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Off the Beaten Path in Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a big tourist destination. And most Virginia school children have taken a pilgrimage to Jamestown. While we love these places and visit them frequently, we set out to discover some new places and take a scenic drive:

The Colonial Parkway is a twenty-three mile scenic roadway that connects Virginia's historic triangle: Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

This truly peaceful parkway winds its way between Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown and it is well worth the time just to leisurely drive along it. We got on at the Williamsburg entrance and I am telling you, this drive is breathtaking!!

There are some small but neat river beaches that you can stop at along the Colonial Parkway to relax and picnic. Our favorite is Jamestown Beach at College Creek. (Note: the river currents are dangerous here so this is NOT a swimming beach. We like to toss a football here, enjoy the gorgeous water views and birds, and the kids love to play in the sand and just put their toes in the water.)

College Creek was the location of an attempted Spanish settlement in 1570. In 1607 the colonists of Jamestown considered the location but voted against it, moving on to settle at Jamestown the following day.

The text of the two historic markers at this location read as follows:

"Attempted Settlement - A small group of Spanish Jesuits attempted a settlement in Virginia in September 1570. They are said to have entered James River and landed along this creek and crossed the peninsula to establish a mission near York River. Six months later all were massacred by the Indians, save for one young boy. He was rescued by a relief expedition in 1572."

"College Creek - On May 12, 1607 the colonists who were the next day to establish Jamestown landed at the mouth of this creek. Captain Gabriel Archer, one of the councilors, liked the spot and would have settled here but was outvoted. For more than a century the creek was known as Archer's Hope and later was named for the College of William and Mary."

This particular day, the gorgeous weather at the College Creek beach took a turn on us so we looked for something fun to do indoors in Williamsburg. And so we ended up the King of touristy places: Ripley's; Believe It or Not Museum. Ok, before you roll your eyes, I gotta say, my kids thought this place was cool!

"The museum has over 350 exhibits in 11 themed galleries. Exhibits range from an 8’ tall Transformer and a 900 pound Millennium Falcon made from car parts, to a two headed cow and a genuine shrunken head. Guests spend, on average, between 1 and 1 ½ hours touring the museum." (from the Ripley's Williamsburg site)

In particular, my kids were inthralled by the Vortex Tunnel, the nail art gorilla and their "Impossible Laser Race" room- where you act like a spy and race against the clock by navigating an obstacle course web of lasers.

(Note: to get the most out of this museum, there is a lot of reading. So if you you have new readers, or have kids that don't want to want stop and read the exhibit descriptions, you will not get much out of this experence.

Definitely check online for coupons before you go.)

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