Colonial Williamsburg Touring Plan--what's new & good for kids

We’re doing a week in Disney this summer, but we’re also doing a week in Virginia and D.C. Thought I’d try this topic, since probably not the only person to combine DC w/Williamsburg. Starting to develop my own “touring plan” for Colonial Williamsburg bc I have been infected by this website’s philosophy. I suppose there probably aren’t the obsessive level of blogs and reviews for the different attractions there as Disney, will dig some more tomorrow. I have a pretty good storehouse of knowledge since I went nearly every summer for a lot of my childhood–Virginia relatives. But what is new and/or essential for young kids? DS7, DD5. (Also DS2 but DH will sit in the shade with him, sit out activities as needed, take him to hotel for nap after lunch. Occasionally DH’s touring fatigue comes in handy.) I’m thinking:

8:40 Visitor’s Center
9am Powell house
–hedge maze backyard @ Governor’s
–shops if time
11am puppet show
11:25 Chowning’s (after lunch DH & DS2 to hotel for nap)
–shops if time
1:30-2:20 Dig tour
2:30 courthouse
–back to hotel if kids tired & return before 5 for “On to Yorktown” march, or soldier on & skip march
5-5:30 “On to Yorktown” @ Market Square, Washington addresses troops, march w/fife & drum

“Shops” bits late morning or other gaps hitting blacksmith & gaol for son, milliner’s & wigmaker for daughter. How do kids that age do at courthouse, any reviews?

We traveled to Williamsburg a lot when our kids were 7 and 5 (we live close), and we never did go to the courthouse! I always went to the Williamsburg website and planed for any special events the day we were there. Then I sprinkled in our favorites - gaol, blacksmith, milliners, Powell house, fife and drum, etc. I have not been there recently, but they now have a fire brigade where you can take part (there is a video I have seen, so it must be on their website) that looked like it would be fun!

Have fun!

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Yorktown and Jamestown are good places to visit. Get a National Parks Passport Book and get it stamped. Almost of of the Mall is a National Park sire.

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Thanks for starting this topic! We are planning a DC / Williamsburg trip in April 2017 so I’ll be watching it for advice. My kids will be 7, 9, 11 when we go.

We just got back from a Williamsburg trip last weekend. We have 3 boys, 14, 12, & 9.

To my surprise, they enjoyed the Witch Trial and were slightly intrigued by one of the Ghost Walks. They enjoyed seeing the public lynching of an effigy of the leader of parliament and seeing the blacksmith, gunsmith, and gaol. By the time we hit the 2nd (but different) Ghost Walk they had had enough and started to rebel in typical teen and preteen fashion. There was a limit to how much they wanted to learn on vacation.

Be warned that some of the extra ticketed events (ghost walks, tours, etc. etc) are limited and fill up fast.
We wanted to do an Escape Room type event but it was sold out on the first night and were told it only ran Thur-Sat. Similar experience with the hands-on candlemaking.
Do get tickets for a carriage ride, this was enjoyed by all.

We were unable to do Chownings, as it doesn’t take reservations and the 45 minute wait interfered with either our hunger or ticketed event times.

We did manage to get reservations at King’s Arm. We enjoyed the experience but found it to be way over-priced. The boys “steaks” were awful but my Hunters Pye was very good and my wife’s Salmon was so-so.
Our best meal was a short walk into the shopping district at Dog St. Pub.

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Save for later! Thank you!

In recent past years they have had a program for kids called Revquest - like the Agent P adventures in Epcot, but low-tech. Not sure they have it this year but be sure to ask. The Fifes and Drums are always fun for kids so I would definitely try to catch that. The individual craft houses (milliner, bookbinder, furniture maker, wigmaker, etc) are often more interesting to kids then touring through the larger houses in a guided tour. Some of the crafts people are very good with kids especially if you can ask a question or two to get them talking. The hedge maze is great but it is pretty far back behind the Palace so make sure you keep walking to find it. Ask someone if you are having trouble locating it.

If you go to Busch Gardens, it will be much less crowded Mon-Wed as opposed to Thur-Sun.

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My report: Powell House was a HUGE hit for DD5 and DS2. They loved the chickens, the blocks still work as blocks, the dress-up in the ed room in back, etc. Did not make it to hedge maze or puppet show. (Diaper issues w/DD2. And the less said there the better. You’re welcome.) My daughter and her Nana got conscripted into army (!) while I was in nearby ladies room w/DD2, and she tells me after, “Mom, we fought back the rebel dogs!” and giggled when I explained she was accidentally a soldier for the wrong side. The littles crazy-loved Chowning’s. (As did I at their age. And now.) Then DD2 split w/his Papa for a nap. DD5 LOVED the “Dig” archaeological dig for kids, minded the blazing sun not a bit. (Well, she is from Texas.) DD5 was actually completely taken by the Randolph House, which surprised me because I wasn’t so into the residences as a kid. She liked seeing the niece bedroom there, especially. Also I let her pick the next activity after Dig, maybe she liked it bc she picked. DD5 humored me for wig-maker’s & milliner’s for a few minutes, but completely bored by them. (Maybe I was older when I liked them?) To recap, top three things for littles Chownings & Powell House (for both littles) and Dig for DD5.


Now that it's 2017, our DC / Williamsburg trip feels close! We're going at the end of March. We're planning to fly into DC on a Thursday, then drive to Williamsburg on Monday. (We'll be staying at the Marriott Manor Club timeshare there.) We'll have Tue-Fri to do Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown before driving back to DC and flying out late Saturday afternoon.

We'd like to get Mount Vernon and maybe Monticello in during our D.C. time too. Too ambitious?

If anyone has any suggestions, would love to hear them! My kids will be 7, 9, 11 when we go. They are big fans of living history experiences.

I grew up in Yorktown, so of course I think you should visit there, especially the battlefields and the site of Cornwallis’ surrender. If you want to go to Mount Vernon, that will be great while you are in DC. But Monticello is a long way from there (3 hours or so), so I recommend going there on Monday if you absolutely must. However, you are looking at going at least two hours out of your way to get there (it is about an hour west of Richmond which you will pass through on your way from DC to Williamsburg), Honestly, I would just do Mount Vernon and skip Monticello. There is so much to do in both DC and Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown that you won’t even miss Monticello. My kids love to visit all of these places (we live in WA now) and could spend weeks just seeing all the living history things available. Let me know if you have specific questions about what things you should not miss. Have fun planning!

Thanks for the advice on skipping Monticello - I think you’re right. I’m sure I will be back with more questions as it gets closer!

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I’d do 2 days Colonial Williamsburg and shorter for some of the others. Bc that place is really big, and vivid, and a lot to do for older kids, pre-teens. The others I rem as kid being less enthralled by. Some can def be done in half-day.

Oh, and you might want to do a day at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Or not. But fun change of pace, maybe?

Thanks! Yes, thanks to feedback here, we’re definitely going to devote a couple days to Colonial Williamsburg.

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Hi! I’ve read all the things that say you HAVE to buy tickets, great, thanks! But - I need to know a TRUE breakdown of what is and is not included with tickets. I am trying to figure out whether to buy one day or multi-day. yes, we’ve been before. Yes, we’l probably be back. AND, I have youngish kids who have very limited attention spans. We will definitely go for a day. What would we see on another day without the ticket? Thanks!!