The capital of the state of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg played an important role in early American politics and the Revolutionary War. Today, Williamsburg is the ultimate educational vacation destination. Often called a "living museum," Williamsburg's historic district is filled with the lovely brick and neo-classical architecture that characterized the colonial era in the United States. Architecture doesn't tell the whole story here, though. Throughout Williamsburg, actors in full period dress add to the experience by re-creating the life and times of the colonial settlers.
As you wander past centuries-old buildings, you'll see horse-drawn carriages and a band of marching men playing flutes in tri-corner hats. The fun can continue well into the evening in Colonial Williamsburg, where there are numerous restaurants that serve food from the colonial period, attended by gregarious wait staff dressed up in colonial attire. For a bit of spooky fun, attend an evening performance at the Haunted Dinner Theater or check out the family-friendly Mystery Dinner Playhouse, where Williamsburg legends come to life.
Williamsburg's most popular attractions are:
-Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: Buy a ticket to visit dozens of carefully restored 17th and 18th century homes in downtown Williamsburg.
-College of William and Mary: Stroll through the beautiful and historic campus of this top-rated public school, one of the very first universities in the country. Both James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson are alumni.
-Water Country USA: If you need a break from the past, spend a day splashing around in the myriad pools at this wonderful water park.
-Busch Gardens: This theme park outside Williamsburg is designed to take you on a tour of numerous European countries. Amusement park rides have names like Loch Ness Monster and Le Scott.
-Presidents Park: At this unusual public park, sculptor David Adickes created the giant white busts of every American president from the times of George Washington to the present day.
-Berkeley Plantation: Located on the banks of the James River, this plantation is one of the oldest in Virginia and the site of the first Thanksgiving dinner in the United States.
Williamsburg is a great place to visit with kids, and a spacious vacation rental can make it easier to bring along the whole family. A luxurious villa or cozy cabin rental in the wooded areas around Williamsburg can add a little peace and quiet to your vacation, while an apartment rental near the College of William and Mary will put you close to the city's student scene.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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