What to do at Colonial Williamsburg

As of June 19th, Brian and I will have been married for 3 years! Crazy! My sweet husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Colonial Williamsburg! Being a former history major in college, I was pretty excited. My part of the two day trip was to figure out what we were going to  visit. I had this great idea that we would visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and the Berkeley Plantation. The manager at our hotel told us that wasn’t possible. He said there was too much to see in Colonial Williamsburg to be able to visit all those places. Still my lofty ideas continued.

Monday morning we showed up at Colonial Williamsburg. For some reason neither my husband or I thought you had to buy tickets to get in (you can walk the city without tickets, but you can’t gain entrance to the houses and shops without a ticket). Needless to say we ended up buying a multi-day pass. After we purchased it we realized the pass only worked for Colonial Williamsburg. At that point I was pretty disappointed. I still had the idea that we could see everything in two days.

DSCN5087We entered Colonial Williamsburg via the shuttle at the Governor’s Palace. Everything they say about this city is true. It’s like stepping back into history. Here was this intricate mansion complete with a traditional English garden (think Jane Austen gardens). It was beautiful. Then there was a meat house with real meat (trust me you could smell it). And a kitchen where the maid was creaming butter with her own hands. Talk about cool! And that was only one of the many buildings on in Williamsburg. I was slowly beginning to realize that it wasn’t possible to take in the whole city in a day. There was a basket weaver, an opportunity to play with hoops, a wheel wright, gunsmith, cooper, wig maker, apothecary, etc. . . There was so much to see. Not to mention the tours and the live shows! Wow!

By now I knew it was impossible to visit everything in a day. So I gave up on Jamestown and settled down to enjoy Colonial Williamsburg. Here’s my list of what to do in Colonial Williamsburg

  1. Do buy a Multi-day pass. You really can’t see everything in one day. For only $8 dollars more you get three days in the park instead of one. Definitely more bang for your buck.
  2. Do realize that the park changes time periods each day. On day you’ll be in pre-revolutionary war time, the next you’ll be edging closer to a war, and the next day there will be a war going on.
  3. Do visit the wheelwright! It’s very interesting. They are the only wheelwright in the world that makes wheels, carriages, wheelbarrows . . . entirely using pre-revolutionary war methods. In fact they sell their wheels to museums and such. One carriage they make costs about $5,000 dollars. But you have to remember that they spend hundreds of hours making that carriage.
  4. Do attend George Washington’s interview. The actor was phenomenal! he never broke character. In fact the day he was scheduled was pre-revolutionary war. Every time he was asked about the war he responded by saying he didn’t think there would be a war. He also didn’t know who Benedict Arnold and Thomas Paine were. Definitely a performance worth your time.
  5. Do go see Martha Washington’s letters performance. I am going to warn you, this performance starts out boring, but if you can make it through the first few letters to the actual acting portion, you will love it. It’s a great opportunity to see Martha’s struggles, and realize how hard the war was on her.
  6. Do visit the Randolph house! Although to be honest any tour you take in Williamsburg is great. The Randolph house was interesting because they were slave owners. You got a neat look at life was for the slaves and for the masters. Added bonus our tour guide taught the kids manners.
  7. Do play colonial games at the Benjamin Powell house. We got to play with hoops ( a dream come true). Plus there were a few other games to play.DSCN5068
  8. Do visit the wig makers! You’ll learn where the expression blockhead comes from. Also, you’ll learn all about the wigs of the day. Apparently, they had wigs like we have shoes today. And when they died they bequeathed their wigs to their ancestors. How would you like to wear your dead uncle’s wig?
  9. Do visit the gaol. Blackbeard’s pirates were held at this jail until their hanging. It’s probably the shortest tour at Williamsburg, and it’s interesting.
  10. Do ask questions! You will learn so much if you do. You’ll learn about blockheads, what exactly a cooper is, and why the Colonies thought refusing to sale products to England would hurt England more then the colonies.
  11. Do attend the Patrick Henry interview! Unlike Washington, Henry will talk about the future. He pretends he’s a sooth sayer to get around this little difficulty. He insults women, spouts political opinions, and talks barely coming up for air.
  12. Do visit the courthouse. This is probably the best photo-op at Williamsburg. Nothing like getting your picture taken in the stocks and pillories! This one isn’t a tour, so you can just go in and listen to the actors spiel on the history of the courthouse.
  13. Do visit the coopers. If nothing else you’ll learn what a cooper is. Plus this isn’t one of the more popular attractions, so you’ll get a chance to talk to the cooper and learn more about this trade.
  14. Do enjoy every minute of your trip. It’s okay if you don’t get to see everything. You now have a reason to come back. Also, if you get soaking wet in the rain, at least you got wet with your spouse and made a memory that will last a lifetime.

One Response

  1. Kathi Eshleman says:

    Sounds like you had a great time and made the most of your visit. I actually learned a lot from reading your blog and I live here and go to Colonial Williamsburg often! Have never been to any of the performances yet. When you come back our door is open to you.

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