History Comes Alive at Colonial Williamsburg

a young woman poses leaning on a cannon from the 1700s

Spring is in the air. If you’re anything like us, you’re starting to get the itch to travel. Maybe you’re putting together a last-minute spring break trip, or possibly you’re setting your sites on that summer vacation.

Even though our focus is on Ohio travel and the multitude of amazing experiences in the Buckeye State, we like to include some of our other travels as well. A few years ago, we found ourselves in Hampton, Virginia courtesy of a travel basketball tournament.

A view of the formal gardens at Colonial Williamsburg with tulips in the foreground and a large brick and iron fence in the background.
The formal gardens at Colonial Williamsburg were beautiful and elegant.

I was doing a lot of the driving late at night and into the early morning hours, so I bribed my oldest to come along for the ride with promises of a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Marina is currently a high school history teacher and was, at the time, a college student majoring in history and education. I knew the destination would appeal to her.

On the final day of the tournament, and after we’d sent her siblings home on the team bus, we headed to Colonial Williamsburg. I had been as a child and had good memories, so I was excited as well.

Ticketing Experience

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little shocked at the price of the ticket. Being that we had just the one day to spend, we didn’t qualify for any of the package deals. I just checked the website to make sure my memory didn’t deceive me. As of this writing the current ticket price is $46.99 for an adult. I would definitely say it was worth the price, I just wasn’t ready for it.

On the left a young woman poses with costumed actors from the 1700s in Colonial Williamsburg. On the right the same young woman stands under an arch of small trees.
On the left Marina poses with a few of the costumed actors. They were happy to interact. On the right she poses in the gardens. Even though the gardens were beautiful, some elements, such as this arch, would be even more lovely in summer.

At the ticket counter they give you a pass to hook to your shirt or clothing. I thought that was a bit unusual because I thought you entered the village much as you would to an amusement park like Cedar Point. I imagined that after you entered through the ticket gate everyone was paid.

That’s not exactly how it works, I found. It turns out the colonial village is actually a functioning village. In addition to the historic sites, people live on some of the streets. And, it seems, you could actually walk along the streets, enjoy the gardens, see the sites and shop the stores without ever having gotten a ticket.

Access to Colonial Williamsburg

The badge, however, does provide access to the historic buildings, including any tours that are going on. Most notably, we enjoyed the tour of the Governor’s Palace. I found it interesting to learn how the royal governor and his family lived in the days preceding our independence from Great Britain.

The large brick capitol building from Colonial Williamsburg.
The paid option allows access to all the tours and historic buildings.

Your pass gets you into a number of other places as well. You can learn how all sorts of crafts people made their livelihood in the 1700s. You can visit the blacksmith, cabinetmaker, foundry, gunsmith, silversmith, gunsmith, tailor, wheelwright and more. I noticed that the costumed actors made efforts to engage children and even adults in the process.

On the left a young woman leans on a tree. On the right is a close up of purple flowers.
It’s easy to tell that the gardens and grounds were some of my favorite parts of the trip.

If you are interested in art, there are a few museums on the property and your pass provides access to these. Our time was running short, but we would have enjoyed visiting the Courthouse. Costumed actors perform on a posted schedule to show you what justice was like in the colonies.

The Gardens of Colonial Williamsburg

My favorite part of the visit was in strolling through the immaculate gardens. They were full of springtime flowers and just beautiful, very formal. Additionally, they were just putting in their summer garden and the ladies working there were planting vegetables and herbs. They were happy to chat with you about their work and went out of their way to involve a few of the children, providing them watering cans.

A purple flowering plant grows along and is attached to a white picket fence.
Flowers and crushed stone pathways were everywhere.

Planning Your Trip to Colonial Williamsburg

If you have a day or longer to spend, I highly recommend buying the pass. It grants you access to so much of Colonial Williamsburg and includes interactions with roaming costumed actors who will be happy to talk to you, and your kids, about life in the colonies.

I will say, on my next visit I would likely choose later spring or perhaps a summer visit. From my summertime visit as a child, I felt that there was much more going on. There were more costumed actors, parades through the streets, carriages and more. While a springtime visit was perfectly adequate, the summer experience made it feel as if you were immersed in the day-to-day of colonial living.

On the left a young woman poses in front of the large brick Governor's Mansion at Colonial Williamsburg. On the right are multi colored tulips.
Marina poses for me on a park bench in front of the Governor’s Mansion. There are plenty of places to sit and the pathways and sidewalks are all fairly level and flat, making this a trip that’s appropriate for all ages and abilities.

If you are a history aficionado, like my daughter, or just want to learn a bit more about our history, I recommend a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. If your kids, or grandkids, aren’t onboard for the trip, you can remind them that Busch Gardens is nearby. Check out the ticket page as package deals are available.

Purple flowers growing on a tree branch.
With the warm weather today, I’m feeling ready for spring. So I’ll include more evidence that spring is on it’s way!

The drive from Columbus or Cleveland is just about 8 hours. From Cincinnati it’s a little longer at nearly 9 hours. There are a number of attractions in the area, so you can definitely make a week or just a long weekend out of your trip. And if you need a little beach time, Virginia Beach is only an hour away.

FindingOhio and Beyond

If you enjoy traveling in and around Ohio, check back frequently. Looking for travels outside of our state? Check the Travels section. We have great ideas for adventuring in the Buckeye State as well. They’re over much of the site, but you’ll want to specifically check out the Day Trips section. Not going anywhere? We’ve got you covered with recipes, crafts, gardening and more.

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