What Is The Founder's District?
The Founder's District is a robust collection of American history sites located southwest of Williamsburg, Virginia. The district encompasses 8 historical destinations that all played a part in key moments in early colonial America. Visiting these important locations is an excellent way to both enjoy the beautiful natural settings that Virginia has to offer as well as become immersed in the myriad stories that can be told about these lands.
What Areas Are Included in the Founder's District?
The eight locations that make up the Founder's District are:
- Jamestown Settlement
- Historic Jamestowne
- Colonial Parkway/Colonial National Historical Park
- James County Marina
- Chippokes State Park
- Jamestown- Scotland Ferry
- Hog Island Wildlife
When visiting the area, my family focused on two areas located in the district: Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne.
What Can I See When Visiting?
The Jamestown Settlement includes a beautiful indoor museum and a sprawling outdoor area that includes recreations of the fort and a Powhatan village with demonstrations of native life as well as other hands-on activities available for kids and grown-ups. Jamestown Settlement is a state-operated living history museum.
Along the shores of the nearby James River, you can climb aboard recreations of the three ships - the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery - that brought America's first permanent English colonists to Virginia in the year 1607.
A short drive will take you to Historic Jamestowne, which is the actual site of the original settlement.
Historic Jamestowne is the cultural heritage site that is the original location of the James Fort (1607) and the eventual 17th-century city of Jamestown. It is located on Jamestown Island, on the James River at Jamestown, Virginia.
The site is operated as a cooperation between Preservation Virginia and the U.S. National Park Service as part of Colonial National Historical Park.
Historic Jamestowne is adjacent and complementary to Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum built run by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
We visited both sites with our family to get the full experience of what life was life in those early years of the American colonies and for the natives that came before them.
Are These Sites Good For Kids?
It's so hard to balance keeping very young kiddos happy when visiting historical sites. Though I was insanely interested in learning about the rich history of the area, its natives, and the first colonists, meandering through a museum reading placards isn't much fun when you're too young to really understand the significance of such things.
No worries, though, because both Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne have done an amazing job with their exhibits and demonstrations that hit on all the senses, resulting in an experience that is as appealing to the adults as it is for the young ones.
While there is no photography allowed inside of the museum, take a look at some of the family activities we discovered when exploring the expansive and beautiful outdoor areas.
Is There A Lot Of Walking?
When we visited the area, our children were 6 and 4 years old. We had a stroller in tow in case their little legs and feet needed a break, but I found the amount of walking at the Jamestown Settlement museum and adjoining outdoor exhibits to be quite reasonable for kids (and great to burn energy!)
If you head over to Historic Jamestowne to witness the actual site of the settlement, however, there is a bit more walking required. I recommend a good stroller, toddler backpack, or baby carriers (for the super wee ones!) if you plan on visiting both sites, especially in the same day.
What's The Historic Jamestowne Townsite Like?
The site of the original settlement is still an active archaeological dig site. Many of the crumbling foundations you will see at the site are original, with some reconstructions done to mark the 300th anniversary of the settlement.
How Should I Prepare For The Weather?
The majority of the exhibits at both the original settlement and the Jamestown Settlement museum and outdoor areas are exposed to the elements. Here are some items I recommend bringing along to ensure you'll be prepared for any weather situation that arises during your visit:
- Sunblock, sunhats, and sunglasses
- Plenty of bottled water and easy, no-mess snacks for the kiddos
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Appropriate clothing for the weather - consider a sweater or jacket tied around your waist during times of the year where temperature can be unpredictable
- Compact umbrella and/or rain jackets in case of sudden Southern downpours (I've lived in the south my entire life - it happens!!)
We were caught in quite a rainstorm during our visit to the original townsite, but we were prepared with plastic stroller covers and raingear. In fact, the weather only made the immersion of the experience that more intense, as the somber lighting and mood of the dark clouds over the river helped to punctuate some of the somber tales of the settlement.
We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at both of these Founder's District locations and encourage you to make them a part of your plans when visiting the area!
Want to Learn More?
If you're interested in visiting any of the locations included in the Founder's District, I encourage you to visit https://thefoundersdistrict.com/ for more information. You can also leave me a comment down below if you have any questions about our visit to the area, especially if traveling with kids on a bus charter!
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