Colonial Williamsburg with kids is so much fun! We visited Colonial Williamsburg as part of a larger road trip through Virginia that included Mount Vernon and Monticello. Colonial Williamsburg and the entire Historic Triangle offers so much for families. As a history loving family, Colonial Williamsburg didn’t disappoint.
Where To Stay
If possible, we would highly recommend staying on property. We chose the Woodlands and it was a perfect choice for us. The Woodlands offers a complimentary breakfast that was fresh and delicious. Being able to save money on breakfast each morning really helps your vacation budget. Every single person on staff was friendly and went above and beyond to help and answer questions. While not a “fancy” hotel, the Woodlands is clean, spacious and offers a lot of extras for guests. One of the great things about this hotel is its location to Colonial Williamsburg. A free shuttle stops in front of the hotel to take guests to Williamsburg and makes it so easy to get to activities.
In addition, the Woodlands has a pool, playground, mini-golf and is walking distance to the visitor’s center. Staying on the property will also get you discounts on tickets, which is nice. You don’t need tickets to visit Williamsburg but to enjoy all of the tours and workshops a ticket will be required. As we mentioned earlier, staying on property will get you a discount on tickets and they will come on a lanyard so you don’t have to continually get them out all day. This hotel also offers a shuttle to Bush Gardens.
Another benefit to staying on property is you can have your purchases delivered to the hotel. No carrying bags around all day!
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Colonial Williamsburg With Kids
Walking around Colonial Williamsburg is a treat. You may be greeted by Thomas Jefferson or stopped by George Washington. These historic interpreters known as Nation Builders portray historical figures, are wonderful to talk to and indeed keep in character.
Since Colonial Williamsburg is really a living history museum, you’ll be immersed in the 18th Century. As you walk around Williamsburg, you will notice a colonial flag outside of some buildings. If you see a flag, it indicates that a trade is practiced there and that a tour is available (which will require a ticket for entry). Don’t forget to visit the home of George Wyeth as he was Virginia’s first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
There are numerous trades on display within Colonial Williamsburg where you don’t just learn about history, you get to experience it! You’ll learn from a tailor, blacksmith, silversmith, weaver, wigmakers and many more performing their work. Additionally, they gladly answer every question from children. The print shop was fascinating and the boys really enjoyed seeing how printing was done in the 18th century.
Taking a picture in the stockade was a must. You can tell your kids that in the future if they complain they will be put in this. Ha!
Inside the Benjamin Powell house, kids really get to see what everyday life was like in the 18th century. It includes chores, games, and meals for children at the time. Bruton Parish is a beautiful church that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry all attended services. If services are not being conducted, you will be able to walk through the chapel.
TIP: Get a schedule of events from your hotel. The Fife & Drum March is not to be missed and kids LOVE it! They march from the Capitol to the Palace Green.
Capitol and the Governor’s Palace
The Capitol and the Governor’s Palace are particularly fascinating. As the original capital of Virginia, the Governor lived in an opulent palace that projected Britain’s wealth and grandeur. Touring the Capitol included discussions about clashes with the British Governor, as well as, learning more about the principals of our laws and their origin. Our boys enjoyed the guides and didn’t get bored once. Additionally, both the Capitol and the Governor’s Palace offer a children’s tour that is aimed for ages 3-9.
Williamsburg is very walkable. However, should you or anyone in your party get a little tired there are options. The bus makes frequent stops and it is easy to hop on and off. Carriage rides run daily and are a fun treat for the family. If you are staying on property, you’ll receive a $5 discount on tickets.
Just For Kids
Williamsburg offers many programs just for kids. Dig! Kids, Dirt, and Discovery is a program that will allow your future archeologist to assist in a dig. Patriots at Play is a great interactive program to immerse your children in 18th-century life. Resolved: An American Experiment is a fantastic program that allows your children to become a member of Parliament (or even Patrick Henry). This particular program is a fantastic recreation of when Virginia voted YES to independence.
We arrived late afternoon to Colonial Williamsburg. Upon check-in, we were given a pamphlet of the activities that were happening the next several days. We immediately noticed that there was a ghost tour that evening. Williamsburg offers two types of ghost tours, one that is a little “scarier” and a kid-friendly tour. We opted for the kid-friendly ghost tour and it was perfect! It’s a walking tour at night that is lead by lanterns. Our guide was so well informed of Williamsburg’s history and she made the tour a lot of fun. It was just “spooky” enough for our eight year old to be entranced, but not scared. It was nice to have an evening activity that we all enjoyed and the ghost tour made our boys even more excited about visiting Williamsburg the following morning.
TIP: Download the Colonial Williamsburg App before your trip. While you will probably be given a paper map, the app is super handy. You can choose what you are looking for and it will show its location on the map. It also lists events so you won’t miss a thing!
Where To Eat
There are a lot of options for snacking and dining in Colonial Williamsburg. Historic Taverns are very popular and you may experience a wait to dine there. However, they are worth the wait. We highly suggest looking at the menus prior to choosing. Christiana Campbell’s Tavern is delicious but on the pricier side. Lunch at King’s Arms Tavern is more moderately priced with an average of $14.95 for lunch options. Shield’s Tavern has options such as black-eyed pea soup, butter chicken and West African stew.
For a quick bite, the McKenzie Apothecary offers light refreshments and drinks.
TIP: Try and go a before noon to eat lunch. Most of these restaurants do not take lunch reservations. If you go a little early, you can beat the crowds.
Take Advantage of the Historic Triangle
This area of Virginia offers so much! A day trip to Jamestown Settlement is well worth the time. Located just 15 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, it’s easy to get to. Kids will love the three replica tall ships and the very kid-friendly museums.
A visit to Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown is also very kid-friendly and full of history from the American Revolution. You can pick up a CD from the visitor’s center and listen to it as you drive around the battlefield. On the day of our visit, we were very fortunate to have witnessed a live firing of a large cannon given that there was also a foreign delegation from Israel visiting at the same time.
One of the more interesting stops on the battlefield tour is the Moore House. This is the home where negotiations for Lord Cornwallis’ surrender to American troops led by George Washington took place. Another interesting stop is Surrender Field which is where 7,000 British troops formally surrendered to the American and French armies in 1781.
In addition to Colonial Williamsburg, the surrounding Historic Triangle of Virginia is a fantastic family destination. While some people might find history a little dull, Colonial Williamsburg is anything but boring. The folks at Colonial Williamsburg not only make history come alive but make history exciting for kids and adults alike. If you find yourself in this area of Virginia, not only is a visit to Colonial Williamsburg recommended but so is the entire Historic Triangle.
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Do you have plans to visit Virginia this summer? Don’t forget to pick up a Christmas ornament for your family travel tree.