14 miles NE of Williamsburg

Although the 13 American colonies declared their independence from England on July 4, 1776, their dream of freedom from King George III came to fruition here at Yorktown in October 1781, when Gen. George Washington and his French allies won the last major battle of the American Revolution. "I have the Honor to inform Congress that a Reduction of the British Army under the Command of Lord Cornwallis is most happily effected," Washington wrote to the Continental Congress on October 19, 1781. Though sporadic fighting would continue for 2 years before a treaty was signed, the Revolutionary War, for all intents and purposes, was over.

Today, the decisive battlefield is a national park, and the Commonwealth of Virginia has built the Yorktown Victory Center, an interpretive museum explaining the road to revolution, the war itself, and the building of a new nation afterward.

Predating the Revolution and overlooking the picturesque York River, the old town of Yorktown itself is worth a visit, especially its re-created Colonial-era seaport village at Yorktown Riverwalk Landing, on Water Street almost beneath the Coleman Bridge, which carries U.S. 17 over the York River. Here you'll find shops, a restaurant, and a museum dedicated to the Chesapeake Bay's famous "watermen."

You'll need at least half a day to digest all this history. Plan to spend a morning or afternoon seeing the sights and having lunch.