23 Best Things to Do in Williamsburg, Virginia: the ultimate guide

Welcome to Williamsburg, Virginia, where history comes alive, and adventures await at every turn!

Williamsburg is one of my favorite places in Virginia, situated in the heart of the historic triangle.

It’s got alllll of the charm, allll of the history, and so many things to do.

It’s the kind of place where you stroll through the gorgeous streets, overlined with trees, pop into the boutique shops, enjoy outdoor dining at family-owned restaurants and really take in the local culture and atmosphere.

Check out what to do in Williamsburg to make the most of your trip.

Getting There and Getting Around

By Air

The nearest major airports are Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) and Richmond International Airport (RIC). Both offer rental car services and shuttle options to Williamsburg.

By Car

Williamsburg is accessible via Interstate 64. It’s about a 45-minute drive from Richmond and approximately 3 hours from Washington, D.C.

Public Transportation

The Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) provides bus services throughout the city and surrounding areas. The Colonial Williamsburg Shuttle is a convenient way to get around the historic district.

1. Colonial Williamsburg

As you wander the cobbled streets of this living history museum, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the 18th century.

Smile at the costumed interpreters, witness historic trades in action, and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of colonial America – well, as many as you can, it probably smelled a lot worse back then without some modern inventions.

2. Jamestown Settlement

I’ve always been fascinated by Jamestown since learning about it in school – I have no idea why, it’s just an interesting subject!

In this interactive museum, you’ll gain insight into the challenges faced by the early settlers of Jamestown.

Explore replicas of the Powhatan Indian village, the three ships that brought the settlers to America, and a re-created fort, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful James River.

3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Thrill-seekers will be in paradise at this sprawling theme park, featuring world-class roller coasters like the iconic Griffon and the adrenaline-pumping InvadR.

But the fun doesn’t stop there – enjoy live shows, delicious food, and beautifully landscaped gardens inspired by European countries.

4. Water Country USA

Beat the summer heat at Virginia’s largest water park, where you can plunge down towering water slides, float lazily along the Hubba Hubba Highway, or catch a wave in the giant wave pool.

With attractions for all ages, it’s the perfect place for a day of family fun in the sun.

5. Williamsburg Winery

Situated on a sprawling estate, the Williamsburg Winery offers a serene escape to wine lovers.

Sample a variety of wines, from crisp whites to robust reds, and take a guided tour of the vineyards and winemaking facilities to learn about the wine-making process from grape to glass.

6. Historic Jamestowne

History buffs will be captivated by this archaeological site, where ongoing excavations continue to uncover new insights into America’s colonial past.

Explore the remains of the original James Fort, discover artifacts from the early settlers, and visit the informative Archaearium museum.

7. Williamsburg Botanical Garden

Take a leisurely stroll through this enchanting garden oasis, where you’ll encounter a diverse array of plants, flowers, and wildlife.

Pack a picnic and relax by the tranquil ponds, or join a guided tour to learn more about the garden’s fascinating flora and fauna.

8. Governor’s Palace

Step into the world of colonial aristocracy with a visit to the opulent Governor’s Palace.

Marvel at the elegant Georgian architecture, stroll through meticulously manicured gardens, and imagine life as a member of Virginia’s colonial elite.

8. Yorktown Battlefield

History comes alive at this hallowed ground, where the decisive battle of the American Revolution was fought.

Explore the battlefield, visit the historic town of Yorktown, and gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made by patriots and soldiers alike.

9. Virginia Living Museum

Delight your senses with a visit to this unique museum, where you can see, touch, and learn about Virginia’s native flora and fauna.

Encounter live animals, explore indoor and outdoor exhibits, and attend fascinating educational programs for all ages.

10. Williamsburg Premium Outlets

Shopaholics rejoice at this shopper’s paradise, boasting over 135 designer and brand-name outlet stores offering discounts of up to 65% off retail prices.

From fashion and accessories to home goods and electronics, there’s something for everyone at this expansive shopping destination.

11. Colonial National Historical Park

With its scenic beauty and rich history, this national park offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Hike along picturesque trails, marvel at historic landmarks like the Colonial Parkway, and soak in the natural beauty of the Virginia countryside.

12. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Prepare to be amazed, amused, and maybe even a little spooked at this quirky museum filled with oddities, curiosities, and interactive exhibits.

From shrunken heads to bizarre artwork, you never know what you’ll find at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

13. Williamsburg Salt Spa

Treat yourself to a blissful escape at this tranquil spa, where the healing properties of salt therapy promise to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Relax in the soothing atmosphere of the salt cave, indulge in a therapeutic massage, or explore other holistic wellness treatments.

14. Aromas World

Start your day on a delicious note with a visit to this charming café, where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and tantalizing baked goods fills the air.

Whether you’re craving a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, or a decadent dessert, Aromas World has something to satisfy every palate.

15. Freedom Park

Nature lovers will appreciate the scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities offered at this expansive park.

Hike or bike along wooded trails, enjoy a picnic in the park, or explore the fascinating historical exhibits that highlight the area’s colonial heritage.

16. Merchants Square

Experience the charm of yesteryear at this bustling shopping and dining district, where you’ll find a delightful mix of colonial-inspired architecture, quaint shops, and mouthwatering restaurants.

Be sure to check out the weekly farmers’ market for fresh produce and local artisanal goods.

17. Williamsburg Alewerks

Craft beer enthusiasts won’t want to miss a visit to this beloved brewery, known for its handcrafted ales and seasonal brews bursting with flavor.

Take a brewery tour, sample a flight of beers, and unwind in the laid-back atmosphere of the taproom.

18. Spooks and Legends Haunted Tour

Get ready for a spine-tingling adventure as you embark on this guided walking tour of Williamsburg’s most haunted sites.

From ghostly apparitions to chilling tales of the supernatural, you’ll explore the darker side of the city’s history under the cover of night.

19. Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg

Immerse yourself in the world of art and culture at these world-class museums, which showcase an impressive collection of American and European paintings, decorative arts, and folk art.

From colonial portraits to modern masterpieces, there’s something to inspire art lovers of all ages.

20. Williamsburg Antique Mall

Step back in time and browse through treasures from the past at this expansive antique mall, where you’ll find everything from vintage furniture and retro collectibles to rare books and nostalgic memorabilia.

Whether you’re a serious collector or just browsing for unique souvenirs, you’re sure to find something special here.

21. Williamsburg Escape Room

Put your wits to the test and embark on a thrilling adventure at this interactive escape room attraction, where you’ll race against the clock to solve puzzles, unravel mysteries, and unlock the secrets to freedom.

With immersive themes and mind-bending challenges, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Where to Stay

Historic Options

  • Williamsburg Inn: A luxurious property offering elegant rooms and top-notch service, located within Colonial Williamsburg.
  • Williamsburg Lodge: Combines modern amenities with historic charm, also located in Colonial Williamsburg.

Modern Options

  • Great Wolf Lodge: Perfect for families, this resort features an indoor water park and various kid-friendly activities.
  • Marriott’s Manor Club at Ford’s Colony: Offers comfortable accommodations and access to a premier golf course.

Tips for Visiting Williamsburg

  • Purchase Tickets in Advance: For Colonial Williamsburg and other major attractions, buying tickets online can save time and money.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, especially in the historic district.
  • Check for Special Events: Williamsburg hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Grand Illumination during the holiday season.
  • Plan for Weather: Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are generally mild but can be chilly.

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