Experience American history at Virginia sites

(Photo: Unsplash, Matt Briney)

History is fun in Virginia!

American history might only go back a few hundred years, but amazingly it is still alive and well at the Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. These two locations give new life to the pages of your school textbooks. There, you can see what the days were like for the early colonists in Jamestown, then travel to the nearby American Revolution Museum and compare their experiences to those of families and soldiers a century later. Both are pivotal times in the development of the United States and you don’t want to miss out on either experience. Take a day and spend it at these two great locations.

America’s first permanent English colony, the Jamestown Settlement, is an opportunity to embrace the experience of the early colonists. Living history re-enactments of a Powhatan Indian village, climbing on board the re-created English ships, and a colonial fort immerse visitors in the sights, sounds and even smells of daily life in the early 17th century. The interaction continues, and you can watch demonstrations and ask questions of the “costumed historical interpreters” (the official job title of the re-enactors).

Exhibits and galleries display artifacts and tell the story of European colonization. The impact of settlements such as Jamestown on the local Powhatan Indians is a fascinating topic to investigate. There is also information on the first Africans known to come to Virginia. The cultures of three continents coming together is an amazing look into the origins of America. The documentary they show, “1607: A Nation Takes Root,” starts your journey into the past. From there families can enjoy time spent learning just how different life would be if they were born 400 years ago.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown ramps up the action. The dramatic events of the Revolution can be seen throughout the museum galleries or on the 180-degree surround screen film. Visitors can watch “The Siege of Yorktown” then go on to tour and compare it to the modern day city.  Kids will love all of the activities at the Continental Army encampment and the re-created 18th century farm. Join the American regiment for drills or watch artillery fire while chatting with soldiers. This and so much more is embodied with the American Revolution Museum’s living history exhibits.

Both the Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will wow history lovers and get kids excited about learning. Set aside at least four hours to enjoy everything they have to offer. There are specials available if you decide to visit both on your trip.

Coming up shortly is the yearly event Military Through the Ages, Jamestown Settlement — military re-enactors and modern-day units show how uniforms, weapons and military tactics evolved through the centuries. You can see this impressive display of armed forces from March 17-18. There are live re-stagings, weapons and ammunitions use, re-enactments of battles, and more. Some of the costumed re-enactors tell stories, give lessons, and help kids make crafts, “weapons” of their own, battle flags, instruments, learn to lead (or take part in) battles, parades, cook on open fires, explain how life was in his or her time period. Explore (re-creations of) boats that once sailed the open seas — and how cramped the quarters were for sailors and settlers. Make sure you visit the re-created Native American village to get to know a bit about the people of the Powhatan Tribe. There is so much to do during the Military Through the Ages event, there is no way to get it all done. It is one of the most fun learning experiences you will have with your children — just don’t tell them how much they will learn.

Check out their websites for more details, tickets, and times.

Jamestown Settlement:https://www.historyisfun.org/jamestown-settlement/

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown: https://www.historyisfun.org/yorktown-victory-center/

By Samantha Feuss, Tribune News Service

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.