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Kathryn

Jamestown/Williamsburg advice?

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I searched with google, but it's only pulling up twelve threads and I know I've seen more than that over the years. 

I had planned to take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg for Homeschool Days this spring, but DH got the flu and it didn't happen. Should I wait until fall for the next one or go next month when we finish school (we just finished Colonial America/Revolutionary War)? What's the advantage of going during Homeschool Days?

And I'm looking for advice on lodging, how long to stay, what to do, etc. I'll need room for five (two adults, 12yo, 8yo, 4yo). We'll drive up from 6 hours south and plan to do Jamestown first. 

I know there are two Jamestown sites. What's the difference? Time required for each? If only doing one, which one?

Any and all advice welcome/appreciated!

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I’m not sure about the Homeschool Days.  I think there are some activities held.  We went at a different time. It was awesome.  We went to the visitor’s center and got homeschooler tickets, which were significant discounts.  (This was several years ago.)   There are two Jamestown sites:  one is where it actually was. There’s archaeological stuff and exhibits.  The other is Jamestown Settlement, which is a recreation of both Jamestown and a Powhatan Village.  There’s a visitor center and movie.  My kids LOVED it.  They recommend 2-3 hours, but we were there at least five.  We’ve stayed at time shares with friends, and once did it but had to go to the selling seminar, which was annoying.  There’s also a Great Wolf Lodge.  There’s a fantastic playground near the Duck Donuts shop, which is a must do!

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Both Jamestown’s are worthwhile, but if I had to choose, definitely Settlement.  Yorktown is nearby and also great, even more if your kids like Hamilton.  

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I would plan one day for Jamestown Settlement, 1-1.5 days for Colonial Williamsburg and possibly historic Jamestown, maybe one day for Bush Gardens or Great Wolf Lodge, one day for Duck Donuts, playground, and Yorktown.   Might sneak a game of mini golf in.  

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Homeschool Days usually offers a bit more for the kids at a discount - so it's more emphasis on learning with stations set up.  We went during a holiday weekend, though, and Williamsburg was great.  We had a fantastic tour guide through the governor's mansion, met craftsmen who were passionate about their work, and everyone we talked to was able to tell us a lot more than when we started.  We did not eat lunch within the historic section, though, but went right outside the street to a little cafe (it was raining and the few restaurants inside Colonial Williamsburg were full.) Still, great food. 

We have done Jamestown Settlement.  If you want it to come alive for your kids, I'd suggest reading the book Blood On The River before you go.  It follows young Samuel who ends up working for Capt. Smith on the voyage and building of the fort.  It is not graphic and bloody, like the title suggests, though deaths are mentioned.  Our goal is that during our next time in the area we follow it with the archaeological site of Jamestown, but the replica fort/Powhatan Village/ships/museum of the settlement were enough for my then middle schooler.

I cannot help on where to stay, but if you extend your trip to include the theme park then you might want to check out the hotel offers they have on the Busch Gardens site.  They do a thing called a Williamsburg Bounce Ticket that offers unlimited admission to the theme parks and Colonial Williamsburg during your stay at a participating hotel, which seems to be all the hotels in Williamsburg.

If you want to go more rustic, there is a KOA with cabins nearby and a few other campsites (not sure if they do cabins).  I know we preferred to stay where the kids can run safely when mine were little. :)

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There are some more things for the kids during homeschool days (next ones are in September). 

We loved Williamsburg last year.  We stayed at the Goveners Inn at a cheap rate during the summer.  No frills but it has a pool and offered a basic continental breakfast.  We did the summmer Williamsburg/ Busch gardens deal as it was about 75 more than the homeschool deal.  Do the ghost tour-  very neat and not expensive.  Our guide told us stories of other employees experiences.  The Cry Witch ( for your older child) was very good and really kind of eye opening for one of mine. 

Two places that were very good and not too pricey to eat-  cafe/pub on D.O.G. Street and cute coffee shop ( bonus this does not close early) near the fifties looking place.  Near the coffee shop and candy store was this hidden gem of a old bookstore.  We ate in one of the taverns and it was fine.  Across from the tavern was the pirate dinner which looked awesome and I wish we would have done it.  

We did 4 days and we did about everything. 

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I’m all ears. We never did this vacation when mine were little, but they are up for going now because we’re huge history people. Is Busch Gardens good? That would be a nice bonus. 

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I love Williamsburg.  We have been twice and I would go again. 

I know nothing about homeschool days so I can’t advise on that.  

Lodging-when we went, we rented a 2br timeshare unit at Powhatan Plantation.  We like it there and would do that again if we were to go again. However, we get timeshare units at a discount through armed forces vacation club.  If you don’t have a military or former military person in your family, I don’t know what the regular rates are. Also, we went like 8 or 9 yrs ago so I hope the condition of the resort is still the same. 

I personally LOVE the Jamestown archeological site and I would love to go all by myself and spend as much time as I wanted looking at all the original stuff. DH and DD22 were much more interested in the replica settlement.  Which is still a good place to go, plenty of things of interest. 

Someone mentioned the ghost tour.  We LOVED the ghost tour.  But we love any ghost tour in any historical place.  

For me, Yorktown was just kind of eh. 

Virginia Beach is near enough for a day trip, but in spite in the fact that we have been there twice, for a full week each time, we have not yet made it to the beach. 

The first year we went, we did take a day trip up to DC. The drive isn’t long and none of us had ever been. 

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We liked the replica of a settlement at Yorktown more than Jamestown or Williamsburg.  We went early when the weather was still cool, and we walked around to all the little displays they had: people in costume taught us how to make cornbread, how to saw wood, how to shoot guns (not really shoot them...it was a demonstration), etc.  We liked it because it wasn’t overcrowded and we felt like we could get very close to the demonstrations.  But Williamsburg was also a lot of fun, though it felt more commercialized.

We stayed in a townhouse at the Historic Powhatan Resort by Diamond resorts.  We stayed with another family and it was super cheap to split the cost with them. I can’t remember what the costs were and it might be too much for a single family to pay.  It looks like they have regular hotel rooms as well and not entire townhouses (but with the townhouse, we could cook all our own meals.)  http://www.historicpowhatanresort.com/?mkc=PHRPPCVNL&utm_source=Adwords&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=PPC MKC - PHRPPCVN&gclid=CjwKCAjwlIvXBRBjEiwATWAQIspGlbqO4NIXFwxQaaO_GhfNe0Jn1Wdof0c8btmM6PKpbkgpNJIjbxoC0X0QAvD_BwE

 

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6 minutes ago, Garga said:

We liked the replica of a settlement at Yorktown more than Jamestown or Williamsburg.  We went early when the weather was still cool, and we walked around to all the little displays they had: people in costume taught us how to make cornbread, how to saw wood, how to shoot guns (not really shoot them...it was a demonstration), etc.  We liked it because it wasn’t overcrowded and we felt like we could get very close to the demonstrations.  But Williamsburg was also a lot of fun, though it felt more commercialized.

We stayed in a townhouse at the Historic Powhatan Resort by Diamond resorts.  We stayed with another family and it was super cheap to split the cost with them. I can’t remember what the costs were and it might be too much for a single family to pay.  It looks like they have regular hotel rooms as well and not entire townhouses (but with the townhouse, we could cook all our own meals.)  http://www.historicpowhatanresort.com/?mkc=PHRPPCVNL&utm_source=Adwords&utm_medium=PPC&utm_campaign=PPC MKC - PHRPPCVN&gclid=CjwKCAjwlIvXBRBjEiwATWAQIspGlbqO4NIXFwxQaaO_GhfNe0Jn1Wdof0c8btmM6PKpbkgpNJIjbxoC0X0QAvD_BwE

 

Clicking on the link, I think this is the same place we have stayed, just a new name/brand

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We went to Williamsburg during the homeschool days last fall. The discount during that time made it worth it over going any other time. If you can, go for a couple of days. We tried to see everything on one day and it was a LONG day, from the morning opening show to the ghost tour. I have no advice on lodging because we stayed with my mom in Richmond and just drove to Williamsburg in the morning and back at night.

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I've been going to Williamsburg since 4th grade American history, although I haven't been there nearly as often as I have to Disneyland, lol. And I've never been during Homeschool days, so there's that.

It takes me two days to do Williamsburg properly, so that we can see everything but there's no rush. The Governor's Mansion is usually not included in the pass (because we just usually get the pass), but it is worth paying the extra.

I like to do breakfast one morning at the Old Chickahominy House.

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16 hours ago, Fifiruth said:

I’m all ears. We never did this vacation when mine were little, but they are up for going now because we’re huge history people. Is Busch Gardens good? That would be a nice bonus. 

We did Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens when my kids were about 9 and 13. I was dreading Busch Gardens and looking forward to Williamsburg. Williamsburg was a complete bust. It was outrageously expensive and sooooo boring that I couldn't wait to run through it and leave. I will never go back. I've been to similar museums like this (living history type) and have enjoyed them. Otoh, even though I am not an amusement park fan and had an all day pass, I rode just one roller coaster at Busch and had a GREAT time!

A few years later, we went to Jamestown on a whim, and we loved it. It was 90 degrees and drizzly, sweltering hot, but it was so much fun, the replica ships, the grounds, the indoor museum. We did this on Homeschool Days, and the price was really cheap.

IF you are in the area, one of our favorite museums (tie with the Smithsonian art museum in DC) is the Mariner's Museum in Newport News. We read up first on the Merrimac/Monitor. My kids were a bit older at that point, maybe 12 and 16, but it's very hands on, fun for little kids too. It's a newer museum, super clean. We all loved it.

 

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When we went 8 years ago, we got a "historic triangle" pass good for 5 days I think that allowed us into Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown any time we wanted. We did a day at Yorktown (probably our least favorite) and a day doing both Jamestown sites (re-creation site probably best for very young kids, but my 7 and 10 yo loved both), and several days of popping in at Williamsburg which was our favorite. It was very hot, so it was nice to have those passes where we could come and go and just do several hours at a time instead of a whole day. Our other tip--at that time you could buy a plastic mug for something like $11 but then you could refill it with soda for free at several locations within Colonial Williamsburg. We stayed at a timeshare owned by extended family--it was wonderful.

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We went 2 years ago and my boys still talk about what a great trip we had.  We also did the homeschool discount (take your NOI or official documentation for that) on the "historic triangle" pass.  We went in March (very last minute trip when the weather turned beautiful for a week) and spent 4 days.  We did both Jamestown sites (my boys were 10 then and we all preferred the re-creation site), did 1.5 days in Colonial Williamsburg, and a day doing the driving tour of Yorktown (we bought the CD in the gift shop on site).  We had an awesome time and really liked the Yorktown driving tour.

We stayed at a Springhill Suites and Hampton Inn - we needed to move hotels when we added that 4th day to our trip.

I don't like to go anywhere like that during homeschool days, spring break, summer vacation -- LOL.  Too many people.  My boys got a lot of attention from all the tour guides the week we went because we went before spring break and there weren't any big field trip groups there.  It was lovely!

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We live down the road.  I don’t know anything about the homeschooling days.  We are just in kindergarten so we haven’t been for that.  Everyone has given good info on their experience so I thought I would just chime in with stuff that locals do in case you have down time, and some things I didn’t see mentioned above that you can do at some places.  Kidsburg (huge park), if it’s raining the WISC has a nice indoor playground with laser tag, and rock climbing walls.  Yorktown has a cute beach area with a pirate ship ride (a bit pricey), and a trolly that is free to ride around on for fun. At Jamestown there is a ferry...my kids think that’s fun to do.  There’s also a go cart place, but I’ve never been there so I’m not sure what it’s like.  There’s a couple of cute old fashioned general stores that are fun to visit.  Duck donuts is a neat place to visit.  Pierce’s bbq is a popular place and always packed, but sooo good!  Yankee candle is amazing, and they have little things for kids to do.  Of course great wolf lodge, Busch gardens, water country, and kings dominion are all here too, but those are vacations all on their own!  Hope that helps!

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On ‎4‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 4:43 AM, Terabith said:

I would plan one day for Jamestown Settlement, 1-1.5 days for Colonial Williamsburg and possibly historic Jamestown, maybe one day for Bush Gardens or Great Wolf Lodge, one day for Duck Donuts, playground, and Yorktown.   Might sneak a game of mini golf in.  

This.  And lunch at Pierce's Barbeque!

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I like the BBQ place, but if you want to have a sit down meal, Food for Thought is really good, family friendly, and reasonably priced too.

We've always stayed at Great Wolf, just because they run specials all the time and it works out to marginally more than a regular hotel, but with that waterpark. Seems like a no brainer. You do the history all day, let the kids burn off all the "we focused hard all day!" energy at the pool.

I've only ever gone during homeschool days (well, with the kids anyway), just because it's that much cheaper. Like, crazy cheaper. But I also live close enough that I can go on a bit of a whim but not so close that it's an everyday trip. So if we were traveling from farther away to make a special trip of it, I'd probably choose the time that worked best for me. My experience is that homeschool days are not that crowded overall if that makes a difference. They are not held during the iffy weather, as someone said, but during the low attendance times. In the fall, that's actually during good weather most of the time. But during the spring, it's super iffy.

I haven't been in a couple of years, but if they're still doing RevQuest, my kids thought that was really fun. We did two of them (they're different each season). So our agenda was usually wander around a bit and see the museums and the Governor's Mansion one day, do RevQuest and wander around some more the next.

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No advice to offer but I remember watching an "Extra" when our TV service had Fox News Channel, when the viewers in the USA were being shown commercials, about the Jamestown Settlement.  What they went through was incredibly difficult and there are some awesome stories to be learned there. As I recall, the history of the USA would be much different, if some of them had not survived. I hope you will do some reading on the history of it before you go, because otherwise it might be overwhelming.  I experienced overwhelming many years ago, the first time I saw Pyramids (near "Mexico City")   If you prepare before your trip, you will get more out of it! Enjoy!

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