Visiting Williamsburg VA with Kids – by a Former Townie

Governor's Palace

I grew up in Williamsburg, and my dad still lives there, so I get to visit often with my own children. Here are a few ideas for your next trip:

Colonial Williamsburg (and ice cream) – Growing up in Williamsburg, at least half of our school field trips were to Colonial Williamsburg (CW), Yorktown or Jamestown. There were places in CW that I loved to visit and learn about including the gun magazine, the drugstore, and the hat shop. As an adult, I also enjoy visiting Bruton Parish church for a weekday reading service and the court house. Our whole family enjoyed the late night Ghost Walk Tour. Part of the charm of CW with children is how much space there is to roam. Duke of Glouster Street is blocked off to traffic for long stretches so children are free to wander. You can also rent children’s costumes for the day at the Visitor’s Center. Baskin Robbins and The Cheese Shop are nearby.–_Ouy0b4CFVJnOgodeR8APw

Jamestown Island (and bike loop) – Of the three colonial areas, Jamestown is the most young-child friendly. It’s just as interactive, but it’s smaller than CW so less walking. Within the exhibit there is a Powhatan village, the Jamestown Fort and ships to explore. There’s also a museum with a related historical movie. Just outside the museum, there’s two paved loops that are great for bike riding – flat and relatively few, slow moving cars.  My dad would want me to add the Yorktown Victory Center and Battlefields.

The Surrey Ferry and Surrey House Restaurant (feed the seagulls) – So this was the first thing on my list, but I had to move it down because it’s not really a thing. Riding the Surrey Ferry and feeding seagulls was one of my favorite things to do when I was little. In high school, my friends and I would ride the ferry back and forth on a few Friday nights when there was nothing else to do. My kids enjoy this today. It’s simple. Buy a loaf of cheap bread, drive your car onto the ferry then get out and feed the seagulls. Also, if it’s open, it’s worth stopping at The Surrey House restaurant for a southern style, home cooked meal. UPDATE: Sadly, I believe the Surrey House Restaurant is closed.

Yorktown Beach – This is a small, family friendly beach. Often the waves are gentle, so it’s a good beach even with young children.,%20VA&fr=lsrp

Jamestown Beach Event Park – Also a small, park like beach with lots of picnic areas. Apparently now there’s a concession stand and showers which would have been nice (I can’t tell you how often we went home hungry and covered in sand).

Kidsburg (and ice cream) – Kidsburg is a big, very fun playground at Mid County Park. Cold Stone Creamery and several family friendly restaurants are nearby.

Wythe Candy – My kids say stopping at Wythe is a “must” on every trip. Wythe is a family owned candy store that features a long candy counter, a caramel and chocolate dipping area for fancy treats and shelves full of classic and gourmet candies.

Virginia Living Museum – Just a few miles outside of Williamsburg is the Virginia Living Museum. This is a combination of aquarium, wildlife park and science museum all focused on Virginia’s natural environment. Definitely worth the drive!

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum – An interesting museum to explore! My 10 year old’s review: “That was cool enough.”

The Muscarelle Museum of Art – Part of Wiliam and Mary, this art museum has a diverse collection.

The Cheese Shop picnic – House dressing on your favorite sandwich would be all I’d have to say if you’ve had their house dressing. The Cheese Shop is a perfect place to pick up a picnic lunch to eat while people watching on a bench in CW, or to take over to Sunken Gardens (below). Aside from their delicious sandwiches there are several side salads, chips, and desserts to round out your meal.

Sunken Gardens – Just outside of CW and on the William & Mary campus is Sunken Gardens. This is a beautful, flat, open grassy space that sits lower than the land around it. As an adult, it really is just a dressed-up field, but as a kid I loved it.

Williamsburg Botanical Gardens – If you need an hour or two of peace, the Botanical Gardens are a nice place to visit.

Waller Mill – If you like nature hikes with a few hidden playgrounds and renting paddle boats or canoes then Waller Mill is the place for you. There is also dock or boat fishing.

Freedom Park and Go Ape! Treetop Adventure Park – Freedom park offers miles of hiking and biking trails. Go Ape! is fun zip lines and climbing challenges.

Go Karts Plus – If your kids are older, this is a fun stop! There are go-karts and bumper boats and an arcade.

Bounce House and Laser Tag – Nice place to go on a rainy day!

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf – Putt Putt.

And then there’s

4th of July – Colonial Williamsburg goes all out for the 4th. There’s often an ice cream social in town, the fife and drums play early and a gorgeous fireworks display follows.  This is crowded, but so much easier than getting in and out of DC.

Occasion of the Arts – Every October the colonial area hosts an art show and music festival. It’s a very nice weekend to visit.

Grand Illumination – Every December the colonial area provides live music and fireworks, hot cider and bonfires to celebrate lighting candles in the windows.

And of course there’s

Busch Gardens

Water Country

Great Wolf Lodge

And restaurants that are local and worth the stop

Sal’s by Victor

Pierce’s PITT Bar-B-Que – Yum!

Second Street

Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant

The Whaling Company – This one is on the fancy end, I had my wedding rehearsal dinner there.

Paul’s Deli – A Virginia, a Hot Holly?

The College Delly – Hot Holly anyone?

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: