American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
In the spring of 1781, British General Cornwallis led his army into Virginia. Opposing him was the smaller American force led by the Marquis de Lafayette. This is where the last important conflict of the American Revolution was fought.
George Washington, in conference with the French General Rochambeau, decided that a combined land and naval battle in Virginia was now possible, as the French fleet was sailing north to the Chesapeake Bay. Washington then quietly moved the bulk of French and American troops from New York to Yorktown.
On September 5, the French fleet intercepted the British fleet outside the Virginia Capes and forced it to retire. Washington and Rochambeau arrived at Yorktown in late September and laid siege to the town. The British surrendered on October 19, 1781, virtually ending the Revolution.
To gain an understanding of events that led to America’s war for independence and the development of the new nation, start your tour at the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
The Yorktown Victory Center is undergoing a transformation with an imposing new facility, expanded gallery exhibits and enhanced outdoor interpretive programming, and will be renamed American Revolution Museum at Yorktown in late 2016. The museum continues to welcome visitors daily during construction.
Indoors, theater films dramatize the final military campaign of the Revolution and explore the American ideal of liberty. A timeline corridor provides a visual journey from the 13 British colonies in the 1750s to westward expansion of the new United States in the 1790s. The museum’s living-history program offers visitors the opportunity to experience Revolutionary-era life firsthand in re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and farm.
In the encampment, historical interpreters explain medical and surgical practices and the role of the quartermaster in managing supplies. Soldiers demonstrate how to fire a musket and recruit and train “volunteers” for positions on an artillery crew, then fire a very loud artillery piece.
At a Revolution-era farm, complete with a house, kitchen and tobacco barn, visitors can help the costumed historical interpreters tend seasonal crops and vegetables and lend a hand with daily chores, such as cooking, laundering and preparing flax for cloth. Special events and programs include Liberty Celebration in July, Yorktown Victory Celebration in October, Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia in November and A Colonial Christmas in December.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, located at 200 Water Street, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and until 6 p.m. from June 15 through August 15. You should allow two hours for your visit.
A value-priced combination ticket is available with Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia. Call 888-593-4682 toll free or 757-253-4838 for more information or visit www.historyisfun.org.
Immerse in an area as rich in American history as it is modern-day charm. Whether you book a riverfront hotel room or choose a quaint bed and breakfast, you will find yourself within walking distance of beautiful, sandy beaches and a charming waterfront village nestled along the York River. You’ll find several different restaurants, specialty boutiques, museums and outdoor recreational fun.
Yorktown is a must-see for anyone who wishes to fully understand the story of our nation’s birth. Travel back to October 1781 and tour the home where the commander of the Virginia militia negotiated terms of surrender that effectively ended the Revolutionary War. The original brick walls of the Nelson Home still bear the scars of cannonballs fired during that final clash at Yorktown. Explore the battlefields and walk in the footsteps of our founders—American heroes such as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to ensure our independence at the Yorktown Victory Monument—a statue first commissioned at the end of the war and completed almost a century later in the late 1800s. Take a short trolley ride down the road to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown which offers a comprehensive look at the struggles and victories from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution.
And as you reflect on the events that led to the creation of our nation, step back into the 21st century where art galleries, locally owned shops, and culinary temptations await. The Yorktown waterfront includes several one-of-a-kind eateries with vast menus featuring fresh seafood, artisan pizzas, gourmet burgers and even sushi. Everywhere you turn, you will find beautiful views of the York River, no matter the time of year.
From late spring through early November, the Schooner Alliance promises to make your trip even more memorable. Spend a romantic evening scanning the horizon for dolphins during a sunset sail or team up with a band of marauders one summer day when you embark on a pirate adventure cruise with the kids. Rent a bicycle to take a relaxing ride along the Riverwalk and historic Main Street. Or hop on a Segway for a guided tour that includes some lesser-known (but equally memorable) moments in history, and beautiful backdrops for snapping pictures. When it comes to exploring the town—the possibilities are endless!
Yorktown is joined by the scenic Colonial Parkway which travels from Jamestown to Williamsburg, and is located just 12 miles east of Williamsburg. While it remains much as it was during the waning days of the Revolution, it has become a premier travel destination for fine dining, shopping, outdoor recreation and special events. Whether it’s reliving the chronicles of America’s struggle for independence, taking a leisurely stroll down the Riverwalk with an ice cream cone or listening to the Fifes and Drums march down the street—there’s always something going on in Yorktown!
To book your next day trip or family vacation, check out www.visityorktown.org
Jamestown is where America was born. Williamsburg is where our nation’s ideas matured. Yorktown is where America became of age. Visit Yorktown Battlefield and take yourself back in time to where history was made.
A tour of the battlefield begins at the National Park Service Visitor Center (Colonial National Historical Park), where the battle on land and at sea is presented through a series of multimedia exhibits. You can walk through a full-sized replica of the quarterdeck of a British warship, view the movement of troops through a special lighted map display and browse the beautiful collection of Revolutionary War artifacts, including the tents used by General George Washington to plan the siege. A 15-minute film, The Siege at Yorktown, discusses the importance of the battle. Then, explore exhibits that focus on the 1781 Siege of Yorktown, the Battle of the Capes and British General Cornwallis’ campaign tables used during the siege.
Through careful examination of 18th-century military maps and archaeological excavations, the National Park Service has reconstructed a nearly complete picture of General Washington’s siege. Earth works and siege lines mark the positions of British and American troops during the battle.
Tours of the battlefield are conducted from the Visitor Center by park rangers. Park brochures, maps and audio tours are also available for a self-guided driving tour of the battlefield and encampment areas, as well as a walking tour of the town of York.
The National Park Service also maintains the restored 18th-century homes of Augustine Moore, where negotiations were conducted for the surrender of the British army, and Thomas Nelson, Jr., one of Virginia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Be sure to ask about these opportunities when you visit the National Park Service Visitor Center, or call 757-898-2410 for dates and hours.
Riverwalk Landing is a quaint waterfront village, nestled along the peaceful banks of the York River. Within a one-mile radius, you will find specialty shops, museums, art galleries and a variety of restaurants for the pickiest to the most polished of palates.
Whether it’s oysters, tuna or softshell crabs you crave, fresh seafood is always on the menu at Yorktown Pub, Umi Sushi and Riverwalk Restaurant. Choose from brick oven pizzas, gourmet burgers and more than two dozen local craft beers when you dine at Water Street Grille. Carrot Tree Kitchens is known for its scratch-made cakes and southern favorites like Brunswick Stew and Ham Biscuits. Satisfy your sweet tooth with decadent frozen treats from Ben & Jerry’s or the Famous French Toast at Beach Bakery Café. Enjoy burgers, subs and fried pickles at Larry’s Alehouse & Deli. Sit on the sand or benches to enjoy your meal as you watch the boats and wildlife pass by.
In addition to the many restaurants, you’ll find several stores designed in the spirit of Colonial architecture—selling nautical inspired home décor, custom-made jewelry, historical books, beach supplies and other unique items and services.
Walk in the footsteps of our nation’s founders and beloved patriots—men like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette—when you visit the Battlefield and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Both attractions are a short walk, or free Trolley ride, from the Riverwalk Landing Parking Terrace.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can tour the area by Segway, bicycle or paddleboard with rental options from Patriot Tours & Provisions. The captains of the Schooners Alliance and Serenity are also waiting to take you on a kid-friendly pirate cruise or a more intimate and romantic sunset sail, depending on the time of year you visit.
Riverwalk Landing is the community hub for free outdoor concerts, Saturday farmers markets, festivals and special holiday events. Annual highlights include the Blues, Brews & BBQ, Fourth of July Parade, Wine Festival, and Art Stroll. Each Christmas brings the Tree Lighting, Lighted Boat Parade, Market on Main Street, and Toyland Parade. Those arriving by water can dock at either of the floating piers which are equipped to welcome cruise ships, visiting tall ships and smaller leisure vessels. The public beach is also a perfect spot for fishing, sunbathing and swimming!
As you can see, this diverse travel destination has a little bit of everything! History and hospitality are just a short, scenic drive along the Parkway, from Williamsburg.
For more information, visit us online at www.RiverwalkLanding.com
Virginia State Parks
While in Williamsburg, visit York River and Chippokes Plantation State Parks. Both parks are filled with rich natural and cultural history. York River is known for its rare and delicate estuarine environment, where freshwater and saltwater meet to create a rich habitat for marine and plant life. Chippokes is one of the oldest continually farmed plantations in the country. Tour its antebellum mansion and Farm and Forestry Museum. Both parks have trails for exploring by bike, hike or horseback. Chippokes offers a campground
Visit VirginiaStateParks.gov or call 1-800-933-PARK.
2 Hour Sightseeing Cruises
Join the Yorktown Schooners Alliance and Serenity and step back into history as you sail the York River past the Battlefield where our country won its independence. Lend a hand at setting sail, look for dolphins or osprey, or relax with a beverage from our ship’s galley. Our knowledgeable crew will harmonize past with present as you glide along under a cloud of canvas. For those who love history, yearn for romance, or want a true sailing adventure, “Your ship has just come in!”
Three cruises daily from Riverwalk Landing Pier, Yorktown, late March through early November. Morning and afternoon cruises.
888-316-6422 | www.sailyorktown.com
Pirate Adventure Cruises
Bring the kids to Captain Mayhem’s School of Piracy aboard the Yorktown Schooners. They will join the Pirate Crew and help raise the sails, steer the ship, tie knots, learn sailor skills, get tattooed and fire the cannon! This cruise is sure to please young and old!
Riverwalk Landing Pier, Yorktown 888-316-6422, www.sailyorktown.com
The Ships are also available for Private Charters