Why Greater Williamsburg is Perfect for Multigenerational Families

With adventure, history, and outdoor activities galore, it has something for the whole extended family to enjoy.

Colonial Williamsburg
Busch Gardens
Biking in Yorktown Battlefield
Historic Jamestowne
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Looking for a place with something to excite the kids, their parents, and their grandparents? A fun family destination for all ages with adventure, history, indoor and outdoor options, and pampering on the plate or at the spa?

Greater Williamsburg offers all that and more, accessible within a few minutes’ drive. No wonder Travel + Leisure named it one of the top cities in the United States “to stay, travel and more.” 

Go Riding

Choose land, water, or even air for your adventure.

On land, hop on a bike. Head to Freedom Park, where there are more than 20 miles of mountain biking trails winding through forests and along creeks and open meadows. For a leisurely ride, hit the Colonial Parkway, connecting Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown over its 23 miles. Or check out the Historic Jamestowne Bike Trail. Choose from a three-mile or five-mile loop on Island Drive that features a panoramic view of the James River.  

More interested in paddling than pedaling? Bay Country guided kayak eco tours offer a range of choices including trips through College Creek, a serene paddle, and Queen’s Creek, a stunning tidal creek emptying into the York River, where you might see otter, muskrat, crabs, and deer. On Sundays, York River State Park features sunset paddles during that special time when the light is perfect and all is quiet on the marsh. For another option, head to the James City County Marina, which offers kayak rentals for trips up the creek where you might see bald eagles, osprey, and great blue herons.

Care to pedal but actually paddle? Cruise in a pedal boat at Waller Mill Park, a playground for all ages. A 360-acre lake and hiking trails are the centerpieces of this park not far from downtown. Go fishing. Play disc golf. Take a hike. Family bonding was never such fun.

If you want to get around while standing still (we're talking to you parents or grandparents with aching knees), head to Yorktown and hop on a Segway with Patriot Tours. Enjoy a one- or two-hour tour covering the waterfront and historic Main Street with stories of the city's Revolutionary and Civil War battles.

Cool off with a refreshing splash and a watery ride at Great Wolf Lodge or Water Country USA. At Great Wolf, the kids can hit the water slides while mom and dad or grandma and granddad hit the spa. At Water Country USA, rides like Jet Scream and Colossal Curl will have older kids screaming while options like the Kritter Korral are great for younger kids, with gentler fountains and splash pools.

Do you prefer the track to the slide? On the eight acres of Go-Karts Plus, there are enough tracks to make a NASCAR driver jealous. The prime time is the Super Stockart Track, where you race around a high-banked oval, NASCAR Style. There are also family-friendly mini-golf, watery blaster boats, bumper cars, and an arcade.

If you can't keep your feet on the ground, get high at Go Ape Treetop Adventure at Freedom Park where there are rope ladders, a canopy tour, two Tarzan swings, and five zip lines, the longest a 600-foot finale. It's no zip-and-run adventure; the experience can last up to three hours and covers 2,099 feet of zipping. 

Enjoy Living History

Here, the past is present. Every day. In every step. Come live it. Whether you have read every book by Joseph J. Ellis and David McCullough or just watched the most recent season of Turn: Washington's Spies on Netflix, there are historical facts and fun for everyone. 

Each of the main destinations — Colonial Williamsburg, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Jamestown Settlement, and Historic Jamestowne — have transformed in recent years. They're high tech and hands on. At Colonial Williamsburg, stop by The Capitol and maybe you'll be chosen to be Patrick Henry in "Resolved," an interactive interpretation of the 5th Virginia Convention, which laid the foundation for the Declaration of Independence. Visit the archaeology dig for children on Duke of Gloucester Street. Drop by the firing range and learn how to use — and fire — a replica musket or check out the ax-throwing range and take part in the trendiest of historical skills. Go on a carriage ride. Or go techie and explore the science behind historic conservation at The Wallace Collections and Conservation Building. 

At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, children of all ages will identify with the stories of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, a time when subjects of a king became citizens of a nation. Inside, nearly every attraction is interactive. Outside, there is an Army encampment where you can help with artillery firing or muster for drills. At the bake house, you might pick up a recipe for a dish from contemporary colonial cookbooks.

At Historic Jamestowne dig into the past and visit with archaeologists about their excavations on the site of the ill-fated colony. Join Dr. William Kelso, the director of archaeology, for special tours of the 1607 James Fort (check the online schedule). Visit the Archaearium, a museum that houses some of the two million artifacts uncovered since the Jamestown Rediscovery Project began in 1994. 

Jamestown Settlement is a place to play at history featuring replicas of the original fort, three sailing ships, and a Powhatan Indian village. Weave a basket, be fitted for armor and do battle, learn how to prepare a feast. It's a full afternoon of fun (just don't mention the learning part to the kids). 

Experience a World of Thrills and Chills in a Day

Few places offer the range of experiences at Busch Gardens, where the kids can thrill to the park's roller coasters while the older generations of garden lovers can admire the award-winning landscaping. There are also family-friendly shows and performances for every taste and age: British hits from the 1960s to today, traditional Irish dancing, a sing-along to Sesame Street favorites, and Howl to Exist, a show featuring wolves along with a barn owl, rats, and a Harris's hawk.

If that's not enough, explore Greater Williamsburg's 10 most popular attractions, and the best cheap eats.  Then plan your visit today.