Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Family Vacation! Washington DC and Williamsburg Virginia

 Our final travel plans for the summer was to take a family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia (with a few days in Washington DC because we flew into DC).  The idea to travel to Williamsburg came from researching family vacation ideas and coming across this website, which got us excited to travel to this area of the country!  It truly was the most fantastic location to take a history and fun trip with the ages of our kids!  Below serves as our travel journal/photo album from this trip....

Friday August 6th: Fly to Washington DC

Today we flew to Washington DC.  After checking into our hotel late afternoon, we explored the National Mall, went up inside the Washington Monument, and walked to many other monuments.  We ended our day at the Shake Shack.

The cold marble inside the Lincoln Memorial felt great on such a hot day!!! (And Larkyn did a great job keeping up with all the walking, but she definitely had the shortest legs!)

Summer's hero: Elenore Roosevelt

Walking back to our hotel

Saturday, August 7th: Smithsonian Museums, Capitol, and Supreme Court

We started the day at the Museum of Natural History.  Summer and Paul ran over to the National Archives to view the Declaration of Independence and then we met up for lunch in the Sculpture Garden.  We then headed to the Museum of American History, and ended at the National Air and Space Museum.  After all of the museums closed, we walked over to view the Capitol.  No tours were allowed inside due to Covid, but it was definitely cool to view both the Capitol and the Supreme Court from the outside.  Larkyn liked the natural museum best (lots of animals!), Summer favored the second museum with all of the American history (and loved the first ladies exhibit), and Colton loved the space museum (specifically the exhibit on telescopes).   It poured rain for part of the day, but it hardly bothered us because we were able to be in museums for the better part of the day!  We ended our day with a food truck dinner, at Larkyn's request :).

Sunday, August 8th: Ford's Theater and White House

Today we picked up our rental car, and toured Ford's Theater.  We all found the attached museum fascinating, and spent much more time there than we thought we would.  We rented the audio tours which were interesting for all of us, but especially for the youngest two, who prefer listening to a story over reading all of the signs.  We then headed over to view the White House from the outside.  The kids are fascinated with the White House, and even though we couldn't tour it due to Covid, the really wanted to see it!  We did an icecream food truck lunch, and then got on the road for the drive to Williamsburg.  We stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner, and enjoyed exploring the Kingsgate resort after we arrived, which included a pool, mini golf, video games, yard games, tennis, and so many fun things to do together all on the property.

Monday August 9th: Water Country USA

We seem to bring record heat wherever we go, and this trip was no exception!  With heat indexes above 100 many days, a full day at a waterpark was a fantastic choice!  Several of the kids said this was their favorite day of the whole trip, and I would agree it was such a fun waterpark!  We got there shortly after it opened and stayed until almost closing!  SUPER fun!

Tuesday August 10th, Jamestown

Today we spent the day exploring Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestown, which are about a mile apart.   Jamestown Settlement is an extremely large and well done museum that traces the history of Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement) from the before the "first landing" in 1607, all the way through the 1800's.  It does a great job of teaching about all three cultures that merged (Native American, English, African Americans) in this community, and also includes a large outdoor "living museum" where we could walk through a reconstructed Jamestown (complete with dressed up settlers you could talk with), a reconstructed Native American village (complete with Native Americans in native dress, working on traditional projects), and tour/view full-scale models of the three ships taken from England to Jamestown (wow!  They were tiny in light of how many passengers they carried!).   Historic Jamestown, a mile from Jamestown settlement, was the actual landing spot and archaeological dig site for Jamestown.  It is a current dig site (only 70% has been excavated) and archaeologists were working on site while we were there.  Summer (our hopeful someday archaeologist) was ecstatic to go on a tour with an the head archeologist, and both Paul and I agreed it was our favorite tour all trip.  We learned so much, and our tour guide was not only interesting, but an engaging story teller as well.  There is also a museum on site that houses many of the artifacts dug up through recent excavations, which we all found especially interesting after listening to our tour guide tell stories about finding many of the artifacts we later saw in the museum.  We also enjoyed a living history presentation where a man performed a monologue acting out his character as one of the early Jamestown settlers as he gave us a "tour" of the site.  History really came alive today!  After dinner at a Mexican restaurant near our hotel, the kids enjoyed some air conditioned video Mario Kart at the resort.

Historic Jamestown

Fascinating tour with the head archeologist

Current dig site in progress

Another current dig site

All of the structures are reconstructed based on "pole" holes they have found during the digs.  These crosses mark some graves with interesting stories.

The stories about cannibalism that came out of this dig site were crazy.  The early settlers did not have it easy.

Model of the site

The site of the first landing

Historical Character Tour

Colton's favorite part was the ships!

Larkyn's favorite part was touring the Native American village

Any video games are a total treat for these kids, as we don't own anything of that sort!

Wednesday August 11th

Today we spent the day at Busch Gardens!  This was Colton's favorite day, and found a way to ride every thriller upside-down crazy ride he could!  We spent the day - from 10am open until 7:30pm - running all over the park!

Thursday, August 12th: Historic Williamsburg Day #1

Today we spent the first of our two allotted days in Historic Williamsburg, which is where the capital of Virginia moved after Jamestown, and remained until 1780 (when it was transferred to current day Richmond).  We toured the governors mansion, saw a show, and did the Freedom's Paradox Tour.  Unfortunately, the heat got to one member of our family, and what might have seemed just heat stroke, ended up being a fever of 103!  Needless to say, we spent the remainder of the day back at our hotel, in air conditioning, watching TV!  For our kids who rarely get to watch TV, they thought it was such a treat, lol!  Our little Larkyn recovered quickly and was fever free the rest of the next day, but we still kept her in our room due to the 24 hour rule.

Our tourguide for the governors mansion was so full of life and personality she made it so interesting!

All of the swords and muskets adorned the entry way to produce quite the effect on visitors, and were also used during the Revolutionary War (This was a reconstructed version of the hall but many of the guns were from the time period)

The ballroom was really fun to see, and hear descriptions of the goings on!

We learned about the different ways they would amuse themselves and this maze game was not only fun to learn about, but the kids enjoyed exploring the maze!  We all found it interesting that the adults would play Touch and Go, for which TAG is an acronym!

Watching a little production

Visiting the courthouse and learning how it worked, along with learning origins for words like "by standers" and "passing the bar".

Freedom's Paradox Tour

Our afternoon

Friday, August 13th: Williamsburg Day 2

Paul volunteered to stay with Larkyn as she recovered and was able to catch up on some work stuff while Larkyn enjoyed a whole day of TV, juice, and snacks (she quite enjoyed herself!)  The older two and I spent the day at Williamsburg - and it was FASCINATING!  I could talk for a while about each of the below pictures and what we learned, but I will summarize by saying we loved learning history from the many charismatic characters who doubled as actors and teachers as they taught about their character, trade/business, life, and more.  The day passed quickly and we felt as though we were living history.  Summer did not want to leave!  We ordered in pizza for dinner and spent the evening swimming at the resort.

Attending this production with Martha Washington was fascinating.

Saturday, August 14th: Yorktown

Yorktown completes the historical triangle of the area, and focuses on a very important last major battle of the Revolutionary War.  We started our visit in the Revolutionary War Museum, which had a fantastic outdoor living history area where we toured a model of what it would have looked like when the soldiers were camping (where they slept, cooked, medical tent, followers area, and more) as well as a typical farm during that time.  We then THOROUGHLY enjoyed being in air conditioning the rest of this VERY hot day, exploring the museum which had many great exhibits and films showing why the war was fought and tracing the history of the Revolutionary War, including a really interesting 4D film of the Seige at Yorktown.  After lunch, we did a driving tour of the battlefield, along with an audio tour app, where we saw the places we had learned about in the museum.  After an early dinner, we spent the final evening enjoying the resort.

Saturday, August 14th

Today we traveled home....the kids thought it was fun that we utilized 5 types of transportation on our way home.....3+ hour drive back to DC, 3 hour flight, and then we caught a lightrail, a bus, and then walked the last two blocks to get back home!   This was such an amazing trip - time together, time learning, and lots of fun memories.  What a perfect last trip of the summer!


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