Visit Jamestown Settlement to experience living history

Posted By Katie on Oct 2, 2013

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Jamestown Settlement is a delightful living history museum that will interest people of all ages.  At Jamestown Settlement, experience the history of the first permanent English colony in America.  Jamestown was settled in 1607 when three ships sailed successfully from England to Virginia.  As you tour Jamestown Settlement, you will learn about the voyage of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery and what life was like for the 104 men who survived the voyage as they settled amongst the Powhatan Indians.Experience Living History at Jamestown Settlement |

The Museum at Jamestown Settlement

Start your tour indoors with a short film called “1607: A Nation Takes Root” shown every 30 minutes in the museum theater.  Take time to explore the artifacts and interesting exhibits in the new, world-class museum telling the story of Jamestown Settlement.  I spent an hour and a half in the museum with my oldest daughters.  Thankfully we had grandparents along to take the younger kids outside when they tired of the museum.

Jamestown Settlement

Stacking wood at Jamestown Settlement.

Living History exhibits at Jamestown Settlement

I was already thoroughly impressed when I left the museum, but then got outside to discover many hands-on exhibits that my children of all ages loved.  We walked through life-sized replicas of Jamestown Settlement, including tents and teepees, cabins, church buildings, etc.  Make sure to leave time in your visit to explore the outdoor activities.

Jamestown Settlement

Scraping out a canoe at Jamestown Settlement.

The living history center was filled with workers dressed in period costume helping us experience life in the early 1600s in Virginia.  We helped start a cooking fire, scraped hair off a hide to prepare skins to be made into clothing, and helped scrape out a tree to make a canoe.  My children dressed up in period clothing, climbed in canoes, pretended to fire cannons, and gave sermons from the pulpit in the church.

Jamestown Settlement

Firing a cannon at Jamestown Settlement.

The living history center wends it way from the museum down to the waterfront where you can board replicas of the three ships the settlers crossed in.  The life-size replicas gave us great perspective to the difficulties of the five-month voyage.  As I stood on the Susan Constant, the largest of the three ships, it was hard to imagine crossing the ocean with 71 men in such a small vessel.

We left Jamestown Settlement feeling like we could visualize just a bit what it must have been like to live in Jamestown in the early 1600s.

Jamestown Settlement

My daughter uses a shell to scrape the hair off a hide to prepare it to be made into clothing.

Good to Know

Where:  Jamestown, Virginia.  Just 20 minutes outside of Colonial Williamsburg.  Three hours south of Washington, D.C.

When:  Open daily 9:00-5:00.  Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Beautiful to visit in the spring or fall and less crowded than summer months.

How much:  $16, adult; $7.50, children ages 6-12.  Combination tickets available with Yorktown Victory Center.  Internet discounts sometimes available here if you purchase tickets in advance.

Amenities:  Restrooms, gift shop, small cafe, picnic tables.

Things to do in the Williamsburg Area

Looking for more activities for your family to enjoy after Jamestown? Check out our Things to Do in Williamsburg, VA for Guide for Families.


Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.


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