The historic triangle of Virginia towns is perhaps one of the most rich vacation experiences for the American family, packed with history, culture, and outdoor fun that truly transports kids back in time for a firsthand experience of early settlers and colonial American life. Donning a three-pointed hat or a mob cap, children will become fully engaged with the interpreters of Williamsburg's historic district, gladly jumping into everyday chores, imagining life on the brink of revolution, and escaping into the simple games of the time. A visit to the battlefield at Yorktown is the chance to imagine Cornwallis' surrender to Washington, while the Indian village and excellent museum at the Jamestown Settlement reveal the stories behind the first English contact in Virginia. Virginia's historic triangle should top every family's list of must-visit destinations.
The beauty of lush gardens and flowering trees in the spring and the crisp temperatures and brilliant colors of fall make April and May or September through November the best months to visit the area. The holiday period from Thanksgiving to New Year's in Williamsburg, however, is especially delightful, with natural decorations and even more events than usual in the historic town -- a visit then is a special treat if schedules allow.
Summer months bring heat and very high humidity to the area, with temperatures in the mid to high 80s and lows in the mid 70s. Fall is gorgeous, with cooler temperatures (highs in the mid 60s to low 70s, and lows in the mid 40s) and a brilliant display of foliage. Winters are mild, with daytime temperatures averaging in the high 40s, with occasional snow. Spring is also a particularly pretty time to go, with the gardens around Williamsburg's historic district in full bloom and daytime temperatures in the low to mid 70s.
The Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown area is a 150 mile drive south and east of Washington, D.C., about midway between Richmond and Virginia Beach on Interstate 64. Three airports serve the general area: Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) is 20 minutes from the historic area of Williamsburg, while Norfolk International Airport (ORF) and Richmond International Airport (RIC) are both a 50-minute drive from Williamsburg. Amtrak offers direct train service into Williamsburg from major East Coast cities, including Baltimore, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.
Once in the area, there are two ways to explore. The local bus line, Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT), serves Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, the Pottery, Prime Outlets, the College of William and Mary, and other attractions. A shuttle service from the main Williamsburg visitor center to the historic district runs year-round; from mid-march through October, a historic triangle shuttle is offered with stops at the Williamsburg visitor's center, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
President's Weekend, Williamsburg (February)
Virginia Arts Festival/Festival Williamsburg (late May)
Storytelling Festival (mid September)
Children's Day at Jamestown Settlement (late September)
Howl-O-Scream Halloween Festival at Busch Gardens (mid-September-October)
Colonial Christmas, Williamsburg (December)
ColonialWilliamsburg.com offers a great deal of information about the historic district, including museums, events, and resort hotels. Williamsburg.com offers detailed information for all three historic towns and their attractions; operators at the toll-free reservations number (800-447-8679) can help in determining the best lodging options for individual families based on budget, age ranges of children, and amenities.
Ticket, hotel, and attraction packages are available online from both ColonialWilliamsburg.com and Williamsburg.com. Passes for Williamsburg can be bought for a single day, multiple days, or combined with other attractions; the best savings are found with multiple day and combination passes, and a 10 percent discount on admission passes is offered for some online purchases.
The first peanuts grown in the United States were grown in Virginia.
At 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg is the country's largest living history museum and includes 88 original buildings, 225 period rooms, 500 reconstructed buildings (many on the original foundations), and thousands of antiques.
The College of William and Mary, founded in 1693 in Williamsburg, is the nation's second oldest institution of higher education.
Much of the 2008 HBO series "John Adams" was filmed in Colonial Williamsburg.
The Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown (located along the James River and visible from the Colonial Parkway) is where many of the U.S. Navy's submarines are outfitted with weapons.
The actual campaign desk of British General Cornwallis is on display at the Yorktown Battlefield visitor center.