit, we saved the gallery for last, and it was also a great way to tie up what we had seen and learned outside.
There are signs through the gallery asking visitors not to take pictures (though I saw several people who, apparently, don’t know how to read!) Anyway, because of that, I don’t have any pictures to share, but I would highly recommend NOT skipping this portion of Jamestown Settlement. There are many hands-on areas throughout the museum to keep a child’s attention and encourage them to do some research and to learn more.
When you step outside of the Gallery and follow the path through the woods, your first stop will be at the Powhatan Indian Village. I love this portion of the Settlement. It’s filled with replicas of Indian longhouses and other exhibits, such as an outdoor cooking area where you can learn how the Indians prepared their meals. You’ll also find several live interpreters in authentic Indian clothing; each shares about a different aspect of Indian living, from cooking to hunting, tool making to basket weaving.
We also really enjoyed watching this young “Indian” man explain about their weaponry.
After leaving the Powhatan Village, you follow the path down to the river front, where you can see replicas of the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia in 1607 – the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and Discovery. The river is so beautiful and the ships are very well maintained (they’re sail-worthy too; last time we were there one of them had actually sailed up river to a special event so we only got to see two of them).
There were several sailors on board to talk to us about the ships. It’s amazing how small they were compared to the number of people who sailed on them. Everyone had to chip in! Brian and all the kids were recruited to help with various jobs on board! It was a neat way to show kids how much hard work was involved in sailing to the United States!
The last exhibit area at Jamestown Settlement is the James Fort. This area depicts the Virginia Company of London’s 1610-14 military outpost. Outside the walls of the fort, you can see some farmland, etc. but most of the exhibit area is housed within the fort walls. The buildings inside the fort include an Anglican church, a court of guard, a storehouse, a cape merchant’s office and a governor’s house.
Other Things to Do at Jamestown Settlement
Back inside the main building, you can grab a nice lunch in the Jamestown Settlement Cafe (we’ve eaten here a few times and the food is really good). There’s also a beautiful gift shop full of period authentic goodies, an extensive book department, craft kits, and lots of great souvenirs.
A unique museum of 17th-century American history and culture is located adjacent to the entrance of the original site, Historic Jamestowne, administered by the National Park Service and Jamestown Rediscovery on behalf of Preservation Virginia. While we didn’t visit here on this trip, we did stop at my favorite place – the Glass House – and watched the glassblower.
Plan Your Visit!
Jamestown Settlement is open year-round 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (until 6 p.m. June 15 to August 15), except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. There are various ticket options available including combination tickets with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. While Homeschool Days are offered twice per year, they also offer special rates for homeschoolers year-round.
It’s been about 6 weeks since our visit and we’re still talking about the memories that we made at Jamestown. I’d highly recommend it!