- For other places with the same name, see Williamsburg (disambiguation).
Williamsburg is a city in southeast Virginia. Settled in 1632, it was the capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1779 and in 1926, John D. Rockefeller Jr commissioned a restoration project to bring Williamsburg back to its former colonial glory. During this period, 700 modern homes were demolished, colonial buildings were renovated, and more than 400 buildings were reconstructed on their original foundations. Today, the Colonial Williamsburg district in the center of town is a popular tourist center and people visit in droves to immerse themselves in the nation's colonial history.
Williamsburg is also located within one hour's drive (via I-64) of both Richmond International Airport (IATA: RIC), in Richmond, and Norfolk International Airport (IATA: ORF) in Norfolk. Both airports offer a wider range of airlines and more competition, which may result in lower ticket prices.
For civil aviators, Williamsburg has its own small airport just outside of town, Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport (IATA: JGG).
Williamsburg Amtrak Station is located just north of the central district at 468 North Boundary Street. Amtrak trains run to Richmond, Washington DC, New York City and Boston via the Northeast Regional line.
For a more scenic view, VA State Route 5 from Richmond runs along the James River past many of the fabled James River Plantations. US Route 60 and VA State Route 143 parallel I-64 for much of its length east and west of Williamsburg and are alternative routes into the city.
Public transportation is limited to Oleta Coach Lines and the Williamsburg Area Transportation (WAT) buses. They stop at the transportation center (the Amtrak station), the visitors center, and various spots throughout the town. They mostly are meant to serve the community, but the Yellow line goes to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Most people get around by car. Recently, construction projects to widen Richmond road has created constant traffic jams.
The intersection of Richmond Road, Boundary Street, Jamestown Road, and Duke of Gloucester Street (non-vehicular, but with many pedestrians) near Colonial Williamsburg and the historic district is the most notorious (and confusing) feature of Williamsburg driving. Dubbed by locals as Confusion Corner, right-of-way confusion can result in accidents or close calls. For tourists in this area, traffic heading west on Jamestown Road and east on Richmond Road toward Boundary Street and have right of way; all other traffic must stop or yield. This intersection is at the corner of the College of William and Mary's campus, so be alert for pedestrians in this area.
Free parking in the restored area is difficult to find, and is generally limited to two hours. Colonial Williamsburg offers hourly and daily parking in numerous short-term lots near the restored district. Parking at other shopping areas is generally free, though it can get crowded at peak seasons.
The Commonwealth of Virginia and Department of Motor Vehicles has certified local bus company Oleta Coach Lines, Inc for a bus route from The Williamsburg Transportation Center to shopping malls around The Hampton Roads area. The Williamsburg bus route runs from Williamsburg to Hampton, to Newport News then back to Williamsburg. It runs twice on Tuesdays.
- Colonial Williamsburg. America's largest outdoor living history museum. A fully operational 18th century city with tradesmen and tradeswomen working in their shops. The ticket prices vary depending on the length of your stay and begin at $36 for a one-day pass for adults. Enjoy a step back in time and see how eighteenth century people of all social classes would have lived. Participate in a court proceeding, tour the Governor's Palace, and see how the American Revolution affected the people of this historic town.
- The College of William & Mary. The campus is just at the end of Colonial Williamsburg's Duke of Gloucester Street. The Christopher Wren building, where Thomas Jefferson attended classes, is one of the college's original academic buildings and is open to the public, with tours provided by a group of student volunteers. If you're approaching campus from Colonial Williamsburg you will find the College's Sunken Garden just on the other side of the Wren building. The Sunken Garden is a gorgeous place to walk, sunbathe, and play frisbee. It's an impressive sight and a favorite haunt of students and local residents, as well as being a prime example of 20th century Colonial Revival architecture.
- James River Plantations. A collection of historic sites located in and around the Williamsburg area. Some such as Berkeley, Chippokes, Lee Hall, and Shirley are open for guided house tours on a daily basis. Others, such as Bacon's Castle and Smith's Fort are open for guided tours for certain months throughout the year. Edgewood, North Bend, Piney Grove, Sherwood Forest and Westover are open for self-guided grounds tours and for guided group house tours by appointment.
- Colonial Parkway. Runs between Jamestown and Yorktown, passing directly through Williamsburg along the way. Jamestown and Yorktown each feature both a national park site containing the actual historical site, and a privately run living history museum located near the historical site designed to amplify understanding. Visitors should be wary of the signs, which are designed to draw attention to the more expensive living history museums rather than the true historic sites. National Park admission of $10 (adults) will get you to the actual sites of both the original Jamestown Fort (signsposted as Historic Jamestown) and the Yorktown Battlefield (last entrance 16:30). Free guided tours directed by park rangers run at posted intervals, typically last about 45m, and are the best way to truly understand the historical context of the sites. During summer, Jamestown is an active archeological dig site, with visitors allowed within feet of the edge of the excavations, and opportunity to talk with workers and ask questions about the dig. By contrast, the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center are large, privately run living history museums which feature actors in period dress illustrating life in Colonial times. Like the national park sites, they offer a single entry fee providing admission to both locations. ($20 adults).
- Williamsburg Winery, 5800 Wessex Hundred, ☎ . April–October: M-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 11AM-6PM. November–March: M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 11AM-5PM. The Williamsburg Winery offers tastings in their cellar and they have a charming restaurant with dishes that complement the wine. With wines that are reasonably priced, the Williamsburg Winery is a great place for wine fans to go and is Virginia's largest winery. Be sure to stop at "The Gabriel Archer Tavern." With courses under $10, the tavern serves a French Country Platter with assorted patés, meats, cheeses and freshly baked bread or sandwiches served with a baby green salad with dried cherries, sugared pecans and topped with raspberry merlot vinaigrette. This is all served for lunch daily between 11AM and 4PM.
- Busch Gardens Williamsburg, 1 Busch Gardens Blvd, toll-free: . Chain amusement park. At Busch Gardens, experience thrilling rides such as "The Griffon" that brings riders up 205 feet in the air and drops them at a 90 degree angle. This 70mph roller coaster is worth making the trip alone and is one of the main attractions in Busch Gardens. This is in the French village of the park. Another amazing roller coaster that is a big attraction to Busch Gardens is the "Alpengeist". This is a 67mph coaster that rises as high as 194 feet and had a drop of 170 feet. For those that would rather stay on land, Busch Gardens offers a wide variety of animal exhibits and shows. For example, "Wolf Valley" is an area that allows visitors to view trained gray wolfs in an environment much like their natural habitat, and also perform tricks with trainers. Enjoy the "Emerald Beat," a powerful production from Dublin-based O'Shea's School of Irish Dance which celebrates Irish heritage. For those with children, go see "The Secrets of Castle O'Sullivan" and "Pirates," a globe theatre 3D show.
- Water Country USA, 176 Water Country Parkway, toll-free: . Water Country USA entertains visitors with eleven water rides and a dive show. One of the biggest attractions at Water Country USA is the "Big Daddy Falls" water slide. This is a 670 foot water slide that takes you and three other people for a twisty wet ride.
Williamsburg offers a good mix of shops and malls, selling arts and crafts, fashion boutiques, as well as upscale outlet malls.
- A Touch of Earth, The Gallery Shops, 6580 Richmond Rd, ☎ . Craft gallery featuring a fine selection of jewellery, pottery and crafts.
- Christian Outlet Store, Williamsburg Pottery Factory, Building 8, ☎ . America's largest Christian store selling bibles, books and Christian art.
- Carolina Furniture, 5425 Richmond Road - The Shops at Carolina Furniture, ☎ . Great bargains to be had at this furniture store, carrying lines from Ralph Lauren, Hickory Chair, Henredon Century and Baker.
- Prime Outlets at Williamsburg, 5715 Richmond Rd, ☎ . One of the top 10 outlet malls in America, Prime Outlets feature 120 stores offering 25-65% off brand name merchandise. Open daily Mo-Sa 10AM-9PM, Sun 10AM-7PM.
There are many places to eat in Williamsburg. They are mostly located in two areas: Merchants Square and a small stretch of Richmond Road. Richmond Road contains many of the chain restaurants found all over the east coast. In Merchants Square you will find The Trellis, The Blue Talon, The Cheese Shop, The Fat Canary, Lenny's, and Aromas, among others. The Trellis and Blue Talon are popular places for more expensive gourmet cuisine. The Cheese Shop, Lenny's and Aromas are best for lunch and they are also well worth visiting. The Gazebo, on Bypass Road, is a great place for breakfast. Colonial Williamsburg has a few taverns where historically costumed staff serve colonial fare. They are good places to eat and a must-visit for any Williamsburg tourist. Just be warned that most restaurants and shops close at 8PM. Additional options can be found within the historic district in Colonial Williamsburg.
- The Daily Grind, Gooch Dr, ☎ . Easily the best Coffee in Williamsburg. Located in the college and only open when class is on, the Grind also has a variety of cheap and tasty sandwiches and baked goods. Tends to be vegan/vegetarian friendly and to use organic ingredients.
- Wine and Cheese Shop, 1915 Pocohantas Trail - Village Shops at Kingsmill, ☎ . Varied selection of international wine and cheeses, go for a sandwich made with freshly baked bread.
- National Pancake House, 7105 Pocahontas Trail, ☎ . Serving more than pancakes, this family run restaurant offers a wide selection for breakfast and lunch served in generous portions.
- Berret's Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill, 199 S Boundary St (Merchants Square), ☎ . Their seafood is excellent, and the crabcakes in particular are outstanding. Large wine list, beer on tap and they are open late. Run by the same folks who operate Nick's Riverwalk Restaurant in nearby Yorktown. If seafood takes your fancy, visit either or both of these restaurants. Dinner $22-$30.
- The Blue Talon, 420 Prince George St, ☎ . Specializing in "serious comfort food", the Blue Talon has a wide selection of homey favorites. $17-27 mains.
- Peking Mongolian & Japanese Restaurant, Bypass Road - Kingsgate Shopping Center, ☎ . Voted #1 "Best of Williamsburg" for 16 years in a row, Peking is famous for their buffet, which includes a made-to-order Mongolian grill, Chinese and Japanese hibachi bars, and a full appetizer bar, vegetarian bar, salad and dessert bar. Leave satisfied and with change to spare.
- Red Hot and Blue, 1622 Richmond Rd, ☎ . Enjoy the best of the south with this feel good Southern restaurant serving St. Louis-cut hickory smoked ribs, BBQ platters with pulled pork, beef brisket or chicken, Mississippi Delta catfish, southern chicken, sandwiches, salads and more. Open at 11AM.
- Fat Canary, 410 W Duke Of Gloucester St, ☎ . Food and wine are uniformly excellent, be sure to try the lamb. Staff are friendly and attentive.
- The Trellis, Merchants Sq., 403 Duke of Gloucester St., Colonial Williamsburg, ☎ . Fine dining restaurant that has received mixed reviews of late regarding the quality of food. The service and ambiance are still up to par, so try for yourself.
There are three bars, called the delis, which are conveniently all located at the intersection of Richmond Road and Scotland Street.
- The Green Leafe. Serves an impressive variety of beers (and tasty food) and it is significantly more expensive than the other two.
- The College Delly. Has outdoor seating.
- Paul's Deli. Serves good stromboli, which is even better when shared with friends and washed down with a pitcher or two of beer. The delis are right next to campus and they are very popular with William and Mary students.
- Corner Pocket (New Town, Ironbound Road and Monticello (Route 321)). The best place to play pool while you drink.
Additional lodging options can be found in Colonial Williamsburg that offer benefits for guests visiting the historic district.
- Parkside Resort, 1821 Merrimac Trail, ☎ . One, two, three and four bedroom accommodations.
- Quality Suites, 1406 Richmond Rd, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Offers guests free hot breakfast and an indoor heated pool. $59-$99.
- Springhill Suites Williamsburg, 1644 Richmond Rd, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM. Non-smoking, complimentary hot breakfast buffet, and an indoor swimming pool. $89/night.
- Westgate Historic Williamsburg, 1324 Richmond Rd, toll-free: . A family resort with one and two bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens and full baths.
- Williamsburg Sampler Bed and Breakfast Inn, 922 Jamestown Rd, ☎ . Enjoy friendly service by the gracious host Ike, who ensures that every need is catered too and makes the visitor feel right at home. The inn has an exercise room plus sauna and a billiards room. The rooms as spacious and cozy, with a very comfortable bed and TV.
- Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation - 1790, Route 5, ☎ . Historic landmark with three rooms and two suites, complete with comfortable antiques The James River Plantation Progressive tour and Candlelight Dinner is offered on many Saturday evenings. $130-$260.
- Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Located a few miles southeast of Williamsburg, this amusement park features roller coasters and other thrill rides and was voted the world's "Most Beautiful Park" for 20 consecutive years by the National Amusement Park Historical Association.
- Newport News - Located approximately 20 miles southeast of Williamsburg on I-64, Newport News is home to the massive Newport News Shipbuilding, a shipyard that was founded in 1866 and that is currently the location where many American aircraft carriers, submarines and other military ships are built.
- Richmond - Located approximately 50 miles west of Williamsburg on I-64, Virginia's current capital city was settled in 1607, served as the capital of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and today offers a wealth of Civil War history.
|Routes through Williamsburg|
|Newport News ←||S N||→ Richmond → Washington, D.C.|
|Charlottesville ← Richmond ←||W E||→ Newport News → Norfolk|
|Amherst ← Richmond ←||W E||→ Newport News → Norfolk|