Greater Williamsburg: 3 Perfect Days for the Holidays

From traditional holiday decorations to English Christmas customs, spend a weekend enjoying the spirit of the season

Smell the fatwood burning in cressets set along Duke of Gloucester Street as the winter evening descends. Listen to it crackle. Hear the caroling in the distance. Then continue on your evening walk through inspiring, timeless architecture. 

Visiting Greater Williamsburg any time of the year is an opportunity to enjoy a wealth of experiences. But there's something special about the holiday season when every breath is a small cloud and the atmosphere, whether in Colonial Williamsburg's historic area or along Yorktown's waterfront, will give you goosebumps — and not because it's below freezing.

Here's a three-day holiday sojourn, timeless and warming.    



Start with a walk through Colonial Williamsburg where the holiday decorations, including more than 2,500 wreaths, are world famous. As the sun surrenders, embrace the flickering fires in 90 cressets and stop by Raleigh Tavern for the raucous Christmas party. If you want to linger, consider taking a guided walk with an 18th-century resident who will share reflections on the holiday season, the news of the day, and perhaps even a little gossip about who's been naughty and who's been nice.


Stroll back up Duke of Gloucester Street and enjoy a casual dinner at the Hound's Tale, a restaurant making a splash by offering a cozy place to hang, including outdoor seating, and inventive drinks and bites. You might find items like fried Brussel sprouts with lemon aioli and crab-stuffed tortelloni. Be sure to try one of their inventive cocktails that might include Nick's Brown Bowtie or Oregon Meets Virginia Trail featuring Virginia moonshine.



It's going to be a busy day so 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. Imagine the breakfast you want from something small and sweet to something that will fuel you for the entire day and it’s here: sandwiches, fresh omelets, crumbly scones, sticky buns, and flaky croissants, not to mention monster muffins.

What are the holidays without shopping? Exactly. Stretch your dollars at the more than 120 stores of Williamsburg Premium Outlets. You'll find deals up to 65 percent off and that word "premium" in the name is not an accident. These are the best of the best.  Browse through Burberry, Calvin Klein, Nike, the Coach Outlet, Oakley, Ralph Lauren, L'Occitane, Swarovski, Waterford, and others.

Save a little time to check in at Yankee Candle Village. Nothing compares to a trip there during the holiday shopping season. With more than 45,000 square feet of interactive shopping and fun, you will linger here, wrapped in the warmth of the season. Stroll through the Holiday Park with more than 40,000 ornaments. Enjoy original animated musical entertainment and other activities.


Slip over to Food for Thought for huge portions from a menu that's both solid and imaginative. If you're looking for an old favorite like a Cobb salad, it's here, but so are items like crab on a portabella mushroom and Pad Thai. You get a nice bite of the owner's philosophy, thanks to the wisdom on the walls from Einstein to Gandhi. Ponder their wisdom before you embark on the afternoon's adventure.


Cruise over to the Jamestown Settlement or the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown to check out English Christmas customs of the colonial period during the difficult early years of America’s first permanent English colony. Be sure to indulge your naughty side with the Lord of Misrule, an English tradition. The "grand captain of all mischief,” wears yellow and green scarves, ribbons, laces, rings and jewels, and spreads his revelry throughout the settlement during the holidays.

Who can resist a good skate? From Jamestown, slip back into Williamsburg and the Liberty Ice Pavilion on Duke of Gloucester Street. Skate to the sounds of the season with hot cider or coffee just steps away.


Give yourself an early holiday treat with a meal at Cochon on 2nd in Williamsburg where the surroundings are as cozy as the food is fancy. Choose from wood-grilled rosemary rack of lamb, aged prime Black Angus beef tenderloin, and smoked Maple Leaf duck breast with mirin glaze among the entrees.



The Yorktown waterfront is stunning even in the austerity of winter. Grab a table with a view at the Riverwalk Restaurant where the Sunday brunch runs until 2 p.m. and features everything you could imagine from eggs Benedict to biscuits and gravy and every kind of egg dish. 


Options abound. Busch Gardens celebrates Christmas Town annually with more than 10 million lights, an all-new Christmas Town Express holiday-themed train ride experience, festive food and drink, unique holiday shopping, and heart-warming shows.

For something a little more contemplative, visit the playground for all ages at Waller Mill Park. A 360-acre lake and hiking trails are the centerpieces of this park not far from downtown. Cruise in a pedal boat. Go flinging with disc golf. Follow your bliss and take a hike along weaving trails and ponder the true meaning of the season.




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