History really kicks off when you get away from Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement is a great place to start.
Finding your way around Jamestown’s two settlement museums can be confusing but both are worth visiting.
In the southeastern river country of Virginia, there is a lot of history to take in and it is very worth it. Earlier we looked at whether or not Colonial Williamsburg is a must-see or something you can skip and now we move on over to Jamestown.
Jamestown is one of the most interesting historical locations I have ever seen.
It’s important to know which is which and why how each provide a different experience. I am going to break this down into both parts because if you are visiting, and you should, the offerings at each is worth entering.
Jamestown Settlement is not very big, at least not the original encampment. Located only a few miles from Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown is the first English settlement in America.
There is a lot to learn here and it is a bit confusing the first time you go. Jamestown Settlement is not the original settlement. There is a really nice museum and a “living museum” on the grounds that replicate a Powhatan Indian village of the period as well as a replica of the original Jamestown Settlement.
Located less than a mile from the original settlement, this “living museum” transports you back to that period of time and in some ways does it far better than what we saw at Colonial Williamsburg.
Passing through the village and the settlement will take you the shores of the James River where you can view and board one of the exact replica “tall-ships” that are on display. These working ships will sometimes leave their dock to travel to different locations around the east coast.
The original Jamestown settlement is located just up the road at another museum, the Historic Jamestown English Settlement and Visitor center. This is part of the National Park system.
Historic Jamestown is where the actual settlement is located. It even has an excavation tarp over a large hole in the middle where current historians are still discovering more about the location Here you will find the Pocahontas statue and on the banks of the James River, you will find the John Smith statue. More importantly, you get to literally stand where the first English colonists first arrived and settled in what eventually would be the United States.
There are grave markers in their original locations despite centuries of erosion that have taken parts of the settlement. Rebuilt walls of wooden spikes outline the perimeter of the space showing just how small the settlement was.
Standing on the banks of the river it is easy to picture the tall-ships coming down as far as they could before giving way to rowboats. Imagining a more lush vegetation on the other side of the walls makes you think about what they went through.
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Inside the museum, you get to learn about the swampy marsh around the settlement and why this location was chosen to settle. Adjacent to the museum is a free driveable area that takes you through other historical locations. The loop has stopping spots as well.
History can be fun and if you immerse yourself in it, you can learn a lot. I don’t want to give you the historical significance of Jamestown because it is something you should experience for yourself.
When grouped with Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown Battlefield which is only a few miles away, you can literally trace the earliest parts of American history from the first English footprints to the last push against the King of England. Jamestown is one of those family vacations that should be taken.
For ticket information, click here but know that the area typically has a pass that will include Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, and Revolution Museum at Yorktown.