Friday, April 27, 2018

Colonial Williamsburg, VA

We were very excited about seeing Colonial Williamsburg.  Family has been there and they rave about it, and so when we finally got a break from the rain we scurried right down there.

They advertise that the dog is welcome, so we brought her.
When we got there we found that she was welcome to walk outside on the street, but not welcome inside in the paid demonstrations. So we walked the street and decided to give it a moment before deciding what to do.

The town was PACKED.  Parking was difficult, and there were school kids in matching t-shirts EVERYWHERE, pushing and shoving and being loud and running crazy - just generally being kids grateful to escape school on a beautiful spring day.  I overheard some staff saying that they were expecting 1600 kids that day. The little town is only a few blocks long.

Tulips in Williamsburg

Bell jars help seeds get started in Spring

Here's the deets: Williamsburg is a town that was founded in 1638, a 400-year old American city (yeah, my Californian brain struggled with that one for a while).

They have carefully preserved the downtown, which abuts William & Mary College, and it's all just breathtakingly beautiful in a very orderly square grid, brick, perfectly manicured way.

Anyone can walk around outside down the street and around the gardens and grounds, and wander through the real retail shops for free.  Here and there inside the buildings are "exhibits" which are folks dressed in Revolutionary-era costumes doing period-appropriate things and if you have buy the pass you can get into those and learn.  They remain totally in character and talk you through whatever they're doing and it's like you're right there with them in revolutionary times - it feels so genuinely real you might forget about that computer/phone in your pocket.

Lance waiting his turn to get in and watch the woodworker doing his thing. This week he was working on a project commissioned for the retiring president of William & Mary College.

We had about decided to take turns holding Chloe outside, and buy a pass so we could get the full experience (they're $40 each) when we overheard staff telling another non-matching-tee-shirt-wearing visitor like us that the schoolkids were doing the next few exhibit tours and they would have to wait an hour (exhibits take 20 minutes each) for the next available one. Since it was already afternoon and we already had our fill of rude children, we decided to save our money, see what we could see from the outside, have some lunch and call it a day.

If you are planning a trip to Williamsburg - here are our tips: avoid it in April and May, apparently that's prime school field trip time. Bring food, the food is very expensive and fairly terrible (Lance said his lunch tasted like sadness, mine was simply served on a moldy bun, we ate at the outdoor grill because of Chloe; I've heard the experience is significantly better in the taverns - bring your big wallet either way). Stay nearby and ride your bicycle or take the shuttle in to avoid the parking hassles.

We may come back on the weekend and try again if the weather cooperates. We'll leave the dog at home and bring a lunch. I still want to see some of those exhibits and maybe it will be less crowded on the weekend.

We picked a quiet parallel street for our long stroll back to the car


  1. Dick & I love Williamsburg & we found the best way to get around there is by bike. You’re able to cover more territory. If you folks go up the Del-Mar peninsula. In Maryland on Assatague Island there are 2 wonderful campgrounds right on the beach. One is a federal & the other a state campground. They are next to each other. The island is uninhabited except by several herds of wild ponies. Virginia shares the island with Maryland but Virginia is commercial. Maryland is pure nature.

  2. Good advice, Beth, as always. I grew up on those Misty of Chincoteague books and was thinking about trying to fit in a stay in that area. Our post-DC plans are up on the air still because we are waiting to see what this year's crazy weather does, if we don't stay with the ponies this time around we'll catch up with them next time around for sure.

  3. the teaching exhibits are worth it when you can get a reasonable uncrowded time. At night they light firepots on high stakes. There are evening events that will be after the schools are gone.