The Siege of Yorktown sealed the success of the War of Independence. It was more of a chess game than a battle, with Lord Cornwallis steadily outmaneuvered in a hopeless situation. Pinned against the York River, retreat by sea barred by the French fleet, he raised the white flag and the British band played "The World Turned Upside Down." Yorktown, which was a sizable seaport in Colonial days, has shrunk to a jewel of a village, but has the usual fine National Park Service visitor center plus the YORKTOWN VICTORY CENTER, which costs $3.50 (children and seniors $1.75) and is worth nearly every penny. The main exhibit is a re-creation of the Colonial main street that's superbly evocative, and there's a film that squeezes at least as much blood and thunder into the story as history allows. The battlefield park is vast but much split up by private inholdings. There's a driving tour, but bikes and hikes are better yet. The town has a public beach and bathhouses and, best of all, hard by York River Bridge,NICK'S FAMOUS SEAFOOD PAVILION, at least the equal of any restaurant in the Tidewater. Owner Nick Mathews, a penniless Greek immigrant who became a rich, fierce and generous American patriot, died recently, but Mary Mathews, his equally indomitable partner and widow, continues to march. Among the couple's many Philanthropies, public and private, was the donation of the land for the Victory Center. YORKTOWN NATIONAL PARK and VICTORY CENTER -- About 3 1/2 hours (160 miles) from Washington via I-95 south, I-64 east and the Colonial Parkway. Or go the way George Washington did: From I-95 at Fredericksburg, take U.S. 17 (bypass) south, which is scenic, lightly traveled, and passes through Tappahannock, one of Virginia's friendliest towns. Yorktown's only minutes from Williamsburg and the Norfolk megalopolis, so lodging's no problem..