Making history interesting to children has been a goal in parenting, as my husband is not only a history enthusiast, but also an educator. Throughout the years, we have visited several museums, historical landmarks and sites, but the best way to engage our children in learning about history has been living history museums. Being able to pose questions to interpreters, and experience a piece of daily life from a historical time period is the kind of hands-on learning that is memorable. Fortunately, for Richmonders, we do not have to travel far to experience these historical settings. Here are a few to visit; make it a family field trip! Many of these attractions are completely outdoors.
1. Henricus Historical Park: The closest in proximity to Richmond, Henricus takes visitors back to the 1600s. Our children especially loved learning about Pocahontas’s role at Henricus, and her conversion to the Anglican faith. Henricus recreates the first hospital in English North America, daily life over 400 years ago, including blacksmithing! Admission: $10 adults; $8 ages 5-12; free ages 2 and under. $1 Active & Retired Military
2. Colonial Williamsburg: Known as the world’s largest living history museum, a visit to Colonial Williamsburg merits an entire day, for there are streets upon streets to visit, with interpreters at every turn. Over 301 historic acres that include taverns, art museums, gardens, Governor’s Palace, homes and beyond, makes Colonial Williamsburg a unique experience. From visiting the Carpenter’s Yard to the Apothecary, the 17th century comes alive! Admission: $44.99 adults; $24.99 ages 6-12.
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3. Jamestown Settlement:Telling the story of America’s first permanent English colony through galleries, outdoor living history and film, families are sure to enjoy a trip to Jamestown Settlement. Learning about Powhatan Indians, English and Central Africans in 17th century Virginia is engaging through immersive displays and engaging interpreters. Don’t forget to climb aboard a re-creation of one of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607. Admission: $25 adults; FREE ages 15 and under
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4. Frontier Culture Museum: brings the past to life, specifically teaching about the lives of early immigrants. The museum has two separate parts: the old world, and America. The old world consists of several farms, homelands of the colonists. America depicts the life colonists made in the colonial back-country. Admission: $12 adults; $7 ages 6-13.
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5. Mount Vernon: We were astounded by how much time we spent at George Washington’s estate! In addition to touring the mansion, a visit to the Education Center, and visiting the grounds – must see George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, we had the fortunate chance to visit on Family Day. On these designated days, there are a slew of activities for families including crafts, several presentations by interpreters, specifically geared towards children. Admission: $28 adults; $15 ages 6-11; free for ages 0-5
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When your children discuss what they are studying in social studies, consider visiting one of the hands-on, living history museums in the Commonwealth to enhance their learning. As RVA locals, we are lucky to have a variety of choices!
— By Lindsay Garrison
Richmond on the Cheap contributor Lindsay Garrison is a Richmond, Virginia based mom to two young children. A graduate from Chesterfield Schools and Randolph-Macon College, Lindsay is proud to call Richmond home. In the years prior to planning activities and outings with her own children, she was a French teacher. During her tenure she earned accolades for her creative teaching style and ability to connect with her students. Lindsay now applies the skills she learned when she was planning student trips to France, to her own family adventures. She can’t wait to take her own children to France one day! Follow the Garrison’s family adventures on Instagram: @thegarrisonsrva
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