fun things to do with kids in valley forge pennsylvania   Travel for Kids
united states
  | pennsylvania | philadelphia

Valley Forge National Historical Park

During the American Revolution, from December 1777 to June 1778, Valley Forge was the winter headquarters of the Continental Army. It was a difficult time – the army living in hand-built huts and suffering from disease and starvation. Under George Washington's leadership, the army survived the hardships, trained to become a professional army, and departed Valley Forge to fight, and ultimately win the war against the British.
Read our blog post "A Winter at Valley Forge" for details of life in camp, building huts and defenses, training soldiers, Washington's outstanding leadership and struggle to save the army.
Valley Forge Photo Album
    black bullet Visitor Center
    Start with the exhibits in the Visitor Center – don't miss George Washington on his horse. Kids can learn the encampment – food, cooking equipment, health, medicine, games, weapons (hold a replica musket to see how heavy it is). In the theater, watch a short movie with re-enactments of life at Valley Forge. Also in the Visitor Center, pick up maps, explore the bookstore with lots of children's books, pick up snacks and cold drinks, rent bikes, and buy tickets for the trolley tour.
       Trolley tour – If you don't have a car, the 1 1/2 hour trolley tour is a great way to get around, and a good introduction to Valley Forge. (It would be more than 5 miles round trip, just to walk from here to Washington's headquarters.)
    black bullet Muhlenberg huts & Redoubt 2
      It's a short walk to the Muhlenberg Brigade log huts.
      Take the path that goes by Redoubt 2, stopping to look out over the defensive position from this vantage point. From this hilltop, the Continental soldiers could have seen any attacks by the British well in advance
    Muhlenberg Brigade huts – Step into one of the reconstructed log huts to see what camp comforts had to offer. Twelve people lived in the hut, and it was crowded, but better than living in a canvas tent.
    Check the schedule for Living History programs here at the huts – musket and live cannon demonstrations, cooking and bread baking.
    black bullet Artillery Park - Grand Parade
      This large grassy area is the Grand Parade, where von Steuben, a European military officer, trained and drilled the soldiers every day – they marched in formation, practiced firing muskets, and charging with bayonets.
    Stop to see the statue of von Steuben on J. P Martin Trail (on foot) or Inner Line Dr. (by car). From the statue, kids can look out over the grassy grand parade area, and imagine the new Continental army, a disciplined army, ready to take on the British.
      In Artillery Park are lines of cannons. The cannons were positioned in the center of the encampment, an optimal position for protection and maintenance.
    black bullet Washington's headquarters

This beautifully preserved stone house was George Washington's headquarters. As commander in chief of the Continental Army, Washington had lots of logistics to arrange – supplying the army with food and clothing, setting up hospitals for the sick, and keeping an eye on the British army, only twenty miles away in Philadelphia.

    The house accommodated not only George Washington, but also his aides, and Martha Washington, who cooked, sewed clothing, visited sick men, and improved troop morale.
    Downstairs, see the room where Washington met with his officers, on the left is his personal desk.
    Upstairs are the bedroom for George and Martha, and more bedrooms for others for his officers, and visitors. The handrail for the stairs is original – kids can touch the same handrail used by George and Martha on the stairs.!
      Check out the typical 18th century kitchen with large fireplace for cooking, pewter plates and cups.
  black bullet National Memorial Arch – The arch celebrates the officers and soldiers who fought in the Continental Army:
    Naked and starving as they are
We cannot enough admire
The incomparable Patience and Fidelity
of the Soldiery
    black bullet Trails
      There are miles of hiking trails to enjoy in good weather, so plan to get out an stretch your legs.
      J.P. Martin Trail – With older kids, take this five mile loop trail from the Visitor Center.
      Mt. Joy Trails – Hike through the forests to the top of Mt. Joy, with views all around. Pick up trails at Washington's headquarters, or from the Artillery Park parking lot.
      Bike trails – In summer, rent bikes at the Encampment Store in the Visitor Center. Over 15 miles of bike trails the park.
    black bullet Tips Valley Forge with kids
      Getting around – Valley Forge National Historical Park covers a large area. A car is useful to stop and see different parts of the park. Without a car, there is a bus that goes directly from downtown to Valley Forge, then bike or take the trolley tour.
      Valley Forge is open year round, to see it in winter would be very authentic. During winter months, the Muhlenberg huts are open, Washington's headquarters are weekends only.
      Picnics – There are shaded picnic tables behind the Visitor Center, and Wayne's Woods, and Varumn's picnic areas in summer. Feel free to picnic on the grass in the park, just don't leave any trash around.
      Fly kites – The hill by the Redoubt 2 and Muhlenberg huts is great for flying kites.
kids books valley forge
washington at valley forge  

Russell Freedman vividly brings to life the struggle for soldiers to survive in the winter at Valley Forge, George Washington's challenge to keep the army together, aides Alexander Hamilton and Marquis de Lafayette, von Steuben's training the army. Excellent historical illustrations, with maps, drawings of daily life, and sites at Valley Forge. Good for older kids. (Chapter book)


Remember Valley Forge
Thomas B. Allen, Thomas Fleming

Overview and first-hand accounts of life at Valley Forge, setting up winter quarters, obtaining enough food to eat for the army, scouting out the British in Philadelphia, making of an army by von Steuben, and finally, winning the war. (Chapter book)


remember valley forge
Laurie Halse Anderson

Historical fiction adventure, teenager Curzon, an escaped slave now in the Continental army, comes with his brigade to Valley Forge in Dec. 1777. Gripping account of conditions - eating firecake day after day, building log huts with almost no tools, daily routines of the soldiers. But when his slave owner shows up, Curzon is forced back into servitude. Good for older kids (Chapter book)

Also in this trilogy, the first book Chains story of Curzon and Isabel in New York at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Forge is the second, and Ashes, with victory over the British at Yorktown, and struggle of African-Americans to be free.


The Winter of the Red Snow (Dear America)
Kristiana Gregory

1777, Valley Forge. Fictional diary of Abigail Stewart and her family living at Valley Forge. Set against a backdrop of life in Washington's headquarters, visiting relatives in British-held Philadelphia, sewing coats, shirts and socks for soldiers, the story spans winter at Valley Forge, and the making of an army.
(Chapter book)


winter of the red snow
lafayette hazardous tales  
Lafayette (Hazardous Tales)
Nathan Hale

In 1777, nineteen year old Marquis de Lafayette was a major general in the army and aide to George Washington. Lafayette held the line and was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine, foiled a plot to overthrow Washington, helped get support from France, and led key battles in the American Revolution. (Graphic novel)


facebooktwitterinstgramvimeo travelforkidspinterest