The first time I visited Yorktown Battlefield, I walked away with stars in my eyes.
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?
It’s in the Rotunda of the Capitol. It’s in the history books. It’s an awesome place to visit.
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.
Visiting Yorktown Battlefield
- Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center- 1000 Colonial Parkway, Yorktown, VA, 23690
- Yorktown Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. The Nelson House, Moore House and Poor Potter are open as staffing permits. You can check hours of operation at the visitor center.
- Admission is $10 for a seven day pass to both Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield (aka Colonial National Historic Park). Children 15 and younger are free. There are also passes available that include Virginia’s living history museums (Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center) for $25-$35 per adult. A pass including those museums, Colonial National Historic Park, and Colonial Williamsburg is $75-$85 per adult.Multi-site passes are available here.
- 2013 Fee Free Days: April 22-26 (National Parks Week); August 25 (National Park Service Birthday); September 28 (National Public Lands Day); November 9-11 (Veterans Day Weekend)
More Nearby National Parks Fun on Today’s Mama
- National Parks Week- April 22-26. My favorites and bucket list NPS sites
- Fort McHenry- Just outside of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, it inspired the Star-Spangled Banner
- Historic Jamestowne- The first permanent European Settlement in North America
- Theodore Roosevelt Island- Sandwiched between Virginia and DC, this park is a refuge from the city