Things to See & Do
You won’t believe how many amazing attractions are in greater williamsburg
There’s a reason this area is known as the Historic Triangle. Lessons from grade school or tidbits from television documentaries will come back to you as you explore your way around Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. With four centuries of history dating back to the 17th century, this region contains an incredible amount of significant events.
Start your journey where it all began, in Historic Jamestowne where you can discover a whole world of uncovered history. Saturated with attractions to see and activities to do, Colonial Williamsburg is like walking back in time. The battlefield in Yorktown where allied American and French troops won the American Revolution in 1781 awaits your visit! At the American Revolution Museum, you can discover the story of the Revolutionary Period through hands-on experiences, re-created encampments, exhibits and more.
Although the Historic Triangle is full of fun educational opportunities, there are numerous activities to do around Williamsburg that go beyond uncovering history. For all those thrill seekers, several amusement parks are just a short distance away. There’s also tons of outdoor excitement—from ziplining to biking and hiking.
Some of the most leisurely vacations are without an itinerary, but simply go with the flow, allowing for more opportunities to discover new things. Perhaps you’re interested in spending a day shopping and snagging all the best deals or discovering the fabulous local arts and culture scene. You will find a wide variety of specialty shops, unique boutiques and large shopping malls throughout the area offering anything and everything you are seeking.
If you’ve got food on your mind, partake in a delicious dish at one of the many unique restaurants in the area. Seafood dishes are as bountiful as the sea and a variety of international cuisine awaits to satisfy your cravings. For the confection junkie, Williamsburg is home to the finest cupcakeries, candy shops, ice cream joints and bakeries where you will find freshly drizzled, dipped and frosted sweets.
No matter how you spend your time in the Historic Triangle and beyond, chances are you will never want to leave!
American Revolution Museum
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown tells anew the story of the nation’s founding
The The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown tells a new the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond. Stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold as comprehensive indoor exhibits and outdoor living history capture the transformational nature and epic scale of the Revolution and its relevance today.
The 22,000-square-foot permanent exhibition galleries engage visitors in the tumult, drama and promise of the Revolution through nearly 500 period artifacts and immersive environments, interactive exhibits and short films, including an experiential theater that transports visitors to the Siege of Yorktown with the wind, smoke and the thunder of cannon fire. A vibrant outdoor living-history experience complements and enhances the storyline with a re-created Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm where costumed historical interpreters engage visitors in an array of hands-on activities, from military drills to processing plant fiber for cloth.
Don’t Just Visit the Past, Get Into It with Immersive Films and Gallery Exhibits
In the 170-seat museum theater, award-winning film Liberty Fever introduces visitors to the world of Revolutionary America. The Siege of Yorktown film transports visitors into the action of America’s 1781 victory shown on a 180-degree screen with dramatic special effects.
From innovative computer-based interactives to intriguing touchable objects, “test your knowledge” question panels and fiber-optic displays, the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown exhibition galleries offer an array of hands-on experiences that engage visitors in making a personal connection to the Revolutionary period.
A truly national perspective comes to life in exhibit settings featuring close to 500 artifacts, including a Declaration of Independence broadside dating to July 1776; a June 1776 Philadelphia printing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, one of the inspirations for the U.S. Declaration of Independence; a coronation portrait of King George III from the studio of Allan Ramsay; one of the two earliest known portraits done from life of an African who had been enslaved in the 13 British colonies that became the United States; and an extremely rare early southern American long rifle.
Visitors Interact With Historical Interpreters in Outdoor Settings
In the outdoor re-created Continental Army encampment, visitors can witness artillery demonstrations and drill with wooden muskets as historical interpreters describe and depict the daily life of American soldiers. The encampment, which represents a portion of an American regiment and includes tents for soldiers and officers as well as surgeon’s and quartermaster’s quarters, allows visitors to join costumed historical interpreters on a drill field and in an artillery demonstration area where visitors can join an artillery crew and witness historical interpreters demonstrate its firing.
At the Revolution-era farm, based on a real-life 18th-century family, visitors are invited to help tend crops, process plant fiber for cloth and play 18th-century games. Situated just beyond the encampment, the farm features a larger house, kitchen and tobacco barn and a new building representing quarters for enslaved people, along with crop fields, corncrib and kitchen garden.
Visitors Interact With Historical Interpreters in Outdoor Settings
The museum’s special exhibition, Blast from the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence, opening June 10, 2018, through January 5, 2019, examines American, French and British artillery used on all fronts of the American Revolution through interactive elements and artifact displays. A series of artillery presentations, special programs and musical performances accompany the special exhibition. Special events and programs include Yorktown Victory Celebration in October, Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia in November and Christmastide in Virginia in December.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located at 200 Water Street and is Open year-round 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 15-August 15), except Christmas and New Year’s days. You should allow three to four hours for your visit.
A value-priced combination ticket is available with Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia. Call 888-593-4682 toll free or 757-253-4838 for more information, or visit HistoryIsFun.org.
Ghostly Guided Tours by Arielle Patterson
They say you need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to understand their experiences. So, lace up your sneakers and join in on one of Williamsburg’s diverse and original walking tours. These themed tours of the city include historic tours, ghost tours and a seasonally-offered Christmas tour. With so much preserved history in Williamsburg, there’s a lot to explore, including Colonial Williamsburg’s 301-acre Historic Area. These walking tours offer three centuries of extraordinary history, an endless collection of local stories and are led by knowledgeable professionals with decades of experience.
As dusk falls over the cobbled streets, you know it’s time for some eerie experiences. Every now and then we all like to indulge in a little frightful fun, whether it’s watching a scary movie or riding a roller coaster. But since Williamsburg is full of history, the city comes with its historical haunts. If you’re feeling brave and in the mood for a hair-raising experience, schedule a time during your Williamsburg vacation to embark on a ghostly walking tour where some of the area’s deepest and darkest haunts are uncovered. Williamsburg offers ghost tours that are sure to scare your socks off!
Begin your terrifying tour at Colonial Williamsburg on the Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk. Creep through the streets and gardens of the historic area as a guide shares stories of the spirits who call Williamsburg home. Colonial Williamsburg also offers the only ghost tour that takes brave visitors inside the centuries-old historic buildings. The past will come to life as you hear ghostly tales of hauntings and horrors straight from 18th-century sources. For more kid-friendly, not-too-spooky fun, take the Official Ghost Walk Junior, recommended for families with children ages 4–7.
Hear haunting tales and even spot spooky specters on Virginia’s oldest ghost tour. The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg leads guests on a candlelit stroll through the shadowy streets of the Historic Triangle. These tours combine local folklore with historical facts, ghost stories and even some humor. For an elevated eerie experience, take the Extreme Ghost Tour. This late-night tour is two hours long and gives guests the chance to use ghost-hunting equipment to track any paranormal activity. Stops include the historic Peyton Randolph House—one of the most haunted houses in the United States, where creepy activity continues to happen today.
The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg also offers a Ghosts of Yorktown tour. This hour-and-a-half long tour cruises the dark streets of Yorktown. Listen as the ghost guide shares tales of deceased soldiers of the Revolutionary War, that may be seen walking though the battlefields. Stops include the York River Waterfront, including Cornwallis’ haunted cave.
Ranked in the top ten of the “13 Bone-Chilling Haunted Tours” by US City Traveler, Colonial Ghosts has earned Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2018. These tours offer a genuine experience based on research, eyewitness interviews and a ghost story book connected to factual and historic events. They offer daily daytime cemetery tours and nightly ghost tours. The most popular tour, the Ultimate Ghost Tour, skips the theatrical show and gets straight to the informative stories. These stories span from the Colonial era, through the Civil War and even to the 21st century. Journey, if you dare, to the Public Hospital—America’s first “insane asylum.” Rumor has it that Dr. John Minson Galt, II still haunts the grounds where he lived and worked. Colonial Ghosts also gives amateur ghost hunters a chance to use ghost hunting equipment, just like paranormal investigators, on their ghost hunt.
Put your camera phones to work as you tour the sites of some of Colonial Williamsburg’s most haunted places and capture photos of the ghosts that dwell there. Author Tim Scullion conducted a photo study with over 10,000 photos and used them to write “Haunted Historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia: with Breakthrough Ghost Photography.” His book is now the basis of the Ghostographer Tour. Every stop on the tour features the best photos taken by Scullion. Two tours are offered—the Williamsburg West Tour and the Williamsburg East Tour. Learn the background, and possibly the identities, of the phantoms in the photos.
Another ghost tour that tells haunted stories of the past is Williamsburg Walking Tours’ Ghostly Tales. This journey is an eerie, 60-minute tour through the colonial capital led by an expert of ghostly lore from the days of old. Legend has it that ghosts have stirred up all sorts of trouble in some of these areas; it’s merely up to the brave to find out which ones.
During the holiday season, Williamsburg sparkles with glistening lights and ornate wreaths. Take a tour of the historic homes, decorated in the traditional colonial style.
Williamsburg Walking Tours offers a Christmas Past & Present Walking Tour. During Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Eve, stroll down Williamsburg’s colonial streets and discover how Christmas was celebrated from the 18th-century to modern day. While you take in the festive decorations, learn the history of the decorations and hear stories from Christmases of the past. WilliamsburgWalkingTours.com/Christmas-Past-Present
Immerse yourself in the area’s little-known history as you follow along Williamsburg’s exclusive history tour dedicated to the African American experience. Williamsburg Walking Tours offers the city’s only tour dedicated solely to black history. During the 18th century, African American slaves, freedmen, craftsmen and businessmen comprised half of the city’s population. This tour gives an exclusive and well-researched glimpse into the lives of African American people.
In 1742, a 10-year-old boy was brought to Yorktown as a slave and given the name Caesar. Caesar went on to become a talented barber. Find out how Caesar used his skill to become a spy for the Patriot cause. Then, as a freed man named John Hope, became a well-known barber catering exclusively to white clientele.
This intimate tour around the Historic Area guides guests along the same streets, shops and homes that enslaved African American’s walked when they were brought to this burgeoning city.
Williamsburg Walking Tours’ African American History Tour has earned Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence and has received reviews from visitors all over the country. Hear more stories on the achievements and contributions of African American’s from the beginning of America’s story, and discover the impact they had on Colonial Williamsburg and the Revolutionary War. WilliamsburgWalkingTours.com/African-American-History
Whether it is your first time in Williamsburg, or your 50th, the guided walking tours offered around the area never disappoint and are sure to show you and your family an unforgettable time filled with lots of laughs, thrills and new stories to share.