Abby Slutsky recently took a vacation to Williamsburg without children. Special thanks to Mindy and Evan Berson for their trip planning.
Williamsburg, Virginia, and its surrounding towns are known for their historical reenactments, museums and history. However, the area has a lot more to offer than historical landmarks.
For many people who live in the Northeast or southern states, the Williamsburg area is an easy drive, which makes it an affordable, attractive vacation destination. But is it still worth visiting if you do not love history and are not traveling with children? Yes! Here is a list of fun grown-up activities the Williamsburg area has to offer.
Drinking-Related Entertainment Around Williamsburg
1. CopperFox Whiskey Distillery
On an adults-only vacation, who doesn’t love a little drinking? (Even if you don’t, the CopperFox is worth a stop for their lovely outdoor area and earth-tone-hued bar.) If you go to Yorktown, the CopperFox is likely to be a convenient stop on your way back to Williamsburg, as it is located on the border of town. It is open seven days a week from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
The interior bar only has a few tables, so if you plan on drinking inside, consider visiting midweek. Call 757-903-2075 for the times of their distillery tours, as they run at specified times.
Try a standard or premium flight of whiskey, or enjoy one of their other beverages. Although they offer a cheeseboard and assorted nut mixes on their menu, do not plan on more than a heavy snack if you go. They also provide complimentary pretzels with your beverage.
If late-afternoon drinking is your thing, stop by Alewerks (189B Ewell Road, Williamsburg, Virginia) to enjoy music and singing while you sip a brew. If you want a snack, you are limited to the offerings of an onsite food truck. Most of the tables are picnic-style and do not have backs, but on the side is a beer garden that has actual chairs. There is also some indoor seating.
If you enjoy interesting ales, try their lemon-ginger, tangerine, or coffee-infused ales. They offer several sizes of beverages, or you can enjoy a beer flight of your favorites. You can hear the music from anywhere you sit, but it is not so loud that you cannot hold a conversation.
Enjoy the music from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Saturdays and other select afternoons. Contact 757-220-3670 to learn more about their music schedule and who is playing when you go. You can also ask about their trivia night. Alewerks has a second location near the outlets.
Bonus: Well-behaved pets are welcome.
3. The Williamsburg Winery
A limited number of tours are given on Friday thru Sunday only, so (if you want one) reserve a 2-hour tour before you go to see the farm and vines, learn about the wine-making process, and sample wines. The winery also has a restaurant and an area for outdoor tasting where patrons can select a tasting of four wines chosen by the winery. No reservations are needed for the outdoor patio. Reservations are suggested for the restaurant which serves breakfast, brunch, and dinner.
An indoor tasting room also requires reservations, and customers can customize their tastings from a selection of wines there. Visitors are welcome to purchase tastings or snacks without the tour. Visit their website for reservations.
Whether you want a souvenir or are just in the mood to shop for yourself, Williamsburg has plenty of stores.
1. Merchants Square
Merchants Square is a quaint area near William and Mary College that has a variety of restaurants and stores.
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2. The Williamsburg Outlets
The Williamsburg Outlets are another option for visitors who want name brands at a bargain. Many of the outlet stores offer additional discounts for AAA members, seniors, veterans, medical professionals, and teachers. Be sure to ask if you qualify. Keep in mind that some stores open late and close early on Sundays, so plan your shopping accordingly.
3. Williamsburg General Store
If you are looking for souvenirs, visit the Williamsburg General Store at 1656 Richmond Road. As an added bonus, nestled inside the store is Bubba’s, which serves generous scoops of creamy ice cream.
Williamsburg and its surrounding areas have a number of golf courses. Whether you want to play nine holes or a full round, you can find a course that meets your needs.
Golden Horseshoe Golf Club is home to two 18-hole courses and Spotswood, a 9-hole course. The more expensive Gold course is beautiful, well-known, and challenging. The Green course is hilly, but more forgiving and less costly than Gold. We played the Gold and Green 18-hole courses, which were beautifully maintained.
Kiskiack Golf Course is a public course with a driving range. It offers afternoon specials for those that want an affordable golfing experience. We only played at the courses listed above, but there are other nice courses that are open to the public.
Swim and Tennis
Given that Williamsburg has a mild climate most months, hotels and resorts usually have pools and some have tennis courts.
Botanical Gardens and Freedom Park
Freedom Park at 5573 Centerville Road in Williamsburg, is a free park that offers some walking trails and lovely botanical gardens. It was popular with dog lovers when we went.
Restaurants and Dining in Williamsburg
If you are planning on eating at busy Merchants Square for lunch, plan on arriving early enough to give your name to a restaurant while you walk around. If you don't want to wait, the cheese shop makes sandwiches you can eat at one of the many tables scattered throughout the square.
Although there are too many restaurants to mention, two of our favorite restaurants in Williamsburg are Fat Canary and Shorty’s Diner.
Fat Canary, located in Merchants Square, is expensive upstairs but has a reasonably-priced menu downstairs that offers lighter fare. The downstairs has a warm bar atmosphere while the upstairs has an elegant bistro atmosphere. Offerings from both menus are available downstairs, but you cannot order light fare upstairs.
Shorty’s Diner (637 Merrimac Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia) looks like a diner out of the fifties with its black and red retro decor. It has an extensive menu with plenty of inexpensive options. They offer curbside pickup and exterior patio seating, but when we were there everyone was eating inside. It looked popular with the locals.
Yorktown Day Trip
Yorktown is just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Williamsburg. The scenic drive is picturesque enough to take some photos along the way.
1. Yorktown Farmer's Market
The Yorktown Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays and offers a variety of wares from vendors in pop-up tents. When we were there, wares included lobster rolls and soup, fresh seafood, baked goods, honey, books, fresh produce, and other items. Vendors close at noon, so be sure to get there early. Free parking is nearby.
2. Riverwalk Landing and Yorktown Beach
As long as you’re planning to visit the Yorktown Farmer’s Market, almost adjacent to it is a narrow beach with a lovely view. Throw a bathing suit on under your clothes, and a few chairs or towels in your car. Enjoy the sun for a few hours, and relax by the soothing water.
There are a few shops if you want to enjoy a stroll and restaurants nearby if you want a quick bite; you can even ask some of them to prepare a picnic lunch. Outdoor dining is also available. Even if you don’t want to sit on the beach, enjoy a walk by the water.
3. Yorktown Trolley
If you’re feeling lazy, hop on the free trolley that goes around Yorktown. It does identify some sites, but you can tune it out and enjoy the free transit. It stops approximately every 20 minutes or so and makes it easy to get around once you park.
Day Trip to Smithfield
1. Jamestown–Scotland Ferry
Enjoy a short, free ferry ride across the James River. Watch the scenic view as you travel in your vehicle on the ferry or get out of your car to take some pictures as you travel. Upon exiting the ferry, drive to Smithfield.
2. Windsor Castle Park
Take a walk around beautiful Windsor Castle Park. The park extends along the river and has plenty of walking trails. From one of the trails, you can see the main street and walk across a bridge to reach shops and a restaurant.
3. The Restaurant at Smithfield Station
The Restaurant at Smithfield Station (409 S. Church Street in Smithfield) has outdoor seating with views of the river, but you can also sit inside. The food was delicious, and the hearty she-crab soup was creamy with an abundance of crab on top.
Other Options in Williamsburg, Yorktown and Smithfield
Visit the town websites to find out about any weekly, monthly or seasonal activities. Events may change, so check the websites shortly before you go.
- The Williamsburg website mentions yoga classes, paddle fit, and ghost tours, but there are other events too.
- Yorktown hosts a Brews and Blues festival in August, free Thursday night summer concerts starting after July 4th and complimentary fall concerts on Friday evenings. There are also Christmas events in the winter.
- Smithfield's website mentions concerts among its events.
The mild weather in Williamsburg and close driving proximity to many states make it an excellent choice as a vacation even if you do not like history or have children.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Abby Slutsky