We have visited Williamsburg, VA for Thanksgiving week every year since 2017. While the week has always been the same, each year our experience was different. Our first year was 2017, and my daughter was eight. She has always had a great imagination and has enjoyed all sorts of “living history” experiences. If you have been to Williamsburg, you know that Colonial Williamsburg takes the “living history museum” to a whole new level!
Entering Colonial Williamsburg
When you enter the area designated as “Colonial Williamsburg,” it’s like stepping back in time. Cars are prohibited in this area, but riders on horseback and horse-drawn carriages are a regular sight. Many people (both “players” who work for Colonial Williamsburg as well as visitors who enjoy a bit of “dress-up”) are dressed in colonial garments and speaking as I imagine they did in the 1700s. Each “townsperson” is impeccably trained to demonstrate their trade and instruct visitors on their contribution to the fledgling community.
While there are numerous daily exhibitions, presentations, and demonstrations, there are also opportunities to interact spontaneously with the costumed players. For example, between the scheduled presentations and debates, costumed players such as George Washington, George Mason, George Wythe, James Madison, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson also walk around town discussing the concerns of the colony and often debating each other and presenting their different views on the streets of Williamsburg. What is really special is that they also make time to stop and discuss politics with the “visitors” to their city. Not surprisingly, these interactions are always my daughter’s favorite experiences – and, of course, she is usually costumed as well!
There is an app for Colonial Williamsburg which is somewhat helpful finding the costumed performers. Search for the “Explorer” app in your app store.
Tips For Colonial Williamsburg
One of the most popular activities is taking a horse-drawn carriage tour through the city, but know that you can only get tickets the morning of your tour and they often sell out within an hour, so call ahead to get the where and when and arrive early. While we have always enjoyed visiting the city, there are noticeable differences due to Covid. Pre-Covid, the young visitors (and those young at heart) had more opportunities to participate in the exhibitions in Colonial Williamsburg. However, since 2020, most “hands-on” displays have been removed.
- If you are a teacher, bring your school ID for discounted entry tickets. These tickets must be purchased on-site.
- You can often find discounted tickets online before you arrive in Williamsburg.
- Discounted tickets are available that combine Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Museum, and the American Revolutionary Museum.
Have you visited Colonial Willliamsburg? What are your favorite things to do?