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Virginia's Berkeley Plantation – America's First Thanksgiving

by Bluegreen

posted in Travel and Leisure

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It is common knowledge that to understand the present and better plan for our future, it is necessary to study the past.  In Virginia, the Berkeley Plantation is the ideal location to do exactly this.  Visiting the historic site will give guests a glimpse into the years between 1619, the arrival of the original colonists, and the establishment of our nation in 1776.

Although touring historic Williamsburg's old shops and destinations will explain the pre-Revolutionary bureaucracy and mindset that enveloped the land and era, a trip to the Virginia plantation helps paint an accurate portrayal of how a typical colonist lived.

Not only does Berkeley Plantation serve as a popular educational tourist destination, it was once the family home to a long line of Harrisons – one of the United States' founding families.  The Harrison family included Benjamin Harrison, an original signer of the Declaration of Independence, and America's ninth Commander-In-Chief, President William Henry Harrison.  Adding to its regional prestige, the brick mansion was constructed in 1726 and is the oldest three-story Georgian brick home in all of Virginia.

A tour of Berkeley Plantation will have you in awe of the five acres of incredible tiered gardens bursting with boxwood hedges and flowers throughout.  From the individual bricks crafted by hand, to the traditional Adam-style woodwork suggested by Thomas Jefferson himself, the stories of the historic plantation are endless.  The exquisite 18th century home furnishings alone give an indication of the period's elegance.  What else would one expect from one of the first American settlements where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated?

No matter what day of the year your family is visiting the plantation, anyone who loves American history, and colonial architecture is in for a cultural treat.  However, November 7th is especially good because visitors get to fully immerse themselves in the celebration of the 1619 landing of the premier colonists in Virginia, as well as participate in the festivities that marked the America's first Thanksgiving!  The event is an absolute must on any persons Virginia to do list!

The long-established location of the first annual Thanksgiving holiday, Berkeley Plantation holds an annual family-friendly holiday festival, perfect to get everyone in the thankful mood!  Not only does everyone enjoy the food and fun provided by the historic Williamsburg area festival, the history is also a favorite when walking through the luscious and colorful fall garden, the unbelievably beautiful home tours, colonial games and book readings for the children, and lastly, the traditional keynote address.

Even more magical for some is the holiday extravaganza that takes over the plantation from December 4, 2010 to January 1, 2011.  During December 18th and 19th, the historical plantation is overturned with decorations taken from the plantation's own gardens on site, while interpreters dressed in period cloths regale the audience with fascinating stories.  It will truly be a Christmas like no other; just as the colonists themselves experienced!

Berkeley Plantation is located between Historic Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia on the James River. The mansion and its surrounding gardens are open for tours daily from 9:30a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The 2010 First Thanksgiving celebration at Berkeley Plantation is from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on November 7 only this year. For more information about the First Thanksgiving celebration or any other visit to Berkeley, you can visit

About the Author:

Paul is a writer and contributor for Bluegreen's Travel Guide website, Colorful Places

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