Colonial Williamsburg: Summer Road Trip, Part 2

Colonial Williamsburg with Kids trip report

So when we left off, we had just spent a fun/history-filled, ridiculously hot day touring Jamestown and Yorktown. The next day, our designated Colonial Williamsburg day, was overcast with a high of around 80–a very pleasant change from the day before.

You start out at the Visitor’s Center in Williamsburg, where there’s plenty of parking and a building with a gift shop, cafe, and ticket counter. There’s also this big 3D map of Williamsburg out front, which everyone thought was pretty great:

Williamsburg visitor's center

We took advantage of the educator discount again here, which was good because the tickets are quite pricey here. Much like with Disney (History Disney!), it gets considerably cheaper (per day) if you buy a multi-day ticket, but we only had one day before we had to get to DC. I think you could fill two days fairly easily here–more than that would be a stretch (but there are multi-day options that include Jamestown and Yorktown, too).

Once you have your tickets, you can either walk over to the historic district or take a free shuttle. The walk is about eight minutes and you see a recreation of a plantation on the way, so we opted for that. There were some guys there making cedar shingles:

making shingles in Williamsburg

We made it to the historic district just in time to watch a big performance about….revolutionary stuff. They do a few of these throughout the day, recreating assorted historic events. The idea is that things move forward in time as the day goes on, so the morning stuff is all colonial, and then things move into the Revolutionary War by afternoon. There are many horses and people wearing costumes.

Instead of continuing on this chronological recap path I’ve started on, I’ll now switch abruptly to a list of the highlights of our day. First a note on things we didn’t get to: we didn’t spend much time going into the buildings and watching demonstrations and all that–partially because of time constraints and partially because Abe never, ever stops moving. We also didn’t get to the art museums they have. I hear one of them has a scavenger hunt type thing for kids.

But on to what we DID do!

1. RevQuest: This is a kind of scavenger hunt with a plot line I could not begin to recount to you, but the idea is that you’re wandering around Williamsburg, secretly helping out with important Revolutionary business. If you’ve done the Phineas and Ferb (formerly Kim Possible) thing at Epcot, it’s similar to that in a lot of ways.

Milo and Gus loved this. It’s included in admission and definitely a good way to get kids very interested in the whole Williamsburg experience. Parts of it are surprisingly complicated, with lots of decoding to do. I was also impressed that a few real costumed characters were involved; this made it feel a little more authentic than the Phineas and Ferb thing.

Things to note:

*There’s a lot of texting involved, so make sure your phone is charged. We got a little nervous ours was going to die, and I can’t even imagine the emotional anguish if we’d gotten all the way to the end and not been able to finish.

*It’s a big time suck. I think we spent at least 2 full hours on this.

*Don’t wait until the end of the day. There are specific meeting times you have to get to at certain points in the game, and we started on the last one of the day. This made things a little more intense than we wanted, since we had to rush to get everything done and make the last LAST meeting point of the day.

*There’s an online part kids can do before you get there. Apparently we could have gone somewhere and gotten a prize for finishing this, but I guess we forgot. But the kids liked doing the game online, at any rate, and it got them excited for the trip.

Figuring out the clues:

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2. Public Gaol:

You know, jail. There was a short tour here of the jailer’s house and one cell, and then you could check out some other cells for amusing photo opportunities. Even though the guided tour part was all of ten minutes, it was too much for Abe, so he and Dave missed this. And that’s why we didn’t go into many other buildings and watch demos and all that. Next time!


3. Powell House:

This house is full of hands-on stuff for kids, designed to show what life was like in the 18th century. So first you can go in the separate kitchen and help with the cooking. This part was incredibly hot because fire, but we kind of got stuck there for awhile because there weren’t many other kids around so our kids were lucky enough to help for a long time. So hot!

Then they have some toys and games set up in the garden area:


And inside they have more activities set up: assorted toys and games and crafts. Ari wanted to stay forever and play this math game:


And that’s my list! I felt like we didn’t get to as much as we would have liked. I’d love to go back sometime when we have an extra day or so and when Abe is old enough to get something out of it (and let us get more out of it. Some people LOVE guided tours of historic house, Abe!). Final note: it’s a LOT of walking. Our whole trip was a lot of walking, really. The main road that most stuff is on in a mile long, and we trooped back and forth on that thing a few times. Honestly, I’m not sure it would have been worth going on a really hot day. So much walking, so little time in the air conditioning.

A few more photos:

You have to take this picture; I know because I saw it on every site about Williamsburg that I looked at before we went:



We take pictures of Ari with lions when we see them:


Here’s Abe, not patiently listening to the demonstration about blacksmithing:


All around Williamsburg, things keep looking all OLD and HISTORIC:

leg122s leg121s

Next up: Washington, DC!

And with that, I’m off to Haven, my very first blogging conference (in fact, I believe it’s my first conference of any sort. I quit grad school before I started having to go to conferences). Looking forward to meeting some of you there!


Colonial Williamsburg: Summer Road Trip, Part 2 — 6 Comments

  1. Looks like a great time. Being Canadian and unaware of all things American, I actually had to Google where Williamsburg is :S . Virginia looks like a nice spot to visit!

  2. Ooo! I’ve always wanted to do it, and I have husband here providing additional color. Looks like the fam had a blast! It was winderful meeting you today at haven.

    • Great meeting you, too, Renee! I just put your blog on my reader; looking forward to sitting down and checking it out later when I have a sleeping baby 🙂

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