If they aren't gold plated, they should be. Drink machines like the featured one outside the Visitor's Centre and across Colonial Williamsburg charge $2 for a miserable bottle of water. I'll bet that during the summer, they keep the water in the omnipresent drinking fountains warm to make tourists, who pay $33 a pop at the very least for admission, captive audiences to these cussed vending machines and to the restaurants. Maybe visitors to Colonial Williamsburg ought to stage a soft drink party dumping the soft drinks into the nearest body of water to protest these confiscatory prices which would have done King George III proud!
Fun Alternatives: Bring your own in a mini cooler. I know of no prohibition against doing that.
It is not the best idea to visit Colonial Williamsburg during half a day but I had no choice. Well, I can't complain, I saw a lot and visited the two highlights: Governor's Palace and the Capitol and I didn't have to run like a sheep. But, anyway, list of places I didn't visit is still long.
Keep in mind that on relatively small area of Colonial Williamsburg there are over 500 restored houses to see, 42 buildings, musuems and other points of interested to visit, 55 places to do shopping, 22 to drink and eat. Add special programs to join and colonial performancess to see...
Stay a few days if you want to see everything, the minimum for a fast visitor is one full day from 9.00 am till evening, I think.
Unique Suggestions: Well, if your time is limited don't skip the highlights:
1. The Governor's Palace (guided tour),
2. The Capitol (guided tour),
3. Bruton Parish Church,
4. Wren Building of William and Mary College.
1 and 2 are not included in the cheapest Colonial Sampler Ticket ($33); buy Governor's Key-To-The-City Pass ($45).
Fun Alternatives: If I ever come to the USA by plane to Washington DC I promised myself to come back to Williamsburg (and surely re-visit Nat) and visit/see:
1. Wren Building of William and Mary College,
2. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum,
3. Basset Hall,
4. De Witt Walace Museum,
5. Public Hospital of 1773,
6. Magazine and Guardhouse.
Well, 2-4 are not included in the cheapest Colonial Sampler Ticket ($33); I will have to buy Governor's Key-To-The-City Pass ($45) again :-(((.
Add a lunch or supper in either Shields Tavern or King's Arms Tavern. If enough time add some programs or walking tours to join and perfomances to see.(candlelight organ recital at Bruton Parish Church, a concert at the palace ballroom).
Many people don't realize that you can see most of Williamsburg without actually buying a ticket... you just won't be able to enter some of the buildings. A stroll through the town is actually quite enjoyable, and sometimes a photographer's dream! If you are limited on time or funds, or don't particularly care for seeing the insides of buildings, then skip the ticket, take a stroll, and then decide if you want to come back later.
But be sure to pick up a copy of the Gazette so you'll know what events are going on around town... like a Parade!
Unique Suggestions: Many hotels offer their guests discounts on tickets to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Water Country USA, and other area attractions. It's worth inquiring when you make your reservation.
Also ask at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center about special "Flex" deals, such as a "Historic Triangle" package including admission to the Historic Area, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center. At press time that cost $54 for adults and $27 for children. Another, the "Williamsburg Flex Vacation," included admission to the Historic Area, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center for $112 adults, $77 children.
You can buy tickets to just about everything, occasionally at discount prices, at the Williamsburg Attractions Center (tel. 757/253-1058) in the Prime Outlets Williamsburg on Richmond Road.
One horrid thing about Williamsburg is the commercialism, as well as the multitude of stores throughout the museum. Everything here is overpriced, from the food at Chownings to the hats and souvenirs anywhere in the area. It's better to spend your money outside the museum, where stuff is probably cheaper (though I'm not too sure about that).
Unique Suggestions: You probably will end up having to buy something within the open-air museum. So save some bucks by bringing your own water instead of buying water there, or bringing a camera instead of buying one there.
Fun Alternatives: As I suggested, bring everything yourself; camera, water, maybe even lunch. You'd save a lot of money.
There are ways to get around paying top dollar to go to this theme park.... might save you a buck or two...
Search for coupons at local grocery stores and convenience stores... also, depending on where you stay, some hotels have discounts for gate entry as well. Then, pack a cooler... put drinks and water, sandwiches, whatever other snacks you might need for the day. Get there early, the park opens at 10AM, so get there at 9:30 and try to park as close as you can to the train shuttles. Then, for a couple of meals, take the train back to your car and break out the cooler... this will save you ALOT of cash, meals are usually about 15 per adult, maybe more, and then $3 waters and Sodas throughout the day, especially if you are taking a family, could break you. Save your money for a nice Stein or souvenir.. not being frugal, just being smart.
When I arrived to Williamsburg I saw first huge parking lots, ugly and large building of Visitors Center when I paid $90 for 2 tickets, then a lot of visitors and loudly kids running like crazy in a maze bihind the Governor's Palace and some old-fashionable costumed people who looked at first like they were immigrants from the Moon. The Governor's palace looked like built yesterday, not almost 300 years before.
Well, my first impression was that Williamsburg is something like Disneyworld theme park - fake, unreal place created to make fast buck. Some of visitors may have the same first impression. Now, I think that my first impressions were a kind of tourist trap.
Unique Suggestions: Well, as time (and we) marched on, I changed my mind. The place is not fake - most buildings are reconstructed at their original locations and with great attention to historical detail. Surely original Williamsburg had to be dirtier and the people not always happy, clean and sober like costumed interpreters. And surely there were no asphalt roads, electric lights and air-conditioned interiors that time. But would you really like to see dark side of the original Williamsburg: dirty in spots with some fragrances as bad as Cher's perfume, poor, maybe drunk and dark at night?
Well, keep in mind that Williamsburg was probably the most important place in colonial America where the new nation and culture was coming into existence. So, feel free to explore it until you love it and want to come back, like I did.
Fun Alternatives: Anyway, if you still think that Colonial Williamsburg is fake, not original place created exclusively to make business... spend more time there or welcome to James River Plantations in nearby Charles City. You will not call the Berkeley Plantation a Disneyworld, for sure. Happy travels :-).
Such drink machines, like on my picture, are at the Visitors Center bus stop and all across Colonial Williamsburg. They offered thirsty visitors small plastic bottles of water, Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks. They accepted both coins and smaller notes (up to $10.00). Great!
But, keep in mind that the small bottle of water costs $2.00 (two whole dollars) that is twice more than the regular price in vending machines, say put at the rest areas on the interstates. Well, at most hotels and motels it costs up to $1.50 but never $2.00. In Wal-Mart the water can costs even 4 times less than in the machine on my picture especially when you unit price by a larger quantity.
Unique Suggestions: Well, on hot sunny day people might be desperate enough to pay $2.00 for a few swallows of cold, refreshing water, right? Especially if they have no choice.
Fun Alternatives: It doesn't have to be that way. Be smart and BYOW! That is, bring your own water. Or go to M. Dubois Grocer and buy other "cold" drinks like for example cider for $1.73 (details in my shopping tips), but hmm... they are warm not cold.
I have seen people come to Williamsburg and spend their whole week of Vacation at Busch Gardens. It is a fun place, dont get me wrong, but there is so much more you can do with your time, for much less money.
Come see the history of Colonial Williamsburg. I assure you that you won't be dissapointed.
This is just a bit of advice. There is a ton to do in Colonial Williamsburg both day and night. I cannot emphasize this enough...Reserve things in advance. You can reserve or buy tickets for almost anything there is do in Colonial Williamsburg, and I hate to see people come and not be able to visit everything they want to. CALL *****1-800 HISTORY******
Busch Gardens Williamsburg! If you have extra time, it is a lot of fun. But if not, I recommend saving your money and seeing more of Williamsburg. If you have kids they will probably want to go. It does have the number 1 rated rollercoaster in America (Alpengeist) and depending on your preference, it may not be such a waste of time.
.Nat and I decided to clown around a little and pose for this picture. If you check out Nat's page (VT name: b1bob), you'll see that I'm not the first one to fall for this trap!
Don't bother with Yorktown battlefields. The tour of the museum is not very good, and there isn't a whole lot to see once on the actual battlefields. Spend the extra time in Colonial Williamsburg.