Why Williamsburg Is the Perfect Spring Break Destination

Families will find plenty to do — from theme park rides and fun outdoor activities to living colonial history and great dining

Busch Gardens
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

It’s the eternal question that starts the annual argument. What to do for spring break?

The kids want fun, fun, fun 'til daddy takes the T-Bird away. Mom and dad want something a little more balanced. Everybody wants interesting chow. Everybody wants a bit of nature and a chance to increase your heart rate (Yes, you do; it's good for you). 

That's why Greater Williamsburg is a rare location that offers all that and more. 

Fun, Fun, Fun

Head to Busch Gardens where a new ride will leave your heart beating a whole lot faster. On Finnegan's Flyer, two-pendulum arms will soar to 80 feet over the cliffs of the Celtic coast at the park's Ireland village at 45 mph. 

Inside Great Wolf Lodge, it’s the perfect temperature year round. Kids can hit the water slides while mom and dad or grandma and granddad hit the spa.

Great Wolf Lodge

Colonial History

Then slow down and sneak in a civics lesson or two. Events throughout the year in Greater Williamsburg are commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in Jamestown, the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, and the arrival of the first large group of British women stabilizing the Jamestown Settlement.

Among them is “Tenacity: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia,” a special exhibition at Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia. “Tenacity” highlights women's contributions from the arrival of the first English women in Virginia in 1608 and the Powhatan Indian women they encountered, to the arrival of the first documented African women and the recruitment of English women in 1619. Over at Historic Jamestowne, an ongoing excavation at the Pierce house is looking for clues and context to the life of an enslaved woman named Angela, who lived among the colonists and the Native Americans.  

TENACITY Exhibition at Jamestown Settlement

The viewpoint shifts a century forward at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, where children of all ages will identify with the stories of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, a time when subjects of a king become citizens of a nation. Inside, nearly every attraction is interactive. Outside, there is an Army encampment where the kids can help with an artillery firing or muster for drills. At the bakehouse, mom and dad might pick up a recipe for a dish from colonial cookbooks.

At Colonial Williamsburg, there is a celebration of the 40th anniversary of African-American interpretation. The living history site was the first to tell the too-often untold story of enslaved and free African-Americans. There's plenty more to experience from the games and songs in the taverns to hands-on history. Drop by the firing range and learn how to use — and fire — a replica musket or stop by the ax throwing range and take part in the trendiest of historical skills. Take a carriage ride. Or go techie and explore the science behind historic conservation at The Wallace Collections and Conservation Building.

The Great Outdoors

Let the wind blow back your hair on a bike ride on the Historic Jamestowne Bike Trail.  Choose from a three-mile or five-mile loop on Island Drive that features 11 interpretive stops including a panoramic view of the James River, archaeological excavation sites, and the roosting nests of bald eagles.  

Or head to Freedom Park. Here, you'll have a more than a full afternoon. This is Adrenaline Central. Indulge your inner Tarzan or Jane at the Go Ape Treetop Adventure course racing down zip lines and rope swings. Ride 20 miles of mountain bike trails through historical sites and forests.

Go Ape

If those two places leave mom and dad in the dust, head over the 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.  

Food, Glorious Food

That exercise guarantees an appetite. Greater Williamsburg has plenty of family-friendly restaurants. Get started right at Aromas Coffeehouse, Bakery and Fresh Cafe in Williamsburg where there's a lot more than great coffee roasted in house daily. Or step back in time when you step into Shorty's Diner for breakfast featuring family recipes going back years. The buttermilk pancakes are as big as the dinner plates. The Yorktown Pub is a locals' favorite with mammoth sandwiches and build-your-own burgers as well. Rick’s Cheese Steak Shop promises great prices, and the best cheesesteak this side of Philly plus Reubens, burgers, and wings. Amber Ox Public House mixes their craft beers with locally focused modern Southern cuisine. Food for Thought offers imaginative food and huge portions and you get a nice bite of the owner's philosophy, thanks to the wisdom on the walls from Einstein to Gandhi.

Amber Ox Public House

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

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