I started blogging in 2007 during an Air Force deployment to Iraq and kept at it when I got back. Since then, I’ve written for DadCentric, City Dads Group, Humor Blogs, and other sites. This site is primarily for our family travels and adventures, because I forget stuff if I don’t write it down. Our family trips include 2 girls (11 and 7) with a boy (9) in the middle; they’re led by a guy who’s deployed to Iraq twice, visited all 50 United States, run with the…
Wednesday morning of spring break 2018, we parked at the visitor center and walked across a long bridge that’s supposed to take you back in time a few hundred years, into colonial Williamsburg. I needed coffee, so our first stop was the Liberty Lounge, which offered free coffee and snacks to veterans (or current members of the armed forces). One of the volunteers inside was a retired F-4 pilot, so the two of us (plus my son) enjoyed discussing the evolution of military aircraft in the 20th century, which is not how I expected to spend my time in colonial Williamsburg, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
We then wandered into the courthouse, where my youngest played “clerk of court” and made the guide/lawyer laugh a bunch.
We saw a mock trial involving a defendant accused of gambling too much, but he was acquitted, thank goodness.
My son enjoyed discussing various weapons used in colonial times with a Native American.
We explored other buildings, like the Magazine & Guardhouse, the Governor’s Palace, the Mckenzie Apothecary, the theatre, the George Wythe House, Bruton Parish church (including Jefferson’s pew!), the Capitol building, and some stores and taverns.
We loved talking to the knowledgeable costumed guides in each building, learning about life in Virginia when it was a still a colony, and experiencing history lessons instead of reading them.
Then we browsed some of the stores in Merchants Square, pausing for a few minutes with Thomas Jefferson on a bench.
While not a national park, colonial Williamsburg was a great addition to our educational family roadtrip–lots to see and do, and well worth a full day (or more…there was lots we didn’t have time to experience)!
My advice to anyone planning such a trip is to book the extra activities in advance (ox cart rides, ax throwing, ghost tours, etc.) online. Since we could not get a military discount online for some reason, we bought our tickets in person the morning of our visit, and by then, all the “extras” were fully booked (as Fulton County, Georgia was not the only school district having spring break at that time). I hope we can go back sometime when we can see and do even more!
On Tuesday of spring break 2018, we awoke in downtown Richmond and arrived just after 9am at Tredegar Iron Works to see the national park service visitor’s center, so the children could get yet another junior ranger badge whilst we toured where the CSS Virginia (FKA the “USS Merrimack”) was built, along with a whole bunch of cannons for the Civil War.
The children (especially the boy) loved putting on Union and Confederate uniforms in the kids’ “dress up” section of the museum and learning about (plus climbing on and fiddling with) the cannons.
We’d noticed signs for an Edgard Allan Poe Museum the night before and decided to squeeze it into our plans in Richmond, given my visiting the Poe house and museum in Baltimore in 2006 and his house in Philadelphia on father’s day 2017, because when it comes to honoring writers I like, I prefer to come strong (as I did with Hemingway).
We were glad we went. The museum is housed in the oldest still-standing home in Richmond and honors the many years the writer spent living in the city. The children were mostly interested in the 2 cats on the property, but they also loved learning more about Poe’s life, having read some of his stories and watched a film on PBS about him last fall. We loved our very knowledgeable and suitably deferential tour guide, Debbie, and asked many questions even after her tour concluded.
Our next stop was the Maggie L Walker National Historic Site, where the kids’ second junior ranger badge of the day was earned. We toured the prominent lady’s 100-year-old house, learned how she started and ran a bank back when women (especially women of color) weren’t bank presidents, and how she organized a streetcar boycott for civil rights way before bus boycotts were cool.
Then we drove a couple hours east and toured Yorktown Battlefield, where the children earned their third badge of the day. Inside the visitors’ center was a ship to walk through and crawl all over; outside were cannons and the trenches used for cover that we could run on and around to give perspective to the battle reenactment we’d seen on the film in the visitors’ center half an hour prior.
The park was closing, so we drove into Williamsburg, had Italian for dinner at Maurizio’s Ristorante and then moved into our AirBnB–a cottage with a couple bedrooms and den sofa bed (plus a harp and other odd decorations)–where we’d spend the next 2 nights. Next up: a full day at colonial Williamsburg!