Top 5 Reasons to Spend Spring Break in Yorktown!

Collage featuring variety of spring events and attractions

The warmer temperatures we've been enjoying lately mean Yorktown will soon come alive with living history demonstrations, the return of our home-ported tall ship along the skyline, and the clanking of weekend cocktails on the open-air patio at Water Street Grille.

Whether you’re visiting from out of town or you live just around the corner, there’s something fun for every person in your family, and even better—it’s a trip that won’t break the bank. 

From the re-opening of our outdoor attractions to our weekly farmers market to dining specials, history, and the free Trolley—scroll through the options below and we guarantee you’ll find fun, no matter your budget!

Spring tulips blooming in front of Coleman Bridge

# 1 - Unique Waterfront Attractions & Outdoor Adventures

Pirate Adventure Cruises

Captain Mayhem is looking for new recruits aboard the Schooner Alliance! Join his band of marauders during a Pirate Adventure Cruise on the York River. Children get to raise the sails, steer the angry seas, and even fire a cannon! Tickets are $29 for kids (12 and under) and $41 for adults. While the summer pirate cruises don't start until May 29, the ship’s crew gets in on the fun a little early during Pirates Invade Yorktown (April 24 & 25). The kid-focused cruises will depart from Riverwalk Landing at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. That weekend, there will also be a regular sightseeing sail at 4 p.m. and a sunset sail at 6 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

The Alliance will start departing daily from the pier for those sightseeing and sunset sails a little sooner than the pirate ones. You can start booking tickets May 1 and they run until the ship leaves port in November.

Kids posing with eye patches on Pirate Adventure Cruise

Yorktown Ghost Walks

The fun in town isn’t just during the day! Be sure to come back after the sun goes down. Learn about the history and haunts of Colonial Yorktown as told by actual paranormal investigators when you book a Yorktown Ghost Walk. These year-round tours run Monday through Thursday at 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (757.759.1320). Tickets are $10 per person, with a 20% discount for military and first responders. 

Patriot Tours & Provisions

While it isn’t usually warm enough in early April (hey, crazier things have happened in the past year) to rent paddle boards and kayaks—you can rent a bicycle to ride in and around Historic Yorktown, and to explore the trails on the Battlefield at your own pace.

If you have teenagers, you can also book a guided Segway tour. Your kids have to be at least 14 years of age. Parents, this is an awesome way to sneak in a little education during that break from school!

Patriot Tours and Provisions

Afternoon 1-hr Breeze Tour ($39) at 2 and 3:30: Travel along the beautiful York River—from the bluff at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, to the entrance to the National Park Service Visitor Center. Along the way, your guide will share some fun tidbits about the history of the town.

Morning 2-hour Historical Tour ($65) at 11:30: During this longer tour, you’ll learn the basic history of Yorktown during the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War periods. Your guide will take you along the waterfront area, the bluffs overlooking the river, and the historic village along Main Street.

It’s important to note that minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Make your reservations for either tour, here.

#2 - Special Events to Make Fun Family Memories

Victory at Yorktown 10K & 5K
April 3 | 8:00 a.m.

Run by yourself. Run with friends. Run in Yorktown. Run anywhere you’d like! Just get moving—all for a good cause. This year, due to COVID-19, the Victory Family YMCA is offering both in-person and virtual race options. The Family Fun Run and usual waterfront post-race activities have been canceled. The historical and scenic routes begin at Riverwalk Landing and take participants past landmarks such as the Yorktown Victory Monument, Cornwallis’ Cave, and Surrender Field. All race registration proceeds go to the Victory YMCA to strengthen the community and keep families healthy. www.victoryatyorktown.com | Race Flyer/Registration Form

Victory at Yorktown Race Finish Line

Yorktown's Farmers Markets Return!
Go Green Market
Riverwalk Landing
April 10 | 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Yorktown Market Days kicks off its regular season with weekly farmers markets on Saturdays. Enjoy spectacular views of the York River, live music, food trucks and a fantastic variety of vendors and artists at Riverwalk Landing. The Go Green Market, in recognition of the month’s Earth Day Celebrations, runs 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. In collaboration with York County’s Department of Public Works and the York County Beautification Committee, there will be free family activities and educational exhibits to help promote environmental sustainability. A limited supply of reusable shopping bags will be handed out as giveaways. All shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags for stocking up on market goods. The Fifes and Drums of York Town perform at 9 a.m. followed by live entertainment from SOJORN.

Be sure to mark your calendars for two other super popular spring markets taking place later in the month. The French Market takes place April 17 and the Pirate Invasion Market on April 24.

Market Days Collage

Civil War Walking Tours
Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters
April 10 | 1 & 2 p.m.

Get your tickets now for educational tours led by Historian J. Michael Moore. The first takes a look at Yorktown’s role during the Civil War era by exploring the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, which pitted two colorful commanders against each other over a Revolutionary War battlefield—deploying such modern technologies as aerial observation and improvised explosive devices. During the second walking tour, visitors will journey back to learn about Union operations against Richmond and Confederate naval raiders, find inspiration from stories of African Americans who sought freedom, and view Civil War photographs that captured a glimpse into the past. Call (757) 872-3020 for more information.

Mobjack Bay Walking Tour

York County History Day & Chili Cookoff
Watermen's Museum
April 10 | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It's a busy day at the Watermen's Museum beginning with York County History Day when history comes alive through tactical demonstrations, encampments and tours throughout Historic Yorktown. Special activities stretch out beyond the museum and include locations of York Hall and other buildings along Main Street. Be sure to bring your appetite to this free family fun—there is also a chance to get a ticket to their biggest annual fundraiser which kicks off at noon. During the Chili Cookoff, chefs from across our area descend on the waterfront to compete and see which recipe earns them the trophy and bragging rights. Your ticket allows you to sample each contestant's recipe and place a vote for the People's Choice Award. There will also be additional chili available for purchase. Call 757.887.2641 for more information!

Chili Cookoff at Watermen's Museum

# 3 - Cool History Lessons without the Tests!

Yorktown’s chapter in American history is a significant one. After Lord Cornwallis’ defeat, the British Army surrendered to General George Washington on ground appropriately known today as Surrender Field. The day was October 19, 1781, and it was a victory that effectively ended the American Revolution.

What caused Cornwallis to dig in for a siege in Yorktown? How was Washington able to move his massive troops so quickly to Yorktown? How did the French fleet know to move to its critical location at just the right moment?

A visit to Yorktown's many historic sites will answer some of those questions and inspire even more questions along the way. It's the culmination of the stories of Washington, Cornwallis, Lafayette, De Grasse, and the thousands of soldiers and sailors of the American, British, and French nations that make up the collective story of Yorktown.

Social Distancing at American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

One of your first stops when you visit, to learn more about our nation's story, should definitely be The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The Museum features exciting indoor galleries with period artifacts and immersive environments and films. Don't miss “The Siege of Yorktown." It's shown on a 180-degree surround screen complete with dramatic special effects like smoke and vibrations from the cannon and musket fire

In the outdoor areas, you'll find a re-created Continental Army encampment to learn about the life of a soldier and to take in daily demonstrations of medical treatment; camp life and cooking; and flintlock musket firings. Explore a Revolution-era farm, based on a real-life 18th-century family, where you can help with chores related to the house, kitchen, tobacco barn, gardens, and crops. The museum has adapted operations with safety protocols for everyone's enjoyment. Ticket info here

Remember, if you live in York County, James City County, or the city of Williamsburg—admission to the museum is free with proof of residency. Huzzah!  

Colonial NHP - Yorktown Battlefield

Explore the fields, earthworks, and historic buildings where American independence was won. Driving tours of the battlefield include siege lines and encampment areas. Due to COVID-19, interpretive rangers will be available at the outdoor tent only, five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Park Store and restrooms inside the Yorktown Battlefield Visitors Center will remain open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

These experiences are administered by the National Park Service as part of Colonial National Historical Park.

Free  Yorktown Tour Guide Mobile App

There's also quite a bit of knowledge - available literally, at your fingertips. Make sure you download the new FREE mobile app, Yorktown Tour Guide before your visit. The GPS-enabled app takes you on three distinct tours (two driving and one walking) of Historic Yorktown, the Battlefield, and the Allied Encampment. There are 21 stops in all, each with audio interpretation. It's like having your own personal tour guide! The app is available through the App Store and Google Play. You can also check out their web version. Learn more here. This resource was conveniently released during the pandemic, and is the result of a collaborative effort between the American Battlefield Trust and the National Park Service.

Watermen’s Museum

The Watermen’s Museum reopens April 1.  Located just upriver from the Riverwalk Landing shops and restaurants, their mission is to demonstrate the role Chesapeake Bay watermen—from pre-colonial to modern times—played in the shaping of our nation. The Museum includes historical exhibits depicting military and civilian water craft and activities; crafts and methods of their trade; and a look into the lives of the people who have worked and fought on the water.

After filling your brain with knowledge, make sure to stop in their gift shop which is stocked with more than 500 maritime items! You’ll find everything from children's books to beautiful serving and entertaining pieces to cute little Christmas ornaments. 

Watermens Museum Alexanders Photography

York County Historical Museum

You can also stop by the York County Historical Museum (located inside York Hall at 301 Main Street) to explore artifacts representing Yorktown from the time of the earliest Native Americans all the way through World War II. Make sure you stop by the Gallery at York Hall on the main level to purchase a unique souvenir handcrafted by a local artist, to remind you of your vacation!

# 4 - Fresh Seafood, Brick Oven Pizzas, Draft Beer & Ice Cream 
(but not together!)

Historic Yorktown includes several one-of-a-kind eateries with vast menus ranging from fresh seafood and artisan pizzas to locally brewed coffee and hard lemonade to gourmet cakes and desserts. Heck, you’ll even find sushi and saké! Whether you’re searching for a fine dining experience or a casual pub atmosphere, there’s something for even the pickiest of palates.

Water Street Grille & Riverwalk Restaurant

Water Street Grille has casual indoor and outdoor seating and a menu filled with seafood, tapas, and several kid-friendly options including pizza, grilled cheese, hot dogs, and chicken tenders. WSG also keeps more than 20 micro-brews on a rotated tap so expect something different every time you stop in. Can’t decide what to order? Consider a flight and sample different brews. Once you find your favorite, grab a growler to take home or back to your hotel room or timeshare. During Spring Break, you can also expect live music on Friday and Saturday nights!

Water Street Grille Family Dining

Next door, at Riverwalk Restaurant by Water Street Grille, enjoy a more elegant seating with the same shared menu. Special events are also slowly returning including their Easter Brunch and Dinner! Before that, they'll also have tickets available for their Cuban Dinner on March 26 & 27.

Riverwalk Restaurant Fish Tacos and Lobster Mac and Cheese

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

A trip to Riverwalk Landing with the kids isn’t complete without a sweet treat. Ben & Jerry’s has quite a few options for kids with peanut allergies, gluten allergies, and those who are lactose intolerant. Ask to try their non-dairy flavors and those made with sunflower seed butter. Oh, and parents, we have NEW FLAVOR ALERTS! This year, they've added Whiskey Biz™ to the lineup (okay - given the ingredients of Brown Butter Bourbon Ice Cream with Blonde Brownies & Whiskey Caramel Swirls - this is probably more your speed!); Non-Dairy Change the Whirled™ which is a Caramel Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert with Fudge Chips, Graham Cracker Swirls & Chocolate Cookie Swirls; and finally the Peanut Butter Half Baked is back featuring chocolate and peanut butter ice creams mixed with gobs of peanut butter cookie dough and fudge brownies makes its return. This is just a sneak peek. We're told to look for even more new flavor reveals this summer!

Ben and Jerrys ice cream bowls cones and shakes

# 5 - Community Chauffeur Aboard the Yorktown Trolley

The FREE Yorktown Trolley is one of the best ways to see Historic Yorktown! Friendly drivers offer helpful information about each stop so you can focus on the scenery, the history, and where you want to have your next meal. The designated route takes you from the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center all the way to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, making several convenient stops along the way. Each trolley is ADA accessible and features both an infotainment and interactive tracking system. Just download the SPOT ETA app and get an estimated time of the trolley’s arrival at various attractions. Trolleys #4 and #5 also boast individual adjustable air vents and a stabilized chassis system making for a smooth and comfortable ride around town!

Trolley Spring Break Collage

This is just a small glimpse of all there is to do in Yorktown. Be sure to follow Visit Yorktown on Facebook for special event announcements, new product alerts, fresh menu items, and more. And York County residents - don’t forget to use your Citizen Rewards Card for discounts at several Historic Yorktown businesses!