Family Vacations

Explore American History In Williamsburg, Virginia And Beyond

America’s Historic Triangle lets you combine education and vacation

The Vacationeer
Aerial view of the America's Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown in Virginia

Watch history comes to life on your next vacation. America's Historic Triangle encompasses three coastal Virginia cities with significance in early American history — Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement; Williamsburg, a living museum of early American life; and Yorktown, the site of the last battle of the American Revolution.

History buffs can experience the Historic Triangle at the Colonial National Historic Park, which includes Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield and Colonial Parkway, the perfect scenic roadway for fall foliage or a road trip. Or buy a pass to experience Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield.

However, there are plenty of other ways to explore history on an educational vacation — from indoor adventures to outdoor excursions — without breaking the bank.

Things To Do In Jamestown, Virginia

A wooden boardwalk through a forested area as part of Island Loop Drive, Jamestown, Virginia 

Head to Historic Jamestowne for a peek at early American life. Here are a few activities to try:

Insider tip: If you plan on visiting multiple national parks during the year, consider the America the Beautiful pass. Or research the park’s fee-free days, which often coincide with holidays like National Public Lands Day.

Hop on the free Jamestown-Scotland Ferry across the James River to Surry, Virginia, and visit Chippokes Plantation State Park — one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the United States — to learn about the lives of enslaved people.

Things To Do In Williamsburg, Virginia

Visit Colonial Williamsburg with a single-day art museum ticket to see thousands of early American artifacts. This ticket allows access to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and Bassett Hall, the beginning of Colonial Williamsburg’s restoration into today’s living museum.

The brick Colonial Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia on a sunny day 

Outside of Colonial Williamsburg, peruse the instructive exhibits at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, Virginia Musical Museum and Norge Depot Museum, a historic train station.

Rent a bike and venture onto Powhatan Creek Trail, which connects to the Greensprings Greenway Interpretative Trail, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution, the oldest continually cultivated farm in America and the Virginia Capital Trail. Plus, you can print off a scavenger hunt to keep young travelers engaged.

Pack a picnic to enjoy at Freedom Park, one of the earliest free Black settlements in the U.S. This park has historically accurate cabins with authentic 19th-century furnishings for a peek into the past, along with exhibits about the area’s excavation for aspiring archaeologists. Then get your heart racing at the park’s zip line course or relax in the natural beauty of Williamsburg Botanical Garden.

Revolutionary War-era cannons at Yorktown Battlefield in Virginia 

Things To Do In Yorktown, Virginia

Relive the action of the American Revolution at Yorktown Battlefield, part of Colonial National Historical Park. Or go to Redoubt Park to learn about the Civil War earthwork forts from the Battle of Williamsburg.

Stop by Yorktown Beach for a day of sand and sea. Keep an eye out for the iconic sails of a replica tall ship, which often moor in Yorktown to teach visitors about the importance of maritime travel in American history.

Then visit the Watermen’s Museum along the Riverwalk to see how Chesapeake Bay impacted the nation, from military watercraft to pirate ships. Or make time to attend a concert or yoga session hosted by the museum along the James River.

Where To Stay In America’s Historic Triangle

Stay at The Historic Powhatan, a Hilton Vacation Club in Williamsburg, for easy access to Virginia’s historic sites with all the comforts of a resort you need, including spacious Suites, indoor and outdoor pools, a tennis court, mini-golf course and a colonial-style manor house.

Read “6 Family-Friendly Things To Do Around Williamsburg, Virginia (That Aren't Colonial Williamsburg)” for ways to explore the colonial capital of Virginia.

HGV Newsletter Sign Up

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

Popular Articles