Williamsburg, VA  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Williamsburg Area Features

Around the Williamsburg Area

The Historic Triangle has many interesting places to see and exciting things to do. However, getting around can be a little tricky since some of the roads got their start as paths on which horses would travel. Learning about some of the areas in the region may help you get around, and Colonial Guide is here to help. Plus, you can save some money with coupons for attractions, shopping and dining in the areas you wish to visit.

Williamsburg - The Historic Area

When they first arrive into town, most people immediately want to see the main attraction—Colonial Williamsburg. As you walk down the center of the old town on Duke of Gloucester Street (commonly referred to as DoG Street), the people in costume and the quaint buildings can evoke a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era. This is the “Historic Area.” In the 1700s the town was centered around a few key buildings: the Capitol, Governor’s Palace, Bruton Parish church, and the Wren Building at William & Mary.

At the opposite end of DoG Street from the Capitol is the Wren Building—the most symbolic, yet rebuilt, structure on the William & Mary campus. William & Mary was founded in 1693, making it the second oldest college in the country and the only one named for the British Royal Family. While touring the campus or even before a William & Mary football game, visit local restaurants near the college. Some of them are even great places for evening entertainment!

Merchants Square

Situated between William & Mary and the Historic Area is Merchants Square—a beautiful shopping and dining gem filled with both well-known and eclectic places. It is reputed to perhaps be the first planned shopping district in the nation. Here,  you’ll find excellent dining options and unique stores—many with colonial-inspired products and exquisite gifts such as the holiday ornaments found in The Christmas Shop or the gorgeous items made from pewter by Danforth. The Campus Shop is also located in this area, selling William & Mary t-shirts, hats, and more. Fashionable clothing and accessories can be acquired at local boutique stores. After so much walking around, it may help to pick up a new pair of shoes at Shoesters to ease your weary feet!

If shopping around Merchants Square is making you a little hungry, pick up some homemade treats at the Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop. The Trellis, a fine-dining restaurant, claims to be the originator of the “Death by Chocolate” dessert. But that’s not all! Great drinks, appetizers and entrees can be found at many local places and the number of restaurants in this area is expected to increase significantly as Merchants Square expands.

Richmond Road

Richmond Road (Route 60) is the place to go for regional merchandise and also bargain shopping! Since 1938 this main thoroughfare, which stretches from Williamsburg to Lightfoot and Toano, has attracted people in search of clothing, cars, local food options, and so much more. Be sure to stop at Whitley’s Peanut Factory for Virginia peanuts, or A Touch of Earth for an eclectic gift. The holiday theme is portrayed with animatronics and indoor snow at Yankee Candle Village, while the Williamsburg Pottery has multiple buildings of artisan products, local foods and even décor for every holiday of the year. Shopping isn’t the only attraction on Richmond Road. Many restaurants also line this thoroughfare with a large variety of culinary tastes. Everything from traditional American to old-world Italian and even Asian specialties will appease the most discerning palate.

Williamsburg Premium Outlets can be a day-long destination since it includes over 135 stores. Favorites such as Ann Taylor, Tommy Bahama, and Waterford Crystal are just a few of the name-brand stores where wonderful bargains can be found. Meanwhile, if you are searching for a new lamp, a unique rug, or even if you want to bring home a distinguished piece of colonial furniture, head to The Shops at Carolina Furniture of Williamsburg. All of your home décor needs can be met at this location. There are also several locally owned stores spread along Richmond Road. The Wallace family has owned shops in Williamsburg since 1919 and their collection of stores currently includes two on Richmond Road: Wallace’s Trading Post and the Williamsburg General Store. There are even Fife & Drum performances on select nights!

One of the newest additions to Richmond Road is the Shops at High Street. Within this convenient complex are a couple of outlet stores, the Movie Tavern, and dining establishments. There are also places such as Paint on Pottery where you can let your inner artist out, and Revolution Golf & Grille where you can eat, drink and socialize while playing interactive HD golf.

New Town

Take Monticello Avenue just a few miles west of the Historic Area and past the college to arrive at New Town. This newer area of James City County hosts a multitude of shopping and dining complexes. You’ll find everything from a fine-dining steakhouse to exciting nightlife and a fun pub atmosphere. Even your furry friends will have a blast, whether dining with you on outdoor patios or by selecting their own treat at The Nautical Dog shop. Several other marketplaces have popped up in the last decade around New Town and include retailers such as Belk and Trader Joe’s.

Helpful hint: Just west of New Town is the interchange for Route 199, the Bypass that goes around the city of Williamsburg and extends from Lightfoot to Kingsmill. It can easily get you back to I-64 in either direction.

Kingsmill

The Kingsmill area lies just southeast of Williamsburg, down Route 60 from the Historic Area, and is the place where shrieks of delight can be heard. This is the home of Busch Gardens, where adventure seekers come to take on roller coasters such as Verbolten and InvadR. The park is consistently named one of the most beautiful theme parks in the nation, and offers rides for all ages, shows, food festivals and seasonal events including Christmas Town and the very popular Howl-O-Scream. In the neighboring area, you’ll find restaurants and interesting stores at Market Place Shops or the Village Shops at Kingsmill. Nearby, the Kingsmill Resort welcomes guests from all over the world into a tranquil, relaxing setting. In addition to staying at the resort, guests can partake of exquisite dining, luxury spa services, swimming, tennis or golf on their award-winning courses. In fact, The River Course is host to the LPGA Kingsmill Championship!

By going a little farther east along Route 199, you’ll get to Water Country USA, a sister park of Busch Gardens with some of the best water slides to cool you off on a hot summer day. The Marquis Shopping Center is also in that vicinity, with popular “big-box” stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s and Target—a nice stop for forgotten necessities.

Colonial Parkway to Yorktown and Jamestown

To travel to either Yorktown or Jamestown from Williamsburg, do yourself a favor and take the Colonial Parkway. This beige-colored road made up of stones is federally owned (don’t speed!) and maintained. It’s a beautiful path that takes you directly to the three historic hot spots of the region. While in Yorktown, walk along the beach to Cornwallis’ cave before exploring the battlefield or the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. At Jamestown, on the opposite side of the peninsula, tour the Jamestown Settlement, replicas of the three ships the colonists sailed on, and depictions of both the colonists’ village and an Indian village. On Jamestown Island, step in the same places where Pocahontas and John Rolfe walked. You’ll see relics from the past and can dive deep into the history of Jamestown.  Tour the archaearium where excavated pieces are displayed after having been found through careful archaeology.

Surry and the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry

The path to Surry from Jamestown is a beautiful one! Drive onto one of the boats with the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry and then get out and take in the scenery as you cruise across the James River. Once on the other side, be sure to stop by Edwards Ham Shop or the Surry Seafood Co. on your way to visit landmark destinations including the Hampton Roads Winery and historic Bacon’s Castle and Smith’s Fort. 

Now you know your way around the city of Williamsburg and the surrounding area. If you need additional help, bring your copy of Colonial Guide along to reference its maps and see where your favorite hot spots are located!

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