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If you’ve ever wondered what life would have been like for the first English colonists who made America their permanent home, then you simply must stop at the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. We made the Jamestown Settlement part of our road trip to historic sites in the eastern part of the United States. Jamestown is one-third of what is known as Virginia’s Historic Triangle. Just to be clear–this is not the actual site of what is now called Historic Jamestowne. If you want to visit the actual site of the colony and see archeologists in action, then you’ll want to go to the site that is run by the National Park Service. If we’d had more time, we probably would’ve checked that area out, too.
In the end, we decided to visit the reenactment attraction, the Jamestown Settlement, because we thought that Kristin would learn more there. If you are not traveling with children, you may find that Historic Jamestowne will better meet your expectations, but we had a wonderful visit at the Jamestown Settlement. We really enjoyed the hands-on experiences in the Living History portion of the museum. It was a great way to learn what it would’ve been like trying to settle in America. We also experienced what life was like for the Powhatan people who were already living there.
On the day of our visit, we had already been to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown that morning. We purchased a combo ticket for both attractions. We found it easy to do both of these museums in one day. In fact, we also spent the evening in Williamsburg. We did spend our next day in Williamsburg, so I do believe you would be missing out if you tried to do all three in only one day. Also, as noted above, we skipped the actual site of Historic Jamestown, so if you don’t want to miss that, you may have to adjust your schedule to fit everything in. If you’d like to read more about our visit to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, click here. If you’d like to learn more about our experience at Williamsburg, click here.
Arriving at the Jamestown Settlement
When we arrived, we walked past this fountain with the ships’ masts. How pretty!
We strolled up to the main building and went inside.
The main building houses the huge gift shop, the ticket counters, and the museum gallery. We had our combo ticket, so we showed them our tickets, and then we were on our way. Since it was cloudy, and we weren’t certain about whether it would rain or not, we decided to do the outdoor living history sections first. Also, like at Yorktown, there were several school groups that we were trying to avoid, if possible. We walked straight to the Fort James area.
It was really fun to explore the buildings that the colonists would’ve built and try out the tools they would’ve used in the 1600s. Kristin tried on armor.
And Jeff did, too. I think Jeff enjoyed it more.
We visited the blacksmith of the fort.
We played a game of quoits.
We saw these hens wandering around.
We also tried our hand at manual labor.
We would be pretty tired if we had to use these tools all of the time.
We watched a musket demonstration. We also learned how the colonists prepared food.
We explored all of the buildings. There were little homes where the soldiers would sleep.
There was even a little Anglican church at the fort. Here we are going inside.
Fort James was a great place to explore!
After we thoroughly examined the fort, we decided to check out the ships at the pier. These are re-creations of the ships that the colonists would’ve used to sail to Jamestown in 1607. At the time of our visit, only two of the three ships were at the pier. Normally you can see the Godspeed, the Susan Constant, and the Discovery. I believe it was the Godspeed that was away. We were able to board the Susan Constant and see what it would be like to sail on a ship like this. The ships were much smaller than I had envisioned. I would’ve been terrified to set out across the ocean in one of these. Those colonists were pretty brave!
Here is the mast of the Susan Constant. You can see the exterior of the ship above in the featured picture.
We checked out all the nooks and crannies on the ship.
Here you can see where the ship would’ve sailed into the pier.
You can see a sailor interpreter in the picture below. The interpreters helped make history come to life.
We really liked going inside to see where the supplies were kept and where the cannons were.
Here Kristin is posing with the cannon.
We had such a great time checking out the details!
One of my favorite details is pictured here. The captain’s quarters had a little private door that led outside.
The Powhatan Village
After we had thoroughly explored the ships at the pier, we set out to find the Powhatan village.
Kristin tried her hand at corncob darts.
We saw this canoe that had been dug out. I love the rooster in the background!
We saw how the Powhatan people lived, including how they slept.
We saw the animal skins they used for warmth.
An interpreter had been working on making arrowheads. The stones are so beautiful!
Here is Kristin grinding corn. One thing we learned in the Powhatan village is that they kept food ready at all times during the day so that when the men returned, there would be food prepared for them.
After we had spent some time in the Powhatan village, we made our way through the beautiful woods back to the main building so we could see the gallery exhibits. You aren’t allowed to take pictures in the gallery, so I don’t have pictures of this part of the museum. I thought the gallery was well done. It told the story of the colonists and the Powhatan people. We learned how Pocahontas played a role in the story. The exhibits are immersive; you can walk into some of the displays and watch films. You can also see statues of Pocahontas and her father, Powhatan.
Ending Our Visit at the Jamestown Settlement
After we finished with the gallery, we walked through the gift shop. It was pretty large, and we were able to find a pewter magnet to add to our collection. We had a wonderful time, and now we understand a little more how the earliest history of Virginia and the United States happened. Although this isn’t the actual site, Historic Jamestowne is within two miles. If you’re looking for that immersive, hands-on experience, then the Jamestown Settlement is the way to go. We had a great time learning together as a family, and I know Kristin will remember her experience here. If you are planning on going to Williamsburg, I highly recommend adding the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and the Jamestown Settlement to your itinerary. These three attractions do an excellent job explaining how the United States came to be. We will always remember what we learned at the Jamestown Settlement!