Guide to Colonial Williamsburg

Leave the hustle of modern life behind and take your imagination back to simpler days on a visit to Colonial Williamsburg


Listen to the clip-clop of horse's hooves as your carriage rides along tree-lined streets and your daily responsibilities become but a memory. Immerse yourself in historic architecture and interesting characters from the American Revolutionary War era. Meander through the town's trade shops, numerous public buildings and family homes; as soon as you arrive in Colonial Williamsburg you’ll feel the need to unplug, step back in time and unwind.

Walk Williamsburg's Historic Streets

After the capital of Virginia moved to Williamsburg in the late 1600s, the town became a showplace of the most up-to-date technology of its time. You'll find one of the country's oldest colleges here and some of the most luxurious buildings and furnishings of the time. Attend a ball at the Governor's Palace or tour grand old mansions to see how the upper class—and their servants—lived. Witness the precise and painstaking processes by which craftsman made a living with their skills at live demonstrations in the trade shops, then take home a handcrafted souvenir to remember your journey.

Meet Famous Figures

Hobnob with President George Washington—well, the actor that plays him—and other thespians portraying notable revolutionaries at reenactments during daylight hours. After dark, you might see the ghosts of real historic figures when you sign up for a ghost tour. Meet the ghost of murder victim George Wythe—the first signer of the Declaration of Independence— who is rumored to haunt his old brick home. The public jail is another hotbed of paranormal activity: pirates, murderers, runaway slaves and even a governor were housed here while they awaited justice. Some met their end with execution; others wasted away from typhoid due to the poor living conditions.

Admission to the Sites

If you're short on time, buy a reduced-price ticket to visit just a few of the sites around Colonial Williamsburg. You'll gain admission to two trade shops, one family home and the public "gaol" or jail, where prisoners awaited trial or execution. A day pass gives you full access to all public buildings, homes, shops and museums. You can also get a multi-day pass good through the end of the year or an annual pass with unlimited access for a full year.

Time Warp for Your Tastebuds

Restaurants in Colonial Williamsburg are ready to take your tastebuds in a time machine back to the 1700s with time-tested delights such as peanut soup, potted cheddar and chop of shoat—pork chops Colonial style. At King's Arms Tavern, less than a block from the historic capitol, a waiter serves up fare in a ruffled shirt, powdered wig and high stockings. Wash down dinner with sweet wine or an after-dinner cordial. Chow down on lip-lickin' barbecue at Josiah Chowning's Tavern next to the courthouse, and hum along while strolling troubadours entertain you. Order from a choice of historic ales, fruit punches and homemade sodas to accompany your meal.

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