If ever traveling through Coastal Virginia, Colonial National Historical Park and Parkway should hopefully be on your schedule! This weekend J and I visited Historic Yorktown and battlefield; the site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. Where General Charles Lord Cornwallis’ Army (British and German) surrendered to General George Washington’s Army (American and French).
Colonial National Historical Park-Yorktown Battlefield is a 4,302 acre park, which engulfs Historic Yorktown. Yorktown is free to enter, and is a living community. So please be careful when walking around, not all the buildings are open to the public! If you want to check out the neat battlefield, be sure to check-in at the Visitor Center for the park. There is a NPS fee to drive around the battlefield and allied encampment areas.
We did not get the chance to visit the Yorktown Victory Center, which is a state agency facility operated by the Jamestown-Yorktown foundation. After visiting the sister building (Jamestown Settlement) earlier this year, I can assume it would be just as awesome! Our schedule didn’t allow us for a time to visit.
Click to learn more about the Yorktown Victory Center,
Check out our previous visit to Historic Jamestowne.
The Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center was very neat! Inside they have a short video explaining the siege and it was very informative. They have a replica ship built that you can walk through, as well as a few authentic artifacts to view. On display, they have portions of General Washington’s Campaign tents; which I thought was super neat!. When I asked the ranger at the desk about the Junior Ranger Program, she said I might be too old to do it, and that upset me a bit. As a fellow park ranger, I think the Junior Ranger program is a great way to learn about the park! To have information right at your fingertips and a way to get in-depth in connecting with the park. My evening program last summer was about all the ways/programs the National Park Service offers to encourage learning. Check it out here! I was able purchase($1) and complete the Junior Ranger program and receive my badge.
Located right next to the Visitor Center are some “earthworks” of the British Inner Defense Line during the siege. Earthworks are the physical mounds and trenches that the British and Americans dug for protection against artillery fire. These earthworks are seen throughout your drive through the Battlefield Auto Tour, which takes you around the siege lines and more. It is amazing! The earthworks are definitely the major thing that I remember from this trip. Just imagining having to build them with pick axes and shovels blows my mind. The Battlefield Tour road also follows the trail that many of the soldiers hiked on to get to and from the siege lines. The forest area was filled with other troops created tools and supplies needed. When visiting please stay on regulated trails that are marked by being either paved or gravel. I know it’s tempting but please do not walk on top of the earthworks! They are what’s left of one of the greatest moments in our Nation’s Revolutionary history.
One of the reasons why we didn’t have a lot of time to visit both the battlefield and the Victory Center; is because we had purchased tickets to go for a sail on the 105-foot gaff-rigged Schooner Alliance. Schooner Alliance is a beautiful boat owned by Yorktown Sailing Charters. They offer a wide arrangement of sails for all ages, and even have trips to the Caribbean in the Winter! You can go on a daily two-hour sail on the Yorktown River past the city and battlefield, a sunset sail, or even take the kids on a Pirate Cruise. It was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone! The crew was friendly and informative on both sailing and the history of the town. You can even help set sail if you wish!
The crew fired a small cannon on the sail as well! Check out my video below!
Yorktown, Virginia is an amazing little town with a whole lot to offer.
I will be visiting again in the future!