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“A great historical site that was restored/reconstructed”

Colonial Williamsburg
Ranked #1 of 107 things to do in Williamsburg
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Colonial Williamsburg is the only place that takes you back in time to the dawn of America. This isn't just a place where things once happened. They're happening, right now, here in the 18th century. We're the place where the idea of our country is being born; the place where the ideals we stand for as Americans are being defined. We are the 18th century "live," filled with the stories of the women, men, and children—free and enslaved—whose values and visions gave us a new world. Step back in time and meet the people who made America—sing with them, dance with them, eat with them, and have fun with them. For every person who wants to understand this country, this is your place.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed 19 July 2018

A great historical site that was restored/reconstructed to show life as it was in precolonial times. We have been there many times and each time we learn something different. There are docents in character who tell visitors about the house and if a tradesman demonstrate their craft while telling the visitors about the craft. Be sure to check the daily listing of demonstrations and other events. Highly recommended for children old enough to understand the historical significance of Colonial Williamsburg. All the staff either paid or volunteers are extremely helpful. There is a lot of walking sometimes on uneven ground. There are restrooms and drinks available in shops and vending machines around the displays. The vending machines are located in structures that are part of or adjacent to homes. There is a frequent bus service around the perimeter that is included with the price of the ticket. Lots of places to eat but for dinner reservations are required. Military (active and retired) discounted admission tickets are available on site at the Visitors Center. Lots of free parking at the Visitors Center.

Thank John L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 July 2018 via mobile

If you are in to old colonial houses and people dressed up in old colonial outfits then you can do no better. Clean and well kept up. Good parking. Was there five days and never had an issue parking or waiting for anything. Nice place that takes you away from modern declining America culture.

Thank Bryan W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 July 2018

I first traveled to Colonial Williamsburg on my honeymoon 20 years ago and loved it! Since then my husband and I have been taking our family back ever since. We usually visit every other year and I have to say that this year was such a disappointment. It felt like a ghost town. The excitement of the guides and the overall atmosphere that we have always loved seemed lost. I understand a lot has changed with the new president, but it is sad to see a place we love so much loosing its charm. On a good note, we had dinner at Christina Campbells and it was great! The server was amazing and very knowledgable and made us feel that magic that is Colonial Williamsburg.

1  Thank Bethany T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 July 2018

Williamsburg, VA is a beautiful area and we found a family visit to Colonial Williamsburg very rewarding. There is free parking at the Visitor's Center and from there you can take a 15-minute stroll (maybe less if you don't have young kids!) to the Colonial site or take one of the tour buses that circle around the site stopping in a half a dozen or so locations. We never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus and found them crowded only toward the very late afternoon when many folks are heading back to the parking lot.

It's worth noting that there are lots of things to see and do that DO NOT REQUIRE A TICKET. All the shops are open, you are free to roam around the city, and you can witness a number of outdoor demonstrations and activities. Tickets ARE required to get into many of the historical houses or buildings with tours or guides.

Unfortunately the Visitor's Center lines in the morning for tickets or exchanging online vouchers were a little long and the staff there were not super efficient. Some of the special tours or activities you need to make reservations for fill up very quickly so we had to make reservations for a few days later and luckily our Williamsburg Summer Bounce pass and schedule allowed us to come back later in the week. You might be able to make reservations online for special tours through their app. I do recommend their app to keep track of schedules and events during your stay. Not all houses and events are open/active every day and some events happen just once or twice a day so you want to be sure you don't miss your opportunity.

We traveled with young boys (0, 2, 5, 7) so avoided the shops and focused on content for kids. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of activities geared to toward kids. Although my boys hated the heat and got bored walking around waiting for our next activity, they had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the things we did.

Highlights for them: Patriot's at Play (hands on games from 18th c.), Children's Tour of the Palace (need reservations, <30 min., geared towards young kids), Children's Tour of the Capitol (need reservations, <30 min., geared towards young kids), Firing of the Noon Gun, Running the Engine (early fire engine), The Necessity of Order in Battle (more guns!), Level and Plumb (take your shoes off and step in the wet clay, set bricks), and the Geddy House (children's activities). They also enjoyed sitting in the shade of the giant trees and watching the Fifes & Drums.

With all the talk of Jefferson and Lafayette and their map making prowess, it is a shame that the official park map has such little detail. Distinguishing one building from another with the limited signage is sometimes problematic. And, there are some real treasures to be found if you are willing to explore and look for details not found on the map. After the tour of the Governor's Palace, my kids and I really enjoyed walking around the grounds and finding a pond, a hedge maze, a large hill overlooking the maze, trails through the woods, etc. None of that was listed on the map and nobody mentioned them; they were just there to be found!

There are drinking fountains scattered throughout and we brought our own water and snacks in a backpack. Note that strollers are not allowed/practical in any of the old buildings and some of the stone/shell paths are rough on the stroller. We left ours outside of attractions to carry little ones and had no problems.

4  Thank Brian B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 July 2018

We've visited several historical sites and museums across the United States, Europe and the Middle East. This was by far the biggest disappointment of them all. My wife and I have each been to Colonial Williamsburg when we were younger and were looking forward to taking our four children there. After waiting in a long line to pay an exhorbitant amount of money for tickets, we were expecting something really special!
We were then herded onto an old city bus packed to capacity and shuttled to the Capitol building. (The driver didn't speak or provide any information about Williamsburg.) When we got off the bus, we tried to visit the capitol and were told that it was closed for the next three hours for something special and to come back later. Over half of the buildings were closed except for the shops (which anyone can get into without a ticket.) We tried to strike up a conversation with the wigmaker who was sitting on the porch in character, but she seemed disinterested. Most of the people working at Williamsburg were not it character. Some were dressed in character, but did not speak as if they were in character. The shopkeepers were minimally cordial. Unlike several former Tripadvisor reviewers, we did find the bakery staff to be somewhat friendly! Our two older kids wanted to do the tomahawk toss (which they are familiar with from other visiting other historical museums.) We were told that would cost an additional $10 for each kid! The grounds and buildings were maintained fairly well as we have found most museums/ historical sites of this type to be. People were walking around like they didn't know what to do with themselves - no one seemed to be directing them either. People were packing into the courthouse which was educational, but still people weren't in character - only describing how things were judicially in colonial times. The tour guides at the Everard house were informative, but again not in character. My wife and I agree that Colonial Williamsburg would be a good study for someone working on their MBA to try to figure out how to improve a business!

1  Thank ChrisL4176
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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