Just three hours from Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of America’s most historic, most treasured and most visited cities. Virginia was one of the largest of the original colonies, and Williamsburg was its political center. Much more than a city, today Williamsburg is a living history museum. In Colonial Williamsburg, shops, businesses and homes have been restored into their 18th-century versions, with tradesmen and artisans in full costume selling their wares and perfecting their crafts, and character actors recreating town scenes. Visitors can feel as though they have literally stepped back in time to experience life as a colonist.
The awe-inspiring historical experience alone makes Williamsburg worth the trip. But the city has more to offer: It features great theme parks, gardens, outdoor attractions and golf courses for those who enjoy the outdoors. It also offers museums and theaters for those looking to experience a bit more culture.
What to Do
Historic Jamestowne: This is the site of England’s first permanent colony in the New World, and a must-visit for those who enjoy American history. It was here that Pocahontas and James Rolfe married in 1614, and the first representative assembly in America met in 1619. The site features guided walking tours that help visitors envision the life and hardships of these brave early colonists.
Governor’s Palace: This palace showcases royal life, before the American Revolution, in all of its opulent and stately glory. Inhabited by seven Royal Governors, this palace features tiered gardens, a ballroom and scullery and kitchen buildings where members of historic foodways prepare authentic foods fit for an 18th-century governor and his family.
Great Wolf Lodge: This large, lodge-themed resort is the perfect “rustic” getaway for families. It features an 84-degree indoor waterpark with slides, rides and pools for every age group.
Haunted Dinner Theater: Like other Southern cities with a deep and fascinating history, tales of hauntings abound in Williamsburg, and ghostly presences are said to be everywhere. Haunted Dinner Theater offers visitors the opportunity to have a “safe” scare, and a wonderful night of great theater and great food. While it does deliver some frights, the performance is more funny than scary, and guests are invited to participate in the fun by solving clues left at their tables.
Busch Gardens: This vast theme park features a wealth of rides and attractions for every age group, from thrilling roller coasters to animal attractions. Themed around Old-World Europe, the park is divided into numerous “hamlets” that represent different European cities and countries, each of which features corresponding food, rides and attractions. The park also hosts annual food and wine, Halloween and Christmas festivals.
Ghosts Among Us Tour: This tour gives visitors a chance to see the dark and spooky side of Williamsburg. This is the only Williamsburg ghost tour that actually takes visitors inside buildings to hear stories of their ghostly inhabitants. The tour begins after dark and, unlike other more family-friendly ghost tours in the area, it can be truly frightening.