Williamsburg is the “Colonial Capital” of Virginia and is internationally known for its restoration activities and re-creation of 18th-century America at Colonial Williamsburg.
A visit to the 18th century city will have you discover why this was the capital of Virginia and the largest, most prosperous American colony. Men and women from all walks of life strolled these streets, and you’ll be following in their footsteps.
Explore dozens of original buildings, homes, and shops reconstructed on 301 acres – most on their original foundations. Rare animal breeds, historic trades, and lovingly restored gardens add layers of authenticity to the Colonial Williamsburg experience. You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled back in time.
As you experience our nation’s largest living history museum, here are five things we especially love about Colonial Williamsburg.
America’s Roots… but Also a Little European History
At The Capitol (pictured above), independence from Great Britain was declared before all other colonies, setting the pace for the American Revolution. On May 15, 1776, Virginia legislators instructed their delegation at Philadelphia’s Continental Congress to introduce a resolution to make the colonies independent. The gentlemen at Williamsburg sat in the oldest representative assembly in what was then the world’s newest nation. The assembly traces its beginnings to 1619 when the House of Burgesses first convened at Jamestown, Virginia.
The Governor’s Palace (above) was the third largest public building in Williamsburg and its size signifies the favorable position the Governor held as the king’s representative in the capital of England’s largest American colony. The 3,380-square-foot Georgian home included an 11-bin wine cellar. The immaculate grounds offered a formal garden and natural park that stretched to the north. The stable, carriage house, kitchen, scullery, laundry, and an octagonal bathhouse were arranged in service yards. It was an elaborate household requiring 25 servants and slaves to tend.
Hands on History
Step back in time and meet the people who made America — sing with them, dance with them, eat with them, and have fun with them. Tradespeople use real 18th-century tools and techniques in their crafts, many of which have been around since the beginning of our civilization.
These skilled men and women are true apprentices, journeymen, and masters and they hone their skills with every hammer, needle, or plow. There are opportunities for you to get real, hands-on experiences with each trade, from blacksmithing to wigmaking.
Art from the Age
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum features an extensive collection of American and British antiques, showcasing furniture, metals, ceramics, glass, painting, prints, firearms, and textiles from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Young patriots can enjoy hands-on activities and exhibits throughout the year, such as Wee Folk, Map Quest and Crack the Code.
Under the same roof, you’ll find the award-winning Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the oldest institution in the United States dedicated solely to the collection and preservation of American folk art.
Places to Shop
Colonial Williamsburg is the place for some truly unique shopping. Not only can you put your hands on history here, but you can also dress the part! In addition to the Historic Area shops offering period clothing, silver, pottery, foods, and gift items, Merchants Square on Duke of Gloucester Street features more than 40 shops including jewelry, pewter, quilts, quality clothing, restaurants, and a theater. And for those seeking a bargain, the Williamsburg Prime Outlets with numerous national name-brand stores is just a short drive from the Historic Area.
Places to Play, Dine and Stay
No need for the experience to end when you check in for the night during a holiday in Colonial Williamsburg. The historic area offers an abundance of overnight options on site, from the actual Colonial Houses to the ultra-luxurious and iconic Williamsburg Inn (above). You can even embark on a culinary adventure savoring some historically inspired cuisine at one of the Inns, or book a massage at the world-class, on-site spa.