Colonial National Historical Park | JAMESTOWN AT A GLANCE

Inside James Fort

Inside James Fort

PARK OVERVIEW

The Historic Jamestown unit of Colonial National Historical Park includes the original James Fort and settlement site (Old Town) and the subsequent town site known as New Town. Soon after the English colonists arrived in 1607 they constructed a fort around their settlement site for protection against the Indians. Two men had been wounded when they first set foot on the North American continent at Cape Henry, so needless to say, their relationship with the Indians was bad from the very start. The original colonists were the investors from the Virginia Company, mainly upper class “gentlemen,” and their hired men. Once the settlement was established, additional colonists arrived, including women.

By 1620 the population had grown to the point where the colonists left the fort to settle and farm larger tracts of land on the island. Called New Town, the first homes sprang up just outside the fort walls, and over the years the town grew farther and farther to the southeast. Jamestown prospered until 1699 when the capital of Virginia, which was Jamestown, was moved to Willamsburg. This sent the town into a rapid decline, and most people were gone by the mid 1700s. By this time only two families owned most of the island.

A visit to Historic Jamestown begins at the National Park Visitor Center. This is where you must first come to pay your park entrance fee. A large museum that covers the history of Jamestown is on the premises, and a park orientation film is shown in the theater.

Both Old and New Town are reached by taking the paved path at the back of the Visitor Center. Old Town is where you will find the archaeological ruins of the original Jamestown settlement at James Fort, including the church site where Pocahontas was most likely married to John Rolfe. For a look at artifacts found during the fort’s excavation, be sure to check out the Voorhees Archaearium located nearby.

Just outside the gates of Old Town is New Town. A loop path takes visitors past replicas of various building foundations discovered during archaeological excavations (the original foundations were reburied). The rest of the island can be explored along Island Drive, a 5-mile paved road that is open to vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.


GENERAL INFORMATION

Anyone coming to Jamestown will be arriving via the Colonial Parkway. The road forks just before reaching the Jamestown area, with one branch leading to Historic Jamestowne and the other to the Jamestown Settlement. The National Park property is Historic Jamestowne. Jamestown Settlement is a living history park operated by the state of Virginia. Similar to the park in Williamsburg, this is a re-creation of the Jamestown settlement area, complete with Hollywood-quality sets and costumed actors who demonstrate life in the early 1600s, and to tell the truth, it may be a better choice for families with young children. Historic Jamestowne is for those interested in history and archaeology, or National Parks in general. It may be too academic and boring for children. But make no mistake, if you want to say that you were at Jamestown, the real deal is Colonial National Historical Park.

Historic Jamestowne consists of Old Town, New Town, and Jamestown Island. Old Town is the original James Fort site, and it is managed by Preservation Virginia, a historical society that has owned the land since 1893. New Town, which is just outside of Old Town, and the rest of Jamestown Island is owned by the National Park Service, which acquired the land in 1934. However, to the typical tourist the two parks are indistinguishable from each other.


OPERATING HOURS

Historic Jamestowne is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The park has an entrance gate that opens at 8:30 AM and closes at 4:30 PM. The closing time is for last entry into the park only. If you are already in the park, you can stay until sunset. However, no one is allowed to enter prior to 8:30 AM or after 4:30 PM, including bikers and pedestrians.

The Jamestown Visitor Center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM.

The Voorhees Archaearium is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

The Dale House Café is open from 11 AM to 4:00 PM.

The 1608 Glasshouse is open from 8:45 AM to 5 PM.

Keep in mind that times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to check out the Historic Jamestowne Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the latest schedules.


FEES

There is a fee to enter Historic Jamestowne, currently $30. This is good for all attractions. The ticket price also includes entrance into the Yorktown Battlefield whether or not you plan to visit the battlefield. If you visit the Yorktown Battlefield first ($15 ticket), you cannot buy a ticket to Historic Jamestowne, but once at Jamestowne you can show your receipt and pay the $15 difference. All tickets are good for seven days. There is no fee for visitors who are 15-years-old and younger. Fees are paid at the Visitor Center.

If you have a National Park Annual Pass or a Colonial National Historical Park Annual Pass you get half off for up to four guests, but in truth, this is just deducting the $15 entrance fee to Yorktown, which you get in free to begin with if you have a pass. Likewise, if you have a Preservation Virginia Annual Pass you only pay $15/person, which is essentially a free admission to Historic Jamestowne plus $15 for the additional privilege of visiting the Yorktown Battlefield, again, whether you plan to or not.

You can also buy a multi-attraction ticket that gets you into Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield, the Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, a living history park that re-creates the Yorktown battlefield and historic Yorktown.

Prices can always change, so be sure to check the official Jamestown Fees and Permits web page before heading to the park.


SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

Jamestowne Visitor Center and Museum
allow 1-2 hours

Historic Jamestowne Self-Guided Tour (Old Town and New Town)
allow 2 hours (guided tours are available)

Glasshouse
allow 30-60 minutes

Jamestown Island
allow 30 minutes by car, 1 hour by bike

Voorhees Archaearium
allow 1 hour


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Last updated on March 20, 2023
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