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Susan Glaser, The Plain Dealer

Williamsburg, Va. — It’s 95 degrees outside, sweat is pouring down my neck and the kids won’t stop whining about the hotel pool.

Thank goodness Colonial Williamsburg knows that there are times when historical accuracy can be taken too far.

So we duck into Richard Charlton’s Coffeehouse for a quick tour and a cool-down. This building, opened last year after a painstaking reconstruction, is air-conditioned — as are most within the historical park’s borders — a crucial nod to the present in an otherwise all-immersing trip into the past.

I figured that my kids, at 9 and 11, were the perfect ages for a visit to Williamsburg, the capital of the British colony of Virginia in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. My older daughter had just finished a unit on Colonial America in her fifth-grade social studies class and my younger daughter would be well-prepared when she studied the time period next year.

What I hadn’t realized was how much my husband and I would enjoy the interactive history lesson, bantering with a post rider over dinner one night and listening to Patrick Henry declare Virginia’s independence from Great Britain two months before July 4, 1776.

Nor, alas, had I anticipated such oppressive heat when I scheduled the trip for mid-June, hoping to beat the big crowds and high humidity of July and August.

Not to worry.

Though Colonial Williamsburg does a terrific job of staying in period — from the costumed interpreters who roam the gravel roads to the rows of tobacco growing at Great Hopes Plantation — there are a handful of amenities that provide essential 21st-century creature comforts, including water fountains, restrooms, benches and, most gloriously of all, air conditioning.

Getting oriented The historic area encompasses more than 500 buildings spread over 300 acres. So there was no way we were going to see it all in two days.

I was committed to keeping our visit as child-friendly as possible, with the goal of getting my history-ambivalent kids turned on to their nation’s fascinating story.

Our first activity: the Children’s Orientation Walk, a 30-minute overview tour that provides kids and their parents a list of age-appropriate must-see attractions.

Our tour was led by former Medina resident Lauren Chapman, who taught my girls how to do a proper “courtesy,” or formal 18th-century greeting (“Put your feet in first position, then sink for two counts, rise for two.”) Chapman was assisted by 12-year-old Abby Utne, a junior interpreter who coached my girls on 18th-century amusements, including how to keep a wooden hoop rolling along in the grass with a stick (it’s not as easy as it looks).

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Story Compliments Of The Plain Dealer