The Williamsburg-Jamestown-Yorktown triangle is full of American history - and the best part of it all is how well the history is portrayed, from the authentically reproduced, handmade costumes of Colonial Williamsburg's interpreters to the carefully laid out Jamestown settlement, to the eerily preserved portions of the Yorktown battlefield. While you can't escape the history, you can escape the summer heat with a cruise on the James River or a dip in the wave pool at Water Country USA. The adjacent Busch Gardens - Kingsmill entertains all ages, and for those who prefer the decorative arts, there are plenty of options in the colonial village as well.
Caution: Summers are beyond humid - so plan accordingly to limit outdoor activities to early morning or late afternoon; hit the museums and indoor attractions during the height of the day.
Take It or Leave It: Look for ticket combinations offered by Colonial Williamsburg - these are often the best way to save money, especially for families of three or more.
Where to Stay
Although Colonial Williamsburg is one entity, the lodging options within the old city range from darling Colonial cottages to a lush inn to moderate family-friendly hotels. Those looking for a resort experience will find happiness at the sprawling Kingsmill Resort & Spa about 20 minutes from the Colonial site, or the Greensprings Plantation, still in Williamsburg but not in the old town.
Take It or Leave It: Do try to stay in a Colonial cottage - many are original buildings and incredibly charming for their low ceilings and steep staircases.
Hot Tips: Book way ahead for holiday weeks or summer weekends if planning to stay in Colonial Williamsburg.
Some of the best restaurants in Williamsburg are authentically Colonial; the Kings Arms Tavern is replete with pewter mugs, costumed waiters and even entertainment. Throughout the town, and in neighboring Jamestown and Yorktown, there are numerous seafood options, French bistros and casual cafes. Ice cream shops are a big deal around town, as well, and can be found throughout the Colonial area as well as the village immediately around it.
Caution: During the summer season, beware of long waits for a table, as many restaurants in the area feature small dining rooms. Do reserve ahead if possible.
Be Sure to Sample: Virginia's best - ham and peanuts. They're plentiful in restaurants and stores, respectively.
In Colonial Williamsburg, nightlife is a ghost tour – so the best bet for an evening out is to go outside the historic village into town. Williamsburg is home to the oldest college in the country, the College of William & Mary, so there's plenty to do, although you will find the crowd trending younger. The Dog Street Pub is a beer lover's heaven, while The Corner Pocket is an upscale pool hall.
Hot Tips: There's no smoking in restaurants and bars, with the exception of open-air spaces.
From the colonial costumes and toys in the historic village to excellent antiquing to high-end outlet shopping, Williamsburg is a shopper's delight. The Williamsburg Antique Mail is a huge collection of booths through which to wander, while those into toy soldiers will delight in the handcrafted little warriors offered in the Toymaker of Williamsburg shop. About 20 minutes from the historic village, the huge Premium Outlet Mall offers designer brands including Burberry, Juicy Couture and Tommy Bahama.
Best Local Souvenir: A piece of pewter from Shirley Pewter Shop, or a colonial costume from one of the many stalls throughout the historic village.