Colonial Williamsburg Attractions and Activities
Image from Colonial Williamsburg
Visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Sites and Trades
A trip to Colonial Williamsburg is sure to be filled with a full day of historic tours and activities. Colonial Williamsburg’s 173-acre Historic Area offers plenty to do for free and with a Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket. When you explore the Historic Area, you’ll discover over 45 historic sites and trades that are sure to teach you something new and give you a one-of-a-kind experience.
Colonial Williamsburg Historic Sites
Free Historic Sites
These historic attractions are free and open to the public.
A key landmark within Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area is the Bruton Parish Church. Over 300 years old, this episcopal church was the official church of England during the Revolution.
Take a self-guided tour and learn about the religious heritage of 18th century Africans. Colonial Williamsburg is home to the original site where African America Baptists met.
A hub for buying and selling handmade goods, Market Square replicates a colonial marketplace. Then, take in the views of the Governor’s Palace from the Palace Green. This beautifully landscaped greenspace is the perfect spot for a picnic, rolling a hoop or another colonial game.
Ticketed Historic Sites
When you purchase a ticket to Colonial Williamsburg, you will have access to these historic sites.
The centerpiece of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, Governor’s Palace is the symbol of power and high society. Take a tour of the palace and view the display of swords, guns and elegant décor.
Did you know that John D. Rockefeller Jr. was one of the key financial backers for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg? See one of his favorite historic sites, Bassett Hall. Tour each room, decorated with folk art as well as 18th-century antiques.
One of the oldest houses within Colonial Williamsburg, Everard House tells the story of Thomas Everard who later became a wealthy planter and civic leader. Then, head to the elegant home of attorney George Wythe. The George Wythe House is home to both free and enslaved citizens. At James Geddy House you can live like a real 18th-century family as you take part in their daily activities. One of colonial America’s most prominent families lived in the Peyton Randolph House. This home details the contrast between free and enslaved residents through African American historical interpreters.
Walk the halls of the Capitol, where the representatives of the colony debated with the British government over the meaning of American liberty. After a fire in 1747, the Secretary’s Office was built as a safe place to store government documents. Today, this building is the oldest archival structure in the western hemisphere.
Watch a performance at the first theatre, Playbooth Theater, or head to Charlton Stage. Both open-air sites feature lively performances. Find out what shows are being performed by viewing Colonial Williamsburg’s calendar of events.
You can catch 18th-century justice in action at the Courthouse. In an original courthouse, learn the rule the courts played in colonial society. Then, see where the prisoners stayed at the Public Gaol. For a more hair-raising experience, head to the Public Hospital—part jail, part infirmary.
Head to the Magazine, where military equipment was stored, and hear the stories of American and British soldiers during the Revolution. You can even take part in 18th-century military activities when you visit Colonial Williamsburg.
Put your green thumb to the test at the Colonial Gardens. Historic interpreters walk the garden grounds demonstrating 18th-century gardening techniques and planting herbs and vegetables commonly grown during that time. See more of Colonial Williamsburg horticulture with a self-guided tour of Great Hopes Plantation.
Learn about the Native American experience in 18th century Virginia at the Indian Delegation. Discover their way of life and find out how they interacted with colonial Virginians.
Visit the religious house for citizens who weren’t part of the Anglican Church. Presbyterian Meetinghouse was where dissenting Protestants were able to meet.
Hear social discussion at the time at Raleigh Tavern, a popular meeting place. Then, gather in a colonial coffeehouse, R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse, for political debate, local news and more.
If you were a traveler in the 18th century, you surely would’ve found yourself at Wetherburn’s Tavern. Here, Henry Wetherburn, his family and slaves welcome guests to the tavern.
Colonial Williamsburg Historic Trades
Purchase an admission ticket to Colonial Williamsburg to watch and take part in demonstrations of authentic historic trades.
Assist in the trades necessary during the Revolutionary War at the Anderson Blacksmith Shop and Public Armory. Watch as the blacksmiths forge tools, hardware and weapons from the fire of hot iron. Watch the work of a colonial gunsmith at the Gunsmith Shop.
In colonial times, when you got sick, you’d pay a visit to the local Apothecary. Here you can learn about medical and surgical practices during the 18th century.
The Printing Office is where printers set type for colonial newspapers, political notices and books. Watch books being bound at the Bindery. Learn how to make fine furniture with the Cabinetmaker. The Cooper converts flat boards into buckets, piggins, firkins and hogheads. Keeping things rolling in colonial times was the Wheelwright. Watch has different types of wood, iron and bands are constructed to create wheels for wagons, ox carts and cannons.
During the summer months, you can visit the Brickyard to assist the brickmakers in creating thousands of bricks by hand. These bricks are used all over the Historic Area. Along with bricks, these colonial buildings are also made with wood. At the Carpenter’s Yard, you can learn from expert carpenters on how to transform trees into structures. The Joinery is where the finished projects were assembled for colonial buildings.
Colonial fashion takes shape at Milliner and Mantua-Maker. Have your colonial wardrobe custom fit for you and let the mantua-maker transform your gown into an 18th-century masterpiece. Colonial Williamsburg’s Tailor makes garments for the typical colonial resident. Browse the assortment of fabrics and watch as the tailor measures someone during a fitting. The Shoemaker forges men’s shoes, from everyday to more dressy footwear, by hand. The local Weavers create everyday items, including shirts, blankets military uniforms and more. No outfit is complete without the proper hairstyle. Watch as the Wigmaker prepares high-society wigs.
Visit the Foundry where the Geddy family lived and worked. These founders create buckles, bells and more, by hand, from different metals. Colonial Williamsburg’s Silversmith will turn coins and old silverware into more fashionable and updated pieces. Tin, one of the cheapest and most light weight materials, was valued by soldiers. At the Tin Shop, watch as kettles, cups, plates and more were created for soldiers to use.
At the Governor’s Palace Kitchen, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways interpreters prepare colonial dishes uses authentic techniques.
As you can see, there’s so much to see and do at Colonial Williamsburg. The hardest part will be deciding what to do first.