to Do in Williamsburg, VA
Williamsburg, one of America’s first planned cities, is steeped in colonial history. From its inception, it was to be a “new and well-ordered city” suitable to serve as the capital of the largest of the British colonies in America. Just as planned, it became the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and the center of political, social, economic and religious life in early Virginia. It also played a vital role in the American Revolution.
Today, Williamsburg is known internationally as the foremost center for the preservation and interpretation of American colonial history, offering many locations and activities centered around its rich historical heritage.
In the center of Williamsburg, you’ll walk into 18th-century Colonial Williamsburg experiencing firsthand the daily struggles of American colonists during the revolutionary war. Containing over 500 public buildings, taverns, stores, homes and amazingly beautiful gardens, it’s the world’s largest outdoor living museum.
In Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, demonstrations are portrayed by character actors in more than 40 historic sites and trades. Additionally, at the east end of the Historic Area, you can immerse yourself in the events of the revolution (weather permitting) which are acted out every day in a street theater.
Colonial Williamsburg also offers several restaurants and historical taverns serving traditional fare. Some establishments offer their patrons a colonial sing-a-long and a gaming experience called Gamboling.
Be sure to begin your visit to Colonial Williamsburg at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center to pick up a map, a list of the programs occurring on the day of your visit and a list of the buildings that are open for your touring pleasure.
Colonial Williamsburg evenings are filled with dances, concerts, plays, reenactments and tours. Enjoy strolling musicians and 18th-century dining during the evening meal in the taverns.
The Governor’s Palace, the luxurious home of the loyalist governor, is also in Colonial Williamsburg. Because the Palace was built to demonstrate British authority and wealth, you’re sure to experience the grandeur of the royal government in Virginia as you tour this opulently furnished home.
Check out their calendar of events to see what exciting adventures await you at Colonial Williamsburg.
British colonists landed in 1607 establishing Jamestown, America’s first permanent English colony. Near the site of the original settlement, history comes to life through gallery exhibits, film and outdoor living history at the Jamestown Settlement.
Interact with costumed interpreters and experience life of early 17th century settlers in the Jamestown Settlement outdoor history areas. Also, discover what life was like in the recreated outdoor setting of a 17th century colonial fort and Pocahontas’ Powhatan Indian village. Climb aboard and get a glimpse of what crossing the Atlantic must have been like aboard replicas of traditional tall-ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery.
Indoors, you can visit one of the historical galleries and its exhibits. The English gallery illuminates the conditions leading up to the establishment of the settlement and the Powhatan Indian Gallery traces the roots of Native American life.
Historic Jamestown is the actual location site of the original Jamestown settlement and an active archeological dig site. Jamestown Rediscovery is dedicated to maintaining the preservation, education and archeological investigation of the original Jamestown settlement including James Fort.
Since the 1930s, nearly two million artifacts have been unearthed by National Park Service archeologists. Over 1,000 of them are on display at the Historic Jamestown Visitor Center. These artifacts tell the tale of three major cultures in Jamestown history – Virginia Indian, European and African.
More than 4,000 artifacts are on display at the 7,500-square-foot award-winning archeology museum, the Voorhees Archaearium, where narrative weaves together a tale of the first settlers and the struggles they must have endured.
Colonial Ghost Tour
Experience Williamsburg in a whole new way on the nationally recognized Colonial Ghost Tour, one of the top ten ghost tours in America. Williamsburg is one of the oldest and most haunted cities in the United States, so there’s no better place to encounter the unexpected.
Real hauntings are commonly experienced on the nightly walks through Williamsburg on tours led by licensed guides. Additionally, each haunted site visited during the tour has been vetted by psychics and researched by professional historians and renowned investigators to bring you the most factual ghost encounter possible.
This walking tour takes you through the historic Colonial area of Williamsburg as your guide shares historically accurate ghost stories and haunting tales based on eyewitness haunting interviews, research and a ghost story book written about historic and factual events.
The extended tour package takes you through the historic campus of the College of William and Mary as well. Also available are small-group tours which are limited to twelve people for a more personalized experience.
On the tour, you’ll learn the history of each stop and the historical events that occurred at that location, and you’ll discover, plus maybe even experience for yourself, hauntings that continue to this day.
Williamsburg Cemetery Tour
The Williamsburg Cemetery Tour is a daytime guided walking tour of three historic Williamsburg cemeteries where you’ll visit the graves of prominent historical figures, discovering the area’s “buried” secrets. Lead by professional tour guides, the Cemetery Tour will bring the past, present and future together, as you get a glimpse of the history of the area by visiting the final resting place of some of its famous inhabitants.
Spooks and Legends Haunted Tours
As you stroll through town led by a professional tour guide dressed in 18th-century costume, the Spooks and Legends Haunted Tour takes you on a family-friendly tour of some of the most haunted areas of historic Williamsburg.
This unique tour features guides who “become” the ghost of a real past Williamsburg resident from the time of the American Revolution. All information shared on the tour has been fully researched. No artificial elements or false props have been added for the benefit of the tour – if you see a ghost, it is real.
Original Dead of Night Tour
During the Original Dead of Night Tour, you’ll be regaled by factual ghost stories of real past Williamsburg residents. On the tour, you’ll follow your ghostly guide by candlelight down eerie and haunted streets. Individuals on the tour often experience mysterious sights and sound.
Witches & Pirates Tour
Hear gruesome tales of the witch trials of the 17th and 18th centuries as you walk down the darkest street in town. Learn of Blackbeard and his crew as you tour the jail and cold, dark cells where he and his crew were held. This and more await you on the Witches & Pirates Tour.
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