Williamsburg, VA  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Williamsburg Area Features

Colonial Williamsburg

Photo Credit: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, VA
The capital of the Virginia colony relocated from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699. It was then that Williamsburg became a center for education, politics, and business. The city attracted great political minds including Peyton Randolph, George Wythe, and Thomas Jefferson, who studied at the preeminent William & Mary before he later penned the Declaration of Independence and became the country’s third president. Many ideas about breaking with England were developed in Williamsburg, as were some of the thoughts behind the structure of American democracy.

Colonial Williamsburg allows guests of all ages to immerse themselves in the 18th-century life of the capital of the largest English colony in the New World. On guided and self-guided tours, guests explore sites, gardens and trade shops, learn about rare breeds of animals, and interact with colonial citizens from the past at the world’s largest outdoor living history museum.

Daily programming brings to life the events that led to the fight for American independence. Visitors can participate in debates with patriots and loyalists and see how the differing viewpoints led to tensions among neighbors. Trade shops portray the detailed work that was undertaken to produce daily necessities for the local population. Help the brickmaker stomp water into clay, lend a hand at Great Hopes Plantation, or “sentence” a family member to the stockades for a great photo. Two of the city’s cornerstone buildings—the Governor’s Palace and the Capitol—offer popular tours that showcase the changing tide from British rule to an independent and democratic republic. Just off the palace green, you can do some shopping in Market Square for colonial-style items, just as they did in the 18th century.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg showcase the finest British and American decorative arts pieces from 1670-1830 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, and the nation’s premier collection of American folk art at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. In addition to the beautiful pieces of hand-carved furniture, woven arts, musical instruments, and eye-catching portraits, exhibits are regularly on display and new items are constantly arriving for a different perspective on every visit!

The Market House, recently rebuilt on the site of its 1757 predecessor, is the commercial and social heart of the 18th-century city. In addition to retail offerings and historical interpretation, regular live auctions offer guests an opportunity to bid on rare and one-of-a-kind products including items made by hand in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades shops.

The Historic Area lights up—literally and figuratively—in the evenings. Illumination of the most iconic buildings, including the Capitol, the Magazine and the Governor’s Palace, creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for nighttime programming and hospitality offerings. The Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk shines a lantern on haunted sites and the unexplained events that occur there. In “Escape the King,” an escape room puzzle game, guests are “locked” in a room under suspicion of patriot tendencies and given an hour to crack clues and flee before their jailer returns.

Historic taverns include Chowning’s Tavern, an ale house that serves light fare and craft beers from opening in late morning until closing with no reservations required. Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, King’s Arms Tavern and Shield’s Tavern serve fare based on colonial recipes prepared with contemporary tastes in mind. The taverns all offer full bar service, a selection of fine wines, beers and ales, and delectable house-made desserts.

TOURING TIP:  Colonial Williamsburg offers a number of additional programs and activities that require separate tickets from the standard admission. Examples include horse and carriage rides, musket firing at the range, dining events, and evening programs such as their “Ghosts Amongst Us” ghost walk, and “Escape the King” (an escape room challenge). Plan ahead and purchase advance tickets if you are interested in taking part in any of these activities as they usually sell out quickly!

Colonial Williamsburg is open 365 days a year and offers a variety of ticket options available by calling
855-296-6627 or visiting www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

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