It’s hard to see all Williamsburg has to offer in a day, especially given its ever-changing daily events, but for D.C. locals, here’s our how-to guide for making the trip!
It’s only a 2.5 hour drive to Williamsburg from the bustling city of Washington D.C. The drive along I-95 North to Williamsburg is gorgeous (barring traffic) but day trippers can also opt to take the Amtrak. Williamsburg’s Amtrak station is relatively new and serves William & Mary students as well as tourists coming from Washington D.C. Once you arrive at the Amtrak station, you are very close to the historic area, making this a great way to avoid the hassle of the inevitable traffic.
WHERE TO GO
For the history buff, Colonial Williamsburg offers 1-day passes. The single-day ticket lets you enjoy all the historic sites and trade shops of Colonial Williamsburg’s Revolutionary City as well as three art museums and the complimentary shuttle service for one day all fro $41.95 (children are $20.95 and kids under 6 are free).
For the thrill seekers, Busch Gardens should be a must-stop. Busch Gardens in Williamsburg also offers single-day tickets (adults ages 10 and up are $72 while children 3 to 9 years of age are $62). The ticket gets you access to experience Busch Garden’s world-class thrill rides (like the lightning-fast, multi-sensory dash through the Black Forest on its new coaster, Verbolten, or the nearly 240 feet of adrenaline-pulsing thrills on Mäch Tower), fun family entertainment, and naturally beautiful environments. Depending on what time of year it is, you can also catch special themed park events like the Food & Wine Festival, Glory at the Gardens, Busch Gardens Live, IllumiNights, Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town.
Adult couples may want to check out the Williamsburg Winery which offers day tours and tastings. Only about 10 minutes from downtown Williamsburg, this is Virginia’s largest winery with more than 50 acres of gorgeous vineyards to walk through. While sipping Gold Medal winner, “The Governor’s White.” make a reservation for another award-winning experience at the Gabriel Archer Tavern for a quick lunch.
If you are on foot and looking for the next fun thing to see, make sure you make your way to the year-round favorite stops: Spooks and Legends Haunted Tour of Williambsurg located in Merchant’s Square, and especially Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and 4-D Theater at 1735 Richmond Road, one of the few locations in North America that offers this 4-D Theater.
Family groups may want to use their day in Williamsburg to experience all Great Wolf Lodge has to offer to them. The water park mecca has everything a family needs under one roof: dining, shopping, a tranquil spa for parents, a kid spa complete with banana-split seats, a massive indoor water park with stories-high water towers and slides, arcade, mini golf course, bowling, theater, daily educational events as well as interactive exhibits. Day passes for the water park are often available.
WHERE TO EAT
If you get there early enough and are on your way to Busch Gardens, you need to stop at Shorty’s Diner for a country ham biscuit in this no-frills local hangout. For a more upscale breakfast experience, head to Jamestown Road for Old Chickahominy House to start your day off with a Colonial spin.
At lunch time, grab an amazing sandwich with house dressing at The Cheese Shop on Gloucester Street, and if you are headed to the parks, grab bread and cheese for a picnic. Locals of Williamsburg make at least one stop during the day to Aromas Coffeehouse for a mint chocolate biscotti or Oreo coffee smoothie drink; day trippers should do the same to get the energy they need to pack a day in Williamsburg!
Save most of your budget for a delectable lobster tail and Grand Marnier Souffle at French spot Le Yaca French Restaurant. If at all during the day (or night) you crave some sweets or some (more) desserts, head to Mad About Chocolate on Armistead Avenue and make sure to buy pound of their special chocolate discs to take home for baking!
WHERE TO SHOP
For true shoppers, you’ll want to hit the Williamsburg Premium Outlets if the weather permits. The Williamsburg Outlets offer J. Crew, Banana Republic, Michael Kors, Ann Taylor, Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, True Religion, Under Armor, Juicy and BCBG among many others. You could easily spend a day just here at the outlets.
The Nautical Dog in New Town is a great stop for those with canine best friends. Souvenirs like treats, sweaters and other gifts stock the shelves of this locally owned shop. Another must-stop is Yankee Candle Village, a heaven for candle lovers. This place is like the FAO Schwartz of candle stores, and if you are lucky enough to be there during the Christmas season, you are privy to falling snow and a visit from Santa.
Budget travelers can spend a whole day discovering Williamsburg too, from free farmer’s markets to the free outdoor concerts, there are many activities offered that cost absolutely nothing. Check out our Free Guide To Williamsburg here.
No matter what your budget or how long you have, a day trip to Williamsburg is sure to bring you great memories and days full of amazing experiences, a perfect respite from city life in D.C.