Williamsburg, Virginia is recognized worldwide as the leading center for preserving and interpreting colonial history in America. The significance of Williamsburg is seen in its 300+ year old history: it’s the home of the College of William and Mary - the second oldest institution of higher learning in America; established the first American hospital dedicated to the treatment and care of mental illness; and served as George Washington’s assembling point for the siege of nearby Yorktown that won the American Revolution. Today, much of Williamsburg is dedicated to this rich tradition. Here’s our list of must-see stops on your trip to Williamsburg:
Colonial Williamsburg. At the top of your list should be a stop at Colonial Williamsburg. This 301-acre historic area is a living museum dedicated to preserving the life and times of the area during the 1700s when it was the capitol of Virginia. Explore the over 100 original and reconstructed buildings, interact with the costumed interpreters, and witness the daily reenactments of militia drills, political meetings, and daily activities of the city. Make sure you check the daily schedule for special tours and activities that may be of interest as they change regularly.
Jamestown. Jamestown is the site of the first English colony in the Americas, and no trip to Williamsburg would be complete without visiting the Jamestown Settlement or Historic Jamestowne – both of which tell the history of the original English settlers to the area. Jamestown Settlement is a living museum that recreates the Jamestown Fort and the Powhatan Indian Village, both of which give you an interactive experience to how life during 1610-1614 would have been for the colonists and their relationship with the local Native American tribe. Down the street is Historic Jamestowne, the actual site of the original settlement. Here, you can explore the ruins and take part in one of the archaeological tours of the site to learn more about the history of the area.
Jamestown Glasshouse. One of the original trades to come out of the new colony was glassmaking, which started as a money-making venture in the New World. Unfortunately, it didn’t bring in the expected profits, and tobacco became the big economic commodity for the area. Nevertheless, the ruins of the original glasshouse are still visible. Today, you can see the remains of the original glasshouse and its furnaces, and see exactly how glassmakers make their creations using the same techniques they used over 400 years ago in the reconstructed glasshouse. You can also purchase the wine glasses, pitchers, vases and other items made here in the gift shop.
Great Hopes Plantation. When we think of plantations, we usually picture the sprawling estates of the rich landowners. While those existed in Williamsburg, most were middle-class farmers working their much smaller plantations. Great Hopes Plantation is a replica of one of these more common plantations. You’ll be able to interact with the interpreters and see what life was truly like on one of these small farms.
Governor’s Palace. Originally built in 1722, the Governor’s Palace was the center of social activity for Williamsburg. It was built to portray the opulence and power of the British and its Royal Governor, and was home to the first 7 Royal Governors and 2 elected Governors of Virginia before being burned down in 1781. In 1934, it was carefully reconstructed and you can see the opulence of the period through its ballroom and other beautifully appointed rooms. Explore the recreated formal gardens, or visit the original outer buildings – including the kitchen – where you can watch demonstration of cooking, brewing beer or even making chocolate.
Yorktown Battlefield. Come full circle in your visit to Williamsburg by visiting the last battlefield of the American Revolutionary War – Yorktown – and the end of British rule in this country. Start your visit by watching the orientation film and perusing the museum exhibits. Then, take your choice of either a self-guided driving tour of the battlefield or a guided walking tour of the battlefield and the town (or both!). You can also visit the Nelson House, which was British General Cornwallis’ headquarters, and the Moore House, where the actual negotiations for surrender took place in 1781.
There is so much more to see and do in and around Williamsburg that is fun for the whole family, and Luxury Destinations Concierge can be your guide. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re ready to help you create a memorable experience!
Known as The Ancient City, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the contiguous United States. Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is brimming with historic landmarks while also embracing some unique attractions that will keep all visitors entertained throughout their time in this remarkable city.
Castillo de San Marcos. Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest and largest masonry fortress in the continental US. Built by the Spanish to protect against raids by pirates, it was ceded to the British and, in 1821, was purchased by the United States and was in use until 1899. Today, you can see parts of the original wall, participate in re-enactments and demonstrations of colonial life and enjoy the views of Matanzas Bay.
Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. No trip to St. Augustine would be complete without a visit to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park! While it capitalizes on the story of Ponce de Leon’s search for the Fountain of Youth, this park is the site of the original city of St. Augustine. Here, you can drink from the artisanal well, visit the Native Timucua Village of Seloy to learn how the local Native Americans lived, and explore the surrounding 15-acre waterfront park.
St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Florida is known for its alligators, so a stop at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is a must. Located on Anastasia Island, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of Florida's longest continuously running attractions, having first opened in 1893. It is the only crocodile farm in the world to have all 23 species of crocodilians recognized by biologists. It also includes other exotic reptiles, birds and animals. For a bit of fun, try the zip line over Crocodile Crossing.
Ximenez-Fatio House Museum. Originally built in 1798 by a Spanish merchant, the Ximenez House became “Miss Fatio’s” boarding house and was the place to stay during Florida’s first tourism boom from the 1830s through the 1850s. Each room has been meticulously restored to reflect these early visitors and their stories. If you are visiting over a weekend, plan to take part in the “Heist at the Museum”, a 90-minute adventure built around the premise that a rare 17th-century relic has been stolen and participants need to figure out who stole it, what they stashed it in and in which room it can be found (think life-size Clue game).
Colonial Quarter. Located in downtown St. Augustine, the Colonial Quarter is a living museum that walks you through three centuries of Spanish and British colonial occupation from its early beginnings in the 16th century as a trading port to becoming a fortified city and then through its beginnings as the 14th British colony in the 18th century. Immerse yourself in each time period with the live demonstrations, historic tours and authentic tastes of each period.
Lightner Museum. The Lightner Museum is housed in the former Hotel Alcazar in downtown St. Augustine. Built in 1888, it was the winter retreat for the wealthy during the Gilded Age of the 1890s. At the time, its amenities included the world’s largest indoor swimming pool, sulfur baths, casinos, a bowling alley and much more. The museum offers a glimpse into Victorian life, including a science and industry room, a music room, and a vast array of costumes, furnishings and glass works.
Fort Matanzas National Monument. Fort Matanzas was built in 1742 to defend St. Augustine from British attack. Today, you can explore the original fort and the surrounding 100 acres of salt marsh and barrier islands that protect the coast from hurricanes and other storms.
There is much more to see and do in St. Augustine and Luxury Destinations Concierge is happy to help you plan your trip. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to get started.
Founded in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia, so it’s no wonder that a visit to Savannah is like a walk through history. From moss-covered trees to cobblestoned streets, Savannah is a beautiful example of Southern charm and hospitality at its finest. In fact, Savannah’s downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmarks in the United States. Here are our must-see stops that will make the most of your visit to Savannah:
Forsyth Park. Beautiful squares and parks abound in Savannah. It’s oldest and largest is Forsyth Park, named after John Forsyth, one of Georgia’s governors. The centerpiece for this 30-acre park is the Forsyth Fountain, which was installed in 1858. While there take some time to explore the Garden of Fragrance – a garden designed with plants whose texture and fragrance appeals to those with limited site.
Georgia State Railroad Museum. The Georgia State Railroad Museum is thought to be the oldest, most complete pre-Civil War railroad complex in the United States. Now a museum, it exhibits a collection of historic, restored railroad cars and engines. Take a tour to learn more about the history of railroading and the role it played in Georgia.
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace. For all the current and former Girl Scouts, a tour of the home where Juliette Gordon Low, was born will be a highlight of their trip to Savannah. This home pays homage to the founder of the Girl Scouts, celebrating her belief in the potential every girl has in her and the lives she has changed in the 100-plus years since she founded it.
First African Baptist Church. While there are several churches of considerable note in Savannah, one that you don’t want to miss is the First African Baptist Church. Thought to be the oldest African-American congregation in the US, the church has its origins dating back to 1773. The church played an important role in the Underground Railroad, housing runaway slaves in a 4-foot space beneath the sanctuary floors – there are air holes visible in the floors. Now run as a museum, you can learn more about its place in the history of Georgia and our country.
Wormsloe Historic Site. Located just outside of Savannah proper, Wormsloe Historic Site is the former plantation of a carpenter named Noble Jones who came to Georgia with James Oglethorpe, the founder of Savannah, in 1733. Upon arriving, the mile-long tunnel of oak trees will take your breath away. Then, you can explore the spectacular nature trails, visit the museum to learn more about the beginnings of Georgia, and visit the oldest standing structure in Savannah – the ruins of Noble Jones’ tabby house.
Fort McAllister State Park. Fort McAllister was one of three forts to protect Savannah and played a significant role in the Civil War. It was the last defense to fall to General Sherman on his famous March to the Sea. Today, the park has the best-preserved earthen-work fortifications of the Confederacy. You can still see cannons, barracks, palisades and more remnants of the Civil War on the grounds and in the museum. The park is also open for camping, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities.
Mercer-Williams House. For movie buffs, the Mercer-Williams House needs to be on your list of things to do in Savannah. Originally built in the 1860s, the house was eventually bought by Jim Williams in 1969 as part of his historic restoration projects throughout Savannah and the surrounding area. While the house itself and the eclectic furnishings throughout are incredible to see, the real draw is that it’s the site of the 1981 murder of Danny Hansford as covered in the book and movie, Midnight in Garden of Good and Evil.
The Forrest Gump Bench. If you’re a fan of the movie Forrest Gump, you’ll need to carve out time in your trip to visit two locations for the famous bench. The first is Chippewa Square where the bench was located and filmed during the movie. The second is the Savannah History Museum, the home of one of the prop benches used in the film.
As you can see, Savannah is brimming with the history of the South from its founding through modern times. There is much more to see in Savannah and the surrounding and Luxury Destinations Concierge is happy to help you plan your trip. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to get started.
As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Charleston’s beauty is steeped in a history dating back to its beginnings in 1670 when it was Charles Towne. Known as the “Holy City” for its over 400 churches, Charleston allows you to step back in time to explore its beginnings and how it has become a vibrant destination worldwide. Here are just some highlights of what you can expect to see when you visit Charleston:
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is at the top of the list for any trip to Charleston for a couple of reasons. Founded in 1676, it has witnessed the birth of the nation, saw the ravages of the Civil War and was able to change along with the times. The gardens are America’s oldest publicly accessed gardens, opening to visitors in 1870. It is also America’s largest (and last) romantic-style garden, where you can wander down seemingly overgrown paths and get lost in the beauty of it all (just watch out for alligators!). Take the guided tours of the main house where you’ll learn the history of the plantation, and the Magnolia Cabin Project tour which is dedicated to preserving and understanding the history of slavery and their struggle for freedom.
John’s Island and Angel Oak. John’s Island is the largest island in South Carolina and is the fourth largest island on the East Coast. Considered part of Charleston, it’s easy to get to from downtown. Make sure that you stop to see Angel Oak Tree – one of the nation’s oldest living trees and is thought to be over 400 years old. And if you are a fan of The Notebook, several places in and around John’s Island will look familiar.
Sullivan’s Island Beach. Charleston has some beautiful beaches to her name, and the one that stands out above the others is Sullivan’s Island. It has seen very little commercial development, making it a great getaway to enjoy a weekend in the sun. While there, make sure to visit the Sullivan Island’s Lighthouse, which is by far one of the more modern lighthouses in the country (it even has an elevator!). It was built as a replacement for the Morris Island Lighthouse which was in danger of being destroyed by erosion in the 1950s.
Fort Moultrie. Fort Moultrie is one of the oldest forts still standing on the East Coast. Located on Sullivan’s Island, American colonists began to build this fort as a defense against the British during the Revolutionary War. While it withstood the initial attack in 1776, it was eventually captured in 1780 before being returned at the end of the war. It played a role in the Civil War and was an active fort through 1960. Take the guided tour of the Fort to learn more about its storied past.
McLeod Plantation Historic Site. Established in 1851, the McLeod Plantation is an important Gullah/Geechee heritage site that has recognized its cultural and historical significance. Here you will learn the story of the slaves that worked the sea cotton plantation and their fight for freedom, justice and equality. The tour of the plantation will allow you to experience the lives of all people who shaped and influenced Charleston’s past and future.
Historic Charleston City Market. Opened in 1804, Charleston City Market is one of the oldest public markets in the United States, and is one of the most-visited places in Charleston. Initially housing meat, vegetable and fish vendors, today it is home to over 300 vendors selling a variety of unique items.
Fort Sumter. No trip to Charleston would be complete without stopping at Fort Sumter where the first battle of the Civil War began. Before taking the ferry out to the fort itself, spend some time in the Visitors’ Center to give you a little context to the history behind the fort and the surrounding area. As you walk around the fort, you’ll see remnants of its history from the Civil War until it was officially decommissioned in 1948, including cannonballs still lodged in the walls and the old cannons pointed out towards the sea in defense of the fort.
Are you ready to experience the charm and rich history of Charleston? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re happy to help you plan your trip.
Independence Day is right around the corner, so why not visit some of America’s most iconic landmarks? No matter where you live in the U.S., take advantage of the long weekend an learn a little more about our history. Here are our suggestions:
Freedom Trail, Boston, MA. Boston played a significant role in our fight for independence. The Freedom Trail in the heart of Boston will take you on a 2.5 mile journey to museums, churches, historic markers and more that tell the story behind the American Revolution. Sites include Boston Common (the oldest public park), the Old South Meeting House where the Boston Tea Party began, Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church which is synonymous with his midnight ride, and more.
Mount Rushmore. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is truly a national treasure. Carved into the mountains are the faces of 4 presidents – Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, felt that these presidents represented some of the most important events in the first 150 years of America’s history. Spend some time in the visitor’s center to understand the history and gain a greater appreciation for the historic monument. Then walk the Presidential Trail to get a closer view. And don’t forget to enjoy learning about each state and territory through the Avenue of Flags.
Jamestown, VA. One of the first permanent English colonies in America, Jamestown offers a peek into what life may have been like for colonists in the early 1600s. There are two sites to visit in Jamestown, and both are literally right down the street from each other. The Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum that replicates the fort, the nearby Indian village and the ships that the colonists sailed to America in. Historic Jamestowne is the actual site of the original fort where you’ll be able to see what archaeologists have uncovered about the settlement. Make sure you take the guided tours at both sites to get the most out of your trip.
Independence Hall and Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA. In addition to Boston, Philadelphia was central the American Revolution. It’s here that the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the U.S. Constitution was drafted. Take a tour through these historic halls and learn more about our fight for freedom and democracy. Explore the surrounding Independence National Historic Park and stop by the Liberty Bell to learn how it has been used throughout history by abolitionists, the women’s suffrage movement and more.
Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA. Telling the story of the first English settlements, Plimoth Plantation brings the lives of the Pilgrims and the Native Wampanoag Indians to life. Learn the traditions of the two cultures, how they interacted with each other. And learn the REAL story behind the first Thanksgiving!
Are you ready to plan your trip to these and other historical sites in America? Let Luxury Destinations Concierge be your guide. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re ready to help you create a memorable experience!
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