18th-Century Appeal with Modern Attractions
Merchants Square began in 1928 as a vision of revitalization by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the son of the Standard Oil CEO. The plan was to relocate the scattered shops in the district to a central location along what is now known as Duke of Gloucester Street, between the College of William & Mary and the Historic Area. Merchants Square was designed to incorporate the many perspectives that helped shape the British Colonial and early American landscape, mixing the designs of American architects, such as Thomas Jefferson, with the building influences of Caribbean warehouses.
Shopping in Merchants Square
Today, Merchants Square boasts more than 40 shops and restaurants, from Colonial-inspired souvenirs, a classic candy store and a William & Mary campus store, to cooking and kitchen supplies, men’s and women’s fashion, fine jewelry and accessories and quaint bookstores.
Browse clothing selections from both national retailers to locally-owned shops and boutiques. You’ll also find high-end jewelry and accessories ranging from designer shoes and purses to custom-designed earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
Merchants Square is best known for its selection of specialty shops. You won’t want to leave without purchasing a sweet treat from the local bakery or candy shop. Don’t forget some old-fashioned Virginia peanuts. A visit to the local cheese shop can be the perfect complement to a wine tasting at The Williamsburg Winery tasting room and wine bar.
Despite being in one of the most historic cities in the country, you may not want to dine like an 18th-century visitor. Merchants Square has plenty of non-colonial dining options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an upscale dinner for two, a casual meal for the whole family or a quick treat as you continue your historical tours, you’ll find it all in Merchants Square. Local restaurants entice visitors with a wide range of rich and savory entrées for breakfast, lunch and dinner and dessert.
Merchants Square hosts an abundant number of events each week. Several restaurants even host local bands and musicians to provide live music while you dine.
From June–September, enjoy a free, outdoor concert on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg during the Summer Breeze Concert Series. A variety of local bands and artists will perform jazz, blues, beach music and dance tunes—all you have to do is bring a chair or blanket and relax.
Stop by during the holiday season for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting and ice skating at Liberty’s Ice Pavilion. Twirl on the ice rink or sip hot chocolate, or hot cider, as you listen to the holiday-themed music. You may even catch Father Christmas himself, Santa Claus, strolling around the square.
From March through November, Merchants Square hosts a weekly farmers market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. At the Williamsburg Farmers Market, you are sure to walk away with the best in locally-sourced vegetables, pasture-raised meats, fresh bread, homemade pastries, eggs and more. Not only will you get to enjoy the freshest products in the area, but you’ll also be supporting local growers and producers in the Williamsburg area.
With so much to see and do while in Merchants Square, it’s worth spending the day!
For more information, visit MerchantsSquare.org