Williamsburg, Virginia is the perfect place to visit for history buffs. This amazing city played a significant role in the American Revolution, and the remnants of that role can still be seen today.
The heart of the city is Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum where you can get a glimpse into what life was like in this historic town long ago. With actors in costume, you’ll get a true idea and look at Colonial life during your visit here.
In addition to all the history, this town is also full of amazing parks, gardens, museums and more. There is something for everyone to experience in Williamsburg.
Here are 21 things to do in Williamsburg VA that we know you and your crew will enjoy.
Colonial Williamsburg is one of the few museums in the country dedicated to preserving and displaying a wealth of Colonial buildings and artifacts. If you are seeking an authentic 18th-century experience, this living history museum has it all.
Spanning over 300 acres, the vast outdoor museum houses a variety of reconstructed and restored Colonial-era buildings, historic sites, art museums, gardens, and trades. Furthermore, within the sites, you will see costumed historical reenactors or interpreters that will help you get a deeper understanding of the past.
On top of that, the interpreters stage performances pertaining to the Revolutionary War and try to recreate life during the Colonial era.
Take a carriage ride, listen to the fifes and drums, explore the Colonial Williamsburg Arboretum & Gardens, visit the local shops, stay at one of the inns, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants found here. Colonial Williamsburg is a must-visit for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the United States. When it comes to things to do in Williamsburg VA, nothing beats Colonial Williamsburg.
Details: 101 Visitor Center Drive Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
For those looking for family fun, look no further than Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. This 422-acre theme park boasts a variety of thrill rides, roller coasters, games, performances, and more.
Older kids and adults can test their bravery on Pantheon, the world’s fastest multi-launch roller coaster. Or try Alpengeist if you’re feeling especially brave. With eight roller coasters, and plenty of other thrill rides, you’ll have plenty to do here.
Don’t worry if your kids are still little — Busch Gardens has plenty of toddler-friendly rides too. Slip your pre-school pilots into a World War I fighter plane ride, or let them take a spin in The Little Gliders.
On top of the typical theme park offerings, Busch Gardens is also home to some amazing animals. See the Clydesdale horses, listen to the howls of the gray wolves, visit the rescued birds of prey at Eagle Ridge, or check out their adorable Scottish Highland cows
Details: 1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
WATER COUNTRY USA
If you like to enjoy water, fresh air and sunshine all at the same time, you can enjoy a day of family fun getting soaked in the biggest water park in the Mid-Atlantic, Water Country USA.
Busch Gardens’ water park is equipped with water rides, slides, and water sports, along with other family attractions. Nothing beats the fun feeling of speeding down the 400-feet on the Jet Scream water slides, or take a spin on the mega-slide, Colossal Curl.
Make time to float on the Hubba Hubba Highway — a 1500-foot lazy river that features surprise geysers, sprayers and crazy coconuts. Young vacationers can enjoy slower rides, such as the Cow-A-Bunga, Kritter Korral, and H2O UFO.
Details: 176 Water Country Pkwy, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
DRINK WILLIAMSBURG TOUR
For a small fee, you get to enjoy a bus tour around town with stops at multiple breweries, distilleries and wineries.
During this excursion, Drink Williamsburg will take you out to three local alcohol producers so you can drink, tour, and taste their offerings. The itineraries change depending on the day, but you can expect stops at places like Joker Brewing, The Virginia Beer Company, Williamsburg Winery, and Kombucha Brewery.
Buy a single ticket, or you can rent the whole bus. They offer custom tours too, allowing you to pick the locations.
Details: 1006 Richmond Rd, Suite 300, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
AMERICAN REVOLUTION MUSEUM AT YORKTOWN
Learn more about the founding of the United States with a visit to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. This amazing museum features exhibitions, galleries, and films that tell the story of how our nation was founded.
Explore the outdoor living history area too. You’ll find a re-creation of a Continental Army encampment, learn about camp life, and even will see musket firings. They also have a Revolution-era farm, which shows you how life was for farming families in the 18th-century.
The museum is open everyday, except Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Details: 200 Water St, Yorktown, VA 23690 | Website
Should you feel like immersing yourself further in the sights and sounds of 18th century America, you can’t miss visiting the Historic Jamestown Settlement.
Located just 30 minutes from the American Revolution Museum, this location was the first permanent settlement of the British colonial migrants that came to Virginia in the 18th century. The living history museum encompasses a re-creation of the Original James Fort, a Powhatan American town, and replicas of original settler ships. You will enjoy viewing gallery exhibits, films, and reconstructed Colonial houses.
Details: 2110 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
Williamsburg Winery is the perfect place to go for the wine lovers in your group. Not only does this amazing winery feature some of the best locally-produced wines in the region, they also have an amazing restaurant, spa services, and an inn on property.
The winery offers several different tours to choose from. Their Exclusive Tour and Reserve Wine Tasting allows you to sample some of their reserve wines in the wine cellar, and compare them with wines from their vintage library. Or maybe you and your guests would prefer spending time in the tasting room, tasting some of the wine flights offered.
On the property, you’ll find two wine bars, a tasting room, a wine pavilion, and the restaurant, Gabriel Archer Tavern, which is opened for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Make a weekend of it and stay at Wedmore Place, where the luxurious rooms are appointed with antiques.
Details: 5800 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
PATRIOT TOURS SEGWAY TOUR
A trip to Williamsburg is never complete without taking part in the Segway Tour that is facilitated by Patriot Tours Company.
During this 2-hour tour, you’ll enjoy driving your Segway around Historic Yorktown and past the waterfront area, before continuing on to the historic village on Main Street. During your tour, a guide will share information about the Colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War periods.
If you’re short on time, there’s also a 1-hour trip offered. The “Breeze” Tour starts along the York River and continues through the historic village. You’ll travel from Victory Center to the entrance of the National Park Service visitor center.
Both tours are fantastic, and make for a fun and unique way to explore the city.
Details: 321 Water St, Yorktown, VA 23690 | Website
COLONIAL GHOST TOUR
With all the history that Williamsburg has to offer — you know there’s got to be some paranormal happenings here too.
Paranormal enthusiasts who crave the opportunity to prove that life exists beyond death can enjoy ghost hunting expeditions. Colonial Ghosts offers the best ghost tours in Colonial Williamsburg.
Tour Williamsburg while your guide tells you stories about the past, and the haunted happenings that sometimes occur here. Many guests with the tour say they’ve witnessed events they can’t explain!
In addition to ghost tours, they also offer ghost hunts and cemetery tours.
Details: 424 W Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
Another spot in Williamsburg that is filled with history is the Governor’s Palace. This massive building was the official residence to the seven royal governors of the colony before the Revolution. The palace also housed two of Virginia’s post-Colonial governors until the capital of the state of Virginia was moved to Richmond in 1780.
Today, you can take a guided 30-minute tour of the palace. Inside, you will meet a number of interpreters dressed in costumes to reminisce about the royal British residents and staff.
Details: 300 Palace Green St, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
ABBY ALDRICH ROCKEFELLER FOLK ART MUSEUM
If you are into American Folk Art, then the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg is a must-see.
Within the reaches of Williamsburg city lies the oldest museum in the world dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting American Folk Art. The museum was established by John D. Rockefeller in 1957. The galleries of the art museum showcase a variety of paintings, sculptures, and collections of ancient textiles, pottery, painted furniture, souvenirs and decor.
Details: 301 S Nassau St, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
DEWITT WALLACE DECORATIVE ARTS MUSEUM
The Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in British and American Fine and Decorative Arts.
Some of the collections you should expect to see here are British and American antiques, such as furniture, textiles, metals and ceramics. Also, the museum hosts several musical events, and lectures in their auditorium. What’s more, at the entrance, there is a public hospital exhibition that reenacts the mental illness treatment methods of the 17th century.
Details: 301 S Nassau St, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
THE GEORGE WYTHE HOUSE
The next historical landmark in Williamsburg worth mentioning is the George Wythe House. It was the home of George Wythe, who was a lawyer and leader of the patriot movement in Virginia, responsible for signing the Declaration of Independence.
Unlike most other buildings that have been reconstructed, the Wythe House is mostly original. The museum features classic paintings and prints, and a collection of ancient art and collectables.
Details: 101 Palace Green St, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
The oldest and most historic plantation in the U.S., Berkeley Plantation covers about 1000 acres. It is still a working farm, with crops such as corn, wheat and soybeans. By visiting the plantation, guests are able to get a peek at what life was like in pre-Colonial times.
The property played host to the first 10 U.S. presidents, including William Harrison, who was born in the plantation. The property features an exhibition of shrines, pre-Colonial farming equipment, barns and more.
Details: 12602 Harrison Landing Rd, Charles City, VA 23030 | Website
GREAT HOPES PLANTATION
Take a self-guided tour of the Great Hopes Plantation and discover how Virginians lived long ago. Located near the Governor’s Palace, this plantation is a recreation of a Colonial Virginia farmstead.
The landscape, buildings, and animals of inhabitants of Virginia during pre-Colonial times have been reconstructed to give a tribute to the working farmers and slaves who kept farming afloat in Virginia.
Details: 100 Visitor Center Dr., Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
MUSCARELLE MUSEUM OF ART
Affiliated with the College of William and Mary, the Muscarelle Museum of Art is a university museum that exhibits a variety of cultural and educational artifacts and collectables. Also, the museum is a laboratory and research center for the college.
The museum houses over 5,000 artworks acquired through purchases and general donations. Among the collection is the famous portrait of the physicist Robert Doyle. You can also expand your knowledge of history by attending the programs, events and lectures at the university museum.
Details: 603 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185 | Website
Get a taste of the Colonial dining experience by having a meal at one of the three colonial taverns in Williamsburg.
Stop by Shields Tavern and where you can sample Colonial favorites, such as Crayfish and Shrimp Stew. King’s Arms offers courses inspired by 18th-century recipes, where you’ll find prime rib, pork chops, and more.
And to get the true Williamsburg tavern experience, you cannot miss a stop at Christina Campbell’s Tavern. This tavern’s claim to fame is that it was President George Washington’s favorite seafood restaurant! Enjoy historically-inspired, local shrimp, scallops, and fish. Make sure to try their famous crab cakes!
Bassett Hall is a 2-story, white home nestled on 585 acres of gardens, lawns, and rolling woodlands. This was the former home of John D. Rockefeller and his family when Colonial Williamsburg was being restored.
At Bassett Hall, you’ll find a selection of folk art and historical pieces and antiques, including furniture, porcelain, textiles, and candlesticks.
Outside the home, you can see the beautifully manicured gardens.
YORK RIVER STATE PARK
It is not every day that you come across the confluence of two rivers where freshwater meets salt water. York River State Park is home to a coastal estuary, and as the name indicates, the park is located on the York River.
Visitors can enjoy taking part in water activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. A boat ramp, a fishing pier, and seasonal boat rental are available here. You’ll also find over 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails here, that take you through the marshes, river shoreline, and forests.
Details: 9801 York River Park Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 | Website
JAMESTOWN – SCOTLAND FERRY
Looking for a free and fun thing to do? Take a ride on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, and enjoy a scenic trip across the historic James River.
The ferry operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to ferry cars and pedestrians from James City County and Surry County.
The 20-minute ride will allow you scenic views of the land, river, and wildlife along the way. You can even bring your pet along, as long as they stay in your vehicle during the trip.
Details: 16289 Rolfe Hwy, Surry, VA 23883 | Website
WHITLEY’S PEANUT FACTORY
After spending days at the Historic Triangle, catching up on the history of our nation, make sure to make time for a stop at Whitley’s Peanut Factory.
Whitley’s prides itself on producing supreme quality gourmet peanuts, which they hand roast, along with amazingly delicious peanut confections.
The company has been family-owned since it opened in 1986, and they offer everything from seasoned peanuts to brittles and peanut clusters. A stop here makes for a yummy treat.
Details: 4101 Dominion Blvd Suite 200, Glen Allen, VA 23060 | Website
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO VIRGINIA
- BEST OF VIRGINIA: 25 Things To Do In Virginia Everyone Will Love
- VIRGINIA BEACH: 21 Amazing Things To Do In Virginia Beach, VA
- RICHMOND: 17 Things To Do In Richmond VA On Your Next Visit
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WHERE TO STAY IN WILLIAMSBURG VA
Historic B&B. Newport House Bed & Breakfast is a quaint and historic B&B with actual actors on site that will transport you back in time. According to their website, “Of the twenty-four Williamsburg Bed & Breakfasts, Newport House is the only one with 18th Century History as its central theme.” And check out the real English Dancing events!
Best Downtown Hotel. Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel is a great spot in Colonial Williamsburg, an area that justifiably limits standard hotels the closer you are to historic downtown. Featuring a large outdoor pool and suite options, this place is fantastic for a family getaway.
Best Budget Option. Hampton Inn & Suites Williamsburg-Central is also close to historic downtown at about a mile. We’ve seen great rates here but with good reviews. And another great spot for families with a pool, complimentary breakfast and suite options.
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