How to Spend a Weekend in Colonial Williamsburg
The George Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is a fantastic destination for a weekend getaway for families, couples, and singles alike. Spending a weekend here is easy. The challenge is making sure you do not miss anything you want to see! Residents of the area use the term "Colonial Williamsburg" in reference to the historic area which contains hundreds of refurbished, restored, and reconstructed historic buildings. Williamsburg is a modern town, and the surrounding Historic Triangle area contains even more things to do and see. Colonial Williamsburg, however, has more than enough to keep you busy for a weekend. There are dozens of dining and lodging choices, and even more buildings and programs to see. A little bit of planning is absolutely necessary before taking a weekend trip to this historic site.
The Guide Map, "This Week"
When I worked at Colonial Williamsburg, I constantly heard people complain that they missed out on a program because they didn't realize it would not be repeated during their visit. Planning is key to enjoying your stay here. While on site, the program guide and map, This Week, is your primary source of information. One side of the document is a map, and the other side is a day-by-day schedule of daytime and evening programs.
If an event appears on This Week, even if it was placed on the schedule erroneously, it will take place and (unless it says weather permitting), you can count on it happening at the specified time and place.
Pay close attention to scheduled events. Programs are scheduled so you can spend two or three consecutive days on site and see new programs each day. This means that it is unlikely a program will happen on consecutive days. Also, pay attention to the days and hours buildings are open. Some buildings are only open part of the day or on specific days.
Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps
Visiting Without a Ticket
Visiting With Your Family
Kids love watching tradesmen and women working, so the trades shops are a must if you visit with your family. Depending on the time of year, there are additional family-friendly sites and programs including special holiday tours for the kids with hands-on activities. A performance by the Fife and Drums is sure to be a hit any time of the year, both with children and adults.
During school vacations, the Powell House is usually open. The Powell House is an original building entirely furnished with reproductions so children can have an interactive experience. Most girls are also excited to learn that the popular American Girl doll, "Felicity," was based on one of Mr. Powell's daughters!
A great way to take a break from hot or cold weather, is to stop by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. Children love "Down on the Farm," an exhibit that allows them to follow Prince, a dog, through the countryside. Plush animals and sticker books with characters from this exhibit are some of the most popular non-historic children's items in site gift shops.
Other child-oriented activities may include games on Palace Green or in the Geddy House backyard, orientation walks, and evening storytelling programs. Child-friendly programs are easy to identify on the schedule because they are marked with a smiley face wearing a colonial hat.
For historic, kid-friendly dining, Chowning's is your best option. It does not serve full evening meals, but food is available for both lunch and supper times. Kids are sure to love throwing peanut shells on the floor, watching an occasional magician perform tricks, and singing along with the evening balladeers. The Chowning's Cider Stand is a great place to stop by for a daytime drink and snack. Its ginger cakes, which are large, and soft gingerbread cookies are one of the most popular snacks at Colonial Williamsburg (with good reason).
A Couple's Weekend
Colonial Williamsburg is the ideal spot for a couple's weekend getaway. You can book a room at one of the site's excellent hotels and relax in the spa, or you can choose to stay in a historic property. Some of the historic houses and taverns within the Historic Area are available for overnight guests, including the Market Square Tavern, where Thomas Jefferson lodged while studying law with George Wythe.
For a fine dining experience, 18th century style, make reservations for The King's Arms Tavern. The atmosphere is authentic and complete with first-person interpreters who stop by your table to chat. For something slightly more casual, dine at Shield's or Campbell's. Of course, Chowning's is a fun stop for adults, too, but it does not serve full evening meals.
Adults without children in tow may also enjoy an evening concert, dance, or even a thrilling ghost story. Programs vary depending on the season, but concerts are frequently offered in the stunning Governor's Palace, the Capitol, and the Courthouse. If you attend a dance, you may have the opportunity to participate, so bring your dancing shoes!
The key to a successful weekend in Colonial Williamsburg is planning ahead. Look up the schedule online ahead of time and pick up a copy of This Week as soon as you arrive. If you have an iPad or iPhone, download Colonial Williamsburg's free app. The app helps you locate sites and important facilities, such as restrooms and water fountains.
While looking at the Colonial Williamsburg website, make sure to check for current deals and promotions. Most of the time, Colonial Williamsburg is running some type of sale or discount on lodging or tickets. Package ticket deals also exist with other area attractions, including Yorktown, Jamestown, and Busch Gardens. These package tickets vary by season, and sometimes there are surprise deals, too. By checking the website before planning your visit, you can take full advantage of discounts and programming.
© 2012 Natasha