Thursday, August 15, 2013

History Field Trips

Several years ago, I was invited to speak at the Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers' Annual Conference.  The topic I chose to speak about was fieldtrips, particularly History fieldtrips.  (One of the many reasons I homeschool Connor and Mikaela is because I want them to receive a very experiential education so consequently, we take fieldtrips 2-4 times a month.)  At the end of my presentation, I gave a hand-out to participants listing numerous history field trip ideas for homeschoolers in Virginia.  I was recently contacted by several people and asked if I could redistribute the list.  I thought I'd just post it on my blog, so anyone could access it.

We have visited the majority of these places, so if you have any questions, just ask.  Also, if the site has a homeschool day/week that I'm aware of, I posted that as well.  I highly recommend going during that day because the museums tend to go "all out" and entry fees are SIGNIFICANTLY reduced.  I hope you find these trip ideas useful.

U.S HISTORY:   In terms of U.S. History—it doesn't get any better than living in VA for studying this topic!

  • Jamestown—(Homeschooler Week 2x/Year)
  • Colonial Williamsburg—(Homeschooler Week 2x/year)
  • Henricus Historical Park—Re-enactment of 1611 Colonial Village (Chesterfield County, VA)

  • Mount Vernon (George Washington’s Home—Alexandria:  Has Homeschool Day)
  • Monticello (Thomas Jefferson – Charlottesville:  Has Homeschool Day)
  • Poplar Forest (Thomas Jefferson—Lynchburg, VA)
  • Ash Lawn (James Monroe’s Home—Charlottesville)
  • Montpelier (James and Dolly Madison's home – Orange, VA:  Very Homeschool friendly)
  • Gunston Hall (George Mason’s home, Mason Neck, VA)
  • Scotchtown (Patrick Henry’s House—Hanover, VA)
  • Saint John’s Church in Richmond, VA:  Twice a year they do a re-enactment of the Second Virginia Congress and Patrick Henry’s Speech.  The one around Veteran’s Day is free to the public.
  • U.S. Archives (Constitution and U.S. Declaration of Independence)
  • Battersea Revolutionary War Re-enactment (Battersea Plantation—Petersburg, VA)
  • Yorktown Victory Center:  Has homeschool day and some great educational programs
  • James River Plantations in Charles City County (Shirley, Kittiewan, etc...)

  • Frontier Culture Museum, Staunton, VA:  Has a number of Farms from the 1800’s (African, English, Irish, German, and American) and a great homeschool day program.
  • Fort McHenry (Star Spangled Banner – Baltimore, MD:  War of 1812)
  • Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center (under construction in Charlottesville)
  • Slave Trail Reenactments, Richmond VA (offered through Richmond Park and Rec)
  • Booker T. Washington National Monument, Franklin County, VA
  • Berekley Plantation, Charles City County (William Henry Harrison’s Home/Plantation Life) 


  • American Civil War Center, Richmond, VA  (They offer some great homeschool programs.  We particularly enjoyed the Bohemian Brigades and Civil War Weaponry/Cannons)
  • Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA
  • White House of the Confederacy
  • Civil War Re-enactment (Battlefield State Historical Park, New Market, VA)
  • Appomattox Courthouse—(End of Civil War, Appomattox, VA)  We had a fantastic visit here--our guide was exceptional and we wound up staying 4+ hours.
  • Manassas, Richmond and/or Petersburg National Battlefields
  • Harper’s Ferry (We did the night-time ghost walking tour which was very good--the kids loved it and swore they saw a ghost.  :-))
  • Antietam Battlefield, MD (Mike Dudash is a biologist and avid historian who offers a unique paddling trip through the battlefield.  Contact him at (240) 675-2711)
  • National Museum of Civil War Medicine
  • Gettysburg, PA
  • Ghosts of Gettysburg Candlelight Tour (Sleepy Hollow Tours)
  • Gettysbike (offers bicycle tours of battlefield—we did this and our guide Bob was fantastic) 

  • Maymont Mansion, Richmond, VA (Great local example of America’s Gilded Age)
  • Holocaust Museums (Richmond and DC)  The Richmond Holocaust Museum is a little known gem that is a fantastic museum/learning experience.
  • Woodrow Wilson’s Home, Staunton, VA
  • National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA
  • Vietnam Foundation and Museum, Ruckersville, VA (It's extraordinarily hands on and the tours are given by Vietnam Vets)

  • Smithsonian Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian American Indian Museum (great restaurant/food)
  • Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum
  • Smithsonian African American History and Culture Museum
  • Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery
  • Walking tour of Memorials and Monuments in Washington DC
  • Mariner’s Museum, Hampton Roads, VA:  Has a Fabulous Homeschoolers Day as well as special exhibits/programs on Civil War Ironclads
  • Nauticus, Norfolk, VA:  Home of the Battleship Wisconsin
  • U.S. Spy Museum, DC (We did the spy in the city program which was very fun!)
  • Virginia Historical Society and Museum, Richmond, VA
  • U.S. Library of Congress (my favorite building in D.C. )
  • Newseum, Washington, DC
  • Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA (Gorgeous cemetery with the tombs of several presidents.  Again, Richmond’s Valentine History museum offers a great walking tour.)
  • Arlington Cemetery
  • Valentine History Museum, Richmond, VA
  • Paramount Theater in Charlottesville offers several history-based performances each year.  They are extremely homeschool friendly and reasonably priced.  POC:  Cathy Von Storch


  • Fossil Hunting at both York River State Park and Westmoreland State Park (we’ve been to both and enjoyed them immensely.  York River has more fossils and they are easier to find, but Westmoreland is fun because the kids get to dig in the sand and along sand cliffs.) 

  • Valentine History Museum’s Walk with the Ancients (Ancient Greece, Rome and Egyptian) and Neoclassical Architecture Program, Richmond, VA.  (They are both great programs and to this day, my kids can't help shout out what type of columns they see.)

  • Medieval Times, Ann Arundel, MD (The kids LOVED this)
  • Renaissance Festivals (Maryland’s Rennfest and Virginia’s Renaissance Festival at Lake Anna)
  • Agecroft Hall, Richmond, VA is an actual 15th century Tudor estate on the James River. When it fell into disrepair in England, it was sold at auction, dismantled, crated, and shipped across the Atlantic, and then painstakingly reassembled.  Every summer Richmond Shakespeare puts on performances at the mansion.
  • American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, VA offers great teaching performances for students.

 Civics/U.S. Government:
  • White House tour (not providing them currently)
  • U.S. Capitol tour
  • U.S. Supreme Court tour and if you time it right, you can hear a case (check their website)
  • National Archives Museum, DC
  • Library of Congress tour (my favorite building in D.C.)
  • Pentagon Tour
  • VA State Capitol Tour (The Valentine History Museum offers a Great Walking Tour)

Resources for Ideas:
  • Teaching with Historic Places ( is hosted by the National Park Service and has some great lesson plans)
  • Journey Through Hallowed Ground (Gettysburg through Montpelier):
If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions, please leave me a note in the comments section and I'll add them in.  Also, I have write-ups on many of these places on this blog and moreso on my previous blog (

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