Williamsburg was the capital of the colony for 80 years (1699-1780) and the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia for four years (1780-1784) before the capital was relocated to Richmond. The Colonial Capital is now a historic district, restored in the late1920’s through a foundation established by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and thousands of other generous contributors. The historic 173-acre colonial district is a living museum where visitors and residents alike can experience what it was like to live during the time of the American Revolution. You can walk the mile of the Duke of Gloucester Street that extends between the Wren Building of the College of William & Mary to the Colonial Capitol building, or ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
If dining out is your pleasure, there are excellent restaurants in the Williamsburg area. Colonial Williamsburg offers four historic taverns including Christiana Campbell’s, Chowning’s Tavern, Kings Arms Tavern and Shields Tavern. Be prepared to experience natural lighting conditions and candlelight, live music from talented musicians, and authentic colonial food. If you visit Shields Tavern, chat with Mr. Shields himself about his business and what’s on his mind about the politics of the day – in the 1700s.
Top area restaurants include, the Williamsburg Inn, Kingsmill, Le Yaca, Ford’s Colony (whose wine cellar is ranked among the top 100 in the world), the Trellis Restaurant, and Berret’s Seafood.
Visit the Jamestown Settlement museum next to the James River and get on board actual sized replicas of the colonial ships the Godspeed, the Discovery and the Susan Constance. If you are like most people, you will wonder how it could be that 104 men and boys managed to survive over four months at sea on such tiny little ships – 400 years ago!
You might also be interested in the seeing a recreated Powhatan Indian village and replica of the first English fort. If the weather good, and it normally is in Williamsburg, interpreters will describe what it was like to live, trade, and survive as an early settler.
The Williamsburg Winery is one of the finest wineries in Virginia. Tours and wine tastings are available year round.
What is it like to live on the James River? To the manor born! There are a number of plantation homes along the James River between Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia. Here are a couple opportunities to get you started.
Berkeley Plantation was the site of the First Official Thanksgiving in 1619. (Yes, that preceded the more famous feast of the Mayflower Pilgrims.)
Shirley Plantation on the James River is an example of a living legacy. Eleven generations have owned and operated this plantation. Hear the Carter family’s historical account of their own experience.