Williamsburg, Virginia, is best known as the home of Colonial Williamsburg, one of the largest and most elaborate living history museums in the world. Attracting visitors from around the globe, the 301-acre historic area has been carefully restored, allowing tourists visiting Williamsburg to seemingly travel back in time and walk the streets of the 18th-century capital of Virginia.
One of the most interesting attractions in Colonial Williamsburg, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in the public hospital, houses a collection of over 8,000 decorative art pieces from American and British history. Further into the historic area, visitors can listen to a sermon at Bruton Parish Church, follow a costumed guide through the Governor’s Palace( built by Alexander Spotswood in 1720) and inhabited by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, or tour the homes of Peyton Randolph and George Wythe, Thomas Jefferson’s law professor and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The Raleigh Tavern, built in 1717 and named after Sir Walter Raleigh, hosted Washington, Jefferson and Patrick Henry in the Apollo Room and was the birthplace of Phi Beta Kappa.
Historic Williamsburg offers up great shopping, and a favorite for antiques is the Old Chickahominy House, which also has ham biscuits on offer for lunch. More shopping is found on Richmond Road to the west, where the Prime Outlets are located, and in Merchants Square, adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg. The square offers an assortment of antique, book, quilt and pottery shops, including the Craft House on Duke of Gloucestor Street, where visitors can stock up on Williamsburg souvenirs. Be sure to make dinner reservations at A Chef’s Kitchen before leaving the square.
Heading southeast, tourists can get down to serious fun at Busch Gardens, listed among the best attractions in Williamsburg. Little ones can play in the Sesame Street Forest of Fun, and thrill seekers can ride roller coasters like Apollo’s Chariot and Alpengeist. In the summer, add a splash to the fun and head to Water Country, U.S.A. to try out the 75-foot Vanish Point slide.
Wine lovers and lovebirds can indulge at the Williamsburg Winery, also known as Wessex Hundred, Virginia’s largest winery. Guests visiting Williamsburg can also stroll through the campus of the nation’s second-oldest institute of higher education, the College of William & Mary. Known as the Alma Mater of a Nation, the college has distinguished alumni, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler and James Monroe. While on campus, investigate the Muscarelle Museum of Art’s American and English portraits collection and the Native American pottery exhibit.
Williamsburg is the largest of the three towns in Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which also includes nearby Jamestown and Yorktown. The first permanent English settlement was founded at Jamestowne in 1607, eight miles southwest of Williamsburg. Today, visitors can tour an extensive archeological excavation of the original settlement. Thirteen miles east of Williamsburg, tourists can explore Yorktown’s Battlefield and Victory Center, which detail the defeat of the British in the Revolutionary War. While in Yorktown, visit the Watermen’s Museum on Water Street to explore the history of Chesapeake fishermen.