We have been to Colonial Williamsburg several times, including twice having Thanksgiving dinner there in the taverns.
As you may know, Colonial Williamsburg is right in the town of Williamsburg - you walk from the streets of one town into the streets of the other with no barrier - this is a bit weird if you're expecting some sort of gate and ticket office. Well, there is a ticket office, but that's to get into some of the buildings. But you will see people in modern dress who live nearby walking their dogs through the streets of the Colonial town...kind of makes it a living history.
In the buildings and occasionally walking around, you will see characters in period custom. The characters are set in a time just before the outbreak of the revolution, usually 1775, in our experience. Thus, when you speak to these people, it will be just as if you had walked into a time machine...they will speak Colonial English to you and won't know what you're talking about when you mention anything more modern than that.
In one case, my wife had a great conversation with Mrs.X, the owner of one of the taverns, who was wearing this huge floor-length dress that was essentially a quilt. Since my wife is a quilter, they had a great conversation about it until my wife mentioned that she used sewing machine to do the quilting. The tavern owner just smiled and didn't say a word at that.
The characters are also doing real jobs. The cobbler makes shoes that many other colonists wear as part of their uniforms. The quilted dress above was made by people on-site. We went once in February, and there was an older fellow who was taking care of cold frames under which he was going to start the first vegetables of the season.
There is also a museum on-site...but you would never know it. On the south side of the Colonial town, there is a building that was the site of the first asylum in the US, if I remember it correctly. It looks somewhat like a small prison, but the "inmates" were able to live one to a cell so it was more like public housing for those who were unable to cope. Weird, huh? Yeah, what's weirder is that you go downstairs (i.e., underground) in this building, walk 100-200 feet and then you come up in the museum. What? Where is this museum?
It turns out that behind the asylum, there is a solid brick wall, the kind that is used to screen trash containers and local facility operations. Since there are no windows in the wall, it never dawns on you that this is actually a building full of stuff - it's a very effective disguise.
Although the museum does have a lot of clothing, which may not interest everyone, there are period weapons, tools, and a lot of coins that were all dug up in and around Williamsburg.
I guess everyone knows about Colonial Williamsburg and what it offers. We went to Jamestown 1st and tried to visit all the sites in chorological order. It gives you a better sense of how the area developed in the early years.
While visiting Williamsburg, we had a private tour guide for ½ day, the private guides offer a wealth of information not found in any pamphlets or maps and is money well spent.
We went to Colonial Williamsburg with high expectations (probably unrealistically high).
It was at the beginning of the summer season and not on any eventful weekend but in the middle of the week (probably not the best of times to go to this place).
There were most of the things you have seen pictures of in VT and other websites offering trips to Colonial WIlliamsburg:
plenty of people in period costumes; craftsmen doing things like barrel-making and wood-carving and farming and shoe-making and tin-smithing; there were some animals like the oxen teams and the mules and some chickens; beautiful homes (some of which were off-limits because they were occupied) and gardens; grand estates and manors; eateries (both modern and colonial) and souvenier/gift shops.
We did not see any of the soldier formations or parades or firing of the canons or fireworks.
It was a pleasant time BUT....
I thought it was a bit commercialized; it was definitely overcrowded even during the weekdays. It was very expensive.
On the whole, I am glad I went but I don't think I need to ever go back again.
Save your money, and walk through for free first! We only had a few hours, so walked through without having the official "pass". We got to see all the same houses, talk to a few of the same colonial-dressed tour guides, and get the same stockade pictures as everyone else and saved oodles of money (especially with seven adults).
Don't worry, they'll get your money elsewhere with those ridiculously priced food, drinks, or period hats.
One ticket option was the Colonial Sampler, which is $34 per adult, and it still doesn't allow you full access! The full Key to the City pass is $48 (gee, and I thought Busch Gardens was steep, at least they have rides!). One of the listed benefits for the Key to the City pass is free parking at the visitors center - which is already free, by the way.
Celebrating with new stories by L.B. Taylor, Jr., hear ghost stories, folklore and legends as well as the old favorites. This tour is guided by candlelight through the College of William & Mary and through Colonial Williamsburg's Duke of Glouchester Street.
Tickets are $9 USD per person, and reservations are required.
There is a lot to do in the Williamsburg area. A whole section of town has been turned into a living history museum in the period of 1774. You can see various buildings and activities and people in 1774 attire. .
Colonial Williamsburg truly is a unique learning experience. As you walk along the Duke of Gloucester Street, going from the Capitol building to the College of William and Mary, you will learn about Colonial life by going in the different buildings and asking questions to the many period characters living and working in Colonial Williamsburg.
Complete your experience by eating at one of the taverns and shopping around Merchants Square.
A day-pass will give you complete access to all the historic buildings but visitors are allowed to walk around the streets of Colonial Williamsburg for free.
Colonial Williamsburg is a very realistic look into colonial life in America and there is so much to learn here. Everyone working here is very knowledgeable about the history of Williamsburg and the way of life in the 1700's.
Over 500 restored historical buildings are available to explore, and the staff is dressed in replica colonial clothing. It is literally a step back in time and it is definitely worth spending a day here if you are in Washington, DC, or nearby parts of Virginia.
This is an excellent place for families and children, and people interested in history. Colonial Williamsburg is open daily, and hours vary throughout the year. Exhibits, buildings, and museums are on a schedule that is subject to change, but there is always plenty to see. Check the website for schedules.
A whole section of town has been restored to a 1774 living history museum. You can go through actual 1774 structures lead by guides in 1774 atire. Great for history buffs. Restaurants in the historic section offer selections from the period.
Go to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown.
In Jamestown, tour the ships, visit the fort and see the indian village... Take a look at the church!!!
In Colonial Williamsburg, walk around and suck up all of the smells and sights.
Paradigm shift... How it was.
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