Colonial Williamsburg: Huzzah!!

Posted on January 6, 2009. Filed under: Everyday Me, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

I took a quick weekend trip down to Colonial Williamsburg: seemed fun and I’m pretty close right now so why not?!  I didn’t quite know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised when we got there. I knew I had wanted to feel like I stepped back into a time long ago, and that I wanted there to be quaint, old colonial architecture, as well as a pretty setting. Almost all of the workers are in period dress which was really exciting to be apart of. One of the biggest downers of Colonial Williamsburg was the commercialization of it.

After the trip when people asked how it was, my first explanation was that it was like Disney, just colonial style. All of the paid employees and actors were period dress, and they talk as if they are there a well. They have many old replica shops set up in true historic buildings. Within these shops you can go in (if you pay the admission or have a special pass) and get a taste of shopping for the Colonies. Our first trip into this type of ‘shop’ was the Saddle maker. We walked in, and he asked if we had horses. True, we were in a saddle-shop but it never occurred to me that I needed horses, I was just a tourist after all. So the saddle maker laughed and assumed we were lost (in a nice somewhat British accent). He then asked where were from, we stated “New Jersey’, he informed us that he wasn’t too familiar with it but had been to Monmouth. Of course he had, in colonial times not much of NJ was inhabited but there was a battle of Monmouth! It was amazing. I wonder what he would’ve said if we claimed to be from Alaska or California….

Many of those actors will not break character, not even to assist you in locating a bathroom (which was literally a house to bath in back then). But it makes for a different kind of trip. It is a great learning experience to go there, and it really makes you work to find out some of this information. You need to play along with the actors and actresses to fit into their world and find out about the world they are living in to compare with your world.

There are nightly events to choose from for small fees. You can participate in reenactments (we were British Soldiers and Colonial Virginians) or you go on tours that offer more history about the buildings, ghost stories and much more. There really is a lot to do. There is not much around other than the historical areas, and the College of William & Mary, so these activities really are essential to getting the most of your visit. There is only so much shopping and wandering through the streets that you can do. Also note, that many of the historic buildings and shops do close relatively early in the evenings.

The restaurants in the town and area are very nice, be prepared to spend quite a bit on a very nice meal at a very nice place. There are few truly casual places in the town, but they exist if you look hard enough. We chose a semi-casual place one night; Seasons and it was delicious. Absolutely wonderful food and very filling. The portion was great for the price, and the atmosphere was really relaxed but nice. The second night we ate a ‘Williamsburg’ restaurant – Huzzah! It wasn’t bad, but much more low key than we had anticipated. I will say, I had the best, BEST, fried chicken dinner platter there. It was 3 great pieces of cooked to order fried chicken, with really fresh mashed potatoes and string beans, and a biscuit. It was delicious, not what we anticipated but we both left with smiles on.

My biggest disappointments in Williamsburg was the commercialization. In Disney there is a shop on every corner and 10 variations of the same old things for you to buy in each of them. This was exactly how it was here. Some of the items were cute, I enjoyed looking at the Christmas items but overall it just didn’t do it for me. I felt like there was so much pressure to shop and spend that it took away from some of the history and the magic of the town. It was overly touristy in that sense, and I was tired of entering shops after the first 3 hours, and so we didn’t enter anymore of them!

It was reasonably priced, and the admission passes we purchased were also reasonably priced. I enjoyed getting to see the characters come to life from this era and to visit the Governor’s Palace and gardens as well as the Colonial Capitol. There were so many things to see within those places that it truly made the trip. It was a good weekend and pleasure to see the historical places of our Revolution. I would like to go back, but not for very long and most likely during the Christmas season to see the Christmas decorations.  In the end, if you are looking for a nice short weekend getaway this is a place to see. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to purchase everything they will push at you (and believe me they will try) and enjoy being placed back in time, its a great trip!

Things To Check Out:   The website for Colonial Williamsburg: Maps, Activities, Etc

Shops:   The Peanut Shop — delicious food dips and other snacks! Yum!

Links to all of these great places can be found at :         
Aroma’s Coffee & Cafe — Great spot for breakfast, packed on weekends but great for a good meal at a good price!
Huzzah! — Some of the best fried chicken I’ve had in ages! 
Season’s Restaurant Located in Merchant’s Square, lots of variety all very delicious!
Stephano’s Pizza — Good spot for lunch – quiet corner of Merchant’s Square
     ****Get a coupon in the travel book for Season’s & Stephanos!  (I found my copy in a shop)


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