An October 2004 trip
to Williamsburg by getawayguy
Quote: This vacation to Williamsburg, VA, brought our high-school American history classes to life for us and made us wish we had paid better attention in school. Seeing the past alive gave us a greater appreciation for the hardships endured by the early American patriots. We're very grateful to them.
The best thing you can do in the Williamsburg area is to get out early every day and see as much as you can. If you are into American history, you've hit the mother lode. The historical triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown have so much to offer that even if you aren't interested in studying history, you're going to enjoy yourself anyway.
Within this narrow peninsula, the first colonial settlement was established, the first colonial capitol grew and thrived, the beginnings of unrest led to rebellion, and the birth of a new nation and the final battle for independence was won. Try to see it all. You won’t be able to, but try anyway. It will take all of 3 days to take advantage of all there is to see in Colonial Williamsburg alone. Original Jamestown, Jamestown Settlement, the Yorktown Battlefields, and the Yorktown Victory Center are so well presented that they are all must-see locations.
There are more than a dozen plantations along the James River. Try to see a few of them to see what it was like to live in and be a leader in America four centuries ago. You’re bound to realize that the leaders of the rebellion, men like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Harrison, and many more, were already very successful, wealthy men. They risked everything they had to go against the king of England and fight for independence.
There are several past presidents’ homes available for tours, including Jefferson’s Monticello, Madison’s Montpelier, and at a greater distance, Washington’s Mount Vernon.
There are other things to do too that have nothing to do with early American history. The Virginia Living Museum is a fantastic place for children and adults to see and enjoy together. Spelunkers will want to take a day trip to the Luray Caverns and the Endless Caverns off Highway 81 near New Market, VA. For the young and the young at heart, there’s Busch Gardens Amusement Park, with its heart-pounding rides and Water Country, USA. And for lighthouse aficionados, there is the Cape Henry Lighthouse at Fort Story, just north of Virginia Beach, VA.
For sightseeing, one of the most useful things we found was a free map we picked up at the resort. It showed where everything was located in and around Williamsburg and had expanded inserts of Colonial Williamsburg's historic area as well as Yorktown. It was printed by First Graphics and can probably be gotten from their website at www.williamsburgmap.com before you go. Most resorts and hotels in the area have displays with brochures of all the local attractions, some offering discounts.
Before you go, contact:
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
P. O. Box 1776
Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776
or go on their website:
Hotel | "Fairfield Williamsburg Patriots Place Resort"
For those more interested in modern-day pleasures, there are many shopping centers and specialty stores, such as the Williamsburg Winery, the Candle Factory, and the Williamsburg Doll Factory. Amusement parks, including Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are also very close. There are several challenging golf courses nearby. Historic Air Tours, at the Williamsburg/Jamestown Airport, and the Miss Hamilton II offer exciting ways to explore this historical area, too.Best Things About the Resort:The resort itself is large and spacious, with lovely, well-maintained grounds. You can enjoy tennis, swimming, outdoor grills, a jogging trail, a playground area, horseshoes, a restaurant, and conference facilities. Our unit had a dishwasher, double sink, garbage disposal, microwave, toaster, blender, a complete set of dishes and cooking utensils, a large refrigerator/freezer, air-conditioning, two televisions, telephone, washer and dryer, fireplace, a small, outdoor patio with a barbeque, a shower, and a separate room with a whirlpool/hot tub. Domesticated ducks and geese frequent a small lake near the children's playground area at the front of the resort. There is ample parking near each residence. Recreational vehicles are not allowed to park overnight on the property, though.Resort Experience:The resort itself is great. With all the amenities listed above, we had everything we could possibly need to enjoy our stay, except possibly more time. There is so much to see and do in the nearby area that we immediately realized that a 2-week stay was not going to be long enough. Every morning we got up early, ate breakfast, and rushed out for a new adventure into the past. We spent 2 weeks getting a crash course in American history on the actual sites where the events took place. At Colonial Williamsburg, people obviously in love with what they were doing, portrayed early American patriots, settlers, storekeepers, tavern owners, soldiers, frontiersmen, and Indians while we walked among them and "witnessed" our history being made, sometimes being offered a chance to participate in the live dramas.
Each evening, we returned to the resort and to the comfort of modern times, ever more grateful to those who had made it all possible. Originally we planned to take a day or two in Washington, D.C., while we were on the East Coast. We found so much to see and do in the immediate area around the resort that we decided we would see the nation's capital on another vacation.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 10, 2005
Wyndham Patriots Place
725 Bypass Rd
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
The restaurant is located in a strip mall near a Big K-Mart store. From the moment we walked through the front door, we knew we were in for a unique experience. The dining room was immense and divided into three main sections separated by walls made of etched glass. On two of the outer walls were large video screens showing Asian dancers, outdoor nature scenes, and aerial fireworks displays in alternating series. The many different buffet tables are spaced throughout the restaurant, eliminating the problem of long waits in line experienced in most buffet restaurants.
They have over 100 Peking offerings already cooked, as well as Japanese hibachi-style recipes and sushi. The third type of food available is Mongolian, prepared while you wait, using ingredients you have put together with a sauce you have created from the many ingredients they provide. The food was excellent and replenished constantly by a staff that took obvious pride in their restaurant and the quality of their food.
We left the restaurant realizing that we would be returning several more times during our 2 weeks in Williamsburg in order to sample all the wonderful choices available, too many for one or two visits. And to think, lunch was $5.99 and dinner was $8.99 per person. Our only regret was knowing we would not find anything like it near our home.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 11, 2005
120 Waller Mill Rd.
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
Inside the 62,000-square-foot exhibition building are two-story, glass-covered walk-through habitats enabling visitors to immerse themselves in live displays of the different natural environments of Virginia. The building features four main gallery areas, four hands-on discovery centers, a new observatory, a double helix staircase, a glass elevator, and a large gift shop.
Summer Museum Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day): Daily 9am to 6pm
Winter Museum Hours (Labor Day to Memorial Day) Monday – Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 12 noon to 5pm
Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day
Phone: 1-757-595-1900 Fax: 1-757-599-4897
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 15, 2005
Virginia Living Museum
524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd.
Newport News, Virginia
Attraction | "The Colonial Campus of William and Mary"
The oldest academic building in continuous use in the United States, the Sir Christopher Wren Building, was originally constructed between 1695 and 1699, before Williamsburg was founded, when the capital of the colony of Virginia was still located at Jamestown. At that time, the tract of land between the James and York rivers which was to become Williamsburg was populated by crude timber buildings and known as "Middle Plantation." Tradition has it that the building was designed by the famed English architect Sir Christopher Wren, who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
In 1699, the colonial capital was moved from Jamestown to the newly formed city of Williamsburg, and the Wren Building, then the largest structure in the area, became the temporary headquarters of the government from 1700 until 1704, when the Capitol was completed.
From the east entrance to the Wren Building, you can see the other buildings of the College's colonial campus, including the Brafferton and the President's House. The Brafferton, located on the south side of the yard, was constructed in 1723 to house the College's Indian school, which was endowed by funds from the estate of Robert Boyle, the noted English scientist. Income from Brafferton Manor in Yorkshire, England, designated for charitable and pious purposes, was used to educate and prepare Native American boys for the Anglican priesthood. This undertaking met with little success, and at the time of the American Revolution, income from the Boyle estate was discontinued, and the Indian school was abandoned. Today, the Brafferton houses the offices of the president and provost of the College.
The President's House, on the north side of the yard, was erected in 1732 and has been used by every president of William and Mary. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Brafferton, President's House, and Wren Building were restored to their 18th-century appearance through the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the same man responsible for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. The Brafferton and the President's House are not open to the public.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 16, 2005
The College of William & Mary
Attraction | "Bruton Parish Church"
Bruton Parish Church was part of that restoration, and in 1939-1940, a complete renovation and authentic replica of the old church gave us today's magnificent building. At the same time, a new parish house and a new rectory increased Bruton's properties. Over the years, the parish house has grown larger and includes a chapel. The rectory is now used for parish functions and as housing for the Bruton-Rockefeller Scholar in Residence program.
The church of Bruton Parish that one may visit now in Williamsburg was built around 1715 to replace the second Bruton Parish Church (also called the "first brick church"), which had been completed in 1683. The foundations of the first brick church were discovered and briefly unearthed beneath the present churchyard in 1938. Parish work was begun in 1632, the first brick church was built in 1683, and the present church in 1715.
The church was beautifully restored to her former glory in 1905, and one may see upon its ancient walls today some most interesting bronze tablets to the memory of noted colonists. The Royal Governor's pew with chair and canopy, the high pulpit and sounding board, the clerk's desk and old gallery where the college students sat (locked in) during the service, beautiful stained-glass windows and lovely aisles paved with marble (below which are tombs), and dignified high-backed pews, all adorn this hallowed sanctuary.
The church also possesses many valued treasures, among them three sets of Communion Silver (including one of the original old Jamestown services), the Jamestown Baptismal Font, the Parish Register of 1662, the Old Colonial Prayer Book, and the King Edward Bible and Lectern presented by President Theodore Roosevelt. The original wall, built in 1752, still encloses the lovely old churchyard, in which one may stroll and read many quaint inscriptions upon the ancient graves.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 17, 2005
Bruton Parish Episcopal Church
331 West Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185
Los Gatos, California