The beginning of both Colonial America and of the United States of America should be required visiting, and this area is home to them both. To keep the chronology straight, visit Virginia's "Historic Triangle," in the order of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and then Yorktown. Although Jamestown is somewhat overshadowed by the much-larger Williamsburg, Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement (1607) in North America, and celebrated its momentous quadricentennial—400th anniversary—in 2007.
Just a short drive along the tree-lined Colonial Parkway is Williamsburg, which subsequently grew into the political and economic center of the Virginia Colony. The 301 acres of modern-day Colonial Williamsburg contain re-created and restored structures peopled with costumed interpreters. Everything from momentous political events to blacksmithing is portrayed. Completing the "Historic Triangle," is Yorktown, 14 mi away from Williamsburg, the site of the battle that ended the war for independence from England. Several 18th- and 19th-century plantations lie west of Williamsburg, along the James River. South of Yorktown are Newport News, the shipbuilding capital of Virginia, and Hampton. To see the rest of this waterfront area of Virginia, you can cross the James River at Hampton and visit Norfolk, Portsmouth, and, to the east, the Virginia Beach resort area.