From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Virginia, USA downtown from above at dusk. Credit: Adobe

Once the capital of the Virginia colony from 1699 to 1780, now Williamsburg forms the “Historic Triangle” with Jamestown and Yorktown. In its heart is Colonial Williamsburg, the largest living history museum in the world, showcasing daily life as a colonist in the New World. 

Best Time to Visit

Fall and Spring are the best times to visit Williamsburg, as the weather is cooler and you get either luscious gardens or stunning fall foliage.

Places to Go and See

Colonial Williamsburg

Coined as the world’s largest U.S. history museum, walk amongst the streets of a still-colonial town and visit shops, museums, historic sites, and talk with the colonists scattered around. This is a perfect place for any history buff to visit and explore the American past.

  • Hours: 9-5 everyday (some events may run later)
  • Best Time: Warmer months or a sunny day to walk around
  • Price: $49.99


From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: David from Washington, DC

Learn about the growth of England’s first permanent colony at Jamestown, where you can learn about new archaeological discoveries, view artifacts, or attend one of the numerous activities happening on the grounds that day.

  • Hours: 9-5
  • Best Time: Spring/Fall, or during a cooler day since you will be walking around a lot
  • Price: $30

Busch Gardens

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: Drew Hastings

Ranked as one of the top ten best theme parks by USA Today and voted “most beautiful theme park” 33 years in a row by the National Amusement Park Historical Association, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is the destination for roller coaster enthusiasts. Separated into different countries, each section has thrill rides for all ages and several options for food and drink to keep you satiated.

  • Hours: ~11-8 each day, but always check ahead of time
  • Best Time: A clear sunny day to fully take advantage of all the attractions and shows offered at the park 
  • Price: $104.99

Water Country USA

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: Iker Urteaga

Named as Virginia’s largest family waterpark, Water Country USA is sure to entertain visitors of all ages with a range of water rides. Take a float down the lazy river or jump on one of the medium-to-high thrill rides, or just take a moment to get some much-needed sun.

  • Hours: 10:30-7 (though hours may fluctuate due to seasons)
  • Best Time: Summer months on a clear day
  • Price: $82.99 (some dates may have discounted prices)

Check Out: Best Resort Water Slides in the World

Williamsburg Botanical Garden

Credit: AlbertHerring

Explore several types of gardens displaying hundreds of species of plants at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. You can learn more about environmental conservation and how to create a sustainable garden practice, all while looking for butterflies flitting between flowers.

  • Hours: 7-Dusk
  • Best Time: Sunny day, but not too warm as you will be walking outside
  • Price: Free

York County Historical Museum

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: Ken Lund

Completing the “Historic Triangle,” head over to the York County Historical Museum to view Native American tools and artifacts from colonial times, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War.

  • Hours: Depends when historians are in; call ahead
  • Best Time: Anytime since most of the artifacts are preserved indoors
  • Price: Free

Also Read: Planning for The Greatest Road Trip with These Simple Hacks

Hidden Gems

Powhatan Creek Trail

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: Ken Lund

Bike, jog, or walk along this 2.05 mile trail and cross over the Powhatan Creek on a 696 foot timber bridge. Perfect for those who need some time in nature, or just a beautiful place to walk.

  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Best Time: Warm day with no precipitation
  • Price: Free

Muscarelle Museum of Art

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: Muscarelle

 Located at Lamberson Hall on the campus of William & Mary, the Muscarelle Museum of Art is a rich resource for both the community and the college campus. Providing a platform for art and a laboratory for students, this museum caters to the future of artistry, as well as the past with several different exhibitions.

  • Hours: Temporarily closed for renovations
  • Best Time: Anytime as all art is indoors
  • Price: N/A right now

York River State Park

Protecting the environment of a coastal estuary, York River State Park is the perfect place to see what wildlife thrives in the merging of salt and freshwater. Boat, fish, or set up a primitive campsite and enjoy the beautiful scenery all around you, but always make sure to be mindful of your belongings in order to keep this park clean for future generations of both visitors and animals.

  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Best Time: Warmer sunny day to enjoy the scenery
  • Price: Free

Operation Escape

From Historical Sites to Theme Parks: Your Ultimate Guide to Williamsburg
Credit: Kelly Sikkema

Six fantastic rooms spread across two locations in Williamsburg, Operation Escape will most certainly have the story you want to follow. Whether it is helping Wendy save Pan and the lost boy from Hook, or trying to help a group of circus clowns get their money back from the stingy owner, each room will keep you guessing until the very end.

  • Hours: Mon-Sun 12-9:30
  • Best Time: Any time as it is indoors; all reservations completed online
  • Price: $25

Spooks and Legends Haunted Tours

Recognized as Williamsburg’s #1 ghost tour, choose from six different types of tours that bring to life the past, and you might even see a ghost! Ranging from early afternoon to the dead of night, these tours will surely stay in your mind for years afterwards.

  • Hours: Depends on the tours; run all year long
  • Best Time: Clear days or nights, depending on which tour you choose
  • Price: $20

Top Restaurants

Casa Pearl

View this profile on Instagram

Casa Pearl (@casa_pearl) • Instagram photos and videos

Inspired by Latin-inspired experiences in southern restaurants, Casa Pearl aims to use locally sourced ingredients in a way that is new and refreshing. One of their favorites is creating oyster tacos, which may sound odd at first, but gives new life to a food that’s been eaten for hundreds of years.

  • Hours: Closed Mon & Tues, Wed & Thurs 4-8:30, Fri & Sat 4-9, Sun 12-3,4-7
  • Featured Food: NC Peel ‘N Eat Shrimp / Oyster Po-Boy Taco
  • Featured Drink: Murphy’s Law / Bliss

Amber Ox

A small brewpub with a modern approach, the Amber Ox strives to serve fresh ingredients with a southern twist. Come enjoy seafood or other pub specialties at this quaint restaurant located in Williamsburg.

  • Hours: Mon-Thurs 2-9, Fri & Sat 2-10, Sun 2-9, Sat & Sun Brunch 10-2
  • Featured Food: Seared Diver Scallops / AO Bacon Burger
  • Featured Drink: Negative, Ghost Rider / Peach Better Have My Money

Berret’s Seafood

Striving to serve local ingredients and a wide array of seafood year-round, Berret’s Seafood displays new entrees depending on the season. Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, this restaurant is a perfect place to stop rain or shine. 

  • Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30-8:30
  • Featured Food: The Original Blue Plate / Seared Marble Farms Pork Chop

Cochon on 2nd

The combination of artisan and seasonal food is what makes Cochon on 2nd memorable, and keeps visitors coming back for more. Each of their dishes is made with the utmost care, and has made itself known as one of the newest restaurants in the Hampton Roads dining scene.

  • Hours: Mon-Sun 3-10
  • Featured Food: Smoked Maple Leaf Duck Breast with Fig & Port Glaze / Wood Grilled Scottish Salmon with Chef’s Sauce

Check Out: Exploring Women Travel Groups: Pros and Cons

Fat Canary

The name of this restaurant was derived from colonial playwright John Lyly, highlighting the fine wine served at the Fat Canary, but also the delicious food. Receiving the AAA Four Diamond award each year after opening in 2003, this is a must-stop for any food connoisseur.

  • Hours: Wed-Sun 5:30-11:30
  • Featured Food: Grilled Atlantic Salmon / Braised Beef Short Rib
  • Featured Drink: The Canary Runner / The Floating Empress

Food for Thought

Have you ever wanted to dine with one of history’s famous inventors, scientists, or social leaders? Well at Food for Thought, you can sit amongst portraits and quotes from these individuals along with discussion cards set at each table to spur intelligent conversation. Oh, and the food options are large and delectable. 

  • Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:30-8:30, Fri & Sat 11:30-9
  • Featured Food: Down South / That Nutty Chicken!
  • Featured Drink: Williamsburg Winery Honor the Brave American Riesling, 2021 Williamsburg / Fess Parker Chardonnay, 2022 California

Top Hotels

Best Western Historic Area Inn

  • ~$100/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free WiFi, Golf, Indoor Pool, Hot Tub, Fitness Center
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Marriott’s Manor Club at Ford’s Colony

  • ~$200/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free WiFi, Game Room, Tennis, Indoor Pool, Outdoor Pool, Fitness Center
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 10am, Free Parking

Kingsmill Resort

  • ~$300/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free WiFi, In-house restaurant, Game Room, Outdoor Pool, Hot Tub, Golf
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Williamsburg Inn

  • ~$400/night
  • Featured Amenities: Free WiFi, Fitness Center, In-house bar, Indoor Pool, Outdoor Pool, Hot Tub
  • Hotel Information: Check in 4pm, Check out 11am, Free Parking

Williamsburg is the perfect destination for anyone who loves to explore history, both in artifacts and the real-life grounds they came from . Of course, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy other than history. Explore local art, enjoy a splash at the waterpark, or just enjoy an evening feasting on fresh-caught seafood at any of the restaurants mentioned above.

Alexandria is a News Editor, writer, and reader of all things literature. She graduated from the State University of... More about Alexandria Wyckoff

More On: