The Historic Triangle {Colonial Williamsburg}

After leaving Mount Vernon, we hit rush hour traffic out of the city.  Whew!  That for sure rivals Atlanta.  We eventually made it to Colonial Williamsburg just in time to check in at the Williamsburg Inn and head to dinner Thursday night.   We spent the whole day Friday enjoying Colonial Williamsburg, before departing after breakfast on Saturday.

Colonial Williamsburg

All in all, we loved Colonial Williamsburg!  It was a place I’ve always wanted to visit and it was the first time for all four of us, so that is always fun.  The little town is charming, interesting and very easy to walk.  There were tons of people out and about bright and early Friday morning.

The Baby Lambs

I realize this might not be at the top of every Colonial Williamsburg visitor’s list, but it was at the top of Whit’s.  In fact, we tracked down every four legged creature in the place – cows, dogs, horses, sheep, you name it.

After stalking their little enclosure (I kid you not, I think it was our 4th visit), we finally met their keeper.  Whit had tons of questions and she was very happy to answer them while she put dinner out.  We learned that the two babies were just ONE week old!!!  They were precious!  Their names, I think, were 1813 and 1814.  They name the animals for the year they are born (18) and the order in which they are born that year (so these were the 13th and 14th animals born already this year).

When we walked by late our last night after dinner, one appeared to literally be passed out in the grass.  It reminded us so much of Elsa after a long day.  Well, Whit worried about it all night so in the morning we went by to check up and all was good.  Whew!

Historic Sites

We made our way through the town once on foot and later by bike an easily covered everything we wanted to see.  Many of the historic sites had some sort of demonstration or activity that you could participate in by checking the daily schedule.  These were our highlights…

The Courthouse – we caught the end of a period mock trial.

The Magazine – Honey took the boys inside to see the military equipment while I finished my ginger cookie and coffee for breakfast :-)  You can find the biscuits (cookies) at a stand next to the Courthouse.  They were good!

The Capitol – something was going on inside for a private function so we couldn’t go in

The Public Gaol – This one was great!  I recommend the short guided tour as it was excellent and interesting.

The Governor’s Palace

We took a guided tour of the Governor’s Palace and really enjoyed that (included with admission).  This too was reconstructed, but was still quite interesting.

The outer buildings can be toured without waiting on the official guided tour.  I recommend putting one person in line for the mansion tour and then having the rest explore the parts where you don’t need the guide.  The kitchen was the most interesting, as they were actually preparing a period meal.

Inside the palace was quite impressive!  The entry and hallway were lined with guns and swords from floor to ceiling.  The boys started devising plans for an update of our own home.  HA!  I said maybe to the gingham chair, but that wasn’t something they were interested in :-)

The furnishings were all period or reproductions.  It’s so sad that everything had been destroyed. However, our guide talked about the blueprints, bills of sale, letters and sketches that were used to reconstruct everything.  That was quite interesting.

The wig room was another highlight.  It almost seems excessive, you know?!  A whole room for the wigs to be powdered and stored.

The bedrooms were my favorite.  The walls were covered in gorgeous damask and the bedding was all beautiful.

The rich colors on the walls in the dining and ballrooms spaces were also really pretty.

But it was definitely the gardens and grounds that had me seeing heart eyes.  They were stunning!

Horse Drawn Carriage Ride

When I bought our tickets for the Colonial Williamsburg attractions at the Wiliamsburg Inn, the concierge asked if I wanted a carriage ride.  I thought sure, why not?!  I didn’t anticipate how excited the boys would be by this.  It was quite fun and we felt a bit like royalty rolling by having our pictures made.  HAHA!  She put us in the Royal Governor’s Coach, which was the most sumptuous of the carriages.   Our horses were Tom and Jerry, and Whit couldn’t get out of the carriage fast enough to love on them.

Tradesmen

Outside of the historic sites, there are a variety of working tradesmen to visit.

This was really quite interesting as you got to talk, interact, and ask questions while they worked on their craft.  Our favorites were the blacksmith, gunsmith, tailor, wheelwright and tin shop.

Christiana Campbell’s Tavern

I mentioned that we ate our first night at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern.   We had just arrived in from a long day of touring Mount Vernon and driving and it was wonderful to have a dinner table waiting on us!  We arrived at dusk and felt like we were stepping back in time as this was our first real view of Colonial Williamsburg.

Inside is solely lit by candlelight and they seat one room at a time by our hosts dressed in colonial garb.  Everything felt very authentic.  We were even directed as to how and when to put on our napkins.

The menu is limited, primarily focused on seafood.  Everything we got was very, very good.  I particularly loved my seafood fricassee dish.

Noted as George Washington’s favorite for seafood, Christiana Campbell’s Tavern is as alive today with conversation and political discussion as it was in the times of the founders. Menu items feature crab, shrimp, fish, and scallops – all items that were familiar to 18th-century Virginians. You won’t want to miss Christiana’s crab cakes! Enjoy a visit with Miss Molly.

We learned during our dinner that George Washington was said to have dined at Campbell’s tavern over 90 times!  It felt quite serendipitous that we had booked this for dinner immediately following our tour of Mount Vernon.

The tavern itself is rebuilt on the original foundation, much like the rest of Colonial Williamsburg.

Chowning’s Tavern

On our second night for dinner I originally had reservations at Fat Canary but the boys wanted to do another tavern.  I will admit, the food was decent and the boys had an immeasurably better time at Chowning’s Tavern than I think they would have at the other choice.

The crock of cheese and housemade chips were both devoured.  They were quite good!

I had the trio of soups for dinner since it was a chilly night and enjoyed them as well.

The Cheese Shop & Wythe Candy

At the urging of many blog readers, we didn’t eat at The Cheese Shop once, but BOTH of our days for lunch.  Of course, we also made a stop at Wythe Candy next door.  Yum!!!

Colonial Ghosts Tour

We spent our final night of Spring Break touring Williamsburg on foot in a Colonial Ghosts Tour!  This was a one hour walking tour that covered much of Colonial Williamsburg.  It was very interesting and not very scary.  I was a little disappointed by that, but I think that is probably best for the 8 year old :-)

Honey dared John to walk up to one vacant house.  John had been pretty aloof about the whole thing until Honey grabbed him and scared the daylights out of him.  It was pretty awesome to see go down.   The rest of our night consisted of us each trying to covertly tap the other on the shoulder to get a scare.

We did rent the EMF detector and the boys had a blast looking for changes. I think Honey rolled his eyes so hard at this that they got stuck up in his head for the rest of the tour.  (It was like $7. LOL.)

The most bizarre thing we saw was this grave marker that looks like it has a skeleton on the side of it.

If you go:

  • If you get up, get moving and have a pretty active day, I do believe you can cover Colonial Williamsburg in one full day.  We had the option to add on a second day for a few dollars and didn’t end up doing it.
  • The historic sites and tradesmen were much less crowded at opening and in the morning than after lunch.  We covered a lot of ground from 10 AM – 12:30 PM ish.
  • If you do a carriage ride, consider scheduling that for the afternoon when the other things become more crowded.
  • Definitely wait for a palace tour.  It was interesting and worthwhile.  It is included in the ticket.
  • There were many activities that required a separate ticket.  Most were sold out by the time I got our regular tickets the day of.  I didn’t feel that we had any less of an experience doing the stuff included in general admission.  However, if you have multiple days to spend, I would contact the resort concierge in advance of your arrival to see what things you might want to add to your visit.
  • I highly recommend dining at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern.  It is only open 3 hours a night, 5 days a week so reservations are hard to get.  We booked ours on Open Table about 3 months in advance.
  • Dinner at Chowning’s Tavern was something the kids really liked.  They do not take reservations.  We had about a 45 minute wait for dinner, which went quickly watching the carriages and people in costumes go by.
  • Speaking of costumes, I had NO idea that people dress in period costume to visit Williamsburg.  My boys had zero interest, but lots of girls their age and younger had on colonial dresses.   There was a store selling them near the Cheese Shop, and the Williamsburg Inn also had a costume rental program.
  • Colonial Williamsburg was full of ghost tours at night.  Ours was fine and I’m glad we did it.  I cannot say if it was any better than the others.  Some were led by lanterns and people in costume, which looked kind of cute.
  • We didn’t have time to explore the William and Mary campus, and that is something I would have loved to do if we had stayed longer.
  • Definitely get sandwiches at The Cheese Shop!  If you are going at a busy time, you can call them in and have them waiting.

As for the rest of our trip, I’d love for you to follow along or catch up here.

Part 1: Amtrak Train from Atlanta to D.C.

Part 2: Washington D.C.

Part 3: Mount Vernon

Part 4: Historic Triangle

I’ll update the links in our itinerary as I take y’all along on our trip.

Dixie Delights in D.C. Itinerary  |  All D.C. Trip Posts

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4 thoughts on “The Historic Triangle {Colonial Williamsburg}

  1. Amanda,
    I am so happy your family got to visit Colonial Williamsburg! My husband grew up in Williamsburg and loved this town. When he was 14 he went to work at Christiana Campbell’s after school and during the summers. He worked in the kitchen as well as busing tables. I don’t know if you tried the spoonbread but he said he would help break eggs to make it each day in a huge commercial mixer. I believe he said they would use over 500 eggs a day!

    He saw several US Presidents and many dignitaries during his time working there which was quite an impression on a young boy.

    1. Oh my goodness, I tried to remember all the details for these posts and completely forgot about the spoonbread. We had never tasted it before and it was so good!!! What a neat place to work as a teen!

  2. Another place I haven’t been since I was a child. I was interested to hear your take on it, touring it with children.

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