Jamestown Settlement and Colonial National Historical Park

While visiting Colonial Williamsburg with kids, definitely budget half a day to visit Jamestown. Learning about this first viable settlement of Virginia rounds out the historical understanding of the area (the residents of Jamestown later migrated 10 miles to settle Williamsburg).

jamestown-with-kids

Jamestown is divided into two sections: the Historic Jamestowne Colonial National Historical Park is the National Park property, and features the archeological dig site of the actual Jamestown fort. The Jamestown Settlement is run separately, and features recreations of the colonists’ fort, a Powhatan village, and replicas of the three ships used by the Jamestown colonists. It also houses one of the most impressive museums in the area. Which to do? Both!

Start with the Jamestown Settlement:

jamestown-with-kids

We recommend starting here, watching the 30 minute film, and touring through the massive indoor museum first. Yes, even in the heat. Why? The museum gives families an excellent overview of the time period (both in the colonies and in England and Africa), and really helps kids know what they’re about to see outside. The museum follows the journey of the Jamestown colonists, and then continues chronologically all the way through the 1690’s, when Jamestown gave way to Williamsburg as a the main settlement.

jamestown-with-kids

Then head outside: here you’ll find the fort, Powhatan village, and ships, all with interpreters in period costume ready to answer questions and demonstrate 17th century skills. This living history tableau rivals those in Williamsburg, with scheduled programs and impromptu conversations. We especially loved the canon firing demonstration and learning about the various levels of period dress.

jamestown-with-kids

In total, budget at least three hours for the Settlement. Picnic food is permitted in the picnic area out front (just show your museum map to regain entry) and there’s also a cafe on-site.

Admission:
Tickets are $16 for adults and $7.50 for kids 6-12. Separate admission is required at the national park site. It’s also possible to buy Historical Triangle tickets at Williamsburg that allows entry into both Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement.

Then head to Historic Jamestowne to see the dig sites:

jamestown-dig-site

This section of Jamestown is located approximately one mile away (clearly marked) and is a national park site. This is where Jamestown actually stood, discovered by archeological dig only 20 years ago. There’s a good museum here too, but if you’ve toured the Settlement museum, you may wish to skip this to head out along the boardwalk to the fort site. Here, kids can talk to working archeologists who are currently excavating the site, and see original brickwork and artifacts emerging. The site is right on the James River, and very interesting. We are only stayed one hour, but are very glad we included it in our day.

Admission: Adults are $14 and kids are free (15 and under). Pass holders are $5.

Date last visited:

June 2014

Distance from the interstate:

Twenty minutes from I-64.

Directions:

Both sites are approximately 10 minutes from Williamsburg. Follow signs along the Colonial Parkway from the Williamsburg Visitor’s Center.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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