Back in Time to Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Last weekend the family and I packed up the car and headed 7 hours South to Virginia to visit the Williamsburg area. Now, we’ve been to Williamsburg, VA in the past when we visited Bush Gardens in our last Summer road trip. But this time we were going for a new experience. We were going to step back in time with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, where my hope was that the boys would get a little history lesson, while also learning a lot about how things were back then – the life, the people, the beliefs, the customs.
My teen, while looking through the brochures I had on the area, was excited as well and even said, “I wish lived in those time!” His dad and I looked at each other and smiled before I said, “Well, you know, life was much harder for kids your age back then.” But, as is the case with most teens when their parents say something, I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about.
We arrived to our hotel late, a little tired, but excited for all the fun that awaited us the next day.
Our first day took us to the Merchant Square, where most of the restaurants and shops are located. Upon our arrival, the farmer’s market was taking place and we got buy some fresh treats to eat right then and to enjoy later. We walked into shops and grabbed lunch in the area as well. It definitely was one of my favorite areas to walk through.
The hotel provided us with a map to the location as well as a calendar of events for the week. There are things going on pretty much every hour of every day. Most activities that would require purchase of additional tickets take place at night, and the descriptions are pretty clear on the age appropriateness so that you can make the right choice for your family.
Guests can purchase multi-day tickets, which is what we had, for $45.95 for adults and $22.95 for children 6-17. Online prices for tickets offer a bit more savings. These passes allow for entry into certain Colonial areas, such as shops and other businesses where you would get a demonstration of how things operated back then and a glimpse of what the people who ran those businesses did so.
It was a lot of fun seeing everyone dressed up and always in character. The kids really loved the re-enactments and seeing the soldiers in the set up camps along the lawns in the center of town. We got to see a battle scene, as well as meet General George Washington who spoke to the people of Williamsburg and even answered questions from the crowd.
We got to walk into a court-house, a church, a cobbler shop, and other small business and talk to those who could explain in great details what we could’ve expected to experience back then when visiting them.
My kids learned how to bake bricks and can now tell you why certain bricks are of a different color. Though the kids were too shy to take a picture with anyone, many people did and everyone happily complied with the requests for photos and answers to any questions visitors had. It was really interesting and fun.
In the middle of town there is a great lawn, near the courthouse where most people came together for mid-adternoon events. It was here where we spent most of our time talking to various workers, both men and women, and official representatives and soldiers. And it was here where my teen was asked to do one thing or another, or it was described to him how, at his age, a boy was expected to be able to accomplish certain tasks and fulfill certain duties around town, in the farm, or in the line of duty. Slowly, you could see my son’s desire to go back in time fade.
But, the absolute best experience (and wake up call) was when the boys, my husband and I participated in the In Defense of Our Liberty program on our last evening there.
During this experience, we were asked to participate as new recruits for the army. Our goal that night was a simple one: learn to march flawlessly with our troop in preparation for battle and learn about the lot of the soldier upon signing up to fight for our country.
In the course of 60 minutes Sergeants and First Sergeants in the army addressed us sternly and barked our commands. To see my little ones stand so straight and still for so long was hilarious to me, and awe-inspiring. Why can’t I accomplish this at home?
After the experience was over, the boys continued to role-play but also expressed appreciation for being done with it saying, “that was so hard!” while still admitting it was a lot of fun.
Where We Stayed
The Woodlands Hotel and Suites is a short free shuttle ride into Colonial Williamsburg. Our room comfortably accommodated us all, with its two double beds, as well as a fold out twin bed.
The Woodlands Hotel and Suites also offers guests many other amenities such as free continental breakfast in the mornings till 10:00 AM (it was by far the busiest breakfast crowd I have ever experienced and though the space can easily accommodate everyone, it’s easier to navigate it all earlier in the morning).
The Woodlands Hotel and Suites also have a small fitness center, as well as a mini golf course and a spa.
The Lodge felt big, but at the same time had a really great lobby where we had a chance to relax in front of the fire-place a couple of times after a long day, and where most guests just sat to converse and wind down.
Guests can get the free shuttle to the Colonial area at the Visitor’s Center which is only a few steps away from the Lodge as well. The ride is quick and easy, with several stops to help guests get to main points of the area.
Where We Dined
A short walk from the lodge was the Woodlands Hotel and Suites is Huzzah! BBQ Grille. Huzzah! is a Colonial expression for Hooray! and one you will hear throughout your visit specializes in homemade soups, hamburgers, and hand tossed pizzas.
I tried one of their flat breads which was pretty good, while the kids indulged in making their own pizzas (a kids menu option) and burgers. It’s probably best to make a reservation as it can get a bit crowded during diner time.
We also had lunch at The Trellis Restaurant which focuses on serving dishes that best represent the local, responsibly raised products and small-scale, artisan farmers of the region. Lunch here was light, and so delicious.
A two-day visit with little ones might need to be broken up with other activities outside of Colonial Williamsburg just to keep the kids entertained and interested. Thankfully, the Williamsburg area has tons of other things to offer. A drive along Colonial Parkway at this time of year is a beautiful and peaceful experience. We did this early one morning and got to enjoy a quite drive past trees full of colorful leaves which often sprinkled onto our car as the wind blew.
We also got to go pumpkin picking in Pumpkinville, located in Toano, VA just 10 miles from Williamsburg. Here the kids got to jump and slide on inflatable slides and fun houses, as well as take a hayride, walk through a maze, take a small tractor ride, and of course, pick pumpkins, either from the pumpkin patch or by selected pre-picked ones.
Cash only, pumpkins prices range from $2 – $10. There are tons of photo up, as they go all out in decorating for the Fall and Halloween season.
Pumpkinville is located at 7691 Richmond Rd, Toano, VA. They’re open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday – Thursday, and 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday. You can call for more information, call (757) 869-9751.
Afterwards we were ready to head back to Colonial Williamsburg and take part in their late afternoon and evening events. I would say that Colonial Williamsburg is best enjoyed by kids 6 and up, not only because they can move around better and understand more, but also because than can participate in a lot more of the activities.
We learned a lot, experienced even more, and had a wonderful road trip adventure.
To see more photos of our adventure to Colonial Williamsburg, VA please visit our Flickr page:
Disclosure: Tickets to Colonial Williamsburg admission and events, lodging at Woodlands Suite and Hotels, and dinner at Huzzah! BBQ Grille were complimentary for the purpose of this review. No request that I express a particular point of view was required. All opinions are strictly my own.