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“Colonial Williamsbug in the fall” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg
101 Visitor Center Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185
+1 855-392-8473
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Top Rated
$44*
and up
Colonial Williamsburg City Tour
Ranked #9 of 30 Attractions in Williamsburg
Type: Historic Sites, History Museums, Landmarks/ Points of Interest, Cultural
Activities: City walk sightseeing, Dining, Shopping
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Discover Colonial Williamsburg and become a citizen of the Revolutionary City. Engage with the local community and experience firsthand the daily struggles of wartime. Explore our art museums, unleash your kids' inner colonists, tee off a game of golf, or relax and unwind at the Spa. Stay at one of the official Colonial Williamsburg hotels, with a variety of opportunities to shop and dine, and you'll never want to leave.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Central Virginia
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
“Colonial Williamsbug in the fall”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2006

Day 1 (half day at CW):

We drove to CW visitors center & got our Freedom passes. The line was short & we were finished quickly. We made sure to get our THIS WEEK guide to programs & events (map on back).

We looked around the gift shops (the boys needed Tricorner hats!) and picked up a free Felicity (American Girl) map at Booksellers gift shop. They are behind the counter & you have to ask for them. The maps are old stock & will be gone soon.

We walked the trail to the historic area & enjoyed reading the emblems on the walkway that count down the years from present time to the 1700's. We then walked around Great Hopes Plantation. The interpreters engaged us & asked us questions. We met a very nice slave interpreter. DD was dressed in colonial garb & carrying three American Girl dolls in Colonial Garb as well. Everywhere we went we received compliments & positive comments from the interpreters. I believe we received extra attention because of her outfit & dolls.

We saw a play about Colonial times (Theater for the Young at Play Booth Theater) where the audience (children) participated. It was very cute & I recommend it for families. It was about 30 minutes long.

We caught the end of a converstation w/ Thomas Jefferson (Delightful Diversions for Families behind the Coffeehouse site) and it was very good. It was "above" the kid's, but they weren't too antsy.

We visited the Prentis store (small inside & VERY busy) and saw the outsides of several other buildings. The fall colors are gorgeous and the horse drawn carrriages were beautiful to see.
We left via the shuttle & headed back to our van. We then drove to Yorktown for the afternoon.

Day 2 (full day at CW):

We took the shuttle to the Gov. Palace after watching, The Story of A Patriot film at the Visitor's Center. DH & I liked the film, but the kid's were b-o-r-e-d.

We toured the Governor's Palace and surrounding gardens. It was really pretty & we would love to return to see it in the spring.

We then headed out to tour/locate as many places on the Felicity map as we could. We were able to tour many of them & took pictures of at least the outside of all but one building.

We came upon Revolutionary City (Collapse of Royal Government) four different times. It was really fun & engaging, but again, the language was above the kids understanding. There was enough action to keep them interested.

Bruxton Parish church is still an operating church. We were there on a Sunday & were about to tour the building when tons of people started exiting after a service. They were allowed to park cars in the area as well. Sort of took away from the colonial charm & threw our scheduling off on what to see next. They were also going to be having an evening service that day as well. Bottom line, if you want to see the church on a Sunday, check the church service schedule! We did tour the church later & it is well worth it. I wish we could have avoided the school group, but hey, at least we got to see it.;o)

We finished our day w/ hot chocolate & gingerbread cakes at the Bakery behind Raleigh tavern. The cakes were a little dry, but we may have just gotten an old batch. We bought a bag of gingerbread cookie mix to take to DD's teacher (who recommended the bakery)
.
A day and a half was not enough time to even begin to see/do everything at CW. We had to take into account stopping for lunch, waiting to tour buildings, some areas were closed or blocked off for Revolutionary City and we had to contend w/ rain, plus we had three kids with us.

Trvnbrn



.

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southern Maryland
1 review
36 helpful votes 36 helpful votes
“Keep coming back for more.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2006

My first bit of advice to a potential Colonial Williamsburg (CW) visitor is to either have some sort of knowledge about early American history. This is not Disneyland and it is unfair to even compare CW to a modern day amusement park.

My second bit of advice is to thoroughly research CW's website It has everything you need to plan a visit. Ticket info, evening programs, hotel prices and so on. All hotels on the CW site are CW properties. Modern day Williamsburg has all the chain hotels and places to eat. They seem to be stacked along Route 60 also known as Bypass Road.

Once you arrive at CW your first stop should be the visitor center. You can purchase tickets, make dining reservations and such. Also you can pick up a free copy of the Visitor's Companion. This little paper is a must for first time visitors. It will tell you what buildings are open for that day and includes a handy dandy map of bathrooms in the historical area, water fountains and the like. I would also suggest picking up a copy of the Official Guide to Colonial Williamsburg. This book is detailed info about every single building in the historic area. It will set you back about 8 bucks.

On any given day you can visit numerous buildings. If you tour at at a good pace you could easily finish the day and still have more to see. If you are only going to spend the day I would suggest the Governor's Palace, Peyton Randolph House, George Wyhte House, a trade shop such as the blacksmith or shoemaker or goldsmith, Capitol building and a tavern. Most buildings are open 5 or more days a week. During the winter seems like less is open, but all the most important buildings are. The winter is also a good time to get deals on hotels and such. More on that later.

Sprinkled around the historic area you will encounter a few shops. This shops are colonial in spirit and sell three corner hats, interesting children's games, soaps that smell far better then any Dial could. They are fun to browse and add to the experiance.

If you are spending the night I would suggest an evening program such as Cry Witch. The actual trail of Grace Sherwood is re enacted at the Capitol Building. It takes place in the evening and the capitol sparkels in the dim candlelight. At the end you get to vote on Sherwood's fate. This is an extra cost and sells out fast. Depending on your ticket you might be able to get a discount.

I would also suggest a dinner at one of the Taverns. CW over the last few years have reworked their taverns. At one point you could dine at all four working taverns the King's Arm, Christiana Campbell's, Sheilds and Chownings. To my knowledge the first two are the only ones still open that serve dinner. The other two serve lunches and light fare. For the price more or less skip the taverns for lunch unless you don't feel like leaving the historical area. King's Arms and Campbells are a little on the expensive side. 2 dinners, drinks and a desert could easily reach $100 or more. However the crabcakes and crab soup at Cambell's makes it well worth it. If you dine at night the entire tavern is in candle light and strolling musicans play instruments. It really compliments the meal.

Some folks have complained about CW being expensive and I guess it is depending on how you look at it. However the home of George Washington will set you back 13 dollars for one adult admission. CW has a number of buildings on par with Mt Vernon. They include the George Wyhte Hose, Peyton Randolph House, Capitol Building, Wetherburn's Tavern, Raleigh Tavern, and the Governer's Palace. Not to mention many, many other buildings.

My only gripe about the cost of CW is after you pay for your tickets you would think they would toss ina n evening program of some sort. However they do offer packages that save you some money. Then again if are not staying at one of their hotels then I am not sure of the savings.

Staying in a colonial house in the historic area is a great thing to do. Some even have working fire places combined with cheaper winter rates make this a must in the winter time. Not all colonial houses used as hotels have fireplaces. Be sure to ask. The colonial houses used as hotels range from bick tavernms to just a tiny house with one room. Check the website under lodging and youc an tour each home that is used for colonial hotels for guests.

At the far end of CW there is a modern shopping area called Merchant's Square...

Sure some of the employees look rather bored mainly those counting the people going in to buildings. How ever for the most part all tour guides seem to have a passion for the tour they lead. If you have a interest be it casual or a full blown love affair with early American history you will love Colonial Williamsburg.

PS

Be sure to pop into the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop for a slice of apple crumb cake and a ginger ale. Oh and don't forget the rum punch at a tavern!

If you are lucky you will catch Bill Barker palying the roll of Thomas Jefferson. Scarey how much Mr Barker looks like thereal deal.

HUZZAH! :)

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England, Arkansas
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14 reviews 14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Enjoyed Williamsburg”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 21, 2006

I cannot share Travelkitten70's disappointment about Williamsburg, especially as she is so disgruntled about the ticket price. We were on a tour from England and thought $34 to be very good value for what was offered. The upkeep of the buildings, indeed of the whole site, has to be funded and the people participating in the re-enactments and their costumes have to be re-imbursed too. We thought all was well done. Not every building was open on our visit either, but that is surely understandable. As for the "actors", naturally some persons had more ability than others and they are not even professionals. They all did well though, but we thought that the speech of "Thomas Jefferson" was brilliantly orated. Unfortunately we did not have enough time for "George Washington", having wandered round many of the other attractions.
As shopping was not high on our list, it was quite easy to avoid the shops.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Col.Williamsburg and wish that we could have stayed longer.

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Texas
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5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Like Disneyland, but.....”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2006

Let's start by saying it's rather pricey to walk around CW. Don't get me wrong I love history, and the guides/actors truly convey their passion for American History. However, half of the town is a shopping mall, i.e. Barnes and Noble, Talbots and Williams-Sonoma stores trying to get even more money from you (However, the bakery stuff was quite tasty).
The actual exhibits are limited in number, and not all of them are open all day. The shuttle buses are ok, but we visited during off season.
The ‘acting’ was somewhat cheesy, but I can get with cheese.
The most striking feature to me was the lack of diversity among the crowd. There were probably more minority ‘actors’ than there were minority tourists. Doesn’t mean anything, but it struck me as odd.
Would I go back? Maybe for a stroll on a Saturday afternoon, or with a school field trip. Would I pay for it again? No.

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US
1 review
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Colonial Williamsburg was not worth the ticket price”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 2, 2006

My husband and I visited Colonial Williamsburg recently and were very disappointed by the experience. We're both in our early 30's and were excited by the prospect of visiting what we thought would be a living history site. Instead, we were very disappointed overall.

The admission ticket was very overpriced for what you ended up getting. We paid $34 each for our tickets, which we thought was very overpriced even before we stepped foot into Colonial Williamsburg. We ended up going into about 10 of the buildings (wig maker, shoe maker, etc.), which is not what we expected given that we paid a lot for our tickets. I'm not sure if we saw all there was to see in terms of what we could get into with the specific ticket level we purchased, but we got bored of Colonial Williamsburg pretty quickly so after about 10 buildings decided to leave.

Disappointingly, there were few people in costume walking along the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, but it seemed that outside every building that was open, there was a person in character taking note of how many guests were entering the building. They looked very bored, and no one talked to us or engaged us or even smiled--their purpose was to count visitors and that was it. They could have done both tasks simultaneously--counted visitors and engaged them, but instead they were just boredly sitting there. This gave us the impression that the priority at Colonial Williamsburg is counting tourists instead of engaging them.

There were several other things we were disappointed about. First, we thought that the Colonial area didn't look very colonial. The buildings did, but the street and surrounding areas didn't. The streets were paved just like a regular street anywhere--it wasn't the quaint, narrow cobblestone or brick we were expecting. Duke of Gloucter Street, which seemed like the main drag, was a very wide, regular old street. The area between the street and the buildings, adjacent to the sidewalk wasn't very attractive--it looked like there was just gravel filler there instead of nice flowers or lawn. There wasn't any hustle and bustle of costumed characters, either. No activity on the streets by characters (for instance we expected to see reenactments of townspeople going about their daily activities or something). Instead, we just saw a few bored-looking characters standing around, not engaging the visitors at all.

We were also disappointed by how few of the buildings lining the streets are actually open to the public. For instance, when you look at the Williamsburg map, buildings that are available to be toured are highlighted in one color. Many of the buildings on the map which we walked by are not open to the public. That was disappointing--i.e. it seemed at first glance like there's a lot more there than there actually was, but many of the buildings that looked interesting to us said private residence on them and weren't open to the public. The other thing is that when you look on the map, it seems that at least half of what there is to do in Colonial Williamsburg is either eating or shopping. There are a lot of gift shops selling period items, and several eateries, but that was all just filler for us--we came to experience history. We had planned on spending two days at Colonial Williamsburg, but instead we stayed only about 2.5 hours. For the price we paid the fact that we saw all we wanted to see in 2.5 hours was disappointing.

We really enjoyed walking around the areas near Colonial Williamsburg, with all the shops and restaurants. But if we visit the area again, we will just stroll the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, instead of paying for a ticket that lets you go into the buildings. We didn't realize there would be so little to see, otherwise we never would have spent the $34 each for tickets that sure weren't worth the price.

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