Discover the history of America’s first permanent English settlement and more with a fun-filled visit to Coastal Virginia
Get ready to explore the history of America’s first permanent English settlement, a mansion that has been part of history since 1859, a plantation that played a key role in three American wars and one of the nation’s largest maritime museums, which shares everything that floats. There’s plenty of fun in store with a visit to the home of Virginia’s native animals. All of this comes with shopping opportunities and culinary delights in Coastal Virginia.
Duration: 4 Days
Available: Year round
Ideal For: Adults
DAY 1-2: A maritime museum, the last remaining antebellum homes and more things to do in Coastal Virginia
Arrive in Newport News and check into one of the city’s group friendly hotels. Tonight, it’s a catered meal with adult beverages at Tradition Brewing Company. Following dinner, enjoy entertainment at the area’s leading performance center, CNU’s Ferguson Center for the Arts.
After breakfast at your hotel, delve into the rich history of Coastal Virginia. First stop is Lee Hall Mansion. One of the last remaining antebellum homes on the Virginia Peninsula, the home was used by Confederate Major General John B. Magruder and General Joseph E. Johnston during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign.
Close by Endview Plantation is historically unique in that all three wars fought on American soil have left traces at Endview. During the Revolutionary War, militia on their way to Yorktown enjoyed fresh water from the spring. The plantation was a training ground for troops in the War of 1812, while during the Civil War it served as a Confederate hospital.
For Coastal Virginia lunch and shopping, Hilton Village is perfect. Built between 1918 and 1921 as housing for shipyard workers during World War I, this planned English-style neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Next is a photo opp at “The Dorothy,” the first tugboat built by Newport News shipbuilding. Built in 1891, she still looks good.
Get ready to be engaged with the world’s waterways at The Mariners’ Museum and Park. The Nation’s National Maritime Museum offers more than 60,000 square feet of gallery space for exploration. Visitors are amazed with the rare figureheads, maritime art, hand crafted ship models, navigation instruments and artifacts from the Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor. The museum’s collection is an amazing 32,000 items.
After a brief rest at your hotel, enjoy a seasonal dinner menu at NEST Kitchen & Taphouse.
DAY 3: America’s first permanent English settlement and a living museum
Following breakfast at the hotel, it’s off to “Virginia’s Animal Attraction and Dino Destination,” Virginia Living Museum. The museum is home to more than 250 species of Virginia animals, plus native plants and geology and a planetarium. Go wild with fun and an educational experience.
Then, delve deep into history with a stop at Historic Jamestowne. Join a member of the Jamestown Rediscovery team at this active excavation site. There’s always a chance to see a 400-year-old artifact discovered. Finish your morning adventure with a visit to James Fort.
Next stop is Jamestown Settlement and lunch at the Jamestown Settlement Café with its varied menu of freshly prepared, sandwiches, salads and grilled foods. Through introductory films, generous galleries and much more, you will experience America’s 1st permanent English settlement. The Powhatan Indians, the English and the first Africans’ arrival in 1619 each have their story told. Outside, board the re-created three ships that sailed from England in 1607, explore the life-size colonist fort and Powhatan Indian Village. Costumed interpreters help visitors relive the history.
Dinner tonight is at Schlesinger’s Chop House a local Coastal Virginia favorite featuring corn-fed beef and fresh seafood.
DAY 4: Explore Coastal Virginia and the historic James River
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before checkout and departure for Surry and the experience of taking the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry across the historic James River. Coaches are permitted, but reservations should be made in advance.
The Hampton Roads Winery is just 10-minutes from the ferry landing. Located on White Oak Farm, established in 1898, and known for raising carriage horses for the New York City elite, the winery is housed in a modern carriage house, which blends nicely with the original Victorian home maintaining the historical integrity of the property. Besides producing several varieties of red and white wines, the Coastal Virginia winery boasts the World’s Tallest Goat Tower. Here you can enjoy a lovely glass of wine or one of their famous wine slushies, while feeding the goats and watching them scamper up and down the tower stairs.
It’s on to Smithfield and a tour of St. Luke’s Church and Museum. Virginia’s oldest brick church and an architectural masterpiece, the church serves as a living symbol of religious freedom. The grounds are quite lovely.
You’ll continue your Smithfield and Isle of Wight visit with a local historian, as you travel downtown to picturesque Main Street. There are plenty of shops and boutiques to fill your morning, but stay away from the ice cream. That’s for after lunch, which will be at Taste of Smithfield. Do try the ham that made the city famous. Now you can get that ice cream.
Depart Smithfield for home and wonderful memories of Newport News, Jamestown, Surry, Smithfield and the rest of Coastal Virginia.
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