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Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Yorktown questions

Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Yorktown questions

Old Mar 28th, 2009, 04:33 PM
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Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Yorktown questions

We are going to spend a week in Washington DC in June. My son, 9, is VERY interested in Yorktown. Is it worthwhile to take a couple of days to go over to Yorktown? Would you recommend driving, train, or what?

I know there are several things to see--but how much time should we plan on spending in Yorktown and Jamestown if we do that? How about in Colonial Wiliamsburg? They seem very accessible to each other--is that true? We also have a 12-year-old daughter.
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Old Mar 28th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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I would spend a couple of days in Williamsburg. A whole week in DC for kids that age might be too much.

Williamsburg is a 3 hour drive from DC. As long as you don't try to drive during rush hours or beach travel times, you should be fine. You can take Amtrak from DC to Williamsburg but there are often delays on that route.

Yorktown is 15 min from Williamsburg in one direction and Jamestown 15 in the other.

You can search for details on all 3 destinations on this forum. If you have more questions, we'd be glad to answer them.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 03:29 AM
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The Historic Triangle (Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg) can be its own destination. That said, Williamsburg as a day trip from DC leaves one feeling rushed (I've chaperoned enough school trips to confirm this!), but seeing Jamestown and Yorktown in one long day is quite manageable. There is a shuttle that runs between all three locations; getting there is the main issue. Search "Historic Triangle" if you have not already done so. Like Birdie says, Amtrak is often delayed. When we visit the area from Northern Virginia, we are backing the car out of the driveway before 6:00 a.m. If you're interested, our weekend in Williamsburg with our 7 year old trip report from last summer is on this forum if you select my sign-in name--that might give you an idea of how we paced our trip.
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 05:52 AM
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I strongly believe in encouraging any special interest in a child that age, so of course you should visit Yorktown. If I were you, I'd rent a car in DC and spend two nights in the Williamsburg area.

Even if you took the train from DC to Williamsburg, you'll still have to rent a car, so the train would be just an extra constraint and expense. And I had a bad experience with the car rental place that's at the train station, albeit many years ago: they didn't have enough cars for everybody on the train who had reserved them!
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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Yes, it is definitely worthwhile to spend a couple of days in Williamsburg. (My son, too, had an interest in military history at that age and he goes off to college next year to study history on an Army ROTC scholarship.) But, as I am sure you will soon find out, there is too much to see in just a couple of days, so you will have to plan your time carefully. I would recommend a full day in Colonial Williamsburg and suggest that you research their website, www.history.org fully to find out what to see and do during your visit. There are often special programs, both during the day and in the evening, that would appeal to children the ages of yours. (If your daughter ever enjoyed the "American Girls" series of books, there's the tie-in to "Felicity".) You could visit both Yorktown Battlefield and Historic Jamestown (the sites administered by the National Park Service) in one day. You can go to the NPS website and read the park brochures before you go to find out what there is to see and do there. Don't miss the glassblowers at Historic Jamestown--my kids always loved that. Also, there are two other places your family might want to visit in connection to Yorktown and Jamestown, the Yorktown Victory Center and the Jamestown Settlement. These are NOT the actual sites of Jamestown and Yorktown, but I understand they have attractions which are well-suited for children. We always preferred going to the actual sites which are National historic parks, so I can't help with any info on the others. But check their website, www.historyisfun.org for info. Finally, just a heads-up that Williamsburg is the home of Busch Gardens and Water Country waterpark too. I assume your visit will be history-oriented, but Busch Gardens is a very nice amusement park if you and the kids want to go there too. (I always found the waterpark much too crowded to enjoy.)
Have a great visit!
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Old Mar 29th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Years ago, we toured Yorktown and Jamestown (both the settlement and historic Jamestown). One thing my son really had fun doing was the recreation of something (who remembers what?) at the Yorktown Victory Center. He got to dress up as a "redcoat" for the little skit.
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Old Apr 4th, 2009, 06:55 AM
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respectfully, I think some of the above is out of date, as I was myself until last April. Jamestown went crazy (in a good way!) for their 2007 400th anniversary - two other friends and I spent about 4 hours at the Virginia-run part just last spring and were blown away by it. the costumed docents did maybe THE best job I've EVER encountered at an historical setting (the long-haired fellow at the ship area looked like he could have easily walked off one of the boats himself!), the parts about the native americans: superb! you get such an amazing feel for what it was like to be a colonist -then, the NPS part is very open, trying to be on the recently-determined original area right at the river - they're actually amazing counterpoints to each other, and I'd highly recommend (given your son's interests and knowing it should appeal greatly to all of you): start the morning at the Virginia site, have lunch in the very good restaurant there, then head to the National part for the river view and the staking out of the original homesites. Of the two: i'd greatly recommend the Virginia part, if time or admission monies limit you to one.
I personally find Yorktown to be interesting but not as time-consuming, but I'm headed there myself in 2 weeks with the same friends (our annual couples outing: golf for the guys, history for the women) so maybe I'll be amazed at Yorktown, myself!
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Old Apr 4th, 2009, 06:56 AM
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and, as a native Washingtonian, now a Richmond resident, I need to add:
I totally agree about not making the full week in D.C. - a couple of days, then get out of the heat and the urban environment.
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Old Apr 11th, 2009, 09:39 AM
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We just returned from Williamsburg last night and loved it. I have 2 ds 8 and 11 and they loved Yorktown and Jamestown. We did those 2 first and when we did Williamsburg liked it but I think by that point were a little done with it. Loved the battle/weapons part and the 11 year old was able to be in the demonstration of the cannon shooting at Yorktown. They do an incredible job of bringing it all to life. The ships at Jamestown were a big hit too. I definitely think it would be worth the trip down from DC. Oh, at the Historic Jamestown site they are currently working on a archeology dig M-F that you can watch and talk with them. Very interesting. We got to see several items they had found just that morning. We saw them bring out some pipes.
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