The Best Things to Do When Visiting Williamsburg, VA
This is a list of the best attractions for visitors to Williamsburg, VA. Some are well known, others are more obscure. It's a great town to visit, with plenty to occupy both children and adults of all ages.
This is the mainstay attraction for tourists visiting Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg was renovated by more than $50 million of Rockefeller money in the 1930s. A sleepy southern town was transformed into a living history lesson. It's fun just to walk around the free areas - the cobbled streets are beautifully lined with trees and the gardens and horse drawn carriages provide plenty of eye candy. But the restricted, ticketed areas are well worth the price of admission. You can explore the Governors Palace and its' extensive gardens, learn to make wool, beer or bricks, or watch wonderful historical reanactments. Plan to spend at least one full day here. For extra inspiration, catch the Fife and Drums Corp.
The Williamsburg Inn
Opening in 1937, this incredible property was conceived and developed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. Queen Elizabeth II has been an overnight guest there twice, most recently in 2007 for the 400th birthday of Jamestown. Grab a drink in the lounge and take it to the back patio to enjoy a peaceful afternoon beneath the oaks and lovely view of the gardens and golf course. Or plan a special occasion dinner in the formal dining room (coat and tie required). The food and service are remarkable, the atmosphere is quietly elegant.
The Jamestown Settlement is a full day trip in itself. An indoor museum houses artifacts from the many different cultures that converged in Jamestown in the 1700s. Outdoors, there are re-creations of both a Powhatan village, complete with fur blankets, baskets and stands of squash, and a settler's fort which houses a functioning blacksmith, a working kitchen and many life-sized examples of the shelters built by the settlers. Continue down to the banks of the James River to explore full-sized replicas of the ships the first settlers sailed to the New World. After you've had a chance to explore all there is to offer at the settlement, be sure to continue on to the glass blowing shop located just outside the entrance and then on to Historic Jamestown, where archeologists continue to unearth pieces of our history. The original church built by the settlers still stands and a small museum holds some of the fascinating artifacts that have been discovered on the site.
Yorktown Victory Center
The road to Yorktown along the Colonial Parkway is worth the trip just for it's peaceful beauty and the Yorktown Victory Center teaches some of the defining moments of the American Revolution. Bring bikes if you can, or plan to explore by car. The armies camped at least a cannon's shot away from each other, so to see all the battle sites requires mobility. Be sure to stop at the Visitor's Center first for an informative film of the battles fought and won here, so you know what you're looking at as you explore the fields and armenments.
After you visit the Yorktown Victory Center, make your way into historic Yorktown to get refreshments or to relax on the beach of the York River, the cleanest river on the East Coast. You can explore the Mariner's Museum while you're there, or just grab a Ben and Jerry's ice cream cone and wander the streets.
This award winning amusement park has plenty to offer all ages. Busch Gardens is styled after different European countries. Each country has it's own rides, food and live entertainment. The rollercoasters are world-class, the food is incredibly good (grab a turkey leg while you're in Germany) and the park is beautifully landscaped. There are child-friendly rides through out the park but you'll find a bounty of them in Italy, and a wonderful multi-story playground in Germany. Try to get there early in the day to beat the lines and say hello to the Clydesdale on your way in.
Water Country USA
Water Country USA has great water slides and beautiful landscaping. Again, you want to arrive early to beat the lines, which usually don't get too bad until the afternoon. Hit all the slides first and then relax at the Wave Pool, Rock & Roll Island or Hubba Hubba Highway as the park starts to get crowded. It's a wonderful way to spend a sunny day.
A Chef's Kitchen
If there's a foodie in your group, A Chef's Kitchen is an unique dining experience. Chef John Gonzales is a CIA alumni and worked at the Watergate, the Jockey Club and the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C. before moving to Williamsburg and opening A Chef's Kitchen with his wife, Wanda. Each night, he and his crew prepare your dinner on a stage kitchen, explaining each step and ingredient as they go. When the dish is ready, it is then served to the audience, paired with an accompanying wine. It's fun, delicious and enlightening. Be sure to grab a bottle of wine as you leave - he searches for excellent, obscure wines and sells them for $10.00 a bottle.
It's easy to pass an interesting, fun, educational and recreational week in Williamsburg, VA. It's a wonderful place to visit with the family, with plenty of activities for everyone. Great restaurants, beautiful gardens, plenty of history and world class roller coasters. Something for everyone!