A few months ago, our family had a moment where our historic family adventures truly paid off. We love to include travel in our schooling and, along with another family, we’d embarked upon an incredible week touring the sites in Washington, D.C.
One of our favorite travel guide publishers, Moon Travel Guides, has sponsored this post. We love their Moon Virginia and Maryland guide and recommend it to any family planning a historic adventure through these states! Find the Moon Virginia and Maryland book at this link.
“Look around you.” I told my twelve-year-old. “Do you realized that every single one of those grave markers stands for a person. A human who served our country and made it their life’s mission to guarantee your freedom to live your life?” We were standing on a high hill in Arlington National Cemetery, on the banks of the Potomac in Virginia.
Her simple answer was, “Yes.”
“Does that make you think twice about the life you live, and the sacrifices made so you could life your life?” I asked next.
She looked around with a stunned look on her face as I watched her wheels turn. She answered “Hmmmm…I never thought about it like that. That’s a lot of people.”
“Yes. But this isn’t all of those that have served or died. There have been several hundred thousand more people who weren’t buried here.” At this statement. Her eyes grew larger. She glanced around and had an “O” shape to her mouth.
At that moment, I saw history, travel, and respect intersect to impact my child’s life in a way that forever changed her view of life, death, and service.
It’s those little moments of “Ah ha!” that make learning through travel such a wonderful adventure. And if you’re looking for learning opportunities, especially historic ones, then Virginia is the state for you and your family.
While there are adventures and learning opportunities all over the state, we’ve partnered with our favorite travel book company, Moon Travel Guides, to give you our top 3 educational travel opportunities in and around the state of Virginia.
3 Historic Family Adventures in the State of Virginia
1. The Historic Triangle –
Known as the place where “the British Empire began,” Jamestown is located on the banks of the James River in southeastern Virginia. Jamestown was the location of the first permanent English settlement in the Americas after several failed colonial attempts. About 20 years after Jamestown was established, Williamsburg was founded as a fortified settlement in 1632. These two early colonial towns, along with nearby Yorktown, are now some of the only locations in the United States where you and your family can walk through 400 years of history in less than a week.
Colonial Williamsburg is the central location for your family’s Historic Triangle visit. You’ll tour family homes of both the elite class and everyday commoners. You’ll see the Governor’s Palace and taverns where ideas for the American Revolution were born. Along the way, you’ll be delighted by historic re-enactments that take you and your children on a journey through time.
The old fort of Jamestown will be your next stop in the area. You’ll walk through the old footprint of the Jamestown Settlement, and you’ll be able to imagine what life was like in the harsh conditions along the James River for the first settlers. Learn more about a visit to Jamestown at this link.
To finish your time travel, head over to Yorktown, where you’ll walk in the footsteps of George Washingtong on the Yorktown Battlefield and tour the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Your kids will love their historic family adventures like seeing the re-created eighteenth century farm and outdoor living-history interpretations.
2. Arlington and Old Town Alexandria –
In a place where Old South Charm comes together with history and honor, you’ll bring Revolutionary moments to life for your little ones. Old Town Alexandria is a wonderful place of cobblestone streets and modern day shops. With a (FREE!) trolley that runs the length of King Street, your family will be able to take in the sights and sounds of this historic district that was home (or home-away-from-home) to many of our nations founders.
Alexandria’s key attractions for families are some of the most intimate and interesting museums in the D.C. area, like the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Alexandria Archeology Museum. Visit this link for a full list of Alexandria Museums
If you happen to have a Harry Potter Fan in your house, make sure you visit the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, where your bookworm can find ingredients like mandrake root and dragon’s blood!
A few miles up the road, you can take your children on a somber, yet important, trip through Arlington National Cemetery. With over 400,000 soldiers and family members buried on the rolling hills of Robert E. Lee’s former estate, one can’t help but appreciate those who have served the United States Armed Forces. In the Cemetery, you can find specific loved ones, visit the Tomb or the Unknowns and watch the changing of the guard, and see John F. Kennedy’s final resting place. Learn more about a trip to Arlington at this link.
Going the other direction out of Alexandria, George Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon stands watch over the Potomac River. A visit to the grounds will give your children the chance to see slave quarters, visit a historic kitchen, and even walk down the same stairs President Washington walked every morning. The grounds are beautiful, and your family could spend a whole day visiting and touring the historic home.
3. Richmond and Maymont –
Between the shores of Jamestown and the banks of Mt. Vernon lies the capital city of Virginia, Richmond. This small city has been an important site for many hundreds of years, dating back to Native American times. It’s been the capital of the Colony of Virginia, the second capital of the Confederacy, and now the capital of the state of Virginia.
A visit to Richmond is equally steeped in history and museums, and it’s a great place for historic family adventures. It’s also home to many different ways to experience history. Tour one of the historic homes on foot, take a ride on the Richmond Trolley, or even take a historic canal cruise to take in the many sites and locations. Find a list of museums for your family to enjoy at this link.
For a day of experiencing history and nature, we recommend visiting Maymont Park. Maymont was a family home and farm built in the 1890s. Today it’s a place where your family can see history, tour beautiful gardens, and see exotic animals all in one place.
More Family Adventures in Virginia
A visit to Virginia is perfect for a learning getaway. If you’re looking for more family experiences in the state, visit these other articles on adventures in Virginia.
More Historic Family Adventures on TCHSL
Don’t forget your Moon Travel Guide when you’re planning your Virginia adventure:
Visit this link for more information.
Helpful TCHSL Articles before your historic family adventures in Virginia