Visiting Colonial Williamsburg

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What was life like in 1775? How did people react to the Declaration of Independence? How did medicine, blacksmithing, and clothes-making look in the 18th Century? Visit Colonial Williamsburg with kids to not only have a fun family holiday, but get the answers to these questions at the same time.

By Humberto Moreno (Colonial Williamsburg Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Humberto Moreno (Colonial Williamsburg Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Is Colonial Williamsburg worth visiting?

We definitely think so! My family lived in Williasmburg for three years while my husband attended school. As a matter of fact, he worked at Colonial Williamsburg part time doing tours, so you can definitely say it holds a fond place in our hearts. Williamsburg has a lot of fun activities for kids; they won’t even notice that they are educational as well. They can learn about colonial life, eat in a colonial tavern and get dressed up like the olden days. What’s not to love?

By Humberto Moreno (Colonial Williamsburg Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Humberto Moreno (Colonial Williamsburg Uploaded by AlbertHerring) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Things to do in Colonial Williamsburg with Kids

There are lots of buildings and trades to see in Colonial Williamsburg, as well as historical programs to attend.

Buildings and Trades

One of the best parts – in my mind – of Colonial Williamsburg is the ability to see eighteenth century trades being practiced. But, which are the best for children?

The blacksmith and silversmith are two of them. For kids who like medicine, the apothecary is fascinating. The milliner is great for kids who want to learn about clothes. The wigmaker and shoemaker are also a lot of fun. The brickmaker is also great for kids, but is only open (and making bricks) at certain times of the year.

The Powell House is specifically geared towards younger children, but is also only open at certain times. At least one kitchen is open most days, and that too is very interesting. While you cannot try the food, watching them cook it (and learning about some of the dishes that were popular in the late 18th century.

Spend some time going through the homes as well.  Because many of the homes had children, there are toys and other artifacts from children in them. The Wythe house has chickens in the back, which are fun.

Finally, check out the gaol. Is it kid-friendly? Well sure, to an extent. But it’s a lot of fun.

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There are many interesting programs at Colonial Williamsburg that help bring history to life for kids.

Lanthorn Tours

This evening program is not offered to the general public often, but when it is, you should jump on it. Guided by a lanthorn, a guide will take you to four of the trade shops, and talk about how they operated. You’ll also get general knowledge and stories. Why are these different from seeing the shops during the day? When you go during the day, you see each one on its own. However, in the evenings, the lanthorn tour will link all four of the shops into a common theme.

Courthouse trials

Want to be a lawyer? Ever dream of the excitement of sitting on a jury without all of that pesky missing work? The courthouse in Colonial Williamsburg runs a very entertaining program where members of the audience get to assist in the trial and then act as the jurors.  Will you find the defendant guilty? Will you be able to decide based upon the evidence, and the standards of the 18th Century?

Games on Palace Green

When it is time to get the kids running around, take them to the Palace Green. There, staff from Colonial Williamsburg will be hosting an informal game session, with fun games that would be played by kids in the 18th century. Hoop and stick was my favorite, but there are always others. Options vary based upon which staff member is around.


Every year, Colonial Williamsburg releases a new game around its Revolutionary City program. The program integrates modern technology, cell phones, and social media into the mission of teaching history and engages children. It has been very highly regarded and there is a reward for success. It gets children involved as actors, learning about history, instead of just passively watching it take place.

No matter what type of programs you are looking for, Colonial Williamsburg has one for you. It is a great family trip because it is so easy to include everyone.

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Dining in Colonial Williamsburg with Kids

Colonial Williamsburg has a lot of dining options to choose from. Dine in one of the 4 historic taverns at Colonial Williamsburg. This is especially fun during the holidays when they have special holiday decorations and holiday teas and programs in the taverns.

You can also dine in (or take-out) at one of the restaurants in Merchant Square. We love the sandwiches from The Cheese Shop. Aroma’s is great for breakfast or to just grab a coffee and some pastries. Looking to get fancy, then check out Fat Canary and Blue Talon Bistro.

One of our favorite places in the area, is not technically in Colonial Williamsburg, but it is right around 1-minute walking from the entrance. It is called Retro’s. It has great hot dogs and the best custard that we have tasted (and trust me we have tried to find custard this good since we left Williamsburg and we have failed epically!).

Another great place to dine is Plaza Azteca on Richmond Road. Make sure to ask for the white sauce. I also recommend going down to New Town, which is only about 5 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, to check out the restaurants they have down there. You can also walk around and look at the shops.

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What is Nearby Colonial Williamsburg?

If your kids are into Hamilton, then you will definitely want to check out Yorktown where the Battle of Yorktown took place. Younger kids can earn their Junior Ranger badge at Yorktown by experiencing the end of colonial America with the final major battle of the American Revolution at Yorktown Battlefield.

In Jamestowne, learn about the history of James Fort. Learn about the arrival of the earliest colonists to the Americas and their interaction with the native tribes. Kids can also learn about the real story of Pocahantas and her interaction with John Smith and John Rolfe. You are also able to tour recreations of the three ships that brought the colonists to America – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country are a fun day out for the entire family. Busch Gardens is open from March through December, while Water Country is only open in the summer months.

If you are looking to go to the beach for the day, then head on down to Virginia Beach which is about 1 hour to 1.5 hour drive. In the other direction, head into Richmond for shopping and some great BBQ or head to King’s Dominion Amusement Park. Both are about an hour away from Williamsburg.

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg with Kids is definitely a great trip and will be for the entire family!

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