George Washington, in conference with the French General Rochambeau, decided that a combined land and naval battle in Virginia was now possible, as the French fleet was sailing north to the Chesapeake Bay. Washington then quietly moved the bulk of French and American troops from New York to Yorktown.
On September 5, the French fleet intercepted the British fleet outside the Virginia Capes and forced it to retire. Washington and Rochambeau arrived at Yorktown in late September and laid siege to the town. The British surrendered on October 19, 1781, virtually ending the Revolution.
To gain an understanding of events that led to America’s war for independence and the development of the new nation, start your tour at the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
The Yorktown Victory Center is undergoing a transformation with an imposing new facility, expanded gallery exhibits and enhanced outdoor interpretive programming, and will be renamed American Revolution Museum at Yorktown in late 2016. The museum continues to welcome visitors daily during construction.
Indoors, theater films dramatize the final military campaign of the Revolution and explore the American ideal of liberty. A timeline corridor provides a visual journey from the 13 British colonies in the 1750s to westward expansion of the new United States in the 1790s. The museum’s living-history program offers visitors the opportunity to experience Revolutionary-era life firsthand in re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and farm.
In the encampment, historical interpreters explain medical and surgical practices and the role of the quartermaster in managing supplies. Soldiers demonstrate how to fire a musket and recruit and train “volunteers” for positions on an artillery crew, then fire a very loud artillery piece.
At a Revolution-era farm, complete with a house, kitchen and tobacco barn, visitors can help the costumed historical interpreters tend seasonal crops and vegetables and lend a hand with daily chores, such as cooking, laundering and preparing flax for cloth. Special events and programs include Liberty Celebration in July, Yorktown Victory Celebration in October, Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia in November and A Colonial Christmas in December.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, located at 200 Water Street, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and until 6 p.m. from June 15 through August 15. You should allow two hours for your visit. 2016 admission is $9.75 for adults and $5.50 for ages 6–12. Children under 6 are admitted free.
A value-priced combination ticket is available with Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia. Call 888-593-4682 toll free or 757-253-4838 for more information or visit www.historyisfun.org.
Riverwalk Landing links the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and the Yorktown Battlefield in a one-mile pedestrian walkway along the York River. Park your car in the free parking terrace or dock your boat at the pier. Specialty shops, designed in the spirit of Colonial architecture, offer home decor, jewelry, clothing, art, wine, books, beach supplies and more. Dine at one-of-a-kind restaurants, overlooking the waterfront serving seafood and other fine cuisine. Stop by Water Street Grille and enjoy artisan pizzas, microbrews and live entertainment on the weekends. Carrot Tree, a Yorktown tradition offers breakfast, lunch, bakery and deli items, all prepared from scratch, including fresh-baked goods, wraps, salads, soups and famous desserts at this quaint sidewalk café. Or grab an ice cream cone and enjoy it as you stroll by the river or sit on the beach.
Arrange to rent a bike and enjoy riding around the Yorktown National Battlefield, the village or up the Colonial Parkway. Enjoy guided Segway adventure tours of the village in all seasons on any day that weather permits. Explore the waters with a pirate adventure cruise or sunset sail aboard Schooners Alliance and Serenity, rent a kayak or paddleboard or make your own fun on the beach. Benches lining the walk offer visitors the chance to sit and admire the natural beauty of the York River.
The waterfront features a performance area, an inviting beach and two floating piers—one to support larger vessels such as regional cruise ships and visiting tall ships, and the other for smaller personal watercraft such as day-trippers and pleasure boaters visiting the village, attractions and restaurants. A free trolley runs daily from spring through fall offering many stops throughout town and arrives approximately every 20 minutes to each stop. Visitors are encouraged to park in any of the public parking areas located throughout the village and hop on the trolley to enjoy the varied sights and sounds of historic Yorktown.
On many weekends throughout the year, visitors can enjoy live entertainment at Riverwalk Landing. It’s not unusual to see strolling performers or hear beach music one day and then find yourself listening to patriotic, jazz, beach music or country music the next. Weekly farmers markets are held May through October, and among the popular annual events are Blues, Brews & BBQ, Fourth of July, Virginia Symphony, Wine Festival and many Art events.
Of course, the holiday season is a special occasion here at river’s edge with a variety of events and performers to get your toes tappin’ and keep you coming back for more. Don’t miss the annual Tree Lighting, Lighted Boat Parade, Market on Main Street, Toyland Parade and the many Santa sightings throughout the season.
Riverwalk Landing is a one-stop destination for outdoor fun, dining and events. Whether it’s a day of relaxation or a day of fun, it’s here at Riverwalk Landing. Enjoy this experience, just a short drive from Williamsburg.
For more information, visit us online at www.RiverwalkLanding.com
2 Hour Sightseeing Cruises
Join the Yorktown Schooners Alliance and Serenity and step back into history as you sail the York River past the Battlefield where our country won its independence. Lend a hand at setting sail, look for dolphins or osprey, or relax with a beverage from our ship’s galley. Our knowledgeable crew will harmonize past with present as you glide along under a cloud of canvas. For those who love history, yearn for romance, or want a true sailing adventure, “Your ship has just come in!”
3 cruises daily from Riverwalk Landing Pier, Yorktown, late March through early November. Morning and afternoon cruises: $37 adults, $22 kids 12 and under. Sunset Cruise: $37 per person (no child discount). 844-724-5956. www.sailyorktown.com
Pirate Adventure Cruises
Bring the kids to Captain Mayhem’s School of Piracy aboard the Yorktown Schooners. They will join the Pirate Crew and help raise the sails, steer the ship, tie knots, learn sailor skills, get tattooed and fire the cannon! This cruise is sure to please young and old!
Late March to September $37 adults, $22 kids. Riverwalk Landing Pier, Yorktown. 844-724-5956. www.sailyorktown.com. The Ships are also available for Private Charters.