Virginia is the place where life keeps taking me back. My family lives in Virginia Beach, and Dave and I were stationed in the Richmond area two separate times. There is a possibility we will end up living in the state again in the future — and even if we don’t ever get stationed there again, we’ll still be back often to visit family.
One place in Virginia I always spend a lot of time is Williamsburg. Williamsburg is a pretty popular tourist destination because of all the historical elements and offerings. It’s central to a lot of places, so whether I’m living in the Richmond suburbs or visiting my parents on the beach, Williamsburg is usually only an hour trip away (depending on traffic, of course).
Best Times To Visit:
- I absolutely love fall in Colonial Williamsburg. The town really goes all out for Halloween, but in the most charming, historical way possible. Plus there are plenty of spooky Halloween activities, like ghost walks and haunted historical houses.
- My second favorite time to go is around the winter holidays, because they do such a great job transporting you back in time. It’s cool seeing the period actors going around singing Christmas carols, there are horse drawn carriages trotting through the snow, and just a general air of merriment. As much of a grinch as I am, Williamsburg makes it hard not to get into the Christmas spirit.
- The Williamsburg Inn. This is one of the nicest, most historical places you can stay at in Williamsburg. It’s an AAA Five Diamond resort, and a lot of significant historical characters have stayed there. It’s incredibly pricey, but I think it’s worth it for a night or two. How often do you get to sleep in the same suite as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, or the Rockefeller’s, or the Churchills?
- Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection. This is also an incredibly nice place to stay, and you can use Bonvoy free night certificates there. It’s really charming and vintage, almost like staying in Felicity’s house (hopefully you know what American Girl dolls are or else that reference probably went right over your head). There’s a pool and a hot tub, and great dining options.
- Le Yaca. Le Yaca is a really cute French restaurant that offers a pre fixed meal option for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. It’s probably one of the best meals you can find (anywhere) for such a low price. I believe lunch is in the low $20 range and includes hot fresh bread and butter, soup or salad, entree, and dessert. And it’s all very, very good. It’s not like a bowl of Campbells soup and then some grilled chicken. They offer provincial style French onion soup, petite filet mignons, grilled Scottish salmon, and hazelnut soufflés. That is always my go-to restaurant when we are out that way.
- The Fat Canary. The Fat Canary is an AAA four diamond restaurant — but without the usual price tag. It’s more expensive than Le Yaca, but it’s still possible to go and have a nice dinner for two and get out for under a hundred dollars. Everything is fresh and locally sourced, and the menu changes seasonally to keep up with what local farms can offer. They do duck better than just about anybody can, and it’s such a cute environment to dine in as well.
- The Cheese Shop. The Cheese Shop isn’t actually my favorite restaurant in Merchants Square (I like Dog Street Pub across the street). However, if you only get one opportunity to visit, the Cheese Shop is a Merchants Square staple, so you shouldn’t miss it. They have good deli style sandwiches, and as the name suggests, a great cheese shop where you can stock up on cheese to your hearts content.
- Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. Busch Gardens is one of my favorite amusement parks because it reminds me so much of Epcot. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is themed around different locations in Europe and the UK, so you have an England section, an Italy section, a Germany section, etc. There are a decent amount of thrill rides, plus really cool themed entertainment and food like Oktoberfest in the Germany section and live Celtic dancing in the Ireland section. Water Country is also a blast — if you get a dual seasons pass, you can spend the morning at Busch Gardens then hop over to Water Country when things start heating up. The Hubba Hubba Highway is a really fun, high powered lazy river that whips you through some cool watery attractions.
- The Williamsburg Winery. Most people don’t think of Virginia as a wine destination — because it’s not. Especially for those of us that are familiar with the NY Finger Lakes wineries, Virginia really can’t offer much. However, The Williamsburg Winery is a surprisingly great option. They offer a good selection of sweet and mulled wines, and they have a couple really good restaurants on property. Plus there are tons of walking trails and pretty spots to spend the day.
- Colonial Williamsburg and Historical Jamestown. This is probably a no brainer, but you can’t go to Williamsburg without visiting Colonial Williamsburg and Historical Jamestown. It’s really neat to tour the preserved buildings and battlements, and walk where our founding fathers walked. The period actors do a great job staying in character, and they are all very knowledgable which makes the experience great. Pro tip: if you’re active duty military, you can get a free annual national parks pass which will get you free access to the Jamestown settlement.