Explore Colonial Williamsburg: Best Guide to America's Revolutionary City

Explore Colonial Williamsburg: Best Guide to America's Revolutionary City

Colonial Williamsburg bring history to life. Once the capital of Virginia, Williamsburg is arguably the birthplace of the American Revolution. This historic site is the country’s largest outdoor history museum and quite literally a theater in the streets. Where historic figures like George Washington and James Madison tell you about their lives, where cobblers make colonial shoes from scratch, and the buildings that surround you date before the American Revolution.


marquis de lafayette colonial williamsburg virginia
Marquis de Lafayette was easily one of my favorite speeches at Charlton's Stage.

Colonial Williamsburg is made up of 301-acres of history, including 90 structures that have survived from colonial times and another 400 that have been rebuilt on their original sites. A must see for history fans, Colonial Williamsburg is much more than just the past. Although the actors focus on the time period of the American Revolution from 1774 – 1781, it is an eye-opening experience that will broaden the understanding of American history for anyone who visits.


Need to Know



Colonial Williamsburg is located in the city of Williamsburg in eastern Virginia, just shy of an hour southeast of Richmond, Virginia. The colonial city itself makes up a fairly large area, about 1-mile long and 1/2-mile wide, just east of the historic university of William and Mary. 




Colonial Williamsburg is open every day of the year, but hours differ depending on the activity. The streets and parks of the town are open 24/7, some of the historic buildings are still private residences, so you can walk the streets any time, day or night.


Most of the historic sites are open daily from 9am – 5pm and the Art Museum of Colonial Williamsburg is open 10am – 6pm. Tours and speeches by historical actors vary from day to day so you will want to check the schedule to see what and when you would like to view those. There are even nighttime tours if you are looking for something to do in the evening.




Entrance to the Colonial Williamsburg area is free and you are welcome to walk the streets and eat or drink in one of the historic taverns or restaurants without a ticket.


Ticket costs vary depending on the number of days you plan to visit, but they all allow for entry into the historic sites, museum, and stage performances. You can see all of the historic sites and grounds in one day, but that will not leave you time to truly enjoy the grounds or listen to some of the great speeches. I suggest 3 or more days to fully enjoy Colonial Williamsburg.


Single-Day Ticket: Adult - $46.99; Youth (6-12) - $25.99

Multi-day Ticket (3 days): Adult - $56.99; Youth (6-12) - $30.99

Annual Pass: Adult - $74.99; Youth (6-12) - $41.99

America’s Historic Triangle Ticket (if you plan to visit Jamestown and Yorktown as well): Adult - $109.90; Youth (6-15) - $48.45


When to Visit


Colonial Williamsburg is open 365 days a year so you can visit any time of the year you want. The best times of the year to visit though is either I the Spring or Fall. During these two seasons, Virginia sees moderate temperatures giving very nice weather to stroll the historic streets. These two seasons are also the busiest times for the historic town though, so prepare for there to be quite a few tourists. Fall is by far the busiest season since in it also brings the changing of the leaves. With school out during the summer months, Colonial Williamsburg also sees a lot of tourists during this time, but it is also the hottest and muggiest time of the year in Virginia. Winter sees by far the least number of tourists, but you can sometimes experience Colonial Williamsburg covered in snow during this time.


What to Do

While you can freely walk the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, if you wish to tour any of the historic buildings you will need to purchase a ticket. There is always a lot going on in the historic city and the schedule changes daily, so you will want to look at a schedule to figure out what you want to do each day. With a changing schedule the opening times of different buildings and shops also changes. To know what shops are open simply look to see if a flag is flying outside the building.


Take in the Splendor of the Governor’s Palace


governors palace colonial williamsburg virginia
A tour of the Governor's Palace is a must when you visit Colonial Williamsburg.

The Governor’s Palace is one of the most impressive buildings in all Colonial Williamsburg. It was home to seven royal governors and two elected governors of Virginia. Built to impress all who visited, the Governor’s Palace is full of stately rooms, rifle and saber covered walls, and large palace gardens and hedge maze.


Visit the Capitol Building


royal council capitol building colonial williamsburg virginia
The Royal Council room in the Capitol Building.

The Capitol Building of Colonial Williamsburg might be one of the most important buildings in the historic city. Housing both the Royal Council and the House of Burgesses it is here that Patrick Henry argued his seven Stamp Act Resolutions, starting the ball rolling towards the American revolution.


Listen to a Historical Speech at Charlton’s Stage


young george washington charlton stage colonial williamsburg virginia
Young George Washington was one of my top three speeches.

The speeches at the Charlton Stage were by far the most entertaining aspect of Colonial Williamsburg for me. They have different historical actors giving speeches each day and I highly recommend making this a stop each day that you are there. Out of all the speeches that I heard, James Madison, young George Washington, and Marquis de Lafayette were by far my favorite. Once their speech is done, they open it to the crowd for questions. Though you can ask questions from any time period, they will answer any questions about events after 1781 as hypotheticals.


Tour the Historic Houses


peyton randolph house colonial williamsburg virginia
The Peyton Randolph House is one of the oldest and popular historic houses at Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg has a number of historic houses throughout the city that can be toured. The most prominent of these is the Peyton Randolph House, located on the corner of Nicholson and England St. These houses give an outstanding view of colonial life.


Learn the Colonial Trades at the Trade Shops


cabinetmaker trades shop colonial williamsburg virginia
The cabinetmaker is only one of many Trade Shops in Colonial Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg has trade shops all over the historic site. Visitors to these shops can learn all about the trades, how they worked, the tools that were used, and the work that went into making the products. Just a few examples of the trade shops that are located in the city are the cabinetmaker, gun shop, brickyard, and carpenter’s yard.


Pub Hop the Historic Taverns


kings arms tavern colonial williamsburg virginia
King's Arms Tavern was a popular tavern in the colonial period.

Taverns were an important places in Colonial Williamsburg. Acting as meeting houses, dinners, and hotels, these shops were frequented often by many of the people in the town. There are currently seven taverns in the historic city; far more than churches. Today six of these taverns are still selling food and drinks for you to enjoy. Colonial Williamsburg even have their own craft beers you can try.


Join a Tour Group


street view colonial williamsburg virginia
The flags in front of building show that they are open.

You can easily walk around Colonial Williamsburg on your own and take in all of the sites and sounds of the historic city, but if you want to delve deeper then you should take a guided tour. Knowledgeable tour guides will take you on a stroll through town and explain the history of the buildings and significance of the sites in living detail.


Where to Eat


kings arms shields tavern colonial williamsburg virginia
The King's Arms and Shields Taverns are two historic taverns to grab a bit to eat.

Within Colonial Williamsburg there are four historic taverns where you can find food: Campbell’s Tavern, King’s Arms Tavern, Chowning’s Tavern, and Shields Tavern. The menus of these taverns are inspired by the colonial period and each focus on a different cuisine; Campbell’s on seafood, King’s Arm on steak, Chowning’s on pub food, and Shields on international flavors. All of these a fairly expensive, but it isn’t often you get to eat in a tavern that George Washington also once ate in.


Modern day Williamsburg is a college town and sin Colonial Williamsburg sits beside the university there are plenty of places to eat. Just west of the historic area is an array of restaurants where you will find any type of food that you are looking for. Two places that I recommend is Paul’s Deli and Berret’s Seafood Restaurant. Paul’s Deli has great pizzas, and their tacos are delicious. Berret’s, on the other hand, has seafood (somewhat pricy), but if you go for lunch, they have oysters on special.


Where to Stay


Colonial Williamsburg offers a few options of there own for guests to stay at, from swanky resorts to colonial houses and taverns, all of which also include 2 admission tickets to Colonial Williamsburg. The Williamsburg Inn and Colonial houses are all within a few minutes’ walk of the historic town making it easy to go to and from, but these options are also fairly pricy. If you are wanting cheaper accommodation you will want to look along the highway to the east and north of Colonial Williamsburg for a hotel. These are far cheaper and still a short drive to the historic city. For the cheapest deals I always use Agoda to reserve my accommodations.


How to Get Around


Colonial Williamsburg is a small area, just one mile long and 1/2 mile wide, and is closed to car traffic, so walking is the main way to get around the historic area. For the most part, while you are in Colonial Williamsburg you will be stopping quite frequently to see different sites while you make your way through the city.


horse carriage colonial williamsburg virginia
A popular activity is to ride around Colonial Williamsburg in a carriage.

If you want to get around in style and have a more aristocratic experience, then you can also take a horse drawn carriage ride through Colonial Williamsburg. Carriage rides cost $80 for the carriage (there is a $15 discount if you have a Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket). The carriage rides are a popular activity so you will want to reserve a ride as early as possible.


How to Get There


Colonial Williamsburg is a popular tourist destination and as such has many options for getting there. Although the most popular is by car, you can also get the area by plane, bus, or train. 


pin point map location colonial williamsburg virginia



Driving is easiest way of getting to Colonial Williamsburg. If you are planning on seeing the rest of Virginia’s Historical Triangle it is the best option for you to be able to travel to all the areas. Colonial Williamsburg is just off US 60 and has three great places to park. The Tavern Parking just south of the Capitol Building is the closest parking. There is also close parking at the Art Museum which is just a few minutes’ walk to the historic city. The Visitor Center, located northeast of the Colonial Williamsburg also has parking as well as a free shuttle that runs every 15 minutes from 9am – 10pm.




If you wish to take the train to Colonial Williamsburg, the Amtrak serves Williamsburg at the Transportation Center. This is located just a few blocks northwest of the historic city.




A bus can be a cheap way of getting to Colonial Williamsburg.  If you choose to take the bus, Greyhound services the Williamsburg Transportation Center. The Transportation Center is located just a few blocks northwest of the historic city.




If you are traveling to Colonial Williamsburg from further afield then flying might be your best option. Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) is located just 20 minutes from the historic city. At the airport you can rent a car from any of the major rental companies.


What was your experience at Colonial Williamsburg?


Explore Colonial Williamsburg: Best Guide to America's Revolutionary City

Join my mailing list


  1. I wish I could go there because it seems cool, but it's way too far from Belgium

    1. If you ever visit Virginia then you will have to add it to your list of places to visit.

  2. the place looks absolutely special! I am impressed and very curious to visit it once. thanks for sharing this experience along with amazing photos. I enjoyed a lot. Lyosha

    1. Thank you. It is a very unique place within the United States and well worth a visit.

  3. I have faint memories of visiting Williamsburg over two decades ago. For some reason, not a single photo of that trip (and I am photo crazy!).. Guessing it could be because family we were visiting in Virginia took us on a last minute trip there.. But looking at your pics and reading about your experience makes me revisit it - consciously this time!

    1. Sorry you were not able to get any pictures from your trip there, but I'm happy that my pics and post were able to take you back and give you a chance to relive your experience there.

  4. What a lovely place to visit and get to know the history. I like that you included everything, even ticket prices. Thank you for sharing!

    1. It is really a great place to visit and learn about life during the US Revolution. I'm glad you liked the post!

  5. I've always been fascinated by history, and visiting Colonial Williamsburg would be a fantastic experience. I'd like to see it someday, particularly to see and listen to the speeches!

    1. If you love history then you definitely should visit when you get a chance. In my opinion, the speeches were one of the best things about the experience.

  6. Colonial Williamsburg has so much history behind it. Just my kind if place to visit. I am marking this post for any future visit.

    1. If you love history you will absolutely love Colonial Williamsburg.


4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14