Photo Courtesy of Harvey Barrison
See what it feels like to have one foot in the 1700s and one firmly planted in the 21st century. Williamsburg and its surrounding areas have hundreds of years of American history at every step, and most major points of interest are steeped in colonial heritage. Williamsburg also has plenty to welcom…e the modern visitor, with gourmet dining, luxury accommodations, and a happening arts scene full of music, film, and theater festivals year-round.
What to know before you go to Williamsburg
The Historical Triangle, which is comprised of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, is a vibrant landmark of early American history. Unearth the original settlement at the ongoing archaeological dig at Historic Jamestowne, relive the revolutionary battles recreated at the Yorktown Victory Center, and experience daily colonial life at Colonial Williamsburg. Stop by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum to experience arts and crafts, or the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum to appreciate the period furniture and housewares. The arts and culture of the region embrace the colonial heritage, and virtually every activity in the area has a tie-in to history.
There is a plethora of excellent dining options in the area. Thanks to its proximity to the Atlantic coast, Williamsburg has a great selection of seasonal seafood, which is reflected in the menus of local restaurants like Fat Canary, Waypoint Seafood & Grill, and Traditions, at the Williamsburg Lodge and Colonial Houses. Blue Talon Bistro not only serves mouth-watering French comfort food, but encourages the local scene by hosting and sponsoring festivals, art walks, and movie nights. Try out the colonial lifestyle for a night at King's Arms Tavern or Christiana Campbell’s Tavern, just two of the historical taverns which put a contemporary gourmet spin on traditional dishes.
Appreciate the historical culture of Williamsburg by visiting its many heritage arts and crafts venues, such as the Jamestown Glasshouse, where glassblowing apprentices make and sell beautiful glassware using traditional techniques. Many shops in Colonial Williamsburg sell clothes, pottery, silver, and ironwork inspired by history and created by local artisans. The College of William & Mary contributes to Williamsburg's culture with the diverse art collection at the Muscarelle Museum of Art and by hosting festivals like the Global Film Festival and the Virginia Shakespeare Festival.
Williamsburg has much to offer the discriminate shopper, with many one-of-a-kind gifts. The colonial villages are stocked with reproduction goods made by local artisans; browse the unique items at the Prentis Store or Golden Ball. Modern shops like the Silver Vault Ltd. and Scotland House offer high-end clothes, jewelry, and home goods. Take home some local flavor with a stop at the Cheese Shop, a favorite among both tourists and locals, and sample their selection of locally made meats, cheeses, jams, and wine. For more local vintages, stock up at the Williamsburg Winery.
If you are flying into the Newport News/Williamsburg airport (PHF), renting a car is a must, as the airport is located outside of the city. Complimentary shuttles are available from the colonial tourist center to several locations, but for an extensive view of the area’s attractions, a car is crucial. Many attractions in Williamsburg are open all year, but spring through fall is the best time to visit. As the colonial parks are largely outdoors, the nicer weather leads to more featured activities and festivals. In the winter months, film festivals and holiday events are held at the parks, and museums offer further indoor fun. It's worth looking for deals and trying to save money by purchasing multi-park packages.