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Best Things to Do in Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA is known for being one of the most historic colonial towns in the US. Over 80 original buildings are still standing, and over 400 have been reconstructed.
History buffs will never run out of things to do, with museums and reenactments on nearly every corner, but every visitor will find something they enjoy. Williamsburg also has a high-quality theme and water park, delicious breweries and restaurants, large shopping centers, and more.
Like and subscribe to ViewCation for more on how this town has managed to attract visitors for hundreds of years. Watch our video to learn about the best things to do in Williamsburg, VA.

Colonial Williamsburg

This is one of the largest sections of Williamsburg. Its 301 acres contain over 100 gardens, 36 exhibition sites, and several taverns and coffeehouses.

Duke of Glouchester Street is a standout area. It has no cars but is a haven for history buffs full of 18th-century buildings like the Governor’s Palace, Raleigh Tavern, and Capitol building.

You’ll also see blacksmiths, silversmiths, and brickmakers that offer demonstrations of their craft. There are over 20 guided and self-guided tours to choose from, but tickets are a bit expensive.


This is another large and historic section of Williamsburg. John Smith and 100 fellow travelers founded it in 1607 as the first English Settlement in America.

The Jamestown Settlement is both a museum and a recreation of life in 17th-century Virginia. Start by watching the introductory film. The archaeological museum has over 1,000 artifacts. Go to Jamestown Settlement to see replicas of John Smith’s 3-vessel fleet, a 17th-century English fort, a Powhatan Indian village, and more.

When you’re done exploring, you can buy souvenirs at the museum store or eat at the cafe.


This is the spot where George Washington defeated Lord Charles Cornwallis and ended the Revolutionary War in 1781. The Yorktown Victory Center honors this historic moment with a replica Continental Army encampment and 18th-century farm. You can also enter the Schooner Alliance, a ship that sails for 2 hours on the Chesapeake Bay several times every day.

Colonial Parkway

This 23-mile trail goes from James River to York River. It tunnels under Williamsburg and connects Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range

This is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg because it lets you feel like a Revolutionary War army member. You can shoot a reproduction 18th-century firearm and learn about its history.

Governor’s Palace

This building hosted 7 royal governors and 2 elected governors, including Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. It was built in 1706, burned down in 1781, and reconstructed in 1930. Take a tour to see the authentic grand ballroom, kitchen, formal gardens, and more.

The Public Hospital

This was the first colonial facility for mental patients, built in 1773 as the Public Hospital for Persons of Insane or Disordered Minds. It displays artifacts from early treatments. It also hosts special events throughout the year, so check what’s going on here before you visit.


This building is one of the best things to do in Williamsburg because it’s as historic as it is interactive. You’ll learn about court in the 18th century and get to participate in a trial reenactment. You may even send the defendant to the jail built in 1704 that once held over 15 members of Blackbeard’s pirate crew.

Wythe House

George Wythe had several titles to his name. He was Thomas Jefferson’s mentor, the leader of the Patriot movement, the first law professor at the College of Wiliam and Mary, and the first Virginian to sign the Declaration of independence. HIs home honors his legacy and also served as George Washington’s headquarters before the British seized Yorktown.

Peyton Randolf House

This dark red building was completed in 1715, making it one of the oldest buildings in Williamsburg. It honors Peyton Randolph, an activist who later served as the first president of the Continental Congress.

Bassett Hall

This building was once the home of famous magnate John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockafeller.

You can take a tour of the home and gardens to see their furniture, art, figurines, and other artifacts. There are also regular events to enjoy, including art classes. Paying for admission here is a deal because it gives you access to other Williamsburg attractions.

The Wren Building

This historic building sits on the campus of William and Mary College and is the oldest college surviving building in the United States. It was a government headquarters and makeshift hospital from 1700-1704. It was destroyed in a fire in 1705 and rebuilt in 1716 before enduring 2 more fires after that.

The building still hosts students as well as a range of yearly events. It’s also a popular stop for ghost tours because it’s believed to be haunted.

Bruton Parish Episcopal Church

The first cruciform-shaped church in Virginia was completed in 1715. It’s 75 feet long and 28 feet wide. It was the center of the town for several years and saw improvements as it aged, including a new organ in 1756 and getting the Holy Bible and Book of Common Prayer in 1751 and 1753 respectively.

Many founding fathers attended services here, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry. It also became a Confederate hospital in 1862.

The church was renovated in 1939 as part of a major renovation project. It’s now an authentic replica of the original building. It still holds services, hosts over 120 concerts and recitals, and allows you to take a guided tour.

DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum

This museum sits in the same building as the public hospital. It was opened in 1985 and filled with English and American antiques.

The furniture collection focuses on pieces from 1680-1830. The Silver from Mine to Masterpiece exhibit contains over 150 pieces of silver. The Wilkinson Gallery is full of dollhouses, including the huge Long Island Dollhouse from 1900. You can also listen to a lecture or enjoy a concert at the Hennage Auditorium.

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

This art museum is full of work by local artists. It has one of the largest folk art collections in the world, including permanent and temporary exhibits. A few of the best are the Down on the Farm exhibit and the collection of folk musical instruments.

Muscarella Museum of Art

This museum on the campus of the College of William & Mary is full of gifts given to the college over 300 years. It was opened in 1983 as a way to collect these important pieces of art.

The exhibits are now part of the college curriculum and a popular attraction. Artists on display include Hans Hofmann, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, John Singleton, Henri Mattiste, and more

Like and subscribe to ViewCation for more. Keep watching to learn about more of the best things to do in Williamsburg, including theme parks, state parks, shopping centers, and more.

Busch Gardens and Water Country USA

This 100-acre theme park has over 50 rides and 9 stage shows as well as several delicious restaurants. It provides a unique look into European life with sections devoted to Italy, France, and Germany.

Kids will love the Land of the Dragons and Sesame Street Forest. Thrill-seekers shouldn’t miss roller coasters such as the Tempesto or the 75mph Griffon.

Water Country USA takes up 43 acres, making it one of the largest water parks in the mid-Atlantic. It has 11 waterslides and 4 for children, a wave pool called Surfer’s Bay, a kiddie pool called Cow-A-Bunga, a floating river, and more.

The water park is open from May to September from 10 am to 5 or 8 pm, depending on the day. Single-day tickets are $45-$52. You can also get a year-long family pass, a multi-park pass that gives you access to Bush Gardens, or a bundle pass that includes entry to other nearby attractions,

Waller Mill Park

Visit this 2,705-acre park if you want a larger but more relaxing way to enjoy the water. It’s the perfect place to kayak, canoe, or fish. You can also go on land to visit the playground, pavilions, and sports fields. There’s even a 9-hole disc golf course, plenty of hiking trails, and a dog park.


Williamsburg’s hometown brewery opened in 2006. It supplies beer to restaurants and stores in Virginia, Washington D.C, and Maryland.

AleWerks offers daily 40-minute tours. You’ll end up in its taproom with a chance to taste its best offerings. They only cost $8, but be sure to reserve one in advance.

Williamsburg Winery

This spot began attracting visitors after releasing a critically-acclaimed wine in 1988. It’s now grown into an attractive 320-acre complex with a retail shop, a tasting room, restaurants like the Cafe Provencal, and even an 18th-century inn called Wedmore Place with 28 rooms,

Fine wine and reserve wine tastings are available throughout the year. You can also get a restaurant meal package.

Whitney’s Peanut Factory

This has been one of the best things to do in Williamsburg for over 30 years. Residents and visitors love its unique flavors, including classic salted, sea salt and caramel, butter toffee, pumpkin spice, bourbon barbecue, and more. Its other offerings, including peanut butter, soup, and gift tins, are also unique.

Massive fans of the factory can sign up for one of its 4 club plans. You’ll get either a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly shipment of their delicious peanuts. You can also choose to get your favorite flavor or a mixture of several.

Casa Pearl

A refurbished gas station became one of the best things to do in Williamsburg when you get hungry. The menu is as small as the restaurant itself, but the food and ambiance are worth it. There are plenty of delicious restaurants in town, but this is one of the best for seafood, including oysters, shrimp, ceviche, and tacos.

Kimball Theater

This colonial building in Merchant Square hosts regular plays, musical performances, and films. It’s also a frequent place for performers from the College of William and Mary to show off their talent.

Weeknight movies play in the main theater, and there are also occasional midday screenings. Tickets are only $8 per person.

York River State Park

This is a natural escape unlike any other. It’s home to almost anything you could want to see, including marine and plant life, fossils, and Colonial and Native American artifacts. One of the best areas is the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve,

The park is also a great place to get some exercise. There are over 30 miles of forest and coastal trails to hike, bike, or get through on horseback. You can also go boating or fishing or drop off your kids at one of the playgrounds and pavilions.

Jamestown Glasshouse

This spot was built in 1608. It didn’t become the economic stronghold that original settlers hoped it would be, but it’s still one of the best things to do in Williamsburg today. You can watch professionals create objects in the original furnaces using classic techniques and buy their work at the gift shop.

Williamsburg Antique Mall and Premium Outlets

The Antique Mall opened in 1997. It covers 45,000 square feet and houses over 300 dealers. You’ll find furniture, jewelry, collectibles, and more. You can even visit the consignment area to add your own antiques to its vast collection.

There are over 135 stores in Williamsburg Premium Outlets. They include popular chain stores, high-end brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, and specialty shops. They’re open from 10 am-9 pm on Monday-Saturday and 10 am-7 pm on Sunday. You can even join the VIP shopping club to get a coupon book and receive updates about sales and promotions.


Candlelit ghost tours occur every night at 8 pm from March to December. It’s based on the book The Ghost of Williamsburg by L.B. Taylor. It’s perfect for children, but you can choose the Extreme Tour if you want something a bit more intense.

There are also different types of tours during the day. Spend 60 minutes on the Historic or African American History tours to learn from knowledgeable guides.

A food tour takes you to over 9 eateries. You’ll enjoy everything from Southern comfort food to gourmet dining. You’ll also learn about the history of the area and get a chance to walk down lovely downtown streets.

Are you interested in colonial history? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe for more of the best from America’s historic colonial towns.

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