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Our trip to Williamsburg in August -- would love feedback!

Our trip to Williamsburg in August -- would love feedback!

Old May 16th, 2006, 01:46 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
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Our trip to Williamsburg in August -- would love feedback!

Our family of four (kids 8 & 10) are planning a 3 night trip to Williamsburg in early August. I lived 3 years growing up there and have fond memories of Colonial Wmsburg (in mid 1960s) and I'm almost scared to see what it's become! I'd really like the colonial immersion and a trip to Jamestown -- any feedback on the below itinerary? Also, in terms of lodging are we out of our mind to spend the extra money or is it worth it to stay in one of the restored colonial houses? (2 floors, kids get their own room, an historic experience, but pricey)
Day 1 - Spend night on road on way from PA, arrive Jamestown early, explore, then check in hotel, swim at hotel pool, low-key dinner, possibly bike around town a bit
Day 2 - Colonial Williamsburg all day, swim, dinner at historic tavern
Day 3 - Busch Gardens theme park, stay for dinner
Day 4 - Check out, travel home (7 hour drive)
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Old May 16th, 2006, 03:54 AM
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My kids were that age when we visited CW about ten years ago, and IMHO it's just the right age for them to really appreciate the ambience. Staying in one of the houses would be a wonderful experience, especially since your visit is so brief; this would enhance the historical impact.

It makes sense to see Jamestown first so the kids can get some insight into the chronological progress. You might want to keep one eye on the weather forecast, and consider the possibility of staying flexible and switching the activities of days 2 and 3, choosing the nicer day for the Busch Gardens.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 04:56 AM
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What a great trip! When we went in August, we were very very hot. The option to swim and/or rest in AC in mid-afternoon was very appealing.

When you arrive, check the special event schedule to get advance reservations for any activities your kids might enjoy (ex- architecture dig, etc.) They go fast.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 05:20 AM
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Make sure you know which Jamestown site to go to. If you can, see both. Your children will probably enjoy the Jamestown Settlement more because it is interactive. The other location, the national park, is the true Jamestown site. They are next door to each other and if you don't have time to get out of the car at the national park, you can drive around the loop. The National Parks Pass can be used at Jamestown National Park.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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When my kids were a bit younger than yours are, we visited that area for several days. After the first several hours at Williamsburg, we changed our schedule to spend two full days there - they liked it (so did we) that much! (Granted, we went in May, so the heat wasn't an issue.) They enjoyed interacting with the colonists; they must have spent 1/2 hour in one of the gardens, helping the gardener, including trying to bring up water from the well and carrying the very heavy water buckets.

We didn't go to any of the evening activities, because by the time they'd spent a whole day there, we all needed a rest, and those offered when we were there weren't appropriate for our then-younger kids. We did eat at Christiana Campbell's Tavern, which we liked but didn't love. We had drinks at Buckhorn (is that the name?), which was very fun, and the waitress showed at a colonial dice game.

We spent 1-2 hours at Jamestown Settlement (we stole some time from here for more time at Williamsburg), and also spent several hours on the day before Williamsburg at Yorktown.

In Williamsburg, we went for the colonial thing, but not the rental houses, because the breakfast place was a relatively long walk from the house. Instead, we stayed at Newport House Bed and Breakfast, 710 South Henry St. It's a newer house built from colonial plans, has a beautiful garden, and one night a week, they have a colonial-era dance. The owner is very knowledgeable about the time period. It's a long, but not too-long walk from there into colonial Williamsburg. We had a great time!
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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Thanks to everyone who has responded so far -- the tip about Jamestown is welcome, and I'm feeling like the trip is a good idea. I was also told to make dinner reservations in advance - is this necessary and/or a good idea?
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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Funny that you mention Williamsburg. We visited there 10 years ago when our kids were 8 & 6. Our 18 yr old just mentioned that of all the vacations we have taken as a family (all over US, Europe, Caribbean, Mexico) this was her favorite! You didn't mention if you had girls or not. We have 2 daughters and when we went there was a tie-in with the very popular American Girl Dolls Felicity, the one who is from Williamsburg. It was a package we bought from Williamsburg that included a stay on the property, several meals, tickets to Busch Gardens, and a guided tour spent with Felicity and her teacher. This was a whole day deal where we toured the facilities in the morning and went back in the afternoon for tea, sewing lessons and dancing lessons. Pocahantos was also big that year and Jamestown had a tie in with Pocahantos. We stayed on the property, not in a restored house, but it was like a suite, the living room had a queen size Murphy bed for the kids. The access to the swimming pool in August was especially great. If you have girls, strongly urge you to look into this. We had a special dinner one night at the Trellis restaurants run by a famous celebrity chef (can't think of his name, he does the Death by Choclate dessert) and kids really enjoyed it. We, too, visited in August. Make sure you buy/bring lots of water bottles and dress appropriately, as the humidity can be a killer. Have fun!
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:58 AM
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We are thinking of doing a very similar trip, but with a 15 year old boy. Would this kind of plan please a teen (who prefers baseball and scary roller coasters to museums).
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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Before you explore Colonial Williamsburg, be sure to see the short movie, "The Story of a Patriot," at the visitors center.

It really sets the stage for 18th century Williamsburg and will make your visit to such places as the capitol and governor's mansion much more meaningful.

Definitely stay in the historic area, if possible. Some rooms at the Lodge, particularly in the Tazewell wing, sleep four people (children on a sleeper sofa), but a home would be much better.

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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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Reservations for the taverns are highly recommended in summer due to the crowds. You can find menus and phone numbers on the historic Williamsburg website.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Is the historic home airconditioned? If not, stay elsewhere. It will be hot, humid, with the chance of afternoon thunderstorms then (standard weather forecast for that time of year). Do outdoor stuff early in the morning, have indoor plans for the afternoons, and enjoy yourselves.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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We just came back from Williamsburg and it was great! We spent 2 days at Colonial Williamsburg and still was not able to see all we wanted. They now have a 2 day show in the afternoon which I think will be very interesting for your children. I wrote a trip report on our recent May trip. Just type in my name at the search box. I hope you find it helpful. And yes, definitely make reservations for the Taverns. WE had our colonial dinner at Kings arms and loved it!
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Old May 16th, 2006, 02:17 PM
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One thing I forgot to mention is a trip to the House of Burgesses. When we were there, kids were selected to portray the Burgesses and got to role play various laws being voted on. Our kids got a huge kick out of that. The feeling they have for history was truly inspired on this trip. DH insisted on stopping in Appomatox Court House on way home, as he is bigtime Civil War buff. We hav been to almost every battlefield and the kids have always loved tramping around with him. Another poster mentioned the movie, do see it, but also get a short reading list in books your kids will understand for background info.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 07:42 PM
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If time permits, take the kids to Water Country USA. It's a great water park with plenty of things to do for all ages!
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Old May 16th, 2006, 07:52 PM
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It is well worth the expense to stay in one of the colonial houses. Go online and order your event tickets ahead of time. Check out the evening events such as the walking tours. The kids will love them; they let them carry the lanterns and participate in the events. As the others have said, August is really hot. Pace yourself during the day. Have fun.
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Old May 16th, 2006, 09:32 PM
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I'm planning a Williamsburg trip at the end of June. Martinan- just read your April trip report. Very helpful to me. Thanks so much for taking the time to post it. I love Fodors! Such a great site! Everyone is so helpful.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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A 15 yo boy can still enjoy Williamsburg. When are you coming? Water Country will be a big hit if it is still open. He will want to spend a lot of time in Busch Gardens. Do Colonial Williamsburg but make sure you do some of the more interactive things on the schedule. There is mini golf, go carts, fishing at the parks. Lots of things for teens.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 05:30 AM
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To MFNYC - Your 15 year old son could definitely enjoy a trip to Williamsburg as long as you include Busch Gardens and Water Country USA in your plans. Our son was 15 the last time we visited Williamsburg and we all had a great time. History, Theme Park, Water Park, Shopping, Restaurants -- all big fun. We stayed at the Kingsmill Resort and it was fabulous.

The only negative was the heat and humidity. We went in July and it was nearly 100 degrees and the humidity was awful. Our next trip to Williamsburg will definitely be in Spring or Fall.

Hope you have a good time.
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Old May 17th, 2006, 06:59 AM
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Thanks Mikesmom and Birdie.

Unfortunately we'll be going in late July (the only time that works for us).
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Old May 17th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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I've been going to W'burg every summer for more than 25 years with my wife's family. Want some advice? Go someplace else. Williamsburg has turned into a tourist trap of the worst kind, and Colonial W'burg, reflecting the influx of the tourist hordes, has adjusted accordingly, dumbing down its presentations so dramatically that the place bears only the faintest resemblance to the original vision and early days of the operation. The traffic is horrible in early August, the weather worse than horrible. Busch Gardens, which is actually a lovely place, is so thick with visitors that you will be looking at 2-hour waits for the popular rides and will be rubbing shoulders with upset and annoyed parents with screaming, unhappy children. The brewery tour is simply no longer worth even considering. Everyone on the East Coast, or so it seems, is at Water Country. Yes, W'burg is a more pleasant experience in early August than, say, the East Coast's Ultimate Shrine to Tackiness--I'm referring, of course, to Myrtle Beach. But it's only a shadow of its former self. Forewarned is forearmed.
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