Williamsburg, VA  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Williamsburg Area Features

Activities For Everyone in the Family

Photo Credit: York County Tourism

Enjoying family activities together instills cherished memories that last a lifetime. In the Williamsburg region, your family is sure to find tons of things to see, do and explore. Colonial Guide can point you towards some favorite family-fun spots if you’re looking for some new ideas!

Fun For All Ages

The collections that fill Ripley’s Believe It or Not!® are truly bizarre and tons of fun for everyone to explore. You’ll see items like a two-headed cow that will mystify, characters such as Iron Man or a Transformer, and objects that may creep you out such as shrunken heads. With a combo ticket, the family can play in the LaseRace, try a new style of arcade with Atomic Rush, or even see an entertaining 4D movie after exploring the exhibits in the Odditorium.

Animal lovers will certainly enjoy visiting the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News to get a glimpse of local wildlife. Kids and adults alike will delight in seeing foxes, turtles, otters and so many other native creatures up close. The museum is a sanctuary for these animals and takes in orphaned or injured animals that cannot be released back into the wild. Using native plants and water tanks, varying Virginian landscapes were re-created to provide natural habitats for the animals. These galleries include coastal, mountainous, piedmont and even underground habitariums with clear views so that both the flora and fauna can be observed.

During the warmer months, spending some time on the water is a wonderful activity for the entire family! Being “in the same” boat literally brings everyone together, and the schooners at the Yorktown waterfront at Riverwalk Landing make sailing a breeze—just sit back and relax. Step aboard the Alliance for an enjoyable 2-hour trip on the York River. You can also help out the crew of this tall-masted sailing ship if you like. Younger sailors might want to take a pirate cruise where they can learn to tie nautical knots, watch the cannon go off, help with the sails, and even get a tattoo!

The Williamsburg area offers a variety of other recreational opportunities that require active participation. When was the last time the parents challenged the kids to a game of laser tag or knocked down some pins at a bowling alley? Sometimes it takes a vacation to remember how much fun these things can be. Take the kids to visit the Bounce House for a bouncing good time on inflatables! They will have a lot of fun burning off energy while jumping around and getting some beneficial exercise. Another great family-bonding activity is to try an escape room. Discover clues hidden throughout the themed room that lead to hints about how to escape in under an hour. It can be pretty tricky. Can your family work as a team to break the code and escape?

Perhaps your family prefers a bit of friendly competition. If that’s the case, then why not challenge each other to a game of mini golf? With a few different courses in the area, the family can pick the theme they like best. And all of the courses present perplexing obstacles such as water traps and tunnels. It’s a great bonding activity that will be a blast.

Taking the family out to see a movie is always fun and it’s the perfect rainy day activity. On Richmond Road and in New Town, major cineplexes show the latest films. However, while you’re in Williamsburg, you may want to take in a live production at the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square. This beautiful theater first opened in 1933 and still features ballets, concerts, plays, and more. The Kimball Theatre is leased by William & Mary for their performing arts students, but you can also get tickets to a movie screening in the historic building.

History Lives

Every year, thousands of visitors visit Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown. But there are many other historic sites that are fun for families to visit.

While touring Colonial Williamsburg, take time to check out the large brick structure on the edge of the Historic Area. Once it was the Public Hospital of 1773, but now it is home to the collective Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg—housing one of the largest collections of folk art and decorative arts in the nation. The galleries contained within the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are brimming with antiques, portraits, whimsical items, and much, much more, predominately from the 1700s and 1800s. Throughout the year, various exhibits are displayed and new artifacts can be seen with every visit. The museums also host activities, events and unique exhibits for kids such as “Down on the Farm” with Prince, a carved wooden dog who goes on an adventure to find his cousin.

The Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown commemorates the people who have worked on the Chesapeake Bay since colonial times. At this quaint waterfront location, artifacts on display include the tools, equipment and images of watermen. Their stories are told throughout the gallery, and the methods by which they have practiced their trades are shown. Programs are available at various times during the year, allowing young visitors to explore topics such as boat building, nature and even pirates!

Across the James River in Surry County, two amazing sites are open to the public. At Smith’s Fort, the land is not only part of the dowry that secured Pocahontas’ marriage to John Rolfe, but it is also where Captain John Smith initiated—but never finished—construction on a second “retreat” fort for the Jamestown settlers. On this land, the Faulcon family home was built using colonial-style architecture. Visitors can tour the home and see furnishings from its early days in the mid-1700s. Not too far from Smith’s Fort lies Bacon’s Castle. While it’s not quite a castle, it is the oldest surviving brick dwelling and example of Jacobean architecture in the United States. Built in 1665, it was actually owned by Arthur Allen, a prosperous planter. But because “Bacon’s Rebellion”—an uprising led by Nathaniel Bacon—congregated on Allen’s property, history has tied that movement to the house. Upon touring the house, guests will learn of the families who lived there, see their portraits, and discover how the house would have been furnished and decorated.

Families with older children might enjoy a ghost tour. Throughout the centuries, events that transpired in Williamsburg may have left some unresolved energy in the area that has transcended time. The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg Candlelight Tour™ tells tales of sorrow and tragedy that keep these lost spirits from passing on. Candlelight will guide you around the dark streets where you may even experience something that simply can’t be explained. Avid ghost hunters can take the Extreme Ghost Tour℠ and use authentic equipment to gather proof of paranormal activity while in the Historic Area. Be sure to look closely at the Peyton Randolph house, where a sinister murder is rumored to have occurred. As you walk around the colonial town, you’re sure to learn a bit about the residents who used to live here—and maybe still do!

Exciting Adventures

Not only will your heart be racing, but the rest of your body will be as well at Go-Karts Plus. Take your pick of four tracks including the Figure-8, Euro, and Super Stockart tracks. The rookie track is perfect for young drivers who want to take out their own car, or they can ride amusements made for them in Kiddieland. But there’s even more family fun at Go-Karts Plus… Try the Disk “O” ride, bumper cars, or even the blaster boats—they’re equipped with water guns so you can soak your friends and family!

Adventure seekers will have a blast zip-lining and climbing through obstacles high above the treetops. At Go Ape! in Williamsburg’s Freedom Park, try your agility on the rope courses of varying difficulty. Cross over bridges made of suspended planks before zip-lining to the next challenge along the trail. Varying courses have different difficulty levels, so challenging climbs can be had by first-timers and “frequent flyers” alike. Even those with a fear of heights will find this to be an enjoyable and safe way to conquer their phobia.

Busch Gardens is a must-see destination for many vacationers in the area. This gorgeous park is themed around six European countries with rides, performances and even food geared to each setting. You can defy gravity on the double-looping Loch Ness Monster roller coaster in Scotland, or go white water rafting on racing currents and by waterfalls on Italy’s Roman Rapids. Then, catch a show at England’s Globe Theatre where Elmo and Cookie Monster perform in “Elmo Rocks!,” or watch the amazing Irish dancing demonstrated by the cast of Celtic Fyre. In the fall and winter, be sure to visit Howl-O-Scream® or Christmas Town™ for a completely different atmosphere and perspective!

Nearby, Water Country USA offers exciting ways to cool off in the summer. Enjoy the retro vibe of the park on any of its 16 super-soaking rides. Whether you prefer a high-speed slide such as the Nitro Racer or to catch a wave at Surfer’s Bay—Virginia’s largest wave pool—you’re bound to have a wonderful time. Or, try the Colossal Curl: Board a raft with 2-3 others and swirl around a funnel into enclosed water slide tubes that lead passengers throughout the park on an action-packed ride.

Great Wolf Lodge attracts visitors with the promise of indoor waterpark fun that can be enjoyed year-round. This resort is a hit with kids and parents alike, but only guests who stay at the property can use the waterpark. The Lodge also has activities for kids such as an arcade and MagiQuest, a wine-down pairing event for adults, and ample food options. Let the kids create their own stuffed wolf to take home from this extraordinary vacation destination.

There are other ways to enjoy the water in the Williamsburg area. Nature lovers can take a guided tour either by kayak or paddleboard down the Chickahominy River near Jamestown to see wildlife such as fish, deer and birds as well as native plants. Patriot Tours & Provisions offers kayak and paddleboard rentals and tours in Yorktown if you would prefer to be on the York River near the Chesapeake Bay. Either way, the family can get some fun exercise while taking in the gorgeous natural scenery.

Family fun, excitement, speed, and bone-chilling experiences await you in the Historic Triangle. Have a great time at these wonderful places that will easily bring everyone in the family together for a lifetime of memories!

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