Reporting Jay Lloyd
The kids are back in school and history is on the menu. How about reinforcing the classroom lessons with a fun filled, living history adventure that will captivate the entire family? Take a getaway drive to Colonial Williamsburg. – Jay Lloyd
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
Echoes of Patrick Henry and early yearnings for Independence infuse the town that saw founding fathers walk its cobblestone streets and raise a tankard in taverns and inns that still serve guests to the accompaniment of period music. The colonial governor’s house, with its array of burnished swords and stately rooms, as well as the courthouse and the arsenal are all in pristine condition. You’ll be transported to the 18th century as horse-drawn carriages, ox carts and mounted riders casually parade and red-coated soldiers guard key buildings. Period shops and original taverns form the storefronts that line the main avenue. One end of town is anchored by William and Mary College, and a convenient shuttle carries visitors to all the significant sites. Don’t miss the chance to see a mock trial, recreated from historical records at the courthouse–you might even be chosen as a juror! And set aside one night for dinner at a historic tavern; they are open on a rotating basis and serve meals that George Washington and his friends might have enjoyed.
WHAT IT COSTS
Stroll the town and you’ll have access to shops and restaurants free of charge.
Guided and self-guided tours of historical buildings require a ticket. Three-day tickets sell for $47.95, while youth tickets are $24.95. For the full range of ticket and package prices (including Busch Gardens, Jamestown and Yorktown), go to: www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/plan/tickets/ticket-options
WHERE TO EAT
Restaurants within Williamsburg range from the upscale Trellis to a McDonald’s done up in Colonial style.
Our Favorites Include:
The Trellis, where they created the killer dessert called “Death by Chocolate.” For all its class, the menu prices at this restaurant actually come in at a reasonable mid-$20 range, even for the osso bucco, a wonderfully done duck or a strip steak. Located at 403 W Duke of Gloucester Street.
Berret’s Seafood Restaurant, located within a stone’s throw of William and Mary, is a luncheon favorite. Weather permitting, outside dining can be a relaxing affair with oysters on the half shell, a perfect crab cake and a bit of wine to wash the afternoon away. Lunch entrée prices are in the $12 to $15 range. Located at 199 S Boundary Street.
King’s Arms Tavern was the site of our last meal at one of the colonial-era restaurants in Williamsburg. The “Colonial Game Pye” (pie) entrée on the colorful menu gets you in the pre-Revolutionary War spirit. At $31, it blends duck, rabbit and venison inside an imaginative pot pie, and it’s served by staff in period costume whilst 18th century-styled musicians stroll among the tables. Located at 416 E Duke of Gloucester Street.
WHERE TO STAY
Our stop is usually the Patrick Henry Inn. It’s right on the fringe of the colonial area and an easy walk or shuttle ride to the center of town. Weekend rooms at this popular, reasonably-priced family hotel are hard to come by, but you might score if there’s a cancellation.
All the major chain hotels are represented in or just outside of town, with prices as low as $50 a night in the fall. Full-service resorts like the Great Wolf Lodge can be booked from $150 to the low $300’s per night. Great Wolf even offers a water park and spa. Find your own spot at: http://visitwilliamsburg.com/book-lodging/index.aspx
If you have extra time and want to dig deeper into the region’s Revolutionary War and Colonial role, stop at nearby Jamestown, the original British colony that’s now over 400 years old. Then, hop over to Yorktown on the York River and see the site of the battlefield where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington, bringing the War for Independence to a close.
If play time for the kids is what you’re seeking, take a short drive to Busch Gardens for thrilling rides at a sprawling amusement park. Halloween spectaculars begin Sept. 14th.
The most direct route is to follow Interstate 95 to the Capitol Beltway and then go south on I-95 toward Richmond. Pick up Route 64 East to exit 238 for
VA 143, and follow the signs to Williamsburg.
If you have extra time, the scenic route takes you along the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay via routes 301 South, 50 South and 13 South to the Bay Bridge Tunnel. Then follow the signs to Williamsburg.