5 Reasons to Visit Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg has long been one of my favorite places in Virginia–and, quite possibly, the USA itself. I’m a history nerd who loves the American Revolution, costumes, and re-enactments, so this is perhaps unsurprising.

But even if you aren’t someone who frequents events merely to ogle tricorne hats, Williamsburg is a fabulous place to visit. Here are six reasons why!

1. History and Re-enactments

Lined with old colonial houses, shops, and bakeries, Colonial Williamsburg’s main street alone could take an avid visitor an entire day to sample. I know, because recently a friend and I tried to do every open house and shop on the main street, and we couldn’t finish it all!

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Reenactors walk the streets, sometimes singing an old ballad and sometimes calling revolutionary news to their friends. Horse-drawn carriages ramble by, and the occasional troop of soldiers marches to a loud drum beat. It’s like going back in time.

Colonial Williamsburg keeps a variety of period-appropriate shops open for you to pop in and learn about the trade of the time (free with a visitor pass). The workers are all experts in their fields. Several (like the blacksmith) are actually helping with ongoing research about the Revolutionary era. The shoemaker will chat with you about how the cost of labor in England is threatening his trade, the weaver can tell you how long it will take to wash the indigo off her hands, and the wigmaker might just offer to buy your bright red hair.

Have an obscure question about the women imprisoned in the colonial jail? When asked, the worker will grin and produce the book Harlots, Hussies, and Poor Unfortunate Women from under her chair. Wondering how many rounds a good soldier could shoot in five minutes? The man at the armory knows.

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

It’s a village filled with experts, and they’re all more than happy to share their knowledge.

2. Kid (and Dog) Friendly

Colonial Williamsburg is fun to visit as an adult, but for a kid it’s nearly magical. You can ask whatever you want, explore a ton of houses, and even rent costumes to wear while you’re doing it.

Guides take particular care to include kids in their talks, whether that be letting kids stand in for jurors in the court or answering their notebook full of questions in the millinery shop. I’ve seen both happen! As a teenager, I even went up to the courthouse to ask the guide there about benefit of the clergy and abolitionists in the American Revolution. He chatted happily with me until I had the information I wanted.

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Alyssa Hollingsworth / Own Work

Dogs are also welcome in Williamsburg, though often not inside buildings. However, plenty of restaurants in the area welcome dog owners to outdoor seating.

3. Events Every Day

In addition to the general awesomeness of Colonial Williamsburg itself, there are also events every day–in fact, they are practically every hour! From guided walks to storytelling sessions, talks with founding fathers to witch trials, these events can be a great addition to your visit.

Most events are free with an entrance pass, but some require their own tickets. Check out the events page to see what’s on during your visit.

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