As a self-proclaimed history-reenactment nerd, I love Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg.
It’s a family-friendly tourist destination while still being a highly valuable cultural lesson for kids and adults alike, and it’s close in proximity to even more fun of the theme park and resort variety. I’ve wanted to feature it for some time, but the trouble is, I haven’t been in almost two decades, and needless to say, my children have never gone. Luckily, two fantastic bloggers, Mara of Mother of all Trips, and Amanda of Parenting by Dummies, have toured the area much more recently, and effortlessly fill in the gaps!
Williamsburg is comprised of multiple historic area sites, including 35 exhibitions, 16 trade shops, and over 100 gardens. Admission gets your family into all of the above, plus all museums and use of all trams and buses. Families should plan multiple days to see most or all of it, but single day admission is also available (and might be good for families with very young kids). What I love about Williamsburg is that it’s a total immersion experience: once you’re in the colonial town, you are cast back to the period in all ways: every shop you set foot into is era-specific, the restaurants are themed, horse-drawn carriages and wagons fill the streets, and employees and historical guides dress in period costume.
As a child, I loved the many demonstrations: how to dip candles, shoe horses, dry lavender, and more. I also loved the treats to sample, the period toys, and the gardens. I have a distinct memory of chasing fireflies (a novelty to this West Coast girl) and buying a reed flute with my souvenir money. For more current tips on what to see with school-aged kids, visit the Mother of all Trips post on tips for visiting Colonial Williamsburg with kids, then stick around to read about family dining choices.
When I visited, we stayed in a colonial house, one of Colonial Williamsburg’s official hotels. I loved staying right in the center of town, and that we had use of the main hotel’s pool. In the time since, however, multiple off-site hotel choices have become available, including Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, VA, a fun review of which can be found at Parenting by Dummies. Readers of Pit Stops for Kids already know I’m a fan of Great Wolf Lodge, and if families have multiple nights to explore Williamsburg, I’d recommend spending at least a few of them here, to give kids some crazy-fun run-around time between historical and walking tours.
Tip: For more ambiance (and to beat the heat), consider going during the Christmas and winter holidays.
Distance from the interstate: Colonial Williamsburg is just minutes from I-64.
Admission prices: Multiple ticketing options are available, the lowest starting at $36 for adults and $18 for kids.
Directions: From I-64, take the VA-143 E/Merrimac Trail exit (signs for Williamsburg/Newport News), then turn right onto VA-132. Turn right onto W Duke of Gloucester St, then left onto S Boundary St, and finally take the 1st right onto Jamestown Rd.