WHERE: THE HISTORIC TRIANGLE IN VIRGINIA, CLOSE TO Williamsburg and historic Jamestowne
MOM SCORE: 5/5
KID SCORE: 5/5 

The Jamestown area can be confusing – we’ve been and I still have to look up which is which. There are two Jamestowns to explore which are only five minutes ways from each other.

Jamestown Settlement is a reconstruction of the fort. The outdoor living museum has colonial interpreters who talk to you about their settlement and demonstrate for you their trades while the Powhatan characters show you their village, canoes, and lifestyle. Also outside are the three rebuilt ships from the original landing, and you are able to climb aboard the Susan Constant. Not to be overlooked is the state of the art Jamestown museum inside which also has two movies to view.

In contrast, Historic Jamestowne is a national park site on the ruins of the original landing site. Very different experience. Both great.

What is Jamestown Settlement?
Tickets
Parking and Getting Around
How Much Time Do I Need to Stay?
Our Favorite Places
Changes in the Time of Corona
Mom Tips
A Learning Life
Deep Dives
Where Should We Go Next? 

What is Jamestown Settlement?

Exploring the Powhatan Village at Jamestown

Thirteen years before the founding of Plymouth in 1620, Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement which was established in 1607 with the landing of three English ships carrying 105 passengers. With Captain John Smith as leader in 1608, the colonists fought starvation and interacted with the local Powhatans while other groups of colonists landed from England. Under new direction by John Rolfe, they attempted growing tobacco and other products to send back to England. The story of Pocahantas was just one of many interactions with the local Native Americans as the colonists moved further into their land, and slavery arrived in 1619. Long story short: Jamestown was the capital of the Virginia Colony until it moved to Williamsburg in 1699, and the town ceased to exist in the mid1700s.

Tickets

Adults $17.50, Kids 6-12 $8.25, kids under 6 are free. (prices as of Fall 2020)

This can be a combo ticket with the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown as they belong to the same group.  Also, be on the lookout for their annual homeschool days which lasts for about a month with extra programming and discounted tickets; the dates seem to coincide with those for Williamsburg.

Parking and Getting Around

Parking: Free and right at the Visitor Center with a nice big parking lot

Walk: Prepare the kids and wear the good shoes.

How Much Time Do I Need to Stay?

Talking with the Swordsmith at the Blacksmith Shop

Hours: 9AM- 5PM; outdoor living areas 10 AM- 4:30 PM

One of the nice things about Jamestowne Settlement is that there are many different types of areas to keep your interest. You could potentially zoom through the museums and go see the outdoor area which would take about an hour depending on the crowd I would say. But it might take you a whole day especially if you like to linger and ask lots of questions of the historical characters… Like us.

Our Favorite Places

  • Powhatan Indian Village – Explore the reconstructed huts as based on archeological findings of a nearby tribal village, watch and participate in burning out the inside of a canoe, and talk to the Powhatan woman as she makes tools and discusses village life.
  • Replicas of the three original ships which brought the first permanent English settlers across the Atlantic in a four and half month voyage in 1607. You are able to explore the Susan Constant and be informed by historical interpreters. The Godspeed and Discovery are also present on site most of the time.
  • The museum. At the time of our visit, the second floor of the visitor center had a nice art exhibit of nautical themes and ships. While not specific for Jamestown, my kids and I really liked it. Throw in some art appreciation while you’re here.
    Truth: We left for lunch and planned to go back to the rest of the museum later in the week. And we didn’t. It looked very well done, and we would have learned a lot. But one can only take so much history 🙂

Changes in the Time of Corona

Masks are required inside the museum and encouraged along with social distancing at the outside learning areas. Also, the historical interpreters will be wearing masks. Otherwise, the site is functioning at full capacity.

The Church in Jamestown

Mom Tips

There are picnic tables located outside the visitor center if you want to pack a lunch. There is also a cafe inside if you want to eat there as well as drink vending machines in the outdoor living area. We carried our water bottles in our bag and had no problem with this.

Sensitive subjects are discussed including slavery, starvation, and cannibalism.

A Learning Life

Check out the website for Jamestowne Settlement. It has lots of information including at home videos, history for mom to read, and demonstrations.
https://www.historyisfun.org/jamestown-settlement/

MOM LEARN

Jamestown is a fascinating place to learn about especially since it has some gruesome details we were never taught growing up! Not to mention, the more shocking the stories, the more likely the kids are going to be to listen. Right?

Podcasts

On your podcast app, search for Williamsburg. This is how I do Mom learning on the way to locations. A good way to look like you know more than you did the day before!
Ridiculous History – The Starving Time: When Jamestown Colonists Turned Cannibal
Today in History – First Enslaved Africans Arrive in Jamestown
A History of the United States – Episode 1 and on; Full history of Jamestown

PS: There’s a TV show called Jamestown on Prime. It’s on my list. I’ll let you know!

KID BOOKS

John Smith Escapes Again – covers the world adventures and escapes of John Smith before heading off to the New World
Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607 – by Elisa Carbone, a YA novel; There is a sequel Poison in the Colony: Jamestown 1622
Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac; this is a middle grade novel
Pocahontas by Da’ulaire

Headed on the Susan Constant

Deep Dives 

  • Now that you know the true story of Pocahantas and John Smith, watch the Disney version and discuss. What was different? Why do you think they changed it?
  • Would you have traveled to Jamestown if you had known the settlers who had already arrived were struggling to survive?
  • Why do we talk so much about Plymouth and not Jamestown?
  • Who was King James and why did he want a settlement?
  • What else was going on at this time?
  • What other countries were already in the New World? How did that affect these settlers?
  • And if you dare… Any other survivals that required cannibalism? Would you do it?

Where Should We Go Next?

  • Historic Jamestowne – You’ve seen the recreation. Go see how it stands today.
  • Williamsburg – The town was quite a step up from the small, original rough houses.
  • Henricus Historical Park – Chester, Virginia. Adults $9, kids $7
    Located: An hour northwest from Jamestown up the river toward Richmond
    Henricus was the second English settlement in 1611 as the settlers moved up the James River. Pocahantas was brought to Henricus where she was taught about Christianity and took the name Rebecca. Like Jamestown, it has a recreated Powhatan town, fort, church, and town buildings. It also offers weekly family field trip specials with an indepth Powhatan day.
  • Roanoke – The Lost Colony of Roanoke in 1587 was the first English settlement in the New World. And it’s story is even more mysterious than Jamestown!

Jamestown Settlement is a great living history adventure. Hope you enjoy!

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