A visit to Williamsburg, Virginia has been on my family’s bucket list for quite some time now. It’s the perfect driving distance from our home in Pennsylvania, and between its beauty, history, and fun-filled activities, we knew it would be the perfect weekend getaway for our family.
Later this year, we will be welcoming a new baby into our family, so my husband and I wanted to plan a trip that would be special for our daughter, Lilly. With no shortage of family activities, great restaurants, and amazing educational experiences, we knew that Williamsburg would be the perfect place to spend some quality time as a family before the baby arrives.
Where We Stayed
We decided to take a long weekend to explore Williamsburg, and checked into the Williamsburg Lodge on a Friday evening. With access to a beautiful spa at The Spa at Colonial Williamsburg and a well-groomed golf course, the Williamsburg Lodge offers a family-friendly (and dog-friendly) retreat! As a guest, you can also receive discounted admission ticket prices and feel right in the action of Colonial Williamsburg. The location is amazing, and we loved how Colonial Williamsburg and Merchants Square were within walking distance.
Lilly loved that we could explore for small segments of time and come back to our hotel room to take breaks. She is not a fan of riding in the car, so staying right in Colonial Williamsburg was such a treat. We also loved grabbing breakfast at Traditions, one of the restaurants inside the Williamsburg Lodge, every morning before heading off on an adventure. Lilly says to try their chocolate chip pancakes!
What We Did and Where We Ate
Dinner at Waypoint Seafood & Grill:
My whole family absolutely loves seafood, and fresh seafood is a hot commodity in the Pittsburgh-area, so one of the things we really wanted when visiting Williamsburg was to have a great seafood meal. My daughter, Lilly, is all about “fancy dinners” right now, so we thought that Waypoint Seafood & Grill would be a great family option that provided an upper-scale ambiance!
We were greeted right away by the friendliest staff, and our server was one of the best we’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. The food was next level. The crab bisque was delicious, with just a hint of jalapeno to add the perfect amount of spice. Alex and I shared the crispy calamari for an appetizer and finished with the catch of the day that happened to be the most beautifully presented filet of rockfish I have ever seen.
If you are a seafood lover like my family, Waypoint is an absolute dining must!
On the first day of our trip, we started bright and early with a drive along the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown. The Colonial Parkway is an absolutely breathtaking twenty-three mile scenic roadway that stretches from the York River to the James River, connecting Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. There are no telephone poles or any man-made things that will obstruct your views, and the views are SO WORTH THE DRIVE.
Once we arrived at Yorktown, we headed to The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. We could have spent even longer than the several hours we did at this incredibly curated museum. I think everyone in my family walked away with a wealth of knowledge, even my history-buff husband!
Next on our agenda was a stroll with Historians Michael and Maureen from Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters. They were an incredible wealth of historical knowledge and covered everything from the Revolutionary war to residents of the past like Thomas Nelson Jr. and civil rights activist, Dr. Daniel Norton. Every member of my family LOVED learning about historic Yorktown and had so much fun learning from such engaging historians!
Lilly was ready for lunch after our historic stroll and was in luck thanks to the delicious lunch options served up at Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters. Celeste, the owner of Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters, has been such an asset to the Yorktown community by transforming the historic Cole Digges house into a coffee and tea house with a petite cafe. I love that Celeste combined her love of history with serving the community to create such a special spot in Yorktown.
After lunch, we strolled around Yorktown’s waterfront and fell in love with the quaint shops and coastal charm!
Busch Gardens Williamsburg:
For the first time, Busch Gardens Williamsburg will be open January through December, with new, limited-capacity special events added to their lineup for the year. We were there for Winter Weekends. We strolled through the villages that were still decorated with gorgeous holiday lights. We rode several fun rides like Lilly’s favorite, the Merry-Go-Round! We even got to watch a live animal show while enjoying our dinner in Germany!
We finished the night off by enjoying a S’mores Funnel Cake together while watching the closing fireworks display!
One of Lilly’s favorite parts of the whole trip was visiting Jamestown Settlement. The museum is filled with amazing interactive experiences and interpreters who have a wealth of knowledge about what it was like to be part of the Jamestown Settlement during the 17th century. Lilly loved going into the different buildings within the settlement, exploring the re-creations of ships used to bring the first settlers across the Atlantic from England, and see what it was like to be a Powhatan Indian.
Revolution Golf and Grille:
After exploring Jamestown all morning, we headed over to Revolution Golf and Grille for a fun, interactive lunch. In between bites, we had the opportunity to play a variety of different games within our own entertainment suite. We played virtual golf, Tic-Tac-Toe, and several kid games that Lilly loved. It was an absolute blast and the food was DELICIOUS!
Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area:
We could have spent several days exploring Colonial Williamsburg because there is so much to take in. We toured several of the amazing buildings and had fun learning from the engaging interpreters at places like the blacksmith shop and the beautiful gardens. I love that Colonial Williamsburg is a living-history museum and truly lets you experience what it was like to live there.
Ice Skating at Liberty Ice Pavilion:
One of the absolute highlights of our trip to Williamsburg was getting the chance to ice skate at Liberty Ice Pavilion in Colonial Williamsburg. Lilly has been asking me to sign her up for ice skating lessons all year, and she was SO THRILLED to have the opportunity to try it! She was a little nervous at first and would only use the walkers provided, but by the end, she laughed hysterically as she let me pull her around the rink while holding just my hands.
There aren’t many outdoor skating rinks in our area, so it was fun and felt very festive to ice skate outdoors in such a gorgeous town underneath hanging lights!
Dinner at Chowning's Tavern:
In the heart of Colonial Williamsburg lies a quaint and Colonial-inspired pub, Josiah Chowning’s Tavern. It gives the feel of an authentic pub or alehouse. The servers are dressed in their 18th-century best and are ready to entertain! We gave some traditional dishes a try, like their Shepherd’s Pye and Creole Fried Fingerling Potatoes. They most certainly did not disappoint. If you find yourself hungry as you explore the historic town, be sure to stop by Chowning’s Tavern for a bite to eat!
After dinner, we finished the night with ice cream from our favorite, Kilwin’s! If you need help choosing a flavor, I always get the Praline Pecan. We then explored all the gorgeous shops around Merchants Square. I love that Colonial Williamsburg almost fades into Merchants Square, making it a fun option to explore both during your time there!
Why My Family Loves Williamsburg:
History Comes to Life:
From Yorktown to Jamestown, to Williamsburg, the engaging staff and interpreters are filled with a wealth of knowledge that truly takes you back to actually experience what life was like during the 17th and 18th centuries in Virginia. My whole family loved learning through experience, and each of us felt like we learned something new and exciting during our time in Williamsburg.
The Foundation is Family:
From Busch Gardens to ice skating at Liberty Ice Pavilion, there was fun to be had for every member of our family. Even just walking the streets of Williamsburg, you can tell that the majority of visitors are with their families. Much of that is due to the amazing efforts that Williamsburg has made to make visiting a special experience for every age!
Food Becomes an Experience:
From our lunch and historic stroll at Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters to our engaging and authentic 18th-century meal at Chowning’s Tavern, our interactive lunch at Revolution Golf and Grille, to the best seafood dinner at Waypoint Seafood & Grille, dining becomes an experience in Williamsburg. Each meal provided its own special experience for my family, and we walked away with full bellies and the biggest smiles.
You'll Create the Best Memories:
We left Williamsburg feeling so fulfilled from our quality time together as a family. Watching Lilly learn and experience new things in such a special way was definitely my favorite part of the whole trip. We are so thankful to have had this time together before the baby arrives and can’t wait to take both kids back to Williamsburg someday soon. If you are looking for the perfect weekend getaway or want to experience Virginia in a special way, Williamsburg is the perfect vacation spot for every member of your family!