Williamsburg, VA  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Williamsburg Area Features

Around the Williamsburg Area

If you haven’t been to Williamsburg before—or if it has been a while—you’ll find that the city is almost subdivided into different areas that each offer unique stores, restaurants, things to do, and even lifestyles. With the help of Colonial Guide, you’ll soon be able to navigate around town like a resident!

The Historic Area

Most people, when they first arrive in Williamsburg, immediately want to see the main attraction—Colonial Williamsburg. As you walk down 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. To enter the historic homes and shops, visit a ticketing center or use the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer app to gain admission.

If you are coming in from the southeast using Route 143 and would like to grab a bite on your way in, try Antonio's Ristorante Italiano for Italian food prepared by a true Sicilian chef or Second St. Bistro for highly recommended “upscale casual” cuisine including seafood, burgers, and cocktails. Another option, especially for those coming from the north or west on Route 60, is to try Rocco’s Smokehouse Grill on Bypass Road—not far from the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center—for ribs, steak and other delicious menu items. Peking Mongolian & Japanese Restaurant is also on this road and not only has a seemingly endless buffet of Asian food, but a hibachi and Mongolian grill as well. Drive just a bit further to Waller Mill road to try Latin foods at El Sabroson. Sample many dishes from their extensive buffet or order classic favorites such as fajitas, tortas or the polla a la brasa—succulent roasted, Peruvian-style chicken.

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. Technically a university, the college today offers an array of advanced degrees to its nearly 8,500 students. It is considered by many to be a “Public Ivy,” a state-assisted institution that offers a superior education at a cost far below that of private, Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the country’s top-ranked universities, the college has graduated three U.S. presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler. While touring the campus or even before a William & Mary football game, visit Green Leafe Cafe across from the college. Here you’ll find approximately 40 beers on tap and delicious food. It’s even a great place 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. Stop in R.P. Wallace & Sons General Store for Williamsburg apparel and other sundries. Fashionable clothing and accessories can be acquired at stores such as J. Fenton Gallery, while new, quality footwear can be found at Shoesters. After so much walking around, it may help to pick up a new pair of shoes 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 or a quick snack or sandwich at the famous Cheese Shop. The Trellis, a fine-dining restaurant, claims to be the originator of the “Death by Chocolate” dessert. Great drinks, appetizers and entrees can be found at a number of other places including Berret’s Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill, Blue Talon Bistro, or DoG Street Pub.

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 such as La Terraza Mexican Grill, and so much more. Be sure to stop at Whitley’s Peanut Factory for Virginia peanuts, or the Williamsburg Antiques Mall to find a rare item from another era. Three Peas and a Bean has eclectic pieces for a one-of-a-kind remembrance of Williamsburg, or stop in the Christmas Mouse next door for holiday ornaments and decorations. The holiday theme continues with animatronics and indoor snow at Yankee Candle Village, meanwhile, the Williamsburg Pottery has multiple buildings of artisan products, local foods and even décor for every holiday of the year. A truly special memento of your Williamsburg vacation can be found at Boyer’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry on the northern section of Richmond Road.

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. Stop by Wallace’s Fudge Factory in the Trading Post for something decadent or try a cool treat at Bubba’s Ice Cream Shack in 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—most notably Le Yaca and Plaza Azteca. There are also places such as Paint on Pottery where you can let your inner artist out, and Quirks of Art, where you can find handcrafted gifts and merchandise. Venture across Richmond Road from these shops to explore The Mole Hole which carries unique pieces of jewelry, clothing, and vintage wardrobe accessories in this quaint shop. It is a wonderful place to find a new treasure.

Shopping isn’t the only attraction to Richmond Road. Many restaurants line this thoroughfare with a large variety of culinary tastes—from Red Hot & Blue Memphis Pit Bar-B-Que's traditional American to Kyoto’s Hibachi Grill and Sushi Bar. Authentic food from the “old world” is the claim to fame of Sal’s by Victor Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria since Chef Victor began his career by training to cook in Italy. Seafood lovers may want to visit Captain George’s for a seafood buffet, Fat Tuna Grill and Oyster House for chef-inspired cuisine, or The Seafare & Steakhouse of Williamsburg for unique sauton ceramic cooking. Other delightful meals can be had at College Delly—a popular and long-standing sandwich destination—and Anna’s Brick Oven, which will satisfy any pizza or pasta craving with their extensive menu!

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 the fine-dining steakhouse, Opus 9, to exciting nightlife and a fun pub atmosphere at Paul’s Neighborhood Deli. 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. Travel just a mile south on Strawberry Plains Road to find gourmet burgers, pizza and local beers at Craft 31.

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. Stop into the Old Chickahominy House on Jamestown Road and Route 199 for traditional Southern cuisine.


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 such as Maurizio’s Italian Restaurant and interesting stores in Williamsburg Marketplace or at 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.

Now you know your way around the city of Williamsburg and the surrounding James City County. 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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