Family and Student Friendly Activities – Experiential and Living History

by Stephanie Kenney | Posted: Jan 12, 2015 | Updated: Jan 27, 2016

Comments: 1 Comment

Experience life in the 17th century, relive Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty” speech, climb aboard the Godspeed or even plant and harvest crops at reconstructed European farms during your next trip to Virginia with your kids, grandkids or student group.



Mabry Mill, Meadows of Dan

Experience pioneer life on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mabry Mill in Meadows of Dan through various demonstrations offered by historical interpreters. Enjoy viewing the blacksmith as he hammers a glowing iron and watch as others take part in basket weaving, spinning and more.

Right down the Blue Ridge Parkway from Mabry Mill, visit Nancy’s Candy Factory and have an unexpected Willy Wonka experience andwatch candy being made in a factory through their observation windows.



Established in 1611 by Sir Thomas Dale, Henricus in Chesterfield was the second successful English city in the New World. Enjoy history through “hands-on” encounters with period dressed historical interpreters. Visitors can interact with interpreters and may be asked to assist with cooking, blacksmithing, planting or harvesting. They may even be asked to join the Militia!

Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier in Petersburg offers high-tech museums and hands-on experiences. Kids of all ages can step inside the Discovery Hut for a hands-on experience with Civil War uniforms and clothing. Uniforms, hats and more are available to be tried on– and make a great photo opportunity. Kids can also learn about drum rolls and test their skills on a real drum. Their Civil War Adventure Camp offers an authentic and unique hands-on adventure for groups, families, and individuals alike!

Visit the site of Patrick Henry’s riveting “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. Professional actors in 1770s attire portray ten delegates, including Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington and engage in the debates and arguments of the Second Virginia Convention. Sunday reenactments May-September or call for reservations.



Colonial Williamburg

Young patriots will find many special opportunities to explore and engage with the Revolutionary City, Williamsburg, and its residents. Join the army and learn about the life of a soldier at the military encampment. Play colonial games at the Benjamin Powell House and get a glimpse of daily life from a child’s perspective.

Just up the road, relive the experience of America’s first permanent English colony. Jamestown Settlement comes to life through film, gallery exhibits and outdoor living history. Climb aboard replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607, and explore life-size re-creations of the colonists’ fort and a Powhatan village. In the outdoor areas, costumed historical interpreters describe and demonstrate daily life in early 17th century Jamestown.



Nestled in the mountains of Tazewell, Historic Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneer Park provides a glimpse of the everyday life on the western frontier of Southwest Virginia. Hands-on activities may include bartering, butter making, spinning and wool carding, pioneer laundry, pioneer games, hearth cooking or dancing the Virginia Reel.



Rippon Lodge in Prince William County is a plantation home built in the mid 1700’s and one of the oldest known homes in the county. Reenactors interpret the families who owned the home from the 1740’s until 2000, providing a local perspective and glimpse in to “real life” in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Site open May-October, Thursday -Sunday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

Venture out on to the water aboard Miss Rivershore. The entertaining Captain Mark Perry will narrate your journey down the Occoquan River, pointing out wildlife and historic buildings along the way. You may even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle if you look closely!



Frontier Culture Museum, Staunton

Visit Europe and America’s past at four different historic farms moved from their country of origin and reconstructed at the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia in Staunton. See the rare and minor breed animals, walk through authentic gardens, help harvest period crops, watch a blacksmith at work and visit with the farm interpreters to share a lesson of courage, heritage and determination.

See More…

Student Friendly Itineraries
Grandparent/Grandchild Getaways


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One Comment

Avatar Barbara Widell says:

Good morning,

I am going to Greece and I will be teaching the Virginia Reel to students from 3rd grade through high school. I’m trying to find the history of the Virginia Reel as part of a lesson during class time. Do you have or can you refer me to any information that can be useful?

Thanks so much,
Barbara Widell