The Fourth of July brings out the patriotic spirit, but Williamsburg, Virginia offers travelers the chance to celebrate American history year ‘round.
If you’re going to take a trip back in time, do it in style basing yourself at the area’s most-iconic luxury property, The Williamsburg Inn. The five-star resort is on the National Register of Historic Places and has the best spa in the area to relax after a day touring history. For travelers seeking more privacy, the four-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot Estate at Kingsmill just reopened after a multi-millon-dollar renovation. The house was originally the Busch family mansion.
Colonial Williamsburg is the must-do historical attraction in the area. It is the world’s largest living history museum, recreating life in 18th Century Williamsburg. The past is brought to life with the opportunity to interact with founding fathers, craftsman, soldiers and more as you learn to shoot a musket, make bricks or dabble in apothecary to get a flavor of what life was like during the time of the revolution. Colonial Williamsburg is also home to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, housing one of the largest collections of American folk art in the world, and the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Make sure to plan lunch or dinner at the King’s Arms Tavern. Since 1772, it’s been the place for the upper crust to see and be seen. Today it keeps with the theme of pretending it’s the 18th Century with a menu, music and more from the time.
It is the world’s largest living history museum, recreating life in 18th Century Williamsburg.
Go back even further in time to get a sense of what it was like to be a pioneer in John Smith’s Jamestown Settlement, the first permanent English colony in the U.S. founded in 1607. Today, the settlement is near the site of the original colony and uses exhibits, films and an outdoor living-history museum to tell the story of the intrepid individuals who laid the foundation for the future United States. A special year-long exhibit entitled “Tenacity” focuses on the women in Jamestown and their impact in the fledgling society. At the original site, Historic Jamestown, you can watch as archeologists continue their 20-year excavation.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Since 2017, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown has educated visitors telling the story of the nation’s founding from the colonial period to the ratification of the Constitution and beyond. The museum features artifacts, interactive exhibits, films and an outdoor area that recreates a Continental Army encampment, artillery demonstrations and an 18th Century family farm. Visit the Yorktown battlefield, the site where the British surrendered and American independence was secured. Ranger and self-guided tours are available.
While the area is steeped in history, Williamsburg is also a living, breathing 21st-Century town. Get a more modern take on the area exploring The Williamsburg Tasting Trail, featuring distilleries, breweries and wineries in the area. While America’s first settlers used alcohol for medicinal purposes, today the featured producers are award-winning craft producers. From the Alewerks Brewing Company to 8 Shires Distillery, you can literally drink in history. End at the Williamsburg Winery, Virginia’s largest winery that conveniently also offers a gourmet restaurant, and a luxury 28-room inn to sleep the day off in.
Get a more modern take on the area exploring The Williamsburg Tasting Trail, featuring distilleries, breweries and wineries in the area.
Williamsburg’s culinary scene has evolved from historical to haute cuisine. The Fat Canary is a foodie oenophile’s dream come true. The family-owned restaurant takes its name from the fact that when ships sailed to the new world, they secured supplies in the Canary Islands, including wine that was simply called “canary.” La Yaca got its start in the 1960s at the base of Courchevel, France before expanding to Saint-Tropez and eventually Williamsburg of all places. The bistro stays true to its French roots serving classic gourmet dishes.
A trip to the Williamsburg area is a chance to experience both the past and the present concurrently and to create some of your own enduring personal history and family memories.