Colonial Williamsburg is awesome! It's that simple. The city of Williamsburg, its historic city center and the surrounding region offer something for everyone - kids, parents, grandparents. The whole family will have a good time, plenty of fun and maybe even learn a little something to boot. With that in mind, we present the 10 best reasons to take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg.
A historic reenactor speaks with a group of tourists at Colonial Wiliamsburg — Photo courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg
1. History comes alive
The bread and butter of Colonial Williamsburg is the downtown area where many original buildings and parks still stand and actors play the roles of townsfolk. Dressed in period garb, they stroll the streets and answer questions from fascinated tourists. There are horse-drawn carriages, oxen-drawn wagons and red-coated soldiers.
2. Busch Gardens
One of the great amusement parks in America is found in Williamsburg – Busch Gardens Williamsburg – replete with roller coasters, log flume rides, carnival games and big theatrical shows. Even better, since it's by the people behind the Busch brand, great beers are served on premises too.
3. Water parks
During the summer months, thousands flock to Water Country USA in Williamsburg, a great waterslide park. And all year-round, tourists can cool off at the famed Great Wolf Lodge, a huge resort complex with a gigantic indoor waterpark as its centerpiece.
4. Great restaurants
As with any tourist town, there are more pizza places, buffets and big chain restaurants in Williamsburg than you can shake a proverbial stick at. And those are fine places to dine. Meanwhile, the city also has a great selection of unique restaurants where grown-ups and kids alike can have a satisfying meal. Our favorite: the Blue Talon Bistro adjacent to the historic area downtown.
5. Ghost tours
When the sun sets on Williamsburg, the historic quarter comes alive with floating lanterns and spooky tales. Yes, it's the time of night for ghost tours, led by experienced guides who lead rapt audiences through the streets of Williamsburg weaving tales and legends of ghostly times long ago.
6. Yankee Candle
Let's just say this a) this is not our mother's candle store and b) yes, kids are going to have a lot of fun here. This is Yankee Candles on steroids. A huge store featuring not just tens of thousands of candles, but also a charming toy department, a Christmas room featuring a real Kris Kringle and "snow" falling from the ceiling, a snack bar, a candy and gourmet food shop and much, much more. Kids can even create their own candles and make wax molds of their hands.
7. Miniature golf
Wherever tourists congregate, you can be sure there will be plenty of putters, golf balls and surreal mini-golf courses. Williamsburg is no different. Pirate's Cove Mini Golf is the creme de la creme here.
8. The Williamsburg Inn
There are plenty of hotels to choose from when considering a visit to Williamsburg, but if this trip is a special splurge, there's no place like the famed Williamsburg Inn. The grande dame of area inns, it was built in 1937 by John D. Rockefeller and still offers a luxury stay like no other.
Reenactors show what life was like at the Jamestown Settlement — Photo courtesy of Marc Carlson
9 and 10. Historic Jamestowne and the Jamestown Settlement
A must-see for anyone in the Williamsburg area, visiting Jamestown can be a bit confusing. That's because one location is Historic Jamestowne, run by the National Park Service, that is more of an archeological site on the exact spot where the original settlers lived. Nearby, there is the Jamestown Settlement, which recreates what Jamestown was like hundreds of years ago. There are also recreations of the ships those first brave voyagers traveled on as well as a Native America Village. Both Jamestown sites are definitely worth a visit.