Remember the excitement builidng up for a field trip in school? I went to elementary school in Rhode Island so that meant field trips to Boston museums, Newport mansions, and bird sanctuaries.
I got swept back up in that feeling in Colonial Williamsburg, of what might be discovered when you think that anything is possible. The area is much more sophisticated than any other historical site I've been to in America (read: tourist-swarmed area). There's a lot of grace, with tree-lined streets, stately brick buildings, restored 17th-century homes, and surprisingly great restaurants. Along with school groups and families, there are couples, and groups of girlfriends doing afternoon tea and cooking classes. What I loved most about Colonial Williamsburg is that I could just as easily have spent a romantic weekend here (sadly I was alone!), a reunion with my college roommates, or a couple days with my grandparents.
And it reminded me of reading about Felicity, the red-headed American Girl that lived in Williamsburg in 1774 at the cusp of the Revolutionary War. She was my favorite American Girl.
Here's what I loved most beyond the living history/museum aspect (you can't miss the Governor's Palace, the Capitol, and all the demonstrations/dramatic recreations):
Merchant Square: The restaurant and shopping heart of Williamsburg
Great Restaurants: Blue Talon Bistro, Trellis, Aromas, Fat Canary and Berrets are all in or close to Merchant Square. I also loved the taverns in the historical area near my hotel, including Chowning's & The King's Arms. I had dinner at Second Street one night, which is away from the tourist areas and a local favorite.
Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich at Aromas: Close to perfect
The Christmas Shop: I have a weakness for Christmas ornament shops open all year long
The College of William & Mary: One of the most beautiful college campuses in America, and just off Merchant Square
The fact that you can purchase these hats
Busch Gardens Williamsburg: I love that each section of the park is themed to a different European country. Busch Gardens is actually beautiful, a word not often used in association with theme park.
Closet Envy: Near Merchant Square, I picked up a great pair of J Brand jeans on sale & two pairs of Diane Von Furstenburg heels, also majorly on sale. The owner is young, super fun, & stocks great stuff!
Families walking around: Dads with backpacks and maps, moms with snacks, and kids running circles around them
Great gift shops
Historical games for sale, like Tabletop Ninepins
The Women of the Civil War Walking Tour: I certainly hadn't thought much about the Civil War & Williamsburg before and this one-hour walking tour was informative and fun, using a guide and 4 actresses to portray women of the time.
Sheep hanging out
The Williamsburg Inn of course! I wrote about it here. Happy 75th Anniversary!