LAST UPDATED January 4, 2020
Think that visiting Colonial Williamsburg would be boring? Absolutely not! Colonial Williamsburg makes history fun and visiting with kids and/or teens is an experience to remember! 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 offer so much for visitors. As a history loving family, Colonial Williamsburg didn’t disappoint.
Colonial Williamsburg Tips
Tips to know before you arrive:
- While it’s free to walk around Colonial Williamsburg, you’ll need a ticket to go inside many of the buildings. If there is a colonial flag outside the building, a ticket is required.
- As of this writing, a single day ticket for Colonial Williamsburg is $44.99 for adults, $24.99 for children (6-12). There are multi-day tickets also available.
- If you’re looking for discounted tickets to Colonial Williamsburg, consider staying on property.
- Get a schedule of events from your hotel. The Fife & Drum March is not to be missed and kids LOVE it!
- Download the free Colonial Williamsburg App before your trip. You can search restaurants, purchase admission tickets and even book a carriage ride. Also, the app provides coupons and discounts.
- Parking at the Visitor’s Center is free.
- If you arrive later in the day to Colonial Williamsburg, consider walking throughout the area to familiarize yourself with the overall layout. By doing so, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running the following morning.
First things first, walking around Colonial Williamsburg is an absolute treat. You may be greeted by Thomas Jefferson or even stopped by George Washington. These historic interpreters, known as Nation Builders, portray historical figures. The Nation Builders 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. 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, wigmaker and many more artisans 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 completed in the 18th century.
Inside the Benjamin Powell house, kids really get to see what everyday life was like in the 18th century. It includes seeing what chores, games, and meals for children were like at the time. Bruton Parish is a beautiful church that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry all attended. If services are not being conducted, you’ll be able to walk through the chapel.
Capitol & 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 origins. 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 alternatives. The bus makes frequent stops and it’s easy to hop on and off. Carriage rides run daily and are a fun treat for the family. If you’re 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.
Upon our hotel 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 led by lanterns. Our guide was 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.
Where To Eat
There are a lot of options for snacking and dining in Colonial Williamsburg. Since the Historic Taverns are very popular, you may experience a wait to dine there. However, they are worth the wait. We highly suggest looking at the menus prior to deciding at which tavern to eat. 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.
Prior to every vacation, we research locally owned restaurants. BBQ or a great steak is usually involved and, in this case, steak won out. We read rave reviews about Opus 9 Steakhouse and it was even better than the reviews suggested. In short, we truly cannot recommend Opus 9 Steakhouse enough! It still ranks as one of the best restaurants that we have visited across multiple vacations.
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 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 course and is walking distance to the visitor’s center. As we mentioned, you don’t need tickets to visit Williamsburg, but to enjoy all of the tours and workshops, a ticket will be required. In addition, 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.
Yet another benefit to staying on property is that you can have your purchases delivered to the hotel. No carrying bags around all day!
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 an easy drive. 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.
I always like to include a travel suggestion to make your vacation easier. Definitely get a portable charger as someone’s phone battery will inevitably run low right when you need it.
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