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Family Vacations and Reviews
Colonial Williamsburg is a colonial era town located in eastern Virginia where restored buildings and people in historic costumes recreate the daily life of Colonial America. A visit to Colonial Williamsburg can be both education and fun for the whole family including kids of all ages.
Go here to learn more about the history of Williamsburg.
The Governor's Palace
The majority of the restored area of town is along Duke of Gloucester Street. At one end is the start of the Palace Green (which leads to the impressive Governor's Palace) and at the other end is the Capitol building.
The town is fairly big, but it is small when compared to someplace like Disney World. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but once you walk down Gloucester Street a bit, you will get your bearings quickly and find it easy to navigate.
Be sure to get a map before you arrive. You can get one when you buy a ticket or at your hotel. We found plenty of free maps at our hotel and were able to plan out our itinerary the night before.
What to See and Do
If you pick up the official "This Week at Colonial Williamsburg" map, you fill find a schedule on the backside for each day. This will list the events of the day. Many of the events take place each day like the Storming of the Palace (Gunpowder Incident) which took place at 10 AM when we were there. The live action events are some of the most interesting and fun things to see.
With a ticket you can go into all the different houses. There is so much to do. There are artisans like the wheelwright, basketmaker, cabinetmaker, silversmith, and wigmaker. You can also take a tour of the major buildings like the Governor's Palace, Capital, courthouse, magazine, and the Gaol (jail).
Expect to do some walking around the city. It's not huge, but by the time you walk through the museums, buildings, and around the town, you will have covered some ground. If you buy a ticket there is a shuttle from the parking lot to the town. There are also carriages available to ride.
Where is it?
A carriage in Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is near the coast in east Virginia. Nearby cities include Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. Nearby attractions include the Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown, Busch Gardens, and Virginia Beach.
When to Visit
The town and buildings can become quite crowded at times. We noticed that Sunday morning, even the summer, wasn't too crowded and the weather was still cool in the morning. Be careful when visiting during school hours. You may think the place will be empty, but it may be jammed full of kids on field trips running around, jumping in front of you in line, etc.
How much does it cost?
The first thing you should know is that it doesn't cost anything to walk around the town. The tickets you buy are to enter the buildings and museums. You can go walk around the town, see some of the acting (like the Gunpowder Incident), shop in many of the stores, and eat in some of the restaurants for free. Parking is available around the city for around $1 per hour.
Getting a ticket to enter the buildings and tours can be expensive for a family. A single day ticket (at the time of this writing) is $43.95 for an adult (13+) and $22 for a youth. This is $131.90 for a family of four ($175.90 if your kids are teens).
Unfortunately, there is nothing in between. You either walk around for a few hours for free or drop over $130 to go into the buildings. The price of the ticket is well worth it if you are going to spend a full day or two there investigating the entire town. We wish there was something in between for those wanting to spend a half a day and only have time (or the energy) to visit a few buildings. Maybe a $15 pass to visit three buildings or something.
Fun Facts about Colonial Williamsburg
Storming the Palace Reenactment
- The American Girl Doll character named Felicity grew up in Williamsburg prior to the American Revolution.
- The city of Williamsburg was originally called Middle Plantation.
- The capital of Virginia moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699.
- The actors around Williamsburg will talk and act as if they were living in the 1700s.
- You can try out food from colonial times at some of the taverns in the restored city.
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