The Colonial Parkway of Virginia is 23 miles in length. It connects three of the state’s most important and highly treasured historical sites. One site, Jamestown, was the first permanent English settlement. The parkway’s main focus, Williamsburg, was the colonial capital during the 18th Century. The parkway ends at Yorktown, where America claimed its independence with the defeat of the British. Everything possible has been done to maintain the integrity of this historic area, including keeping the parkway as a scenic route unhampered by commercial development. Road signs are kept to a minimum so as not to detract from the parkway’s gentle beauty. No trucks are allowed, giving tourists a better chance to enjoy the scenery and wildlife without all of the noise.The parkway is beautiful year round, with its slightly rolling land and mass of indigenous trees and greenery. However, spring and fall are popular times of the year when people come from hundreds of miles away to bask in its glory.
Set aside several hours (at least three once you’re there) for the visit. Once amidst the vibrant colors of fall on the parkway, it is hard to tear yourself away from the splendor. Few people just drive the road without stopping. If they do, they miss out on all that the parkway has to offer.
Bring a camera. There aren’t many sites in the United States that take such great care to maintain the original condition of a historic area. The trees are magnificent in their autumn glory and the waterways (James and York Rivers) are usually peaceful and calm. Some of the wildlife and waterfowl, which are also authentic to the area, are so accustomed to humans that they seemingly pose for photos.
Use binoculars to get a real feel for the stunning beauty of parkway and all of its perfect beauty.
Stop at as many of the parkway’s roadside viewing areas as possible. Each one has something different to offer, so one stop is never enough to get the full parkway effect.
Prepare a picnic to consume on the way. Take time to sit and enjoy the yellow, amber, orange, coral, red and maroon colors of autumn on the parkway.
Visit the first point of the Historic Virginia triangle: Yorktown. The Victory Center leads tourists to the most interesting aspects of this historic site. While many will stop to stare at the stirring Yorktown Victory Monument, which was built to commemorate America’s defeat of the British, it is the Yorktown Battlefield that stirs patriotic blood. Surrounding the battlefield are hundreds of trees resplendent with vibrant colors ranging from pale yellow to deep plum.
Travel to Jamestown, the birthplace of America. On the James River sits the James Fort (of 1607). The settlement site offers tourists much to explore including craftsmen, like glass blowers, that still produce items the way they were done back when Jamestown was born.
Bicycle around the 5-mile Jamestown Loop. Along the way, enjoy the amazing colors of Virginia’s fall foliage, which forms a colorful tent overhead. Recently added to the area is a 5-mile road called Capital Trail. It takes visitors deep into another Virginia forest awash with color.
Visit the colonial capital of Williamsburg. Cobblestone roads lead to the past, still woven into the tapestry around this city. Nothing is allowed to mar the parkway experience. There are no signs, power lines, or bill boards to destroy the step back into time. Even the bridges along the way are done in brick, much as they were when the city was first formed.
By Chantel Alise,