Patriot Tours and Provisions
Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2020
A whole new way to view history
By Cathy Welch
Nestled at one end of Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing just under the porte-cochère with the river as its backdrop is a unique way to see the city’s highlights — Patriot Tours and Provisions Segway excursions.
Owners Randy and Jill Pryor met as whitewater rafting guides in their 20s. They opened Patriot Tours in April 2010.
From whitewater rafting guides in their early 20s, Randy and Jill Pryor have gone on to own and operate Patriot Tours since April 2010, inspired by an excursion on Segways in Virginia Beach.
“The reason we started the tours was to bring people to Yorktown and share the history,” Jill said.
Patriot Tours’ Segway excursions are a new way to experience Yorktown’s historic sites from an elevated viewpoint.
Open March through December (and by appointment in the off season) Patriot Tours requires that riders must be at least 14 years old and meet height and weight requirements. Tours may be booked online or by telephone. Booking ahead ensures tour availability and allows riders the opportunity to do all the pre-ride paperwork from the comfort of their own home so they can show up ready to ride. Walk-ins are welcome, too. There is a brief safety video and hands-on training onsite.
Tours are limited to six or seven riders to ensure safety and individual attention for each rider. The first few minutes of riding are the toughest, but as riders relax, they gain confidence.
Their “Historical” Tour ($65) is a two-hour guided excursion covering the city’s basic history during the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War periods. Guests ride along the waterfront, the bluffs above and the historic village’s Main Street.
Their “Breeze” Tour ($39) is a one-hour guided SegwayPT tour that starts along the beautiful York River and continues through the historic village. Riders travel along the bluff near the Victory Center to the entrance of the National Park Service Visitor Center.
“I’m always surprised at how many people haven’t tried it,” Jill said of introducing guests to the Segway.
Patriot Tours retail shop offers apparel, beach towels, garden flags, kites, souvenirs, spinners and umbrellas. They also have chairs for purchase or rent. They rent bikes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards on a one- to two-hour basis. Kayaks and paddle boards launch from the adjacent Waterman’s Museum pier.
Randy and Jill are SegwayPT certified level II technicians, and they are authorized Segway dealers.
“We serve as an information center, too,” Jill says. “The county’s been good about putting us on the map as an information stop.”
Patriot Tours also offers one- and two-hour tours by reservation at Fort Monroe.
“I enjoy the people from all over and sharing something new with them,” Jill said of her favorite thing about running Patriot Tours. “Yorktown has been very positive for us. The county and locals have been very supportive. We have a great community that works together.”
Their staff also helps ensure the operation runs smoothly.
“Ricky Calvert has been with us six years,” she said. “He’s an asset. When we’re not here, he’s in charge. He’s got a great sense of humor and a good personality.”
Jill is also on the Pirate Festival event committee, working with the pirates to put on the event.
“I told somebody the other day that I am the Pirate Liaison,” she joked.
“April marks ten years of Segwaying in Yorktown,” Jill said. “We’re still doing this and still loving it.”
“Jill and Randy brought such a gem to Riverwalk Landing through their business,” said Kristi Olsen, tourism development manager. “Most people who visit have done the traditional history tours and are looking for something more exciting and unique — Patriot Tours offers just that. Their guides make exploring Yorktown both memorable and fun!”
While Jill said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their business, they hope to be back at full force as soon as possible — and in the meantime, they and other small businesses are counting on their loyal customers.
”Our business is very dependent on visitors and locals and at this time, most people have decided to stay home and cancel their reservations,” Jill said. “We hope they will return when things are stable. They can always purchase gift certificates for future Segway tours. Small businesses will need community support.”
Patriot Tours & Provisions, LLC
321 Water St., Yorktown