The Greater Williamsburg area offers surprising off-the-beaten-path experiences for all ages—from unique outdoor adventures to specialized food tours.
While you may know Greater Williamsburg’s historic sites, theme parks, restaurants, golf and more, there’s the Williamsburg we bet you don’t know: Where you can get up close and personal with the animals at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, go hiking in search of fossils in York River State Park, and sample the ancient drink of mead at the Silver Hand Meadery.
Tours & Trails
For an insider look at some of the region’s unique offerings, try a behind-the-scenes specialized tour.
Yes, Busch Gardens Williamsburg offers heart-stopping rides, Broadway-worthy shows and a beautiful bucolic setting. But did you know that you can learn the history of the majestic Clydesdale horses and see how they’re trained? Or that you can participate in a herding demonstration with Scottish blackface sheep and border collies? That’s all featured on the unusual Clydesdales and Collies Up-Close Tour.
Jamestown Settlement conducts private themed tours, including the Concerning Linen, Leather and Silk tour on historical clothing. The tour starts in the galleries of the Virginia living history museum, where you can see styles from the 17th century. Outside, talk with costumed interpreters about their Powhatan- and English-style clothing, then visit the historical clothing shop and pick up a pattern for a simple embroidery project.
Want to dig a little deeper? Historic Jamestowne, the original site of the 1607 James Fort, offers a 45-minute archaeology tour on which Jamestown Rediscovery archaeology staff give visitors updates on the latest excavations as well as the history of the project.
If you’re up for a little adventure, take an hour-long guided Segway tour of Historic Yorktown. The tour along the scenic York River starts on the bluff near Yorktown Victory Center and goes to the entrance of the National Park Service visitor center near Yorktown Battlefield.
Another outdoor adventure tour is the Fossil Frenzy Hike. Go with a group to a York River State Park beach where the fossils of early whales, porpoises, sharks, clams and scallops can be found. Some are more than 6,000 years old! The free hike is less than 2 miles round trip, and everyone can keep one fossil as a souvenir.
Tastings & Treats
Foodies and culinary connoisseurs can satisfy their curiosity along with their palate with a myriad of food and beverage-related experiences.
Those interested in culinary heritage should try the “garden-to-table” Chef’s Garden Tour and Tasting at The Taste Studio of Colonial Williamsburg. These 45-minute tours focus on the culinary history of such individual ingredients as asparagus, mushrooms and chocolate and how they are used today in innovative contemporary dishes.
If making beer is more your speed, stop by AleWerks Brewing Company for a tasting and tour. Established in 2006, this brewery in the heart of Williamsburg offers samples of its offerings, and each tour includes a look at AleWerks’ unique brewing process as well as the history of beer. Take home an imprinted AleWerks tasting glass as a souvenir.
Water Street Grille is another must-do for beer enthusiasts. Set on the York River with outdoor as well as indoor seating, the casual eatery has 20 microbrews on tap. It serves seafood, tapas and live music year-round.
If you prefer wine to beer, visit The Williamsburg Winery, the largest in the state, for a Tour and Tasting. Learn about how wine is made and sample some of the fine wines produced at this family-owned 300-acre farm dating to the early 1600s.
For a taste of honey, don’t miss the Silver Hand Meadery, which offers Rediscover Honey Guided Honey Tastings, as well as samplings of the ancient honey-based fermented drink, mead.