Our family travels recently took us to Williamsburg, Virginia, an area that captured our attention with all its history and exciting family activities. We had been looking for a family-friendly road trip destination from our home in Pennsylvania, and with Williamsburg being just a six-hour drive, it was the perfect choice for a weekend getaway. Going into the trip, our children were looking forward to the thrill of roller coasters and water slides, while my husband and I were excited to experience the area’s rich history.
Upon arriving in Williamsburg, we were greeted with true Southern hospitality—I knew immediately that we had picked the right spot. The area has so much to offer families like ours, so I thought I’d point y’all (my favorite word of the trip) in the direction of some of our favorite family-friendly stops in Williamsburg.
Boasting an indoor water park that features pools, slides, and even an interactive water treehouse, Great Wolf Lodge was a hit with our whole family, especially my older boys (eight and ten years old). They were able to run off and play, and while we crossed paths several times over a few hours, it was nice to be able to let them do their own thing. My one-year-old son, Roman, had the time of his life splashing around, my four-year-old daughter, Winter, loved the slides, and EVERYONE had a blast in the wave pool. After we all dried off, the kids enjoyed the Build-A-Bear experience that the hotel offers.
The rooms were nice, especially for the kids because they had an area that resembled a log cabin with bunk beds and its own TV. Nighttime is special at Great Wolf Lodge because the property offers story time and a dance party in the lobby.
In the morning, we treated ourselves to breakfast at The Loose Moose Bar & Grill, and I must say...the service was phenomenal. Everyone we encountered—from the host to the waitress—was excellent, and we never had to ask for coffee or orange juice refills. We enjoyed everything from scrambled eggs and bacon to fresh fruit and yogurt parfaits.
For our first morning excursion, we headed to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. To get there from the hotel, we hopped on the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown, and it ended up being a stunning drive. I made my husband stop and pull over so that I could snap some photos of the lush greenery and water. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more pleasant cup of coffee than the one I enjoyed while taking in the gorgeous views along the Colonial Parkway.
Our family had an amazing time exploring the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The way the staff gets into character makes for a great experience, and it really helps you visualize how people lived back then. The outdoor area allowed my kids to interact with history in a truly exciting way—in fact, they didn’t even realize they were getting a history lesson! Our favorite part was seeing the cabins/homes and learning how they cooked in the kitchen. My boys particularly enjoyed seeing the cannons, while my younger two had fun chasing the chickens. Everyone left with such an appreciation for what we have, and a better understanding of how we got here.
When we first arrived at Water Street Grille, we each threw a quarter into a glorious fountain and made a wish. We sat outside at a table that had views of the York River flowing into the bay, and that really made the meal extra-special. My fish tacos were a 10 out of 10, the kids really enjoyed their burgers and mac and cheese, and my husband didn’t leave anything on his plate. The portion sizes left everyone satisfied, but it was the atmosphere that won my heart.
As Virginia’s largest water park, Water Country USA offers fun for the entire family. My boys loved the thrills of the Colossal Curl, a mega slide that swirls you around a funnel and sends you down tubes into a pool. Winter and Roman had the best time splashing around the children’s play areas, such as Kritter Korral and H20 UFO. Once we found the toddler-friendly water slides and floats, my kids were hooked. They went down the slides probably about 100 times, had a blast with the spray jets, and floated around in tubes. The whole family then cooled down in the Lazy River before heading to the Surfer’s Bay Wave Pool to ride the waves!
Talk about a restaurant that checks all the boxes with amazing food and service! We come from an area of Pennsylvania that is known for its pizza, so we weren’t sure what to expect when we ordered pizza here—but it was very good. Anna’s is an Italian restaurant that you could put in any part of the country, and it would be a hit. The spaghetti, meatballs, and garlic bread were everything you’d expect at your favorite Italian restaurant. For Hudson’s 10th birthday, our waitress surprised him with chocolate cake at the end of the meal and the entire restaurant sang to him!
With fun toys, apparel, home decor, and souvenirs, Williamsburg General Store is the cutest little country store. The line for ice cream was very long but well worth the wait (as most good things are). The portions are generous, and the ice cream might have been the creamiest I’ve ever had. My kids got the waffle cones with vanilla and added rainbow sprinkles, and since it was my oldest son’s birthday, he was allowed to pick whatever he wanted off the menu (cookie dough!). For any ice cream lover coming to the area, this is a must-visit. Plus, if you are anything like us, vacation is all about finding special places to get treats.
Emily’s is a small, family-owned cafe with a friendly staff and a great donut selection. We ordered a dozen so that we could try all the different flavors, including peanut butter, cream-filled, and glazed with chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla frosting with sprinkles. Every single one was delicious, and the iced coffees and lattes were amazing, too!
We learned how the settlers first came to Jamestown in 1607 and when you get on the ships, it’s a powerful experience. To see how people came over here hundreds of years ago was something that I’ll never forget. As a family of six, we sometimes feel crammed in the car, but after seeing the sleeping quarters and how long people spent on the ships, I won’t be complaining about space for a while. When we got inside the museum, we explored mockup houses those early settlers lived in and learned how they heated up their beds in the winter. We also explored the outdoor portion, and really enjoyed the Paspahegh town.
10. Electric Circus Taco Bar
If you love tacos as much as I do, this is your place. The street tacos were the best I’ve ever had—Electric Circus Taco Bar needs to get a food truck and bring it to Pennsylvania as soon as possible. The arcade was a total hit with my husband and the kids, especially the air hockey, ping pong, and pinball. The atmosphere is fun, bright, and electric, and everyone loved the food. It’s a family-friendly place where you can play arcade games and then head back to your table to eat tacos. If you like unique craft beer, their selection of West Coast IPAs is worth the stop alone. Bring your quarters—and your appetite—because this is a can’t miss spot.
For a competitive family like ours, playing mini golf was a great way to break up the day. The staff is very friendly, and the pirate-themed course is a blast to play, with waterfalls, sunken ships, and pretty landscaping all around. I took home two special memories: my husband teaching my daughter how to putt on the first couple holes and me beating my entire family to become the mini golf champion. Hudson and I each got a hole-in-one—in fact, I got two!
12. Go-Karts Plus
Boys love go-karts. Let me say that again...boys LOVE go-karts. It’s as simple as that. The boys had the best time trying out different go-kart tracks and doing the blaster boats. Go-Karts Plus is a great time because it has four different go-kart tracks, bumper cars, a mini roller coaster, and an indoor arcade.
We ended up eating here twice because we fell in love. Pierce’s has outdoor picnic tables all over, making it feel like a relaxed family picnic. It’s perfect if you have little ones who don’t love to sit in a highchair for a long period of time—they can run free outside. Everyone devoured their food, and I especially loved the pulled pork. The rest of my family loved the ribs and chicken as well. We don’t have anything that could compete with this near me, so it was really a treat.
This was something I was very excited to do, and it did not disappoint. It was probably my favorite part of the trip. You can rent hybrid or recumbent bikes (and toddler wagons available too) to go up and down the scenic, 3.5-mile nature trail. On our relaxing ride, we stopped by a field with a beautiful large tree to take a family photo and rode over some gorgeous wooden bridges. It will be a memory I will cherish for a long time.
15. Busch Gardens
The Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has nine international villages throughout the park, and there is a train stop in each village where you can be picked up and dropped off. The train isn’t just for transportation— it’s an attraction all on its own. My favorite part was walking around all the different areas and looking at the beautiful details that set each village apart. Each village had unique European flair, and that provided plenty of perfect backdrops for a family photo. Busch Gardens has rides for all ages—from thrilling roller coasters to slow-paced rides for the little ones. My husband and older boys are STILL talking about the Alpen Geist and Loch Ness Monster roller coasters.
Exploring never gets old, and the Williamsburg area is the perfect place to take your family to play, eat, explore, learn, and bond. Everyone is so friendly (I can’t stress this enough) and that really made our trip extra special. On top of that, everywhere we went, it was very clean, safe, and family-friendly. It really was a trip we will always remember.