Our kids’ social studies classes taught them about the struggle and triumph of America’s forebears. But we brought them to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia to experience it first hand.
Upon arrival, we found ourselves in a living, breathing colonial town. With costumed actors performing the traditional trades of the time. Red hot hammering done by the town blacksmith; the manual labor performed in the woodshop; the delicious smells coming form the town baker; and a visit to the wig shop, complete with an explanation of why the colonial gentleman wore wigs.
Of course, the memories of this trip for my kids were different than for us parents. My kids clearly remember that the colonial boys didn’t have to attend school. They remember dinner by candlelight in one of the traditional Colonial taverns (a must-do, and reservations are strongly recommended). It was too dark, they complained, and we needed to explain that in Colonial times there was no electricity. My boys also remember what they ordered: peanut soup, watermelon relish and apple cobbler. It was an immense departure from their typical meal of chicken fingers.
In addition to the living colonial town, there is Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center. Here the boys were entertained by dressing in Colonial attire, complete with the patriot hats and pop guns. They played Colonial games with the interpreters –- much like a video game without the video part. Competing against other kids who could balance with one leg on a rock the longest. We had a blast.
Yorktown Victory Center included an enormous timeline of events that shaped our country. I found this particularly interesting, while my boys learned how to make thread from sheep’s wool and were surprised the "refrigerator" of Colonial times was just a deep hole dug in the ground.
The nice complement to this historic vacation is a trip to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. Here the boys rode some of the best coasters: Alpengeist, Big Bad Wolf, Apollo’s Chariot.
Colonial Williamsburg has a selection of hotels nestled within its boundaries, but the town of Williamsburg is home to a variety of accommodations, from affordable hotel rooms to more spacious two-bedroom condominiums. We’ve stayed at both the Woodlands Lodge in Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Hospitality House, just two blocks from the historic district.
We’ve found Williamsburg to be a destination our family could visit over and over again. And each time, we walk away with a new appreciation of the sacrifices, determination and patriotism that this great country was built on.
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Donna Mulligan is a full-time working mom to 3 hockey players, ages 18, 16 and 12. Her family’s favorite travel destinations include Killington, Vermont, the Adirondacks, Florida’s Gulf coast, and Quebec City.