This is where American history begins. Williamsburg, VA, a city on the Virginia Peninsula between the James and York rivers, was an early state capital. Today, Williamsburg is a corner of the Historic Triangle with Jamestown and Yorktown, the sites of the first English settlement on the continent and the last major battle of the American Revolution.
The past is still alive here; at Colonial Williamsburg, Country Inns & Suites hotel guests feel the revolutionary energy as they step inside historic homes and shops, and dine at taverns where George Washington enjoyed seafood suppers. At Jamestown, visitors to an active archeological site enjoy the thrill of discovery as new artifacts are unearthed. The Busch Gardens and Water Country USA theme parks offer more modern thrills.
Reasons to Visit Williamsburg
Interact with Living History: Hop out of your Williamsburg hotel and walk down the street at Colonial Williamsburg and step out of the present into the colonial era. A city-within-a-city, there are more than 300 acres and hundreds of original and recreated buildings populated with costumed interpreters helping visitors understand the experiences of the 18th-century population. Virginia's first capitol building is here, along with the Governor's Palace and the possibly haunted Peyton Randolph House, home to a member of the Continental Congress. Talk shop and revolutionary politics with the craftsmen in the traditional silversmith, blacksmith and other workshops, or do more than just talk and join in recreated acts of rebellion.
Watch Archeologists Uncover the Past: Pocahontas and John Smith found happiness together at this settlement. Tours take visitors through the site where archaeologists are working to uncover the James Fort. Reserve a behind-the-scenes tour to get even closer to the dig and the artifacts. At the Jamestown Settlement living history site, learn how sailors navigated a transatlantic journey on board replicas of the ships that carried the colonists to Virginia and see musket-carrying soldiers standing guard at a re-creation of the fort. The Powhatan Indians' way of life is demonstrated at a re-creation of their village.
Celebrate the End of the Revolutionary War: George Washington led the American army to victory over Lord Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, ending the American Revolution. The grounds remain dotted with trenches and remnants of fortifications. You can explore the site with a self-guided driving tour, or join a park ranger for a tour of the siege line, the town of York or a hands-on artillery demonstration. Nearby, the Yorktown Victory Center is being transformed into the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, with multimedia films and exhibits about the events that turned colonists into revolutionaries. A re-enactment of the Continental Army's encampment and a revolutionary era farm bring the events to life.
Find Thrills in Rides, Slides and Trees: Busch Gardens brings Old World Europe to scary rides like Escape from Pompeii and Curse of DarKastle. For a cool-down at Water Country USA, check out flume rides, a not-so-lazy river, wave pools and a slide that splashes you down 320 feet in less than five seconds. At the Go Ape Treetop adventure course, make your way through a tree-top obstacle course with rope ladders, rope swings, trapezes, bridges and ziplines.
What to Eat
The living history experience at Colonial Williamsburg continues into mealtime when you dine in at King's Arms or another historic tavern. Menus include colonial-era favorites like peanut soup, as well as more modern, southern-inspired dishes. Candlelight, costumed waiters and colonial songs add to the atmosphere.
When to Visit Williamsburg
Lush spring blooms and beautiful fall foliage combine with pleasant temperatures to make these seasons ideal for strolling through historic sites.
Considering a summertime family getaway? Fit your visit into the very beginning or end of your kids’ school break so you enjoy more moderate temperatures and crowds.
Williamsburg Travel Tips
Drive the slower, non-commercial Colonial Parkway to travel between the historic sites. Pullouts provide historic information and allow you to stop and enjoy views of the rivers and estuaries.