The precolonial charmer is having a modern moment.

Having lived in the town of Williamsburg, Virginia for over 15 years you'll often hear new transplants say how they fell in love with the town before they actually moved here. 

Every season as you walk through the 18th-century epicenter, it's easy to see why. The streets are lined with mature oaks and with the exception of the dead of winter there are fragrant flowers and gardens. Continue down Duke of Gloucester street (DOG Street) and you hear the clippity clop of horse drawn carriages and hear in the distance the bleating of sheep. 

Today, the small town charm extends far beyond the Merchant Square and Colonial Williamsburg areas. Now, Williamsburg's appeal lies in its ability to perform a delicate dance between old and new, between honoring the colonial past and embracing a more modern future. Here are the top things to do to enjoy this charming town.

Experience The Entire Community

Both Colonial Williamsburg (CW) and Busch Gardens are long standing popular attractions that Williamsburg is known for, but there's much more to discover. In the past 10 years Williamsburg, Virginia has grown so much that many still come for CW and the parks but now people have discovered all the extras that were once overshadowed but now are a mainstay in attracting tourists and would be residents. 

Browse the Shops

The bustling Merchants Square, where nearly 100-year-old general stores share sidewalks with contemporary boutiques and trendy taprooms has seen a resurgence of new stores. Those who have frequented Williamsburg before will still find the familiarities like The Cheese Shop, Fat Canary and Berrets all famous local eateries. Eating a deli sandwich and having a glass of Williamsburg Winery’s Two Shillings Red on a fall afternoon is a treat nobody should pass up. To get our of the cold, stop into The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg there are fabulous virginia peanuts of many flavors and many covered in chocolate. It makes for a great, free desert. 

Get Outside

There are many scenic trails to walk, hike and ride in the immediate area. The most know today is the incredible Virginia Capital Trail, which travels 

all the way from Jamestown to Richmond. There are a growing list of companies providing services along the trail, breweries, eateries and companies where you can rent bikes.  Freedom Park offers shorter trails for hiking and biking and some high adventure mountain bike trails all served with a side of history: It was once home to one of the earliest free Black settlements in America and there is an awesome reconstructed village that is a don’t miss.

Grab a Bite

Serving elevated riffs on classic bar fare (like their delicious oak-smoked chicken wings), Amber Ox Public House has a rustic vibe and a roster of regulars (so be sure to make a reservation). Another gem of the city's food scene, Casa Pearl Oysters & Tacos—helmed by a young chef and veteran of Charleston, South Carolina's The Ordinary—delivers the Chesapeake Bay's finest bounty in a casual gas station turned oyster and taco bar.

Yeah There Is A Tasting Trail

The blossoming Williamsburg Tasting Trail, includes craft breweries, distilleries, wineries, and even a meadery, the Silver Hand Meadery offers flights of mead, along with a historic lesson on the beverage’s role in Colonial Williamsburg.

Let’s talk beer. There are many options for locally crafted beers but let’s limit ourselves to the most known. 

Billsburg Brewery sits at the marina in Jamestown, a short 10 minute trip from DOG street. It currently is the only waterfront brewery and has a daily food truck and often has live music. WilliamsburgVisitor tip: Don’t pass up on the Betty the Hefe, which is outstanding.

Years ago William & Mary had a couple of students and entrepreneurs named Rob Willey and Chris Smith. They both gave up the corporate world to return to Williamsburg, Virginia and started a business they thought would serve the community and give back to the town they loved. The Virginia Beer Company was founded and now is the epicenter of The Edge District and one of the locals favorite places to grab a cold one and some awesome food from one of the eclectic food trucks they bring into the area. WilliamsburgVisitor tip: Don’t pass up on the Saving Daylight.

The Precarious Beer Project is a great example of mixing awesome beers and top level food offerings. The partnership of Chris Cook and Andrew Voss not only run Precarious but also its sister establishment Amber Ox Public House. Precarious is over 10,000 sq feet, has outdoor firepits and an actual old school arcade while Amber Ox is a more subdued full restaurant with some of the town’s best food offerings. WilliamsburgVisitor tip: Don’t pass up on the Poutine.


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