As the proud home of some of America’s most important historical sites, Williamsburg is an excellent destination for those wanting to learn more about our nation’s beginning. What you may not know, is that it isn’t all history-filled museums and monuments. There’s an array of very fun activities geared toward kids and parents alike. Follow along as we share the best of our family trip to Williamsburg tips.
From interactive theatrical performances to thrilling coasters, here are some great ideas for getting out and enjoying this super fun city on your next family getaway. Yes the history is fascinating, but it’s the adventure that will have the kids begging to return!
This living-history museum is the ideal place to start your Williamsburg adventure. Kids can experience what life was like in the 17th century. The area narrates the arrival of English settlers to Virginia. The outdoor museum is highly interactive, especially for older kids. There are lots of hands-on activities and places to explore. There’s live musket drills, exhibitions, and even a working blacksmith shop. For an enhanced experience, take a guided tour and take in all it has to offer.
There are re-creations of the three ships that brought the first colony to Jamestown, which you can board and explore. My girls had such a great time going below deck to see the living quarters of the Susan Constant, Godspeed & Discovery.
In Paspahegh Town, the Powhatan village, you’ll spot actors in traditional clothing performing daily tasks like the original inhabitants. It’s truly is a sight to behold, with so much do see and do for all ages. Our girls especially liked exploring the tents and holding the tools and weapons used by the Powhatans. We even got to use an oyster shell to scrape the hair off of a real deer hide.
They had one of the best times getting to throw dummy arrows though hanging hoops, just as the Powhatan children did. There’s many chances to play games and immerse yourselves into the museum.
The re-created James Fort is another fun area for the kids to explore. Trying on real armor and watching the blacksmiths hard at work were some of the highlights here. Touching real cannons and feeling the woodwork of the whiskey barrels.
Family Trip Tip: There’s so much to do in the Living History Museum that you can spend all day outside. If we did it again, we would pack a lunch and stay the entire day. Dress comfortably, with good walking shoes and prepare to get a little dirty with the hands-on displays. Check the weather.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
When you’re looking for an immersive educational experience, the American Revolution Museum is one of Williamsburg’s top attractions. The museum features interactive exhibits and life-like elements that bring the history of colonial America to life. Such a fun-filled day with hours of entertainment.
The indoor museum has a lot for the kids to explore and enjoy. There are amazing artifacts at every turn that are accompanied by fun sensory experiences to tell the stories of the American Revolution. Hologram and touch screen displays were some of our favorites.
Outside in the living history museum, kids can explore a re-created Continental Army Encampment. They’ll take part in activities like powder horn making and interacting with the soldiers. It’s asking questions and holding the real tools that excited our kids the most.
Each of our girls had such a fun time exploring the farm. Taking their turn making their very own rope, rolling wheat, and tasting some of the daily rations being made. There’s so much here for the kids to dive into and play with.
Family Trip Tip: Just like the Jamestown Settlement, there’s a day or two worth of exploring. We would suggest giving the indoor activities a good half day for the kids to explore. The outdoor can be done in an hour or so and you could always head into town for lunch and come back to break up the day.
US Ghost Adventures
Scary yet fun, the Ghost Adventures offers family-friendly tours that take you through the haunted streets of Colonial Williamsburg. You’ll learn all about the local folklore and legends from the area through spooky tales.
You’ll explore some of the city’s oldest homes, graveyards, and darkest corners. For an unforgettable experience, journey through a literal ghost town that was rebuilt and restored to its colonial origins. You’ll be sure to take home some chilling stories and memories to last a lifetime.
My girls really enjoyed walking along the streets at night and the idea of the area being haunted. Once the tour began and the stories started to unfold, there was some reluctance to continue from our younger ones. While they knew the stories were folklore, there were still elements of the tellings that could make anyone a little creeped out. Lots of fun though!
Family Trip Tip: Parents beware, as your kids might get a little frightened along the way. Be sure to let your guide know your children may be sensitive to certain stories. Also a good idea to prepare them in advance about ghost tours and the guides commitment to integrity.
Sweethaven Lavender Farm
Sweethaven is a family-owned farm that started in 2019. 140 acres of picturesque farmland with over 8,000 lavender plants and meadows of wildflowers. A tranquil setting with roaming sheep, wonderful treats, and an awesome gift shop. Explore the farm’s fields and take in the sights and smells of the beautiful blossoms.
The farm also features a U-pick garden, where children can pick their blooms to take home with them. Some of the favorites include lavender, sunflowers, and peonies. Once they’ve collected their bouquet, take them for a hayride around the farm to marvel at the breathtaking scenery. The property also boasts a small petting zoo where the kids can feed llamas, goats and pet the sheep.
Sweethaven Lavender Farm hosts holiday events with live music, lights and lots of lively spirit. Sip some lavender cider, hot cocoa, and mulled wine at the barn for the ideal holiday. For an extra special experience, take part in its cooking classes or paint with lavender. At the end of your tour, pick a few hand-crafted products from the farm store as souvenirs for family and friends. Candles, lotions, and oils are all very pleasant and soothing.
Family Trip Tip: Be sure to check the social calendar for holiday openings and special events. They are family owned and not open year round. When they are, it is a special treat for the kids. If you can, try to go around Christmas, as it was extra special for our visit.
The historic area of Colonial Williamsburg is the perfect place to take the family on a journey back in time. The area is around 300 acres, and the setting is full of colonial charm. Your kids will be fascinated as they walk along cobblestone streets, observe horse-drawn carriages, and witness actors in full regalia. The area features several historical buildings, including the iconic Governor’s Palace.
Here you can watch demonstrations, such as court sessions, printing, cobbling and candle making. You can also enjoy a tour of the Governor’s Palace or take part in one of the many events, like games in the lawn, live concerts and parades.
Kids will absolutely love the Palace Green scavenger hunt they offer or take your own interactive hunt on the app version. One of our other favorites was taking a tour of the area by horse-drawn carriage. It’s a thirty-minute experience surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings, gardens, and trees. Worth every penny!
Family Trip Tip: One of the places the kids can learn cool facts and create some fun craft projects is at the Art Museum of Colonial Williamsburg. They also have a great Exhibition Scavenger Hunt.
The Yorktown Battlefield
In this beloved community of Yorktown, kids can learn about the history of the epic battle through interactive exhibits and guided tours. Thanks to enthusiastic work from The Historical Committee, the town looks better than ever. There’s lots to experience throughout the area, especially at the Visitors Center, the Nelson House, and the Moore House.
Yorktown also hosts lots of events, like an annual tree lighting that includes drummers, cannons, and monuments that light up along with the festivities. It’s beautiful at night in Yorktown.
Family Trip Tip: Be sure to stop by Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters on your way into or out of town with the family. Their coffee is some of the best in Williamsburg, they have delicious sandwiches, and they have some great treats for the kids.
Ice Skating at Liberty Ice Pavilion
For a festive wintertime activity, take the kids ice skating at the historic Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square. The large pavilion is open to regular public skating throughout the winter season. Kids can show off their skating skills or take a leisurely spin on the ice with family and friends.
There’s a pro shop to rent skates and purchase supplies, so you can be ready for some fun. Snacks around the ice pavilion are also great too. Have a hot mulled cider or enjoy some of their special hot chocolate. You’ll be both satisfied and warm. You can also find tasty hot dogs, ginger cakes, and more!
Family Trip Tip: Don’t go ice skating after a hard rain. It’s unpleasantly wet. Also, evenings are super busy, so plan to go for a more relaxed environment during the weekdays if possible.
Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park
Hard to spend any vacation without a day at the pool. Be sure to take our kids to the Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park for the day. Great Wolf Lodge is a family-friendly hotel that offers an exceptional indoor waterpark to guests and outside visitors. An array of waterslides, wave pools, and other water attractions almost entirely indoors. Great for the winter months and rainy season.
Kids can play in the lazy river, experience the thrill of the Howling Tornado, or take a plunge down Alberta Falls. The wave pool is also great for bobbing around and having fun. If you want to bond over thrill as a family, the raft rides and tube slides are perfect! After all that fun, you can relax in a jacuzzi or rent a cabana and order some food.
Family Trip Tip: Bring a change of clothes in case the kids would like to take a break from the water. Inside the lodge, there’s a huge arcade, a bowling alley, and other activities for the kids. There’s food vendors inside the Water Park, but there is also walkup pizza and a restaurant inside the lodge.
Driving Colonial Parkway of Yorktown
Flanked by the majestic York and James Rivers, the Colonial Parkway seamlessly connects Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown (Virginia’s historic triangle). Completed in 1957 with its winding 23-mile stretch through lush countryside, this scenic roadway offers a remarkable driving experience. It allows motorists to enjoy nature without compromising safety or disturbing natural resources.
There’s not as much to see after dark, so be sure to make at least the first leg of the drive during daylight. The kids will have lots to look for along the way. We made a family game out of our drive and we had a great time together sightseeing.
Trip Tip: The speed limit is 45mph, so set your cruise control, take your time and enjoy the sights. Kids will love spotting deer and other wildlife along the way.
Wagsters Magic Theater
Spend an afternoon or evening at Wagsters Magic Theater, where master illusionists and family entertainers showcase remarkable feats of skill. This interactive show is perfect for kids and adults alike. Kids get an opportunity to be part of the show and help the magicians with their tricks, while parents can appreciate watching their children’s eyes light up with wonder.
The shows are filled with jokes and light-hearted entertainment, which have something for everyone. From classic card tricks to astounding disappearing acts, you’ll be dazzled by the skill and showmanship of these talented performers. Their theater is small and quaint, but delivers some great entertainment.
Trip Tip: If you stay after the show, the kids will get a chance to meet The Wagsters in person, get an autograph or ask them a question about magic. This was really special for our girls, as they got to interact and see some extra magic up close.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is an unbelievable park for families! There’s more than 40 kid-friendly rides and attractions. One of our favorites for the bigger kids was the breathtaking Apollo’s Chariot that drops from over 200 feet straight down. Plenty of kid-friendly thrill rides to be had and smaller ones like carousels and bumper cars for the younger kids.
There are also lots of “medium-intensity” family rides like:
- Der Autobahn – Bumper cars
- Der Wirbelwind – Giant swing ride
- Mach Tower – Mammoth spiraling drop tower
- Le Catapult – Scrambler ride
- Kinder Karussel – Traditional horse carousel
- The Battering Ram – Swinging pendulum ship
- Peppermint Twist – Spinning tea cups
- Snowman Summit – Speedy bobsled ride
One of the coolest parts of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is that it offers a European-themed adventure park. Each country offers their own unique rides, themed entertainment, and authentic food from the region. We had such a great time exploring each part of the park and experiencing the diversity of cultures. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Williamsburg.
Family Trip Tip: Kids ages 3 – 5 can play for free at Busch Gardens Kids’ Weekends with a Preschool Pass while enjoying unlimited admission to Busch Gardens Williamsburg & Water Country USA through October 31, 2023. Register Online.
Water Country USA
Water Country is a part of Busch Gardens Summer park offering. Families can take a wild 5-story plunge on Vanish Point or brave the waves in one of the many wave pools. Take everyone down the lazy river or on a family tube coaster.
There’s lots of slides and rides for any age at Water Country. Splash Areas and Water Playgrounds. Small slides and free-floating. If you’re in Williamsburg for the summer, this is a must do.
Family Trip Tip: Be sure to bring a change of clothes to dress the kids after the day at the park, especially if you are headed to Busch Gardens afterwards. Either way, it makes for a much more pleasant ride home in clean dry clothes.
Williamsburg Family Trip
With all these attractions, there’s no doubt that Williamsburg has so much to offer for kids and families. Whether it’s riding behind a horse-drawn carriage or enjoying some of the bigger adventures, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city!
So, pack your thrill-seeking attitudes and get ready to explore Williamsburg with the kids. It’s time to book your next family trip to Williamsburg!!
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