Step back in time and explore the former capital of Colonial Virginia, where Founding Fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and more walked the streets.
Both an actual town and open air museum, Colonial Williamsburg allows visitors to walk the same streets as legendary figures from the past and explore authentic and reconstructed Colonial-Era buildings. You need a ticket to enter the buildings and museums, but you can walk the streets and enter the shops and restaurants for free. Historical and haunted tours are plentiful, including carriage rides!
In many ways, Colonial Williamsburg reminds me of Tombstone, Arizona, another attempt by a living community to reconstruct history. Like Tombstone, Williamsburg got left behind when its moment in the sun passed. Its historic buildings were modified and fell into disrepair over the decades after Virginia’s capitol was moved to Richmond in 1780.
In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and a collection of preservationist groups laid plans to restore the old town and preserve its Colonial history. Buildings like the Raleigh Tavern, the Capitol, and the Governor’s Palace were (almost) faithfully reconstructed. Others, like the Courthouse, George Wythe House, Peyton Randolph House, and the Powder Magazine were originals in need of restoration.
Williamsburg’s Gunpowder Incident of 1775 was an important precursor to the Revolutionary War. On April 20, 1775, one day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Royal Governor of the Virginia Colony Lord Dunmore ordered removal of the gunpowder from Williamsburg’s Magazine, fearing a rebellion in Virginia. Patrick Henry led a militia to stop it, and the incident was resolved bloodlessly when a wealthy planter paid Henry to allow them to remove the powder.
When you visit, I recommend a meal at one of Williamsburg’s historic restaurants. My wife and I ate lunch at Chowning’s Tavern and dinner at King’s Arms Tavern. Though on the pricier side, our dinner was among the best meals I’ve ever had. Mrs. Vobe’s Tavern Dinner, with herb-garlic crusted prime rib, horseradish, and fingerling potatoes, with your choice of desert, was amazing.
Don’t overlook the museums either. Shuttle buses (price included in your ticket) run on a constant loop from the Visitor Center around the historic area. There’s more than enough to see and do for an entire weekend.
Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center is located at 101-A Visitor Center Drive in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is open seven days a week from 8:45am to 5:00pm. Tickets to Colonial Williamsburg’s historic sites, carriage rides, and haunted tour can be purchased at the Visitor Center.
A one-day pass to Colonial Williamsburg costs $44.99 per adult and $24.99 for children ages six through 12, with discounts for multi-day tickets and annual passes. Tickets for carriage rides and other activities are sold separately. Call (888) 965-7254 to plan your visit.