When I was a little girl, my grandparents took me on a special trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. I remember getting to tour the historical sites; I still have the bonnet they bought me as a souvenir. I knew that I had to bring my boys on a similar trip so they could explore the colonial time period in an environment that encourages learning through an interactive experience.
Jamestown Settlement provides visitors with a glimpse into 17th century Virginia and the English colonies that settled there. The culture is brought to life through live exhibits, gallery displays and films that tell the story of both the Powhatan Indians and the colonists that lived in Jamestown. It’s good to know that there are four main sections to explore: The Powhatan Village, the Shipyard, the Fort, and the indoor museum.
My two boys, ages four and two, have a lot of curiosity and energy. They need to visit museums where they can encounter and touch what they are learning about. Since the boys had some energy to get out, we started with the outdoors exhibit. We first came upon the Powhatan village, where you can walk through the village and learn about what life was like in the native world. My boys enjoyed grinding corn, learning about how baskets are woven and touching different tools and weapons. It’s great that there are actors dressed in period garb demonstrating and providing information. The day we went there were a few school groups; occasionally we would listen in on what they were saying to gain more interesting information.
Next we made our way down to the water to see recreations of the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery the first three boats to arrive in Jamestown. We climbed aboard each ship to explore and learn about ships from the colonial period. It was shocking to go below deck and visualize where the colonists spent a quarter of a year as they crossed the Atlantic. It was a lot of fun to learn how to steer the boat and navigate the ship. I really enjoyed hearing about the way they used the hour glasses, compass and other tools to track their location and progress.
The last outdoor section we explored was the Fort. There are many buildings you can walk through such as; the governor’s house, meeting hall/church, armory, and supply house. I their favorite part was watching the demonstration on how to fire a musket.
The indoor museum is gorgeous! There is a no photography policy so I don’t have a lot of pictures to share. The museum itself is huge; it contains three gift shops, two theaters and a many fabulous exhibits.
- If you are planning to visit a few historical sites in Williamsburg, I recommend spending an entire day at Jamestown. We spent most of the day at the museum and still had more to explore. Don’t forget to visit Yorktown so you can see the brand new American Revolution Museum that just opened March 2017.
- There is a cafeteria at the Jamestown Settlement, however, I recommend packing a picnic lunch if you come during the warmer weather months because it is gorgeous and there are lots of great seating areas outside. The Riverfront Amenities Pavilion located between the native village and the ships was the perfect place for a picnic. You will also find a family style bathroom in this area.
- If you need to bring a stroller the paths are stroller friendly.
- Don’t forget to print off the kids’ guides and scavenger hunts that Jamestown Settlement offers at home and bring with you.
- I also highly recommend visiting the brand new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Battlefield: https://theplayfulparent.org/2017/04/04/visiting-the-american-revolution-museum-with-kids/
2110 Jamestown Road, Route 31 S
Williamsburg, VA 23185