Learning: People: Just Back From… Colonial Williamsburg
Just Back From… Colonial Williamsburg
I admit that a visit to Colonial Williamsburg was not at the top of my list of family vacations, but it should have been. Recently, my wife and I took our kids (age 7 and 10) back in time to the 18th century to spend a weekend immersed in our country’s great history.
Part of my hesitation with visiting this interactive destination was a potential of Disneyfication. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Disneyworld. My family, like many, has had our magic moments there.) But Williamsburg is so much more; it affords an opportunity and rare moment when history comes to life, and we could experience first-hand the loyalty and inspiration our founding fathers embodied. Actors dressed in period costume play the parts of shop owners, farmers and such dignitaries as Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We watched as the characters (who have gone through lengthy training) debated issues of slavery and foreign policy, danced with their wives at the Governor’s Palace and patronized the local taverns. My kids loved asking questions and interacting with the townspeople, and I adored seeing them engaged in American history instead of video games.
We stayed at the Williamsburg Inn, a property founded by John D. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. The inn has hosted Queen Elizabeth II and several U.S. presidents, and the gracious and warm staff is prepared to cater to the needs of discerning travelers. The 62 rooms are beautifully appointed with traditional American furniture, and each feature separate sitting areas. Luckily not everything is authentically 18th century: the Williamsburg Inn also has Wifi throughout, a fantastic spa and access to three golf courses.
The hotel’s restaurant was excellent, as were the offerings in the town’s taverns. Two favorites were Shields Tavern (422 East Duke of Gloucester Street; 757-229-2141) and King’s Arms Tavern (416 East Duke of Gloucester Street; 757-229-2141).
Who Should Go: For a quick family trip that will feed an intellectually curious side, foster a sense of pride and patriotism and afford a fun and stimulating educational experience, Colonial Williamsburg is an ideal fit. People of all ages will enjoy themselves here—like my kids, I learned a lot in this history trove myself.
Getting There: Fly to Richmond, VA or Norfolk, VA (a 1.5-hour flight) and drive one hour to Colonial Williamsburg. Or consider an American History road trip: Williamsburg is just a 2.5-hour drive south of Washington, D.C.