The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was one of the most important battles in the American Revolution’s Southern campaign. While it was technically a British victory, the Patriots inflicted such damage to the British forces that it was the beginning of the end for Lord Cornwallis and his troops. After taking the losses from this battle, Cornwallis headed to Yorktown and we all know how that ended!
The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is a great stop to make with your family whether you’re passing through or staying in the Triad. It is located in Greensboro, NC, near to the well-traveled Interstates 85 and 40. It is about a 15-minute drive off of the interstate but it is definitely worth a visit!
Begin your visit at the Visitor Center, where you can look through the small museum and watch two videos on the battle.
The museum does not have many interactive exhibits but my son loved looking at the weapons and artifacts found on the battlefield that are on display.
Be sure to look out the windows at the shadowy soldier figures to help you and your child understand the fighting that took place on this very ground. Do you see them in the picture below?
There are two videos at the Visitor Center. One is child-friendly – the “Fighting the Battle of Guilford Courthouse” video in the Battle Map Program room. It is only 10 minutes long and gives you a good perspective on how the battle lines formed and reformed as the battle raged on. The main movie at the Visitor Center, the live-action “Another Such Victory,” is shown in a larger theater and runs 32 minutes. It contains some gory depictions of battle so I recommend this movie only for ages 10 and up. It does a good job at explaining the different parts of the battle from the many different perspectives of the participants.
At the Visitor Center, you can also pick up a map for the driving tour of the battlefield, which is a peaceful and beautiful 2 ¼ mile drive. Note that the drive does take you across one “real” road twice so make sure to be aware of the traffic signs. This road is also perfect for biking and the park has a walking trail to the sites as well.
The battlefield sites are easily seen in a 15-30 minute drive along the route, depending on how long you spend at each stop. The tour begins from the Visitor Center parking lot and has stops on both the American and British front lines. There are some inspiring monuments at most of the stops, including one near the Visitor Center of a mother who rode from Maryland to nurse her son back to health from his battle wounds.
The main stop to see is stop 8, which contains the beautiful and impressive Nathanael Greene monument.
There is a walking path around the monument and several other smaller monuments to see, including the signers’ monument. You can also leave your car here and walk on a footpath to see several other monuments between stops 7 and 8, only visible by foot. This is a great area to let your kids explore and play, especially if they have been cooped up in the car!
Be sure to pull over at all of the stops to read the descriptions of what took place on this very land in 1781. After seeing the map movie back at the Visitor Center, it is easier to picture how these battles were fought and organized.
As you leave the National Park, check to see if the Tannenbaum Historic Park is open. This is part of the park and contains buildings and exhibits on what civilian life was like during the battle. Unfortunately this park was closed during my visit but it looks like a worthwhile stop!
The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is a great addition to a visit to North Carolina. Seeing this site really helps explain how the Revolutionary War was fought in the southern colonies and how this battle was a key part in America’s fight for independence. It should definitely be on your list of must-do Revolutionary War sites with your children!
- Cost: free
- Recommended: all ages
- Tour time: 1 hour for Visitor Center (if watching the film); 30 minutes for the driving tour
- Gift shop located at the Visitor Center
- Transportation: Guilford Courthouse is only accessible by car.
- Dining options nearby: There are many fast food restaurants nearby, including Chick-fil-a and Five Guys. Nearby restaurants include Melt Kitchen and Bar and Village Tavern.
- Nearby hotels: Greensboro has many chain hotels nearby, including this SpringHill Suites hotel. A unique, historical, and charming hotel choice nearby is the O. Henry Hotel.
- Nearby attractions include: Greensboro Science Center, Country Park, Greensboro History Museum, and the Greensboro Children’s Museum.
Books to Read:
- 14 and up:
- 10 and up:
- Susanna’s Midnight Ride: The Girl Who Won the Revolutionary War
- Haunting Guilford Courthouse (The Time-Train Adventures Book 4)
- The American Revolution for Kids: A History with 21 Activities
- A Kids’ Guide to the American Revolution (Kids’ Guide to American History)
- Guts & Glory: The American Revolution
- 6 and up:
Have you been to any of the Revolutionary War sites in North Carolina? Which is your favorite? Comment below!