It’s been suggested that I may have a bit of a Colonial Williamsburg problem. Living only an hour away, I have an annual pass most years and find that it combines nicely with several other events that I attend regularly in the region. Christmas there is an extended family tradition and I just find that the second I set foot on Duke of Gloucester Street, my stress melts away and I feel like I can actually breathe. That said, one of the best family outings we have found there in the last few years is their RevQuest program.
Now in its fourth year, RevQuest is a several hour long adventure, that puts you into the story of the Revolutionary War as a spy for the patriot cause. It’s a fabulous way to keep the kids engaged while taking you from one end of the city to another, allowing time for plenty of sight-seeing and making sure that maximum ground is covered with minimal whining. It does involve a minimum of a bit over a mile of walking, not counting detours along the way, so take this into consideration when looking at the capabilities of everyone in your group. It can be split over multiple days if necessary, but we’ve never had any problem doing the whole thing as part of a day trip.
To start you need to go to either the Visitors Center, the Lumberhouse Ticket Booth or the Pitt store to pick up a packet of documents that you will need to carry out your mission, then watch a video explaining your task. You will also get a bandana (different each year) that will identify you to other folks who are part of the game. Parents, when they ask how many are playing, make sure you count yourselves, this is far too much fun to leave entirely to the kiddos, and the staff will be happy to include bandanas for you as well (at least they always have been for us). If you want an early start, I suggest beginning at the Visitors Center, as the Pitt Store does not start running the video until 10 AM and it is not shown at the Lumberhouse, although you can get everything else there (as we discovered the hard way). You will also want to ensure that one member of your party is equipped with a cell phone, as that is how you will relay your answers when decoding messages and how you will receive further instructions along the way.
The quest allows for plenty of time to stop and tour buildings along the way and will carry you through most of the historic area, so don’t be afraid to stop and see things as they catch your interest. And please hit Raleigh Tavern Bakeshop for fresh gingerbread cakes. They are making them fresh on site (in the actual wood-burning ovens) for the first time since I was a little girl and they are so much better than the prepackaged ones they have been selling instead since the mid-80s. You can watch them being made and ask questions of the cook as well, fun and delicious! For now they stop making them at noon, so go early.
To give an idea of how long RevQuest takes, we met our first contact at 10:45, stopped several times along the way to sightsee, walked over for a long (hour plus) lunch at Paul’s Deli (my favorite place to eat in Williamsburg, it’s about 1/2 mile from Merchant’s Square) and were still at our final meeting by 2:30. So even if you only have a single day in the historic area, it’s a good use of your time. You also get a nice collectable token for taking part, different each year, which is fun to keep as a free souvenir, along with the bandana. This year they have added a video link that is sent to you at the end of the quest. It provides the details of what your spy mission accomplished and how it ties in to the larger historic events going on in Virginia at that point of the Revolutionary War, which was very nice from a homeschooling perspective. This is the third RevQuest we have participated in and I really feel like the program gets more sophisticated and more fun each year.
RevQuest is included with Colonial Williamsburg admission. There is a free pre-Quest game that can be played here. We did not bother with it this year, but last year completing it also meant you were able to stop and pick up a special certificate of achievement in addition to the other bits and pieces that are part of the game.
More information can be found at the official site.
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