The restored capital of England’s largest colony in the New World is a must-see for visitors of all ages. Colonial Williamsburg is a living, breathing, functioning Virginia history museum with carefully researched environments that are beautifully reminiscent of 18th-century America.
It includes 88 original his 18th-century buildings and hundreds of faithful reproductions, an impressive museum complex. Period-dressed townspeople and ‘interpreters’ take colonial-era jobs and mimic everyday life. Luckily, the park doesn’t overshadow America’s glorious moments. Today’s performers talk about slavery (52% of Williamsburg’s population in the 18th century were slaves), women’s suffrage, Native American rights, and whether it was moral to join the revolution. Discussing and questioning.
You can also stay in a colonial house in the heart of the historic district for an enriching experience.
History of Colonial Williamsburg
Founded in 1699 as the capital of the Virginia colony, Williamsburg was the largest British settlement in the New World. Named after the reigning monarch of England, William He III, the city was the center of the state’s religious, economic and social life. It was also a center of political activity during the American Revolutionary War. After independence from Britain in 1776, Virginia’s capital was moved to Richmond, and Williamsburg entered a long period of stagnation and decline.
Reverend William Archer Rutherford Goodwin began the preservation and restoration efforts that led to the founding of Colonial in his Williamsburg in the 1920s. An Anglican priest and historian, he did this with the support and significant financial commitment of John D. Rockefeller, his Jr., the wealthy son of the founder of Standard His Oil Monopoly. The restoration and rebuilding of colonial Williamsburg was seen by the city as a way to celebrate rebel patriots and early U.S. history.
Things to do in Colonial Williamsburg
You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a historic area where most of the original buildings, residences and shops have been rebuilt on their original foundations. Notable buildings include the Houses of Parliament, Government House, Courthouse, Lorry Tavern and Magazine.
Rare animal breeds and lovingly restored gardens add to the authenticity of the experience. You can also take a leisurely stroll on a horse-drawn carriage.
The Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum showcases colorful and whimsical folk art by amateur artisans, while the DeWitt Wallace Museum of Decorative Arts showcases useful and beautiful items. The Arboretum will appeal to nature lovers as it has 25 species of oak trees and over 30 historic gardens. In addition to its regular attractions, Colonial Williamsburg offers special programs of holidays and anniversaries throughout the year.
Tickets and other Practical Things
Colonial Williamsburg is located in Williamsburg, Virginia and is part of the Historic Virginia Triangle, which includes Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Amtrak operates the Williamsburg Transit Center with connecting trains from Washington, DC. The center is just blocks from the historic district and offers car rental and taxi services. Park for free at the visitor center and take the free shuttle to the historic center or stroll the tree-lined streets. The museum also has free parking. With your admission ticket you will receive a daily program to help you plan your time at the site.
Wandering around the historic center and visiting the shops and taverns is free, but tours of the buildings and admission to most exhibitions are restricted to ticket holders. A day pass is $44.99 and $24.99 for children ages 6-12. Visitors have access to guided sites, historic trading houses and gardens, as well as performances staged at the Charlton Stage, Henage’s Auditorium and Museum. 3-day tickets are $54.99, children ages 6-12 are $29.99, and all tickets can be booked online here.
Where To Stay
Colonial Williamsburg has several on-site accommodation options, including his four hotels: The Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge, Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites, and The Griffin Hotel. Visitors can also stay in colonial homes in the heart of the historic district, faithfully recreated from the days of Colonial America.
Accessibility at Colonial Williamsburg
Discounted tickets can be purchased at local ticket centers and are available at most visitor centres, hotels, restaurants, museums and shops. An interpreter in the historic center can provide directions to accessible areas and make special parking arrangements if needed. The Colonial Williamsburg shuttle is wheelchair accessible.
Collapsible wheelchairs are available for rent at the visitor center. Ramps and wheelchair lifts are available for some exhibits, but many historic buildings require at least a few flights of stairs. Visitors with disabilities may request reasonable accommodations or modifications to facilitate access to Colonial Williamsburg’s programs, services and facilities.
Volume-controlled headsets are available for programming in the museum’s Energe Auditorium. Colonial Williamsburg hires a sign language interpreter to escort deaf guests through the historic district. Requests for this service must be made at least two weeks in advance.