15 Best Things to Do in Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

As the sun peeks through the canopy of swaying trees, I take my usual early morning stroll through the heart of my beloved Williamsburg, Virginia.

The air is crisp, filled with a blend of delicate floral fragrances, freshly baked bread, and history.

Yes, you heard me right - history.

Here, in Williamsburg, the past is not just a mere remnant.

It's a living, breathing entity that coexists with the present, offering a unique blend of experiences that are both enriched with heritage and modern charm.

In this article, I am excited to share the best things to do in Williamsburg, Virginia, the ones that keep me falling in love with this place over and over again.

Hope you find these suggestions as wonderful as I do every single day.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Stroll Down History Lane at the Governor's Palace

Exterior of the Governor’s Palace
Sean Xu / Shutterstock.com

Starting my day with a stroll at the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg has become a cherished routine.

The stately air of this pre-Revolution mansion, which was once home to several British royals and the first two elected Virginia rulers, never fails to amaze me.

As a history enthusiast, I always find something new to admire about the architecture and decor.

Walking through the grand halls, one can't help but imagine the grandeur of the past colonial era.

Each room is filled with beautiful artifacts that shed light on the lives of the mansion's original occupants.

The short but informative guided tours are a must-do, especially if you're lucky enough to have an actor as your guide who brings the history to life.

However, it's not just the inside of the mansion that's captivating.

Gate of the Governor’s Palace
bodhichita / Shutterstock.com

The gardens, although they could definitely do with a little more upkeep, provide a serene setting for a peaceful walk.

One of the standout features for me is the root cellar.

The cool, dark room, filled with bygone-era storage vessels, provides a unique peek into the past.

When visiting during the summer, be prepared for the tours to fill up quickly.

It's worth securing your spot early, even if you have to wait for a while.

And don't worry about the heat - the palace has air conditioning.

A perfect balance of learning and leisure, the Governor's Palace is a testament to the enduring allure of history and heritage.

Grand staircase in the Governor’s Palace
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Get Inspired by the Displays at Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum

Exterior of Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum
Smash the Iron Cage, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Whenever I feel the need to indulge in a bit of culture and history, I find myself making my way to the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum.

The museum is a treasure trove of antique furniture, ceramics, and portraits, each with its own story to tell.

Here's a tip: Dedicate a whole day to the museum.

Trust me, the vast collection calls for it!

My partner, a fiber arts enthusiast, gets lost in the exhibits showcasing stunning quilts and intricate embroidery work.

As for me, a self-proclaimed engineering geek, I find myself drawn to the woodworking and clock-making displays.

Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum is not just about static exhibits, though.

We've also taken delight in their live performances held at the on-site theater.

Whether you're with kids or just a kid at heart like me, these shows are an excellent source of entertainment.

When hunger strikes, we head to the museum's cafeteria-style cafe.

They serve an array of soups, sandwiches, and salads, which have always proven to be a hit with us, especially with my vegetarian partner.

But the highlight of the museum is, without a doubt, their extensive collection of teapots and portraits.

You can expect to see a variety of teapot designs that you never knew existed and the portraits.

They're simply mesmerizing, each one seeming to pull you into a different era.

Uncover the Sweet Secrets of Silver Hand Meadery

It's not every day you stumble upon something that truly catches your taste buds off guard.

For me, that surprise came in the form of the honey at Silver Hand Meadery, an unassuming gem tucked away in the heart of Williamsburg.

This isn't just your run-of-the-mill honey; we're talking about an array of unique, complex flavors, each more intriguing than the last.

I remember the day I decided to try their tasting experience.

It was a casual visit, nothing special, and honestly, I wasn't expecting much.

But, by golly, did it blow my expectations out of the water?

And it wasn't just the honey that caught my fancy.

They also had a variety of honey-based wines, each made with a different flavored honey.

Trust me when I say that it's something you need to experience; the taste, the aroma, it's simply heavenly.

I find myself returning frequently, not just for the honey and mead but also for their friendly atmosphere and commitment to their craft.

I like how they're constantly innovating with new flavors and combinations.

Like a bee returning to its hive, I find myself drawn to Silver Hand Meadery time and again.

What truly got me, though, was their dedication to conservation.

They've got a hive right there in the meadery, encased in clear glass for everyone to see.

It's not just about making great mead or honey; it's about raising awareness for the bees and the threats they face.

It's about making a difference, one delicious sip at a time.

Experience the Exhilarating Rides on Apollo's Chariot

People aboard the Apollo's Chariot
Jeremy Thompson from United States of America, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every ride on Apollo's Chariot is an adrenaline-filled adventure that I'll never forget.

The pulse-pounding thrill begins right from the starting line, as this incredible roller coaster, steeped in the lore of Greek mythology, sends us plummeting down sharp drops and twisting through a high-speed helix.

My heart races with excitement each time I buckle up in Apollo's Chariot.

Despite the number of rides I've taken, the anticipation never fades.

The ride is so smooth and seamless, like gliding through the air.

And the airtime sections! They're a true delight, delivering the sensation of weightlessness as we crest the top of each hill.

There's something about the gentle, rhythmic motion of the coaster as it rolls over the hills that add to the overall magic of the experience.

One unforgettable part of the ride is its setting.

Nestled amidst the woodland, the journey feels like a thrilling race through a mythical forest.

The trees whiz by in a blur, adding a surreal element to the thrill of the plummeting drops and sharp turns.

But it's not just the ride that's impressive; it's the efficiency of the operations too.

Even on busy days, the wait time is remarkably short, giving you plenty of chances to ride Apollo's Chariot multiple times in a day.

Just a tip - if you've got wider hips or thighs, you might want to test the seat before you get on.

I've seen a few park attendees needing an extra push from the staff to fit into the restraint.

Have a Friendly Competition at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf

Ahoy there, mateys!

My stomping grounds, Williamsburg, Virginia, is home to a treasure chest of fun at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf.

Featuring an 18-hole, beautifully landscaped course nestled among cascading waterfalls and mysterious caves, it's a family-friendly haven for some lighthearted competition and good old-fashioned fun.

During my numerous visits, I've been charmed by the pirate-themed ambiance.

Imagine putting your way through challenging terrains, surrounded by the tantalizing whisper of waterfalls, the cool shadows of caves, and the thrill of pirate lore.

The whole place is very well-kept, and each hole comes with a bit of historical trivia about the notorious Blackbeard.

There's always something to engage your attention.

Rain or shine, the entertainment never ceases at Pirate's Cove.

The course itself is a mix of easy and challenging holes, making it fun for mini-golf novices and pros alike.

If you're up for it, you can even play both sides of the course for a few more dollars.

The pricing is reasonable, about $10 per person per 18 holes, and they stay open surprisingly late.

It's become a favorite spot for putting an exciting end to date nights.

Ride the Griffon at Busch Gardens

Daytime view of Griffon at Busch Gardens
Vsebi at the German-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In my town, there's a certain thrill you can't find anywhere else.

That's right; I'm talking about the Griffon at Busch Gardens.

This roller coaster ride has everything: floorless trains, loops, turns, and a heart-stopping 90-degree drop.

Now, I've heard folks say that the dive coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa is the superior ride.

I won't deny that they run a smooth operation down there, but there's something about the Griffon at Busch Gardens that just hits differently.

Yeah, it's a bit short, but it's as smooth as butter, and that drop is something that needs to be experienced to be believed.

I've ridden it over 10 times, and each time feels like the first.

For those who're visiting for the first time, take my advice and aim for the front row.

Trust me; you definitely want to be in the front row.

The thrill is just mind-blowing.

Tak a Peek into American Folklore at Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

Exterior of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
Pbritti, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You know, there's something quite magical about stepping into the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

It's like walking into a time machine, whisked away to a different period, the Virginia Colonial era to be precise.

The museum, with its rotating exhibits of American folk art, including paintings, sculptures, and the most intricate quilts, is truly a treasure trove of history.

Every visit feels like a new adventure.

The exhibits are ever-changing, offering something new and intriguing each time.

On one visit, I found myself entranced by the array of musical instruments, antique clocks, toys, and an impressive display of furniture restoration.

It was like stepping into the homes of our ancestors and getting a glimpse into their daily lives.

On another occasion, I had the chance to explore the renewed facility.

It's fabulous, to say the least, featuring one-of-a-kind exhibits showcasing both American folklore and decorative arts.

It's not something you'd want to miss, trust me.

As if the exhibits weren't enough, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum also conducts programs several times a month.

It's a bargain, really, a chance to dive deeper into history right in our backyard.

I try to attend as many as I can, and each time, I learn something new about our past.

Oh, and let's not forget the cafe.

It's a hidden gem in its own right, perfect for meeting up with friends over a cup of good coffee.

Make a Splash at Water Country USA

Living in Williamsburg, I've had my fair share of thrill-seeking adventures, but one place that never fails to excite and satisfy my adrenaline craving is Water Country USA.

I can vouch for the park's wide range of rides and slides that cater to every age and thrill level.

From the exhilarating Colossal Curl for the daredevils to the gentle flow of the lazy river for those seeking relaxation, there's something for everyone.

My friends and I usually start our day early to avoid the crowd.

After parking, we go through the standard security procedures; then, it's off to the locker rentals to stow our belongings.

For a local like me, a small locker is more than enough to store my essentials.

Then, it's time to make a splash!

What I love about Water Country USA is how they've placed importance on safety without diminishing the fun.

Life vests are provided free of charge, especially for those who are not strong swimmers or children below 48 inches tall.

To keep our energy up for the day, we usually go for the dining package.

It allows us to grab an entree, side, dessert, and a drink every 90 minutes.

It's a lifesaver during those long summer days.

And trust me, the food options are great!

Journey through Time at Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Centre

Exterior of Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Centre
Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Just a stone's throw from my porch is the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Centre, a true treasure trove of history spread across a sprawling 301-acre museum.

Picture it: a vibrant tapestry of life as it was in the 18th century, with more than 40 landmark sites and tours that tell the tale of our country's birth.

Stepping foot into this living history museum, I always feel as if I'm flipping through the pages of a time-worn diary.

The staff are not just guides; they are storytellers, weaving narratives about the Williamsburg area and the profound role the original 13 colonies played in shaping its history.

From the tours to the concerts, the shops, and the eateries, the experience in Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Centre is like taking a delightful walk down memory lane.

The ticket price? It's a bagatelle considering the wealth of knowledge and entertainment that lies within.

About $49 a person for a whole day of time travel seems barely a price at all!

Just a word of advice, plan your visit and arrive early as there is so much to do.

Signage of Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Centre
OJUP / Shutterstock.com

From historical tours to fascinating shops, there’s something for everyone, and it's easy to lose track of time.

On one visit, my partner and I decided to try a carriage ride, but alas, the tickets were sold out.

So, if that's something you fancy, be sure to book them in advance.

We also tried the night ghost tour – a spine-tingling experience that I recommend for anyone with a penchant for the paranormal.

But don’t forget about the food! We may have missed the taverns' open hours on our last visit, but the bakery came to our rescue with their delectable snacks.

So, no worries if you don't catch the tavern in time, there's always a plan B.

Travel History through Art at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg

Exterior of The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg
eurobanks / Shutterstock.com

Listen, if you're looking for a dose of culture and history, then look no further than the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg that's right in our backyard.

This place is, in a word, fantastic. It's smartly laid out with plenty of restrooms, sitting areas, and wide access areas that make for a comfortable visit.

Seriously, you don't have to be an art or history buff to appreciate this place.

The first time I strolled through, I was amazed at the sheer variety on display. From early American and British antiques to colonial and contemporary folk art, there’s something for everyone.

I personally have a passion for the wood tradesmen section; it's fascinating to immerse myself in the craftsmanship and skill of our forefathers.

The admission price at Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg also strikes a great balance - it's totally worth it!

Luckily, it's also included in the Colonial Williamsburg multi-day pass.

You could spend an entire day or more exploring everything on offer.

The museum is pretty big, so there's plenty to see.

And the best part? Even after numerous visits, I still haven't seen it all!

There are so many antique items and paintings that it always feels like there's something new to discover.

The staff are super friendly and always on hand to help or share a bit of knowledge about the exhibits.

Be Mindblown at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Williamsburg

It was just another summer Saturday when I decided to break the monotony and head to Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Williamsburg.  

I had heard the museum housed kitschy oddities and rare animal skeletons that could make anyone's head turn, and I couldn't resist the temptation.

Upon entering Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Williamsburg, I immediately felt a wave of suffocating heat.

It sure was sweltering inside!

The temperature, I must confess, did hamper my experience a bit, making me hurry through the exhibits more than I would have liked.

Among the displays, the shrunken human heads and animal skeletons did catch my attention, and I managed to capture a few snaps.

I must highlight the 4D movies.

The excitement in the air was palpable as groups of children and adults alike waited eagerly for their turn.

The organization could have been better, though.

It was a bit chaotic, with people not sure how long they'd have to wait or if they would even get a spot.

Feel the Roller Coaster Thrills at Alpengeist

Daytime view of Alpengeist
Coasterman1234, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every time my heart skips a beat as I buckle up for the wildly thrilling ride on Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Of all the high-speed, adrenaline-pumping rides I've ever been on, this one has a special place in my heart.

Alpengeist, with its towering height of 195 feet and gravity-defying speeds of up to 67 mph, is undoubtedly not for the faint-hearted.

Before every ride, I make it a point to sit in the back left seat.

This, according to my own tried and tested experiments, is the best spot to experience the raw power and intense inversions that Alpengeist is known for.

The initial drop from the world's tallest inverted coaster is enough to make any heart race.

Then comes the cobra roll, the 3rd and 4th inversions of the ride, definitely a heart-stopping moment.

The incredible g-forces, coupled with the breathtaking loops and twists, are enough to flip your world upside down, quite literally.

But that isn't all. The beautiful color scheme of the coaster, set against the backdrop of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, makes for an unforgettable sight that you can enjoy from the bridge that offers a splendid view of the coaster.

I must admit, though, that the ride can be a bit rough at times.

The key, I've found, is to lean your head forward in the more jarring sections to minimize the back-and-forth head jolting.

This trick works especially well during the mid-course break run, which follows the cobra roll.

Experience Countryside Europe at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

People at Busch Gardens Williamsburg's tudor village
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Every now and then, I need an adrenaline rush, and Busch Gardens Williamsburg is my go-to place.

Their Europe-themed amusement park is a bucket list experience, complete with thrilling rides, fantastic shows, a variety of dining options, and unique river & rail attractions.

When I first visited the park, I was taken aback by the steep parking price.

However, the incredible time I had made up for it.

The rollercoasters became my favorite, and I was swept away by the diverse range of shows hosted in the park.

The dining options never disappoint, and I swear by their hearty meals after a day of fun.

One thing I've learned during my visits at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is to be prepared, especially with tickets.

I remember a particular day when there were no visible attendants for assistance with tickets.

I ended up at a kiosk and paid full price for the admission. I later found out that I could have gotten a discount, but it was too late for a refund.

So, it's always better to research and ask around before diving in.

A water ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

The park is also a great place to shop and munch on some delicious snacks.

One thing I've noticed is the cleanliness of the park.

It's well-maintained, and the restrooms are always spotless, which is a big plus.

The staff are friendly and more than willing to help.

I've spent countless days at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my family.

We always find ourselves returning, regardless of the season.

A rollercoaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Zboy zboy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Winetasting at Williamsburg Winery

Grape field at Williamsburg Winery
Gregory Dixon / Shutterstock.com

It's hard to resist the charm of the Williamsburg Winery.

With its historic 300-acre farm, it feels like a slice of Europe right in the heart of Williamsburg.

The winery is just a stone's throw away from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet it feels like a serene countryside retreat.

Over the years, my visits to the winery have become a cherished ritual.

Stepping onto the property feels like stepping into another time, with its colonial-style aesthetic and beautifully manicured vineyards.

I usually bring my dog along, and there's always plenty of space for her to roam while I enjoy a wine tasting or a lazy afternoon under a tree with a glass of wine.

What I particularly enjoy about the Williamsburg Winery is the balance in their wines.

They're neither too dry nor too sweet.

My favorite, the mid-summer nights white, is a perfect compromise for my palate.

The winery also has a variety of restaurants.

I'm not much of an indoor person, but from what I hear, the tavern is a crowd favorite.

I've also had the pleasure of visiting their gift shop, which offers a delightful range of selections, including a wide variety of wines and multiple flight options.

As I've experienced, the staff is always friendly, warm, and welcoming.

I love that each visit comes with a complimentary wine glass, a pleasant memento to take back home.

Unearth Artistic Gems at Muscarelle Museum of Art

Exterior of Muscarelle Museum of Art
Muscarelle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You know that feeling when you stumble upon something so extraordinary it feels like you've discovered a hidden treasure?

That happened to me when I visited the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

Nestled in the heart of the renowned College of William & Mary since 1983, this art museum has been a cultural beacon for art enthusiasts and curious souls alike.

The Degas exhibit caught my eye first, and trust me; it was nothing short of spectacular.

Each artwork resonated with the artist's masterly touch and evocative aesthetics.

As I moved on, the Baskin exhibit offered a completely different flavor.

The bold, visceral prints embodied Baskin's sculpting background, with elements of human form taking precedence over the whole.

The way both the exhibits complimented each other, creating a delightful contrast, was a sight to behold.

And here's the best part - admission to this artistic haven is absolutely free!

Despite its relatively small size, the Muscarelle Museum of Art packs a punch with its diverse and engaging exhibits.

Final Thoughts

With the best things to do in Williamsburg, Virginia, there's never a dull moment. i

From the rich history encapsulated in the Governor's Palace and Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center to the exciting rides at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, there's always something for everyone.

Whether you're a thrill-seeker, a history buff, or an art connoisseur, Williamsburg, Virginia, has something to offer you.

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