Williamsburg, Virginia was the colonial capital of Virginia. Since the 1930s, it has been open to visitors as a restoration of colonial times and life. It’s a lovely place for a weekend getaway.
Along with Colonial Williamsburg, there are lots of things to do in Williamsburg. You can tour the historic area, experience the work of craftsmen, and reenactments such as militia drills or the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. Art museums in the area include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art and DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts museums. You can walk through the historic area (about a mile long along Duke of Gloucester Street) and visit the shops free of charge. Admission tickets are available at the Visitors Center and at several shops along the street. You can get single day, multi-day, and annual passes. These passes give you access to the buses that circle the colonial area and admission to historic buildings and tours. Williamsburg points of interest include:
The Governor’s Palace: Williamsburg, Virginia was the capital of the Commonwealth for over 80 years (after Jamestown and before Richmond). British governors and two elected governors lived in this home. You will see the British display of gun and sword power, the ballroom, and beautiful formal gardens, kitchen garden, and a boxwood maze.
Silversmith: This trade is not just about jewelry. Much of dinnerware was made in silver for the wealthy. Teapots, spoons, and other lovely things are on display and are being made and interpreted. This is just one of the trades you can watch in action.
Merchants Square: A shopping district at the college end of Duke of Gloucester Street is where you can find many shops and places to eat, including Williamsburg accessories and furniture, the William and Mary bookstore (Barnes and Noble), the Campus Shop, candy, Scottish goods, and clothing.
The College of William and Mary: Founded in 1693, this public university has a long and prestigious history. At the beginning, the college provided education for the clergy and a school for the local Algonquian people, the Powhatan. I suggest you see the Lord Botetourt statue, the Wren Building, the Sunken Garden, the bridge at Crim Dell, the Muscarelle Museum of Art, and Zable stadium.
Grabbing a bite
At Christiana Campbell’s Tavern seafood in 18th century style is served along with spoonbread (a type of corn pudding) in a candlelit setting. “Mrs. Campbell” interprets George Washington’s favorite tavern for you during dinner.
Local ingredients make up the menu at the Trellis Bar and Grill with a modern interior, patio seating on Merchants Square, and excellent cocktails. They still serve Chef Marcel Desaulnier’s invention, Death by Chocolate, for dessert. An amazing concoction of mousse, ganache, meringue, and rich chocolate cake, you may want to plan your dinner around making sure you try this dessert!
Shorty’s Diner is a 1950s style diner serving up eggs benedict, omelets, pancakes and other yummy breakfast grill items.
MAD About Chocolate is the latest offering from Chef Marcel Desaulnier and his wife, artist Connie DeSaulnier.How can you go wrong with a shop that features chocolate, wine, art, cookies, and lunch?
The Regency Room at the Williamsburg Inn overlooks the golf course. You can have table service or buffet breakfast in old school elegance with beautiful service and fantastic coffee. Traditions in the Williamsburg Lodge has a more casual atmosphere than the Inn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is a convenient spot for catching the CW bus.
Williamsburg is about a 3-hour drive from Washington, DC. You can fly into Newport News, Norfolk, or Richmond. Williamsburg has an Amtrak station. Highways 64 and 60 come into town. For a beautiful scenic trip try coming in on Route 5.
- Merchants Square shopping district
- The College of William and Mary in Virginia
- Colonial Williamsburg
- Campus Shop
- Williamsburg Marketplace
- Spoonbread from the Food Timeline
- Marcel Desaulnier’s Death by Chocolate from Slow Roasted Italian
Let’s talk story
My family started visiting Williamsburg, Virginia when I was a little girl. At 7, I decided I was going to college there, and I made it! So many founders of our country spent time there and so much history happened. It’s also fascinating to learn about John D. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller’s investment in making a place where we can step back in time. Historians continue research there and the stories are being interpreted from all people’s point of view. My favorite things to do are spend quiet time by the pond in back of the Governor’s Palace garden and watch the baker make gingerbread in the back of the Raleigh Tavern.
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I have had Williamsburg on my list for a few years now but have yet to make it there; it sure does look like a pretty area.
Hey Joanne, I went there every year from age 5 until I enrolled in college there! It’s a beautiful little town, and the history is so compelling!