Williamsburg, Virginia is recognized worldwide as the leading center for preserving and interpreting colonial history in America. The significance of Williamsburg is seen in its 300+ year old history: it’s the home of the College of William and Mary - the second oldest institution of higher learning in America; established the first American hospital dedicated to the treatment and care of mental illness; and served as George Washington’s assembling point for the siege of nearby Yorktown that won the American Revolution. Today, much of Williamsburg is dedicated to this rich tradition. Here’s our list of must-see stops on your trip to Williamsburg:
Colonial Williamsburg. At the top of your list should be a stop at Colonial Williamsburg. This 301-acre historic area is a living museum dedicated to preserving the life and times of the area during the 1700s when it was the capitol of Virginia. Explore the over 100 original and reconstructed buildings, interact with the costumed interpreters, and witness the daily reenactments of militia drills, political meetings, and daily activities of the city. Make sure you check the daily schedule for special tours and activities that may be of interest as they change regularly.
Jamestown. Jamestown is the site of the first English colony in the Americas, and no trip to Williamsburg would be complete without visiting the Jamestown Settlement or Historic Jamestowne – both of which tell the history of the original English settlers to the area. Jamestown Settlement is a living museum that recreates the Jamestown Fort and the Powhatan Indian Village, both of which give you an interactive experience to how life during 1610-1614 would have been for the colonists and their relationship with the local Native American tribe. Down the street is Historic Jamestowne, the actual site of the original settlement. Here, you can explore the ruins and take part in one of the archaeological tours of the site to learn more about the history of the area.
Jamestown Glasshouse. One of the original trades to come out of the new colony was glassmaking, which started as a money-making venture in the New World. Unfortunately, it didn’t bring in the expected profits, and tobacco became the big economic commodity for the area. Nevertheless, the ruins of the original glasshouse are still visible. Today, you can see the remains of the original glasshouse and its furnaces, and see exactly how glassmakers make their creations using the same techniques they used over 400 years ago in the reconstructed glasshouse. You can also purchase the wine glasses, pitchers, vases and other items made here in the gift shop.
Great Hopes Plantation. When we think of plantations, we usually picture the sprawling estates of the rich landowners. While those existed in Williamsburg, most were middle-class farmers working their much smaller plantations. Great Hopes Plantation is a replica of one of these more common plantations. You’ll be able to interact with the interpreters and see what life was truly like on one of these small farms.
Governor’s Palace. Originally built in 1722, the Governor’s Palace was the center of social activity for Williamsburg. It was built to portray the opulence and power of the British and its Royal Governor, and was home to the first 7 Royal Governors and 2 elected Governors of Virginia before being burned down in 1781. In 1934, it was carefully reconstructed and you can see the opulence of the period through its ballroom and other beautifully appointed rooms. Explore the recreated formal gardens, or visit the original outer buildings – including the kitchen – where you can watch demonstration of cooking, brewing beer or even making chocolate.
Yorktown Battlefield. Come full circle in your visit to Williamsburg by visiting the last battlefield of the American Revolutionary War – Yorktown – and the end of British rule in this country. Start your visit by watching the orientation film and perusing the museum exhibits. Then, take your choice of either a self-guided driving tour of the battlefield or a guided walking tour of the battlefield and the town (or both!). You can also visit the Nelson House, which was British General Cornwallis’ headquarters, and the Moore House, where the actual negotiations for surrender took place in 1781.
There is so much more to see and do in and around Williamsburg that is fun for the whole family, and Luxury Destinations Concierge can be your guide. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re ready to help you create a memorable experience!
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