Family Activities:

Historic Jamestowne


Historic Jamestowne

1368 Colonial Parkway, Williamsburg, 23081, VA

Young kids may not find much of interest in Historic Jamestowne, but older children and teens interested in history will. Historic Jamestowne is the site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World, established in 1607, 13 years before the pilgrims landed in Massachusetts.

The film in the Visitors’ Center provides some background. as you walk toward the river after watching the film, ignore the obelisk-like memorial and the statue — and pretend that the charming brick church isn’t there either. Concentrate on the wide James River, the two sides of the triangular palisade and the barracks under reconstruction. Those structures, and 104 men and boys helped launch the beginnings of America.

In summer, there may be an actual archeological dig to watch. More exciting are the dig’s finds, displayed at the Archaerium, the site’s small museum. Here, wine bottles, brass candlesticks, clay pipes, tailors’ shears and stirrups detail aspects of the colonists’ daily lives. A favorite item is J.R., the skeletal cast of a 19- to 22-year-old man that still has a musket shot embedded in its leg. Life wasn’t easy in Jamestown. Since J.R. is on loan to the Smithsonian this year, a representation stands in for him — but you can still see where the musket pierced his bone.