There’s something magical about standing in a place where history was made. I’ve felt the same thing when visiting Ellis Island in NYC, Independence Hall in Philly and the Mississippi River.
Yorktown Battlefield (Part of Colonial National Historic Park) is about 2.5 hours south of DC, and is part of the Historic Triangle). It’s close enough to Williamsburg to stay for the weekend, but not too far away from DC that it could be part of a day trip.
So why is it such a grand place? Why should it be on your radar?
It’s the last major battlefield of the Revolutionary War. Yorktown Battlefield is where the Bristish Army surrendered to the Americans. Ever seen this painting?
Yorktown Battlefield has several ranger guided tours throughout the day, and I can’t recommend going on one enough. The rangers will literally walk you through the battlefield to paint a picture of what it was like in 1781. You can look off into the York River and Chesapeake Bay– and think what if Cornwallis had received the help by sea he was expecting. What is the American help hadn’t arrived sooner? What would it have been like if the American and French troops hadn’t overrun the two British strongholds at this place and that time?
There are also self-guided driving tours to explore the surrounding area. Make sure to get out and stretch your legs in the field where the British surrendered.
We took my daughter down to visit this past winter and she loved exploring the trails through the earthworks while we listened to the tour. Admittedly, we didn’t make it through the 15-minute movie before the tour. Instead, she explored the recreation of Washington’s camp, and a replica of a ship.
If you have older children, I’d recommend checking into the nearby Yorktown Victory Center afterward. Affiliated with Jamestown Settlement, it provides a glimpse into the American Revolution. Living history interpreters and exhibits chronicle the entire colonial time period. When we visited they were doing cannon demonstrations and we literally felt like members of the Continental Army.