How to Spend a Weekend in Colonial Williamsburg

Updated on September 19, 2017
Natashalh profile image

Natasha is a writer, artisan, and recent graduate with a Master of the Arts in Teaching.

The George Wythe House at Colonial Williamsburg

The George Wythe House
The George Wythe House | Source

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.

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Colonial, Williamsburg, VA, USA
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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

Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drums
Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drums | Source

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!

Me, looking kind of goofy while working at Colonial Williamsburg
Me, looking kind of goofy while working at Colonial Williamsburg | Source

Plan Ahead

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


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    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      It would be a little bit of a trip for you, wouldn't it, Judi Bee?

      Hope you both get a chance to live out your dreams of visiting some day! Don't forget to make time for Jamestown, too, so you can see where it all began. For the English. In a permanent way. It was neither the first permanent settlement nor the first English settlement in what is now the US, but it was the first to be both permanent and English!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      When I was very young I had a story book set in colonial Willamsburg and I've always wanted to visit - may be one day!

    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 5 years ago

      I love these historic sites where there are period activities, foods and costumes. Lots of food for imagination. I would like to visit Williamsburg one day.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I guess it would be a little far for a weekend trip! Thanks for stopping by my hub and I hope you make it to this coast some day!

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 5 years ago from Idaho

      Oh my gosh. I would LOVE to spend a weekend there. If only it were closer. I'll have to add that to my list of places to visit!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      If you haven't been back to the Jamestown Settlement (as opposed to the national park just down the way on Jamestown's archaeological footprint) recently, you should try to go back. They redid a lot of things for the Queen's visit in 2007 and it is fantastic. The 'new' museum out there is one of the best, if not the best, I've ever visited. I used to go to Jamestown on my days off! (That's how much of a history nerd I am.)

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      It's a small world - we used to live less than a 100 miles fro Williamsburg and visited often. A fascinating place, with lots of history. We always particularly enjoyed Jamestown Landing, just a few miles away - a replica of the original settlement there.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Hopefully it helps someone. I don't know how many times I saw visitors show up and ask an employee "What is this? What do I do?" because they'd been told they had to visit CW, but had no idea why. People would even ask if it was the English section of Busch Gardens!

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 5 years ago

      Informative hub. I am sure people planning to visit colonial Williamsburg would find the details helpful. The pictures are beautiful and that includes the picture of yourself :) Have a lovely day. the

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I have been to colonial Williamsburg a couple of times with my family and always have enjoyed a wonderful time. The history lesson is priceless. We did eat at one of the inns and found the food to be homestyle and fabulous. Great information and tips on a trip to this place.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Down on the Farm is a fun exhibit, and even I love the coloring sheets! Thanks for stopping by.

    • BJC profile image

      BJC 5 years ago from Florida

      The pictures are amazing. Lots of information and the kids will love the "Down on the Farm" area.

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      I might have to check that out. Thanks!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii


      If you have a little extra time, Jamestown is awesome. They have a great interactive museum built for the 400th anniversary of the settlement that I think is great for everyone of all ages. I love visiting the museum, but the interactive displays (such as part of a ship "at night" where you can try your hand at celestial navigation) are really fun for kids. Of course, kids love the replica ships, too. When I worked at CW, I would visit Jamestown on my days off!

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      I have visited but not spent a lot of time at Williamsburg. It is on our way to vacation. I will have to revisit this when we decide to try it again with the kids! Very useful!