When it comes to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, I have a confession to make:
This is one museum I avoided visiting for years, and I was always glad I did.
Formerly called the Yorktown Victory Center, the museum was--by every account I read-- "not really worth the admission fee," and a pale, Revolutionary War sister museum of the superior and colonial-themed Jamestown Settlement.
So I saved my money and waited. I waited for a hoped-for renovation/expansion and a day when it would be worth my money.
That day is here.
After an extensive expansion, the newly-renamed American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is a powerhouse combination of indoor galleries featuring historic artifacts, hands-on interpretive exhibits, and videos, as well as outdoor living history areas where you can wander through colonial-era cottages, slave quarters, and field tents, and see live demonstrations of cannon and artillery firings.
While the indoor exhibits are probably better geared to adults, older teens, and kids really interested in history, even little ones will enjoy the outdoor farm and encampment with its live firing demos. They might even find some chickens and ducks to chase around!
My advice: Start with the orientation video (next to the Cafe) and then watch the award-winning "Liberty Fever," which provides a good 15-20 minute overview of the war.
One thing we missed (due to lack of time) but which I heard was excellent and not-to-be-missed is the "Siege Theater" which gives you a full-immersion simulation of the Yorktown battlefield.
Do allow time for the excellent gift shop, and of course, time in the encampment where costumed re-enactors provide fascinating demonstrations. You might even be chosen to help "fire" a cannon!
The museum is located at 200 Water Street, Yorktown, VA 23690, and is open year-round, 9 am to 5 pm daily (9 am to 6 pm June 15-Aug. 15), with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s days.
Admission to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Web only Combo Admission (also includes Jamestown Settlement - good for 7 consecutive days):
You can also purchase a "History, Shopping and Fun" admission deal (same price as the Web Only Combo Admission) which includes the above, plus a voucher for a. VIP Shopping coupon book for Williamsburg Premium Outlets, a Historic Yorktown Rewards card, and a Williamsburg Arts Map.
American Heritage Annual Pass - unlimited admission to both sites for one year
*Note: Virginia residents can take advantage of a web-only special and get this deal for $25.50 for adults and $12.25 for kids 6-12.
Jamestown/Yorktown 4-Site - (7 days of unlimited admission to both sites, plus Yorktown Battlefield and Historic Jamestowne.)
America's Historic Triangle Ticket - 7 days of unlimited admission to Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestowne, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Battlefield and the American Revolution Museum.
During the spring and summer months, you can combine some history with TWO amazing local theme parks with this deal:
Williamsburg Flex Vacation Ticket
Get unlimited admission for seven consecutive days and free parking to Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestowne, Colonial Williamsburg, the American Revolution Museum, Yorktown Battlefield, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Tickets are valid from the third week in March (or as soon as Busch Gardens opens) through the end of October. See my Water Country USA page for their season schedule, which is shorter.
Virginia Residents Deal:
Virginia residents can take advantage of a web-only special and get the American Heritage Pass (the annual pass) for $25.50 for adults and $12.25 for kids 6-12.
Local Residents Deal
Free admission is offered to residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William & Mary students.
Qualifying Zip Codes include: 23185, 23187, 23188, 23089, 23090, 23127, 23168, 23690, 23691, 23692, 23693, 23694, 23696, 23665. You must bring proof of residency to the visitor services desks at the museums.
Take a Ride on the Free Yorktown Trolley!
For a scenic tour of the Yorktown area, or to get to downtown Yorktown and the Yorktown Battlefield without having to move your car, take advantage of the free Yorktown Trolley.
Kids will love a ride on the colorful trolley, and you can view the sights, including the Yorktown Victory Monument, the fishing pier (near the entrance to the beach area), historic Main Street and Water Street, the shops at Riverwalk Landing, and the Waterman's Museum.
The American Revolution Museum of Yorktown has a small cafe which offers ready-to-go items like yogurt, drinks, and snacks, or you can place an order from their menu. It's not amazing fare (bacon, egg and cheese biscuits, mac n' cheese, pizza, quiche, etc.) and pretty much frozen and reheated food, but the prices are moderate ($5-$6 for a sandwich biscuit or pizza).
Carrot Tree Kitchens
A better choice if you have the time is to head to Carrot Tree Kitchens down at Riverwalk Landing. There, you'll find FAR superior food-- actually, it is delicious, home-style cooking, and includes their famous and sinfully rich, Carrot Cake.
Riverwalk Landing & the Waterman's Museum
On a nice day, Riverwalk Landing, which overlooks the York River, provides beautiful scenic views of the water, and boasts a number of shops (like Patriot Tours, where you can book a Segway tour of Yorktown) and eateries. I've detailed them here.
Nearby is the Waterman's Museum, which bills itself pursue as "to demonstrate the role Chesapeake Bay Waterman, from pre-colonial to modern times, have played in the shaping of our nation." I haven't been there, so I can't say if it's worth the money, but the admission fee is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, and free for active duty military and kids 6 and under.
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