Williamsburg, Virginia is a curious mix of old and new. The friendly city invites visitors to stroll through the 300-hundred-year-old streets of Colonial Williamsburg, visit the second oldest college in the country, enjoy the many natural resources, and have fun at world-class amusement parks such as Busch Gardens and Water Country.
10 Not-To-Be-Missed Things To Do
It is an amazing feeling walking through the site where some of the first British colonists to the New World walked and lived. Located on Jamestown Island, Jamestowne was the original capital of Virginia Colony and the first English permanent settlement in North America. The life of the early colonists was not easy – they suffered diseases, hunger, and bloody conflict with local Powhatan Indians. The city burned to the ground in 1676, and all that remains is a brick church tower that stands today as a reminder of human resilience.
The site of the original settlement is an active archeological excavation, and visitors can have a look at more than 1,000 discovered artifacts, meet the conservation staff, and learn about their significance and the secrets they tell us about the life of early colonists in 17th century. Children are invited to participate in sorting through some of the excavated material such as shells, seeds, and animal bones. Park rangers and guides in historic costumes offer guided tours through the site of the adjacent Historic Jamestowne, a living-history museum and one of the top Williamsburg VA attractions. Read more Contact: Island Drive, Jamestown, VA 23185, 757-856-1250
Walking through the Colonial Williamsburg and passing by people in historic 17th or 18th century clothes may feel like you stumbled into the middle of a movie set. They even talk using the diction and grammar of the times, which is just different enough that we cannot understand them. You will pass by beautifully restored buildings as the Governor’s Palace, the Courthouse, the Raleigh Tavern, and the Capitol.
The restoration is so excellent that it is hard to believe that all those lovely old buildings have been around for hundreds of years. If you are wondering what to do in Williamsburg, Virginia with kids, this is a great place to start exploring. You can also listen to the music Jefferson liked, watch the 18th century dancing, or check one of the city’s many excellent restaurants. Contact: 101 Visitor Center Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23185, 888-965-7254
Busch Gardens Williamsburg will bring out your inner child regardless of your age. This thrilling theme park is designed to send you to Europe with beautiful landscaping and recognizable sights from Italy, France, and Germany. The Gardens have over 30 attractions of all kinds, from heart-stopping roller coasters to exciting Broadway-style shows and live animals. Special attractions for the kids include Land of the Dragons and Sesame Street Forest. If you are looking for fun things to do in Williamsburg, Virginia with kids, this is a great place to visit.
The rides at Busch Gardens are among the best in the world and include monsters such as Tempesto, with a famous “loop the loop.” Check out the popular Griffon, which will take you at speeds of over 75mph and up 205 feet in the air before dropping you down screaming. If you are not an adrenaline-junky, try Verbolten, which will take you on a tour of the Black Forest and drop you 80 feet over the Rhine River. The Bush Gardens are famous for their excellent restaurants, which is another exciting aspect to check out once your stomach settles down. Contact: 1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23185, 800-343-7946
After strolling through the archeological digs of the original Jamestown, your imagination will be ready for the Jamestowne Settlement, a museum and a reconstruction of the life and culture of 17th-century Virginia. Through a series of gallery exhibits, this living-history museum tells the story of the life of the early English settlers from the time they arrived in Jamestown in 1607.
Check out the introductory film to get the full picture of the historic events, board the replicas of the three ships that brought the original English settlers to the New World, and visit a recreated village of Powhatan Indians. The museum store has some interesting souvenirs, and the Jamestown Settlement Café offers food and drinks if the kids get too restless. Contact: 2110 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185, 757-253-4838
Muscarelle Museum of Art
The Muscarelle Museum of Art is part of the College of William & Mary and is located at Lamberson Hall on campus. The museum is a collection of gifts of art given to the college throughout 300 years of its history and is one of the top Williamsburg VA attractions. Until the opening of the museum in 1983, the art was scattered throughout the college.
Once placed in the museum, it was possible to not only better preserve the art but to also incorporate it into the College’s art curriculum and share it with the larger community. Some of the most significant treasures are paintings by Hans Hofmann, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, John Singleton, Henri Matisse, and many historically significant English and American Colonial painters. Contact: Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA 23187, 757-221-2700
Colonial National Historic Park
Colonial Park also includes the 17th century plantation Green Spring, which was the home of Sir William Berkeley, Virginia’s colonial governor, and the Cape Henry Memorial, erected at the probable site where the first colonists of Jamestown arrived in 1607. Besides historic sites, the park is also a beautiful natural space with forests, wetlands, streams, and fields.
Colonial National Historical Park includes the most historically important sites in North America: Historic Jamestowne, the first English permanent settlement in the New World, and Yorktown Battlefield, the site of the final battle of the 1781 American Revolutionary War. Representing the start and finish of English colonial America, both sites are located on the Virginia Peninsula and are connected by the 23-mile long scenic Colonial Parkway.
Water Country USA
Water Country USA, open from the end of May to the beginning of September, is a waterpark in Williamsburg, Virginia. The park has a variety of fast slides, pools, and lounging areas, making it an inviting spot for the entire family. Water Country currently has 11 main waterslides as well as four slides specifically for children. The wave pool and the floating river are open to all ages. Water Country USA also offers special family passes that are valid for a year.
Multi-park passes that give visitors access to Water Country USA as well as a nearby park called Busch Gardens are also available. Contact: 176 Water Country Parkway, Williamsburg, VA 23185, 800-343-794
The Wren Building
The Wren Building is located on the campus of William and Mary College. Aside from its use as an academic facility, the Wren Building served as the temporary government headquarters for Williamsburg from 1700 to 1704. A fire destroyed the Wren Building in 1705, but the local government rebuilt it in 1716.
After enduring a total of three fires, the Wren Building achieved its current title as the oldest college building still standing in the United States. Now the Wren Building houses classrooms as well as faculty offices. Contact: 111 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA 23185
The Capital Trail
Bike along historic battlefields, settlements and Colonial Era landmarks. The Virginia Capital Trail is a 52 mile point-to-point trail located in Williamsburg, Virginia that connects cyclists to Charles City and Richmond. The pedestrian and bike path is part of the cross-country TransAmerica Trail for cyclists and links the state’s first capital with its current through a historically rich corridor. It features a paved surface that winds around beautiful bridges, fences, cornfields, marshes, wildlife and other nice details along the route. Check out the trail map and plan your day which might include lunch at various restaurants along the way. Contact: Capital Trail 2218 Jamestown Road Williamsburg, VA 2318
Jamestown Scotland Ferry
Be sure to enjoy the very-cool and FREE trip across the James River on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. This free car ferry connects Surry County with Jamestown & Williamsburg and provides a scenic journey across one of Virginia’s biggest rivers. The ferry runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and takes approximately 15-20 minutes to cross the river one way. Once the ferry is moving, feel free to move around on the deck. Bikes and motorcycles are also welcomed! General wait times can vary from 15 to 30 minutes. You can avoid longer wait times by avoiding peak traffic times of 6 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. During the summer months the wait could be longer depending upon events taking place in the area. Take the ride at sunset – you will not be disappointed! Boarding Locations: From Surry – 16289 Rolfe Highway, Surry, Virginia 23883-3102. From Jamestown – 2110 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185