Part 1: Our two week American Revolution Road trip based on Hamilton and AMC’s Turn: Washington’s Spies

Last summer 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.

Last spring, 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 himself  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! We were hooked with the first episode and binge watched the entire 2 seasons on Netflix  and then were caught up by Season 3 to watch it in real time.  As of today – Season 1 and 2 are still on Netflix and you can purchase Season 3 on DVD or iTunes. In fact, you can watch now along with a slew of other Turn fans  via Twitter on Monday nights at 9 p.m. e.s.t..  Follow @turnland on twitter to join and get all the latest Turn news.  Turn is currently filming their final season (4) in Virginia  with a release sometime this summer on AMC.   Turn is filmed 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!

Below is our 14 day Itinerary .  I will write a separate post for each day of the trip.  Once I have posted that day, I will make a link to the actual post on this itinerary. I will update each day on Mondays starting  January 31, 2016.

Turn/Hamilton Revolutionary Road Trip: July 16-30 2016

Day 1 – Saturday, July 16th: DRIVING Gainesville to Colonial Williamsburg – 11 hours

Day 2: Sunday, July 17th: Colonial Williamsburg All Day Click here to read post. 

Day 3: Monday, July 18th: – Virginia  Shirley Plantation and Yorktown Battlefield Click here to read Shirley Plantation Post (updated 2/10/17) to read about Yorktown click here (updated 3/2/17)

Day 4: Tuesday, July 19th Virginia : Washington’s Ferry Farm & Mt. Vernon

Day 5: Wednesday, July 20th:- Pennsylvania & New Jersey –  Valley Forge, Washington Crossing Historic Park, Morristown National Historical Park, Hamilton/Schuyler House

Day 6: Thursday, July 21st: New York City: Hamilton Grange, Fraunces Tavern, Federal Hall, Trinity Church

Day 7: Friday, July 22nd: New York City: Museum of American Finance  “The Room Where It Happened”, Weehaukin Dueling Grounds, New York Historical Society

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 10: Monday, July 25th – Boston: Freedom Walk, Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Day 11: Tuesday, July 26th – Lexington & Concord

Day 12: Wednesday, July 27th – Philadelphia: National Constitution CenterIndependence Hall, Liberty Bell

Day 13: Thursday, July 28th – Annapolis, Maryland: State House – Washington Resigns

Day 14: Friday, July 29th -Start driving home – stop at  Tuckahoe Plantation, Virginia

BONUS TRIP: December 26-31 2016: Revisit Colonial Williamsburg & Monticello & Montpelier

It’s hard for me to express how this trip has changed me. My eyes well up everytime I try to explain what this trip has meant to me.   I discovered places that I never knew existed and learned in much more detail about the men and women that sacrificed and fought for this nation.  Before this – my only recollection of learning about the American Revolution is those Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.  Which I still love! “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?”…..

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!

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