By Guest Blogger Kristen Bagwell
When I was little, we lived in Maryland and I remember frequent visits to Washington DC and various spots in Virginia. One of my mom’s favorite places to go was Williamsburg, VA. The area has grown a ton since we used to go, and it’s a great spot for the whole family to enjoy. You could attempt a day trip if you’re feeling ambitious, but a weekend visit is a more relaxed way to go.
Getting there is a snap and will take you 4-5 hours depending on where you live in the Triad. You’ll arrive in a place that combines modern and historic times, and is unlike any other spot in the USA.
Depending on what you want to visit, there are multiple places you could stay. We spent a lot of time in Colonial Williamsburg when I was a kid. It reminds me a bit of Old Salem, and is the nation’s largest living history museum, showcasing 18th century ways of life. There are 4-5 hotels within walking distance of Colonial Williamsburg, and most are kid-friendly. There are also multiple hotel chain options in the area, along with bed and breakfasts and even a resort or two (in case you decide to leave the kids at home!). Let’s think about some more activities of interest, and that will make the lodging choice a bit easier.
For thrill-seekers, the most obvious attraction is Busch Gardens, and it definitely takes an entire day to make your way through the park. This is a great way for the tweens and teens to “visit Europe” without going far from home, and the rides aren’t too shabby either. Check out the Verbolten roller coaster, and don’t miss the old favorites while you’re there. (Loch Ness Monster, anyone?) The Busch Gardens website has an up-to-date calendar of events and also offers tickets, discounts, and meal packages online – one less thing to do when you arrive. There truly is entertainment for all ages inside this park!
In addition to Colonial Williamsburg, history buffs can visit historic Yorktown and historic Jamestown. The Yorktown battlefield is the place where America won her independence in the Revolutionary War, and it is fun for the kids to see the actual forts and cannons on the field. (If you’d like the full story, Park Rangers are available for guided walking tours of both the battlefield and 18th-century Yorktown.) Included in the battlefield visit are the Moore House (scene of surrender negotiations) and Surrender Field, among other sites.
You can walk through Yorktown and see other historic sites including the Nelson House (home to Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence) and the Yorktown Victory Monument. Admission is $15 for adults and free for kids under 16, and the site is open from 9am to 5pm daily. Historic Jamestown is the original site where John Smith and company established the first permanent English colony in the New World, and there are still some of the original buildings and foundations there to see. Visit separately for a small fee, or get your tickets at Yorktown and then see Jamestown for free!
Close to historic Yorktown is Riverwalk Landing, a wonderful location full of shops and restaurants built in the colonial style, located near the mile-long river walk along the York River. What a fun way to mix in some modern-day shopping and dining after your history lesson! If shopping is really your thing, there are also shopping opportunities in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchant’s Square and the Williamsburg Antique Mall. Power-shoppers will enjoy the Williamsburg Pottery Factory – a huge collection of shops that was revitalized and re-opened this past April – and the two outlet centers nearby: Premium Outlets and the (indoor) Outlet Mall.
There are too many things to do in Williamsburg to fit in one blog post, but I hope one of these ideas has inspired you to head north! If you want to wait a bit, be sure to check the Williamsburg website to see what fun holiday and fall events are in store. Enjoy!