Don't be fooled. Our family vacation was not in our backyard. This summer my family traveled east from our small town in Northern Arkansas. And when I say traveled, I mean rubber on the road, picnics for two days in the backseat, traveled. We had a great amount of land between us and our destination. I couldn't wait to get on the road because that night would be the first of a few spent in Williamsburg, Virginia.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Our stay in Williamsburg was made nice and convenient by Patrick Henry Inn and Suites, a Bluegreen Resort, which is a short walk from Colonial Williamsburg, where much of our time was spent. The walk led us by fields of horses and sheep each morning, a highlight for this animal lover. The resort was wonderful not only for the location but also for the beautiful suites and tons of activities for the little ones, including Wii tournaments and movie night. For the adults – wine taste testing. But that's only if you don't have enough to do, which is highly unlikely. We purchased something called the 'Historic Triangle Pass' which includes visits to the following: the Jamestown Settlement (which is a live archeological dig and very interesting), Historic Jamestown, the Yorktown Victory Center, the Yorktown Battlefield, and most every activity in Colonial Williamsburg (including the live reenactments, which are a must see!). The prices? Very reasonable considering the pass is good for seven days and transportation is provided to all the locations by shuttle. Adults, you come in most expensive at $79 a pass. Kids ages 11-17 cost $33.50 and youngsters even less! Not at all a bad deal for such an extensive experience. If you don't want to only enjoy early American culture, there was awesome shopping, dining, and a theater all within a mile of where we stayed. Now Williamsburg in itself is an amazing place to vacation; however, as my father said, "We may not be back over here for awhile…why not just keep driving?" Thus began another journey.
Washington D.C was the perfect stop for our family. The city has so many things to do that don't cost a dime. These are the places we made sure to see: the National Zoo, the Botanical Gardens, multiple Smithsonian museums, several legendary monuments, and a visit to the National Archives. Enough to keep you busy for a couple of days. One of my highlights was the Capitol, through which we got a personal tour. If you're wanting to take a tour of the Capitol, it wouldn't be worth it to not go through your Representative in Washington. Just call them up and they'll put you on the schedule. The tour is free and much more personal with more opportunities, such as viewing the original Senate and Supreme Court Chambers, things not open to the public tours. What put Washington at the tip of the list was, however, the public transportation. The Metro is easily accessible and will take you within a short distance of anything in the city. It's simple and affordable, too. This country girl had it figured out within the first ten minutes (with the help of one of the many kind locals) and a day pass for unlimited use is only $9. The accessibility and affordability of the city made for a wonderful time.
By now you're probably wondering why this is titled "My Backyard" since it is quite a ways from home. Well, it's time to tie it all together. Now that you know prices, places, and stuff to do, I need to share something more personal and longer-lasting…something you can't put an ETA or price on. The lesson learned. It's all mine. Not literally, of course, but it's all my history. From walking the paths of the settlers in Jamestown to the footsteps of the first Representatives in the House of Burgesses, to seeing the place of victory over tyranny at Yorktown and sitting on the House Floor in our Capitol building. What once was so distant and seemed only accessible by history textbook is now a memory that comes alive each time I revisit photos, or retell a funny story. I realized that history is made of ordinary people doing extraordinary things – in their own backyard. This beautiful history took place in my backyard. This beautiful history is mine. And the only thing more exciting? The endless possibilities of my future. The sky is the limit. And it's all in my backyard.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.