10 Great Free Things to Do in Williamsburg

Here are some amazing attractions that cost absolutely nothing!

York River State Park
York River State Park
Sunken Garden at The College of William & Mary
The College of William & Mary
Williamsburg Botanical Garden
Williamsburg Botanical Garden
A concert at Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown
Concerts at Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown

Exploring Greater Williamsburg can easily be done on a budget. But if you want to add an extra day to your stay by keeping your wallet closed, there are a host of fun free options. Here are some of the best:

  1. Take a hike. Greensprings Interpretative Trail links history and nature over more than 5 miles (with several loop options) in Jamestown Festival Park. Explore a coastal estuary hiking a dozen short trails at York River State Park. In Williamsburg, Freedom Park, a historic area dating to the 1650s, offers 2 miles of forested multiuse trails. Waller Mill Park, also in Williamsburg, offers winding hiking trails, one paved, leading through stands of hardwood and pine with the occasional views of the water. Finally, walking trails along the historic Civil War grounds of Redoubt Park include two of the 14 Confederate earthwork forts, or redoubts. 
     
  2. Hop on a bike. Williamsburg is an end (and beginning) point on one of the first inland paved pedestrian and bicycle trails in North America, The Virginia Capital Trail. Its 52 miles of soul-soothing beauty connect the state's past and present capitals of Jamestown and Richmond. Nearly all the local parks also have biking and mountain biking trails. 
     
  3. Ride the Yorktown Trolley. Hop on the mahogany and brass-trimmed trolley for the 4-mile loop including historic Yorktown village, the Yorktown Battlefield and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
     
  4. Watch a movie. On Sunday nights from June to September, bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy free popcorn and a great family movie on Prince George Street in Williamsburg. The showings start at dusk.
     
  5. Visit a museum. York County Historical Museum features artifacts from 400 years of York County history, including the Native American, Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War, and 20th-century periods.
     
  6. Stop and smell the roses. Explore the two-acre Williamsburg Botanical Garden in Freedom Park, featuring more than 800 species of native vegetation. Stroll through the Butterfly Garden, Herb Garden, Native Garden, two Wetland sites, Native Meadow, and Pine Woodlands, among others. Enjoy a picnic in the pavilion, which has benches and picnic tables.
     
  7. Ride the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. Imagine what the first settlers saw 400 years ago during the 15 minutes as you cross the river from Jamestown to Surry. On the Surry side, State Route 10 is an old-fashioned drive that features potential stops at plantations and Chippokes Plantation State Park, one of the oldest working plantations in the U.S., farmed continuously since 1619.
     
  8. Take a Sunday drive any day. The Colonial Parkway connects Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown along 23 scenic miles encompassing views of the James and York rivers. Pull off at numerous spots for interpretive signs as well as for picnics, including on cozy beaches.
     
  9. Hear some music. Enjoy the open-air sounds of Thursdays by the Lake at the Mariners Museum, which offers performances by some of the area's hottest bands on the banks of Lake Maury throughout the summer. Shagging on the Riverwalk in Yorktown is a chance to dance to beach music during June and July. From June to August, check out the Summer Breeze Concert Series in Williamsburg's Merchants Square. Also in Colonial Williamsburg, enjoy music performances as well as arts and crafts vendors at the Second Sunday’s Art & Music Festival from March to December. Finally, every Saturday morning at the Williamsburg Farmers Market, you can listen to a featured musical artist in Merchants Square.
     
  10. Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson. Take a self-guided tour of Jefferson’s alma mater, the historic campus of William & Mary, the second-oldest college in the country dating to 1693. Visit buildings that created the “Alma Mater of a Nation,” which produced four presidents, 16 members of the Continental Congress, four signers of the Declaration of Independence, and four justices of the Supreme Court. Audio tours are available.

See all the fabulous things to do in Greater Williamsburg, check out special events and plan your visit today!