National Historical Park -
About the Park
Colonial National Historical Park consists of multiple sites in southeast Virginia. The principal components of the park are Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, and Colonial Parkway, which connects the two sites. This page discusses Jamestown; an overview of Yorktown is here.
Jamestown is the first surviving English settlement in the United States. Visiting "Jamestown" can be confusing! Here's an overview:
"Historic Jamestown" is the name given to the site where the Jamestown colony was actually settled in 1607. Management of Historic Jamestown is split between Colonial National Historical Park and an organization called Preservation Virginia, which calls their half of the site "Jamestown Rediscovery." Despite this division, Colonial NHP and Jamestown Rediscovery co-manage the site as a single experience. Colonial NHP runs the Visitor Center and collects an entrance fee both for themselves and an additional fee on behalf of Jamestown Rediscovery.
"Jamestown Settlement" is a mile north of Historic Jamestown and is run by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. It has a museum and full scale replicas of the James fort, the Jamestown ships, and a Powhatan village. It also collects its own fee.
The Jamestown Glasshouse, which is just south of Jamestown Settlement, is run by Colonial NHP.
Things to do:
The Visitor Center has a small museum and film.
Historic Jamestown can be visited in under an hour, with or without a tour. Both Colonial NHP and Jamestown Rediscovery offer 30-45 minute tours.
The Archaearium, or archeology museum, shows archeological findings in and around Jamestown.
The Jamestown Glasshouse is a mile north of Historic Jamestown. Demonstrations and active glassblowing occurs throughout the day every day that it's open.
Other Things to See:
Jamestown Settlement. Though not associated with the NPS, this is a fun way to experience the history of Jamestown. In many ways, it's actually a more engaging and accessible experience for kids than the actual historic site.
The Jamestown Colony and the local Powhatan people feared each other and frequently fought each other. Is there a way to show compassion towards those we fear may do us harm? How can we prevent the outbreaks of fights with those we fear?
Though kidnapped at first, Pocahontas eventually chose to live with the Jamestown colonists and marry John Rolfe. It's unknown why she made this choice, though explanations have ranged from fear to love. What do you imagine it might have been like for her - living among a new people with an entirely different language and culture?
Before going into the Archaearium, imagine what kinds of objects you think might have been found at Jamestown. Does what you see in the Archaearium match what you thought? What can these objects tell us about the lives of the people who lived here?