Getaway to Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Va. is many things: a city steeped in colonial history (and one of the nation’s oldest), a quiet college town, a destination for relaxation, or one for family fun. Most would likely agree, the city of 14,000, located on the Virginia Peninsula roughly three hours north of Raleigh, is well worth a weekend visit.
Founded in 1632, Williamsburg is one corner of the Historic Triangle, which includes neighboring Yorktown and Jamestown. The area was home to the Powhatan people before the Jamestown Colony, the first English-speaking colony in the New World, settled and colonists drove out, or killed, the Native Americans. Williamsburg became the capital of the Virginia Colony in 1699 and remained so until 1780. In 1693, settlers founded the College of William and Mary, the second oldest university in the country.
Williamsburg, the center of political, economic and cultural activity, grew quickly and the area was of pivotal importance during the Revolutionary War. Near the war’s end, the Virginia capital moved to Richmond and Williamsburg quietened until the 1920s, when John D. Rockefeller Jr. took an interest in the town and financed the creation of Colonial Williamsburg. Today, Colonial Williamsburg—with its many well-preserved 18th-century buildings and gardens—and the surrounding areas draw more than 4 million visitors a year. Busch Gardens, museums, a thriving retail and culinary scene, spas, water parks and outdoor adventure also beckon.
John D. Rockefeller built this upscale inn in the English Regency style in 1937, just steps from Colonial Williamsburg. Amenities include a spa, golf course and fine dining and accommodations vary from a 700-square-foot suite to smaller rooms with double queen beds. colonialwilliamsburg.com/stay/williamsburg-inn
Fife and Drum Inn
Williamsburg’s only downtown inn, the Fife and Drum offers nine historically themed rooms and is located a block from the College of William and Mary, in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. With its antique furniture and unique architecture, the inn offers a cozy, bed and breakfast feel. fifeanddruminn.com
Christiana Campbell’s Tavern
This 18th century eatery is touted as George Washington’s favorite place to get seafood. Enjoy a candlelit meal of crab cakes, Gloucester chicken, filet of beef with crab-stuffed shrimp and southern spoon bread while musicians serenade you and friendly servers wait on you in period garb. Open for dinner, reservations recommended. colonialwilliamsburg.com/eat/christiana-campbells
For a modern, upscale dining experience, the bistro-style Fat Canary has you covered. The menu changes seasonally and reflects the executive chef’s diverse culinary experience, including influences from New Orleans, southern California and Hawaii. Try the pan seared duck served with faro, stone fruit, pecans and pea shoots and a Canary Yellow cocktail. fatcanarywilliamsburg.com
Second Street American Bistro
This local staple offers “upscale casual elements without being too uppity,” according to its owners, and offers seasonal, local specialties and dishes both classic and surprising. The lunch and dinner spot has a large outdoor patio with a fire pit, perfect for Sunday brunch. Try the shrimp and grits. secondst.com
Set on the historic, 300-acre Wessex Hundred Farm, this winery is the largest in Virginia. Tour the barrel cellar daily or make a tasting reservation, and sample some of the vineyard’s award-winning wines. The winery also offers two dining venues and a country-style hotel. williamsburgwinery.com
Alewerks Brewing Company
Alewerks Brewing Co. has brewed award-winning beers since 2006. The brewery offers 16 beers in its taproom: six brewed year-round, plus a variety of seasonal brews and limited release Brewmaster Reserves, including barrel-aged options. alewerks.com
Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestown
In Williamsburg, stroll down the Duke of Gloucester Street and immerse yourself in revolutionary era arts, crafts, plants, food and stories, or stop in the Wytheand Randolph houses to experience day-to-day colonial life. Try your hand at candle making at Yankee Candle or visit Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and the Public Armoury—then fire 18th-century weapons at the Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range. At Jamestown Settlement, grind corn, dig out a canoe or try on armor in the 17th century Powhatan Village and colonial James Fort, or take a historical clothing tour. Then, climb aboard the Susan Constant, a replica of a ship that made the colonists’ maiden voyage in 1607. At Historic Jamestown, speak with archaeologists about their knowledge of the Jamestown Colony attained through excavations. Take an archaeology tour and check out colonial artifacts at the Archaearium museum. visitwilliamsburg.com
Take a segway tour of historic Yorktown along the York River or go on a free, two-mile hike to search for ancient animal fossils at York River State Park beach. Then, check out the new American Revolution Museum to learn about the nation’s founding via interactive galleries and see where American independence was finally won at the
Yorktown Battlefield. visitwilliamsburg.com/topic/yorktown
Visit Freedom Park
Freedom Park preserves one of the nation’s first free black settlements, a 17th century home and the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary. If the weather is good and you want to get outdoors, check out the park’s hiking and mountain biking trails that wind through forests and historical sites. Or, check out the Go Ape Treetop Adventure with zip lines and rope swings. visitwilliamsburg.com/attractions/freedom-park