In the summer of 2016, our family embarked on a massive two week Revolutionary War themed road trip from Gainesville, Florida to Boston. It all started with a Monopoly Game.
Like most American history nerds, my 14 yo son Aidan and I could not get enough of Hamilton: An American Musical. We decided to make a custom Hamilton themed Monopoly board for Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast and crew of the New York Cast. The fun part was recreating the Property Cards. We spent hours researching possible properties that would make sense and in doing this we discovered that many of the places mentioned in the musical where places that could be visited today. Like, A Winter's Ball - which actually happened at the Ford Mansion in Morristown, N.J. (a National Park Service), Washington's Headquarters or The Room Where it Happened - Thomas Jefferson's home in New York City - the house is no longer - but there is a plaque that honors it on the hotel that replaced it. As you can see from the video below - this in itself was a labor of love. It took a couple months to complete but it was so worth it. After all, it inspired a life changing road trip. We sent the Monopoly Board in June of 2016 to New York and actually received a tweet from Lin in January that he thinks its AWESOME! Here is a video of the game:
At the same time we were researching items for the Monopoly Game, we discovered AMC’s historical drama entitled: Turn: Washington’s Spies. It is based on the book written by Alexander Rose about the real Culper Spy Ring and how they helped General Washington get intelligence that helped the Patriots win the war! Turn was filmed on-location in lovely Virginia - with Colonial Williamsburg stepping in as Philadelphia in the show. I'm in love with this place - more on that in a different post!
The pieces started to fall together and we thought it would be so great to combine places of interest from Hamilton and Turn: Washington's Spies for the ultimate Revolution Road trip. After a couple of weeks and a lot of Google Mapping - I created our two week itinerary. The dates were based on making sure we were in Setauket, Long Island for their annual Culper Spy Day! I was impressed to find out that a few of the places we visited were also featured in Hamilton's America: A Documentary Film that was aired on PBS.
Below is a screen capture of the trip I made using Google Maps. I could not have done this without it.
Day 1 - Saturday, July 16th: DRIVING Gainesville to Colonial Williamsburg - 11 hours
Day 2: Sunday, July 17th: Colonial Williamsburg
Day 8: Saturday, July 23rd - Setauket, New York: Culper Spy Day
Day 9: Sunday, July 24th - Plymouth, Mass: Pilgrim Museum, National Monument to the Forefathers
Day 11: Tuesday, July 26th - Lexington & Concord
Day 13: Thursday, July 28th - Annapolis, Maryland: State House- Washington Resigns
Day 14: Friday, July 29th -Start driving home - stop at Tuckahoe Plantation,Virginia (Turn: Washington's Spies used the house in filming)
Sharing this journey with my son, discovering together about our early American history was truly an incredible experience and by far the best family vacation I could ask for. I have to mention my sweet British husband, Stuart, he tagged along on this adventure and was just as interested and euthusastic about this trip as us. So much so - we went back to Virginia during the Christmas break.
I have to thank our National Parks Service for keeping these important historical places open and available to all of us to visit. They truly do an important service by maintaining our history. Without them - our history would be long forgotten! Do visit them!! Make it fun for your kids by making a game out of all the parks you can visit - they can even collect pins from each park. Aidan loved collecting pins from all the NPS parks on our trip. He has a lanyard filled with them. We now collect National Parks coins.
I’m going to share each day of our trip as a separate blog post. I'll share our pictures and thoughts about what we experienced and some tips to make your trip easy. I hope that families think about visiting these places with their children this summer. Please leave your comments below and I will do my best to answer.
We did make a beautiful book of our trip I created on Blurb but it is way too expensive to sell. I would love to publish it but have no idea a cost effective way to do it. Maybe someone can contact me with some suggestions - or if there are any book companies that are interested - feel free to contact!