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The music from the Broadway show, Hamilton, instantly made American history cool. After seeing the show or obsessively listening to the soundtrack, it’s hard to not want to learn more about the people, places and landmarks mentioned in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s score.
So pack up the car, load up the kids, and get ready for a Hamilton inspired, American Revolution road trip.
The Ultimate Hamilton Road Trip
1. Colonial Williamsburg, VA
“We rendezvous with Rochambeau, consolidate their gifts.
“We can end this war at Yorktown, cut them off at Sea…”
Washington, Rochambeau, Lafayette, and Hamilton collaborated and formed the Yorktown Campaign in Williamsburg, Virginia. My kids were over the top excited when they saw a sign for Rochambeau Drive- who knew an 18th century French soldier would make 21st century kids so happy?
In Colonial Williamsburg your family can experience what it was like to live in 18th Century Virginia during the time of the American Revolution. This immersive living history museum allows you to interact with artisans, shop owners, and notable historical figures.
On our visit, we followed the Fife and Drum Corps and listened as George Washington rallied his troops for their march to Yorktown. If you’re lucky, you might even spot Lafayette riding on horseback.
Looking for the best things to do in Colonial Williamsburg? We have you covered!
2. Yorktown Battlefield- Yorktown, VA
“The Battle of Yorktown…1781”
Twenty minutes from Colonial Williamsburg you will find the place where the British finally surrendered. The Yorktown Battlefield is a part of the National Park system. Be sure to stop by the visitor center to watch the informational film and pick up your Junior Ranger Program booklets.
Be warned: This particular Junior Ranger program is pretty challenging!
3. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown- Yorktown, VA
“I may not live to see our glory.
But I will gladly join the fight.
And when our children tell our story,
They’ll tell the story of tonight.”
Only five minutes from the Yorktown Battlefield, the American Revolution Museum is a must-see! Kids love the outdoor living history museum, complete with Continental Army Encampment and a Revolution-Era farm.
Inside the American Revolution Museum are hands-on exhibits and films depicting our nation’s journey from colony to independence.
Trekaroo Tip: The American Historic Triangle ticket covers your entrance fees to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement Historic Jamestown, American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, and the Yorktown Battlefield.
4. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, VA
“History has its eyes on you…”
Situated just outside of Washington DC, Mount Vernon was the home of George Washington. Today, you can tour his house, as well as the surrounding buildings. It is sobering to see the slaves quarters, but it’s an important reminder that our founding fathers were flawed individuals.
5. Independence Hall- Philadelphia, PA
“I was chosen for the Constitutional Convention…”
After Virginia, our Hamilton Road Trip heads to Pennsylvania. When it comes to Revolutionary War landmarks, it doesn’t get much better than Philadelphia. Independence National Historic Park consists of Independence Hall (where both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were drafted and signed), the Liberty Bell, as well as other important sites, including Franklin Court and City Tavern.
Trekaroo Tip: In the summer months, check out the Independence Beer Garden, right across from the visitors center.
6. Christ Church- Philadelphia, PA
“I’m a General, wheeeeee”
A few blocks from Independence Hall is Christ Church. Founded in 1695, and known as “The Nation’s Church,” George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and Betsy Ross were all members. Rumor has it that Hamilton’s mistress, Maria Reynolds, was also a member. If you look closely, you’ll see Gen. Charles Lee is buried in the courtyard.
7. The Museum of the American Revolution- Philadelphia, PA
“Raise a glass to freedom, something they can never take away…”
The Museum of the American Revolution opened in 2017, and has something for everyone. Follow the footsteps of the people who risked their lives for freedom. The piece de resistance? George Washington’s tent!
Looking to make a longer trip to Philadelphia? Find out where to stay, what to see, and where to eat by reading our comprehensive guide, Top 10 Things to do in Philadelphia.
8. Valley Forge National Historical Park- Valley Forge, PA
“I have never seen the General so despondent
I have taken over writing all his correspondence”
Valley Forge National Historical Park, about 25 miles outside of Philadelphia, is next on our Hamilton Road Trip. It’s where Washington and his troops spent the harsh winter of 1777/1778. After the successful attacks on Trenton and Princeton, Washington lead his troops to Valley Forge, where they built an encampment the size of a city.
Today, you can tour the huts, and hike the many trails. There are also a number of bike paths that lead you to the various historic landmarks scattered throughout the park.
Be sure to check out Washington’s Headquarters where Hamilton, Lafayette, and John Laurens all worked with Washington to strengthen the militia.
9. Washington Crossing Historic Park- Washington Crossing, PA
“Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”
Tucked away in beautiful Bucks County, PA is Washington Crossing Historic Park. This state park is the site of the historic Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River, when General Washington led his troops (including Hamilton and Burr!) in a surprise attack on the British in Trenton, NJ.
There are 13 historic buildings as well as replica Durham boats, just like the ones used by the troops. Every year on Christmas Day, thousands of spectators gather to watch reenactors cross the Delaware. You can also watch the dress rehearsal earlier in December.
10. Old Barracks Museum- Trenton, NJ
“Don’t Engage, strike by night.
Remain relentless ‘til their troops take flight.”
Across the river in Jersey (“Everything is legal in New Jersey”) you’ll find the Old Barracks Museum. Originally built to house soldiers during the French and Indian War, the barracks, along with 900 Hessian soldiers, were captured after the first Battle of Trenton. Following the second battle, it served as a hospital.
11. Princeton Battlefield- Princeton, NJ
One week after the Battle of Trenton, the British suffered a massive loss at the Battle of Princeton. You can visit the Thomas Clarke House and picnic on the beautiful battlefield.
Trekaroo Tip: Head into Downtown Princeton to check out the unique shops and restaurants before paying your respects at the grave of Aaron Burr.
12. Morristown National Historical Park- Morristown, NJ
“1780, A winter’s ball
And the Schuyler Sisters are the envy of all…”
At the Morristown National Historical Park you can visit the historic Ford Mansion, which served as the setting for the “Winter’s Ball,” where Hamilton famously courted Eliza. It was also Washington’s headquarters in the winter of 1779-80, when it housed George, Martha, and dozens of others, including Schuyler Sisters’ uncle, army Surgeon General, John Cochran.
The ball itself did not take place in a fancy ballroom, but in an unheated storehouse of wood! Apparently Hamilton and Eliza were unfazed, as they got along quite well, and were married the following spring.
13. Weehawken Dueling Grounds- Weehawken, NJ
“Then stand, Alexander
Across the river from New York City, a plaque and a bust mark the site of the Weehawken Dueling Grounds. The grounds were a popular spot for men looking to defend their honor. Numerous duels occurred here from the 1700’s-1840’s, including the infamous duel between Hamilton and Burr on the morning of July 11, 1804. The grounds also hosted the fateful duel that took the life of Hamilton’s 19-year old son, Philip, in 1801.
14. Hamilton Grange- New York City, NY
“It’s quiet uptown…”
The Hamilton Grange was the only home Hamilton ever owned. He built it as a country home. (Yes, in the 1800’s upper Manhattan was farmland!) Hamilton’s home was completed in 1802, and he only lived there for 2 years before his death in 1804. Today, you can tour the home, which is now Hamilton Grange National Memorial.
15. Federal Hall National Memorial- New York City, NY
“They are asking me to lead.
I’m doing the best I can
To get the people that I need,
I’m asking you to be my right-hand man.”
Lower Manhattan is packed with Hamilton landmarks. Located on Wall Street, the original Federal Hall was built in the early 1700s, and served as the first US capitol. It was also the site of Washington’s inauguration in 1789. Visitors can see the original Bible used in the inauguration, which is usually on display. The same Bible has also been used in a number of subsequent inaugurations.
16. Fraunces Tavern Museum- New York City, NY
“I’m runnin’ with the Sons of Liberty and I am lovin’ it”
In the 18th century, taverns were the center of the community. Fraunces Tavern was the meeting place for many clubs and organizations, including the Sons of Liberty.
“The battering down the Battery check the damages
We gotta stop ‘em and rob ‘em of their advantages
Let’s take a stand with the stamina God has granted us.
Hamilton won’t abandon ship,
Yo, let’s steal their cannons.”
As you may know, Hamilton was a member of the artillery company that stole cannons from the HMS Asia. In retaliation, the ship bombarded the city, and one of the 18-pound cannon balls crashed through the roof of Fraunces Tavern!
The tavern was also the site of Washington’s farewell address to his troops after the war ended.
17. Trinity Church- New York City, NY
“Will they tell your story?”
Our Hamilton Road Trip ends where Alexander Hamilton was laid to rest. Trinity Church is in the Financial District and is the burial site of many historical figures from Hamilton. In addition to Hamilton’s grave, you can also pay respects to Angelica Schuyler, Eliza Schuyler, Phillip Hamilton, and Hercules Mulligan.
Following the footsteps of our founding fathers is much more interesting when its put in the context of the music from Hamilton. It will be hard not to hum the tunes (or belt out the lyrics- sorry kids!) when you’re standing in the actual spots that inspired the Broadway phenomenon. So blast the soundtrack, and hit the road, because “There’s a million things you haven’t done, but just you wait…”