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What to see and do in Colonial Williamsburg with kids

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guide to colonial williamsburg with kids

Day three of our adventure to the Greater Williamsburg area brought us to Colonial Williamsburg. Before we visited I assumed that Williamsburg was just Colonial Williamsburg, but the Greater Williamsburg area is much more than just the well known Colonial area. As you can see in Day 1 and Day 2, there is an amusement park, historical settlements and archaeology digs, water front dining, shopping and so much more.

I normally post our days while still on location. Nothing gives me inspiration when sharing travel stories than being there when I’m writing. But for the first time ever I didn’t do that. Here we are 5 days later, and I’m just now sharing our day with travel partner, Colonial Williamsburg. The reason why is actually quite simple. There is so much to do in Williamsburg, and even though I get up at 5am no matter where we are, I took 800 pictures and I just didn’t have enough time to go through them all, and still take in everything to share for the next day’s post. It’s a good problem to have. 

This leads me into another tip for visiting the Williamsburg area. You can’t see it all in even a week. Maybe not 2 weeks. I think that there is a misconception that this is a once and done place to see, but that is so far from the truth. Even if you were to book a two + week stay here, you still wouldn’t see it all because historically speaking, they are constantly learning and discovering new things.  From a fun standpoint, there is always another adventure to take in the area. Since we only had 3 days in the area, we are planning a return visit. If you too only have a few days, make sure one of them is to Colonial Williamsburg. You won’t regret any time you spend here, except that you will wish you were staying longer.

fun for kids in Williamsburg virginia

When you visit you will want to start at the visitors center. 

There are signs for it everywhere and it is easy to find. There are restrooms, ticketing counters, gift shops, and everything else you could imagine. The best thing ever is that there is also a place to rent period like clothes for the kids to wear for the day. Emmy kept going back and forth between wanting to rent some clothes and wanting to wear the heart dress that she was wearing already. She bought and brought the dress specifically for this day so she ended up sticking with it. But next time we are all over the dress up clothes!

wiliamsburg with kids guide

After you are done with the visitors center you have two options.

Walk the mile or so over the bridge from the visitors center into Colonial Williamsburg… or board a bus there. We are normally the walking sort, but decided to take the bus first to see more of the town and get our bearings. Either way works and is enjoyable. 

guide to williamsburg va

We stayed on the bus until it reached the Governor’s Palace. 

It was our first glimpse into what we were in store for. Breathtaking really. The more we take the girls to see historically significant places, the more I feel like they are really getting an education. To be in the same spot that they have read about, and to see and touch the buildings has impacted us all. 

teens at williamsburg virginia

From here you can follow your map from the visitors center and stroll throughout the city.

A couple things to note as you plan… 

  • Some buildings have guided tours. We also learned that these guided tours are sometimes self directed depending on the day and time. Emmy still gets a bit overwhelmed at times and a 30-45 min guided tour might be okay for her one day, but not the next. So if you are traveling with younger kids be sure to ask if they have any self guided times open and just come back for those.
  • There are people scattered throughout the town that are dressed in character that you can ask any questions you may have. From directions, to what life was like back then. They are a wealth of information. I remember there being more of them when I was there as a teen, and so does Pete… but we still thought there were plenty around. We also were there during a slower time so that might be why.
  • If you want to eat in a tavern, be sure to make a reservation. 
  • There are suites on the main street that you can stay at. Please note they book out quickly, and they may be haunted. But that is just more fun right?
  • There are restrooms throughout the town too, and they will be noted on the signage and on the map. You can also ask for them to be pointed out to you.
  • Snacks are available throughout too. We enjoyed pretzel rolls and cold water, but there were a lot of other choices.
  • If you have a “big” camera like I do, bring it. I can’t even begin to share how awesome the photo opportunities are.
  • There are carriage rides available. Reservations can be made the same day at the Visitors Center.
  • One  thing I really wish we had done was to take the bus on the full loop. That is a great way to see the whole area and then plan where to come back to. 

historic buildings

Here are more images from our day…

streets of williamsburg

carriage ride williamsburg

colonial times in williamsburg

A few of the favorite stops we made were to the courthouse, where the girls tested out the punishment…

williamsburg educational visit

courthouse williamsburg

Emmy loved the big green fields. The drought here in California has really helped us appreciate spring on the East Coast.

kids williamsburg virginia

We could have enjoyed the Candle Maker’s talk for hours. The girls all love candle making and she explained each step of the way on how they did it, how expensive it was, and how they stretched their money. Emmy still talks about how they didn’t need many candles because when it was dark out they slept. It’s a foreign concept to her.

candle maker

virginia with kids

We also toured the kitchen area and learned how they prepared food.

colonial kitchen

Later that evening we took a Ghost Walk

It was about an hour of strolling through the town at dusk (they have a later one that is done after dark), and we listened to stories of ghost sightings with a sprinkle of historical stories. We loved it and are total ghost tour people now.

williamsburg ghost tour

Clearly, I live with a bunch of wimps! (Says the person NOT in the picture).

williamsburg tavern

If you visit during the busy season (summer time and some weekends) I recommend that you go first thing in the morning and then leave around lunchtime. Then come back in the evening once it’s cooled off a bit. Have dinner at a tavern and then take the Ghost Walk. The Ghost Walk was good for all ages too… not too scary at all.

kinds in williamsburg guide

Colonial Williamsburg is open 24 hours a day and free to everyone, however you will need a ticket to enter the buildings with a flag outside where the historical interpreters are doing their talks. It is absolutely worth it to buy the ticket. For current hours, to buy tickets and to learn more, visit the Colonial Williamsburg website.

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • This is a great post! I have always wanted to take my family to visit Williamsburg. I love anything with history!

  • I have always wanted to go there. We are not that far, so maybe a road trip?

  • I’d love to take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg! We’ve been to a few other historical sites, and it’s always so much furn.

  • I think I’d have to do the costume rental for my kids! So cute!
    I’ve never been to Williamsburg, but I know we’ll make it there.

  • Williamsburg was one of the best family vacations we ever took. It is a great destination.

  • I have always wanted to visit Williamsburg. It sounds like a great place with lots to see and do. My husband loves history so I know he would enjoy it.

  • What a fun way to get a hands on with history. I think this is a vacation destination our entire family would enjoy.

  • That sounds like a lot of fun. I’m glad they’ve made it so convenient for families. It sounds like there is plenty to do!

  • I love experiencing and learning about history in a fun manner. This is definitely something my whole family would enjoy.

  • This is close to me! I think I might take the kids on a fun weekend trip. I think they would love this.

  • Do you know if they are very pet friendly? I’d love to go visit there and take the dog with us as we always do. Looks amazing.

  • You guys go to the best places. What a wonderful childhood full of memories your girls will have.

  • Williamsburg was one of the best family vacations we’ve had! It is a great destination. I can’t wait to go back! Loved your pictures!

  • I LOVE this information. Seriously, with kids ranging from 8 to 15 I never know if there is enough to keep them all happy at places like this. Thank you

  • I was in Williamsburg for a blogger event last year. So much history! My husband’s nephew is having a graduation at William and Mary there so we’re actually going to be there again in the next two weekends! I love Williamsburg!

  • This looks like so much fun. It would be a great way for the kids to learn some history.

  • This looks like a really great time! I love all of your photos, never been here but if I ever find myself in the area, I am so going to check it out!

  • My husband is a history buff and I absolutely had to share this post with him. This looks like such an amazing family adventure.

  • I have wanted to do a vacation like this for my kids for years. I hear all the time how kids can learn more from one of these experiences than in a full semester at school.

  • Wow… so many things to see and do. Would be tough to fit it all in but looks like you managed to make it work. I am thinking we need to add this to a place to go soon.

  • That looks like a lot of fun. I’ve never been there before, but I would certainly love to go someday. I think it would be a great place to visit with family.

  • These pictures are fantastic! I would love to go to Williamsburg and take my kids. I bet they would love to see the history there.

  • This is funny, Williamsburg has been on my list of places to visit since I read the Felicity American girl series when I was little! I would love to take my kids with me!

  • This looks like a great way for the family to learn some history together. My kids would love to go explore Colonial Williamsburg.

  • I would love to go and explore a place like this. It would really make me apreciate our modern conviences.

  • Your kids look like they had fun here. It would be amazing to see what this kind of life would be like.

  • I was lucky enough to do a trip like this when I was young. I have always wanted to be able to take my kiddos. Such history, so much fun!

  • Colonial Williamsburg is such a beautiful area! I hope to go back soon.

  • We love visiting places that is full of history. Would love to visit Williamsburg, for sure. Hopefully, this summer!

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