Let’s get our colonial on, y’all!
Our family has been planning a trip to the Colonial City for a few months now. I came to Williamsburg, VA several times as a kid and have been telling Brandon how much he’d like it since we started dating.
He planned our trip and told me about it by way of a funny (and far too complicated) riddle. We both love the planning stage of a trip and live for the chance to seek out the coolest restaurants and most unique experiences.
If you’ve never been to Colonial Williamsburg before, you don’t really know what an incredible place it is. In the 1930’s the area was refurbished to restore the 88 original colonial buildings on the site and to recreate some of the buildings that had been lost over the years. The buildings are opened up as living museums with interpreters dressed in authentic clothing and ready to discuss with you their chosen topic at length. You might see a shoemaker, a blacksmith, and a wigmaker within thirty minutes. They’re all busy actually partaking in their chosen craft and possess an incredible wealth of knowledge. There are also some larger homes and sites that can be toured in the traditional sense- with a guide (always dressed to the hilt) and a little less conversationally.
It’s a history lovers dream. And with AMC’s recent show Turn, I’ve fallen back in love with the Colonial era once again. (Many of the episodes have been filmed at the sites here in Williamsburg.)
Learning is constant while visiting Williamsburg. But it never feels stodgy or forced. It simply happens as you walk through the perfectly preserved sites and recreated areas.
We left the day after Christmas and broke the trip into two parts. We spent the first night at our friends’ home in Oak Ridge, TN and finished the last leg of the drive on Sunday after we left from church. We arrived pretty late and didn’t see any of Colonial Williamsburg until we started on Monday morning.
We started at the Visitor’s Center and got our passes and headed out to begin our first day of exploring. (Special thanks to our friend Karen who gifted us with some passes!) As with most new cities, the first day is spent getting your bearings. Brandon had expertly decided what he wanted to see, but it took us some time to learn the feel of the city and figure out how things are laid out.
We started with a stop to grab some coffee and ginger cakes before we got the touring started. We had fun just sitting on a bench in the middle of everything and taking it in.
Ginger cakes were the most memorable aspect for 16 year old Caitlyn’s last visit to Williamsburg. I probably had two each day when we visited back then. It was so exciting to have them again for the first time in ages.
We also made a stop at the milliner’s shop. This has always been one of my favorite spots.
William loved watching the blacksmiths work. And I loved talking to the foundry cook outside on the grounds. We discussed 18th century bread baking and I learned a bit about different types of yeast. #foodgeek
Un-pictured, we took a tour of the jail. (Or “gaol”.) It was fascinating and Wm enjoyed talking about the pirates who would have been contained there. We also saw the courthouse for a few minutes.
It goes without saying that Colonial Williamsburg is definitely kid friendly. Wm was given a really cool matching game to complete and once he had identified five items, he earned a pin. It gave him something to focus on and kept him engaged, and no child has ever been prouder of an accomplishment.
For lunch we hadn’t planned ahead and found that the taverns all had REALLY long waiting lists. We discovered that the Raleigh Tavern bakery had prepared sandwiches. They were nice, simple sandwiches. Nothing too exciting, but it was nice to have a somewhat fast option while staying inside of the park. Sadly, the dining options are limited if you don’t want to eat at one of the taverns. Since we were traveling on a somewhat tight budget, we were unable to eat at the taverns for all of our meals. The wait times could also deter some from eating at the taverns. (Although, I did overhear a host say to come around 11 AM for a lesser wait time.) The bakery sandwiches were not a cheap option, per se, but were much less expensive than eating in a tavern would have been.
For dinner we ate at The Fat Tuna Grill (located in the modern area of Williamsburg). It was a highlight. Brandon had read really good reviews and was excited to give it a try. We had the tuna nachos (surprisingly good!) and some blue point oysters for an appetizer. I had the crab cake sandwich and Brandon had the grouper ruben. Both were incredible! Although I could have helped them by removing some of the over-the-top kitschy ocean decor, it was still a fun place with incredible food.
Overall, it was a fun day but one spent getting acclimated and just exploring the colonial city.
Come back tomorrow for adventures from our Tuesday in Williamsburg!