Williamsburg and Hampton Roads

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Williamsburg and Hampton Roads - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Busch Gardens

    Voted the world's most beautiful theme park for 26 consecutive years and counting, Busch Gardens features more than 50 rides and attractions, including some of the world's best roller coasters. Six beautifully landscaped European "countries" re-create the look and feel of France, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy. Sesame Street Forest of Fun brings Elmo and his Sesame Street friends to life. Grover's Alpine Express is designed for children and parents to enjoy together, and is among Busch Gardens' most popular kids' attractions. Tempesto, the latest roller coaster, offers a thrill ride with a full inversion. Busch Gardens also hosts popular song-and-dance shows (country, Americana, Irish, German folk) in several theaters.

    1 Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $77; discount on combined admission to Water Country USA. Parking $15, Closed 2 wks in Dec. and Feb., Open end of Mar.--1st week of Dec., then Dec. 25--Jan. 1. Check website or call for exact hrs
  • 2. Jamestown Settlement

    Adjacent to but distinct from Historic Jamestowne is a mainland living-history museum called Jamestown Settlement. The site marries 40,000 square feet of indoor facilities with outdoor replicas of the early James Fort, the three ships that brought the founding colonists from England, and a Powhatan Indian village. The introductory film 1607: A Nation Takes Root is shown in the theater. The handsome Tudor-style Great Hall is arranged by decades from 1607 to 1699, when the capital was moved to Williamsburg. Gallery exhibits examine the lives of the Powhatans and their English-born neighbors, their interaction, and world conditions that encouraged colonization. Outdoors within James Fort, interpreters in costume cook, forge metal, and describe what life was like living under thatch roofs and between walls of wattle and daub (stick framework covered with mud plaster). In the Powhatan Indian village you can enter a yehakin (house) and see buckskin-costumed interpreters cultivate crops and make tools. At the pier are full-scale reproductions of the ships in which the settlers arrived: Godspeed, Discovery, and Susan Constant. All the vessels are seaworthy; you may climb aboard the Susan Constant and find out more from the sailor-interpreters. A riverfront discovery area provides information about 17th-century water travel, commerce, and cultural exchange, reflecting Powhatan Indian, European, and African traditions. Dugout-canoe making takes place in this area. Spring and fall bring lots of school groups, so it's best to arrive after 2 pm.

    2100 Jamestown Rd., Jamestown, Virginia, 23185, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $17; combination ticket with Yorktown Victory Center $21.25, June 15–Aug. 15, daily 9–6; Aug. 16–June 14, daily 9–5
  • 3. Mariners' Museum

    A world history of seagoing vessels and the people who sailed them occupies the outstanding Mariners' Museum, inside a 550-acre park. An alliance between the museum and the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City allows the two institutions to share collections, exhibitions, and educational programs. Among the more than 50 full-size craft on display are a Native American bark canoe, a sailing yacht, a speedboat, a gondola, a Coast Guard cutter, and a Chinese sampan. In separate galleries you can often watch the progress of a boat under construction; view ornate and sometimes huge figureheads; examine the watermen's culture of the Chesapeake Bay; and learn about the history of the U.S. Navy. The museum also holds artifacts from the RMS Titanic and remains of the ironclad USS Monitor, which served in the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and was recovered from the coast of North Carolina. A 63,500-square-foot addition, the USS Monitor Center, houses the ironclad ship and Civil War exhibits. One of the highlights is the August Crabtree exhibit, authentic scale models hand carved by August Crabtree that portray historic shipbuilding accomplishments in miniature from ancient Egypt to 19th-century Britain. They are so tiny that you must view them through magnifying glasses (built into the display).

    100 Museum Dr., Newport News, Virginia, 23606, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $13.95, Mon.–Sat. 9–5, Sun. 11–5
  • 4. Virginia Air and Space Center

    The Virginia Air and Space Center traces the history of flight and space exploration. The nine-story, futuristic, $30 million center is the visitor center for NASA Langley Research Center and Langley Air Force Base. Its space artifacts include a 3-billion-year-old moon rock, the Apollo 12 command capsule, a lunar lander, and NASA's new Orion space craft. The center also holds a dozen full-size aircraft, a 3-D IMAX theater that is five stories high, a variety of flight simulators, and hands-on exhibits that let you see yourself as an astronaut or launch a rocket.

    606 Settlers Landing Rd., Hampton, Virginia, 23669, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $8, $18 (includes IMAX), Monday-Saturday 10-5, Sunday 12-5
  • 5. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

    This collection, within the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, showcases American "decorative usefulware"—toys, furniture, weather vanes, coffeepots, and quilts—within typical 19th-century domestic interiors. There are also folk paintings, rustic sculptures, and needlepoint pictures. Since the 1920s, the 2,000-piece collection has grown from the original 400 pieces acquired by the wife of Colonial Williamsburg's first and principal benefactor. This is the oldest institution in the United States dedicated solely to the collection and preservation of American folk art.

    326 W. Francis St., Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required, Daily 10-7
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  • 6. Berkeley Plantation

    Virginians say that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated at Berkeley in December 1619, not in Massachusetts in 1621. This plantation was the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and of William Henry Harrison, who became president in 1841. Throughout the Civil War, the Union general George McClellan used Berkeley as headquarters; during his tenure, his subordinate general Daniel Butterfield composed the melody for "Taps" while here in 1862 with 140,000 Union troops. An architectural gem, the original 1726 brick Georgian mansion has been carefully restored and furnished with 18th-century antiques. The gardens are in excellent condition, particularly the boxwood hedges.

    12602 Harrison Landing Rd., Charles City, Virginia, 23030, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $11, Daily tours 9:30–4:30 in summer, 9:30–3:30 in winter
  • 7. Bruton Parish Church

    The lovely brick Episcopal Bruton Parish Church has served continuously as a house of worship since it was built in 1715. One of its 20th-century pastors, W.A.R. Goodwin, provided the impetus for Williamsburg's restoration. The church tower, topped by a beige wooden steeple, was added in 1769; during the Revolution its bell served as the local "liberty bell," rung to summon people for announcements. The white pews, tall and boxed in, are characteristic of the starkly graceful Colonial ecclesiastical architecture of the region. When sitting in a pew, listening to the history of the church, keep in mind that you could be sitting where Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, or George Washington once listened to sermons. The stone baptismal font is believed to have come from an older Jamestown church. Many local eminences, including one royal governor, are interred in the graveyard. The fully operational church is open to the public; contributions are accepted. Check the website for free candlelight recitals in the evening.

    Duke of Gloucester St. west of Palace Green, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 8. Capitol

    Williamsburg was important because it was the location of the Capitol. It was here that the prerevolutionary House of Burgesses (dominated by the ascendant gentry) challenged the royally appointed council (an almost medieval body made up of the bigger landowners). In 1765 the House eventually arrived at the resolutions, known as Henry's Resolves (after Patrick Henry), that amounted to rebellion. An informative tour explains the development, stage by stage, of American democracy from its English parliamentary roots. In the courtroom a guide recites the harsh Georgian sentences that were meted out: for instance, theft of more than 12 shillings was a capital crime. Occasional reenactments, including witch trials, dramatize the evolution of American jurisprudence. What stands on the site today is a reproduction of the 1705 structure that burned down in 1747. Dark-wood wainscoting, pewter chandeliers, and towering ceilings contribute to a handsome impression. That an official building would have so ornate an interior was characteristic of aristocratic 18th-century Virginia. This was in telling contrast to the plain town meeting halls of Puritan New England, where other citizens were governing themselves at the same time. The stirring Fifes and Drums March leaves from the Capitol to the Palace Green. Don't miss the spectacle of dozens of young men dressed in period costume marching through Williamsburg's streets. Check the program guide for dates and times.

    East end of Duke of Gloucester St., Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required
  • 9. Children's Museum of Virginia

    The largest children's museum in the state, the Children's Museum of Virginia has so many hands-on exhibits that teach through activities that kids learn while they "play" with all aspects of life; they can take classes and workshops, participate in interactive story times, race on an obstacle course, do giant floor bowling, rediscover old carnival games, and so much more. You can also book a party, which includes a private room and all-day admission to the museum.

    221 High St., Portsmouth, Virginia, 23704, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $11, Tues.–Sat. 9–5, Sun. 11–5
  • 10. Chrysler Museum of Art

    By any standard, the Chrysler Museum of Art downtown qualifies as one of America's major art museums. The permanent collection includes works by Rubens, Gainsborough, Renoir, Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Warhol, and Pollock—a list that suggests the breadth available here. Classical and pre-Columbian civilizations are also represented. The decorative-arts collection includes exquisite English porcelain and art nouveau furnishings. The Chrysler is home to one of the most important glass collections in America, with objects from the 6th century BC to the present and particularly strong holdings in Tiffany, French art glass, and English cameo, as well as artifacts from ancient Rome and the Near and Far East.

    1 Memorial Pl., Virginia, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.
  • 11. City Point

    The history of City Point includes a Revolutionary War skirmish and 10 months as General Ulysses S. Grant's Union headquarters during the Civil War, from which he directed the Siege of Petersburg. It's free to take the open-air, self-guided museum walking tour of 25 wayside exhibits and Grant's Headquarters. The City Point Early History Museum is in a former U.S. Navy church, St. Dennis Chapel, and can be visited by appointment.

    4100 Oaklawn Blvd., Hopewell, Virginia, 23860, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 12. Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center

    This is the logical first stop at Colonial Williamsburg. Here you can park free; buy tickets; see a 35-minute introductory movie, Williamsburg—the Story of a Patriot; and pick up This Week, which has a list of regular events and special programs and a map of the historic area. Tickets are also sold at the Lumber House in the historic area, though you'll get a better price if you buy in advance from the Historic Williamsburg website.

    102 Information Center Dr., Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 23187, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $25.99 sampler ticket, $40.99 single-day ticket, $50.99 multiday ticket, Daily 9–5
  • 13. Courthouse

    The original Courthouse of 1770 was used by municipal and county courts until 1932. Civil and minor criminal matters and cases involving slaves were adjudicated here; other trials were conducted at the Capitol. The stocks once used to punish misdemeanors are outside the building: they can make for a humorous photo opportunity. The courthouse's exterior has been restored to its original appearance. Visitors often participate in scheduled reenactments of court sessions.

    North side of Duke of Gloucester St., west of Queen St., Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required
  • 14. DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum

    This museum adds another cultural dimension that goes well beyond Colonial history. Grouped by medium are English and American furniture, textiles, prints, metals, and ceramics that date from 1600 through 1830. If you're yawning at the thought of fancy tableware, stop: presentations here tend to be creative and surprising. Prizes among the pieces in the collection are a full-length portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale and a royally commissioned case clock surmounted by the detailed figure of a Native American. You enter the museum through the Public Hospital.

    Francis St., Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required
  • 15. Duke of Gloucester Street

    The spine of Colonial Williamsburg's restored area is the broad 1-mile-long Duke of Gloucester Street. Some Saturdays at noon–2:30 pm, the Fifes and Drums Corps marches the length of the street and performs a stirring drill (check the website for dates). Along this artery, or just off it, are two dozen attractions. Walking west on Duke of Gloucester Street from the Capitol, during the tours, you can actually buy from a dozen 18th-century shops—including those of the apothecary, the wig maker, the silversmith, and the milliner.

    Duke of Gloucester St., Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 16. Endview Plantation

    Built in 1769 by William Harwood, the Georgian-style house known as Endview Plantation has witnessed momentous events in American history. Situated atop a knoll near a spring, Endview's land was traversed by Native Americans of the Powhatan Chiefdom a thousand years before the coming of the English. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Endview's owner, Dr. Humphrey Harwood Curtis, formed the Warwick Beauregards, which became Company H, 32nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry. During the subsequent Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Endview served as headquarters for Confederate generals Lafayette McLaws and Robert Toombs. Maintained today as a living-history museum, Endview offers a wide variety of programs; guided tours begin every 30 minutes.

    362 Yorktown Rd., Newport News, Virginia, 23603, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $8, Closed Tues. and Wed., Mon., Thurs., and Fri. 10–4, Sat. 10–5, Sun. 12–5.
  • 17. Everard House

    Built in 1717 by John Brush, a gunsmith, and later owned by Thomas Everard, who was twice mayor of Williamsburg, this wood-frame house contains remarkable, ornate carving work. It is open only for special-focus tours and temporary exhibits, and vignettes on slaves' lives are held here in summer.

    Scotland St. at Palace Green, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required
  • 18. First Landing State Park

    Botanists will have a field day at First Landing State Park, which is inland from the Cape Henry lighthouses and near the army installation at Fort Story. Spanish moss grows no farther north than here, and blue spruce appears no farther south (and does not grow at First Landing). The park is a haven for red and gray foxes, raccoons, opossums, water snakes, and other denizens of swamp and dune. Boardwalks built just above the water level on the Bald Cypress Trail let you get close to flora and fauna while keeping your feet dry. There are cabins, campgrounds, picnic areas, and guided tours, plus supporting concessions and facilities.

    2500 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23451, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $4 per vehicle weekdays, $5 on weekends, 8AM--Dusk
  • 19. George Wythe House

    This home was the residence of Thomas Jefferson's law professor; Wythe was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. General Washington used the house as a headquarters just before his victory at Yorktown. The large brick structure, built in the mid-18th century, is conspicuously symmetrical: each side has a chimney, and each floor has two rooms on either side of a center hallway. The garden in back is similarly divided. The outbuildings, including a smokehouse, kitchen, laundry, outhouses, and a chicken coop, are reconstructions.

    West side of Palace Green, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required
  • 20. Governor's Palace

    His Majesty's Governor Alexander Spotswood built the original Governor's Palace in 1720, and seven British viceroys, the last of them Lord Dunmore in 1775, lived in this appropriately showy mansion. The 540 weapons, including 230 muskets and pistols, arrayed on the walls of several rooms herald the power of the Crown. Some of the furnishings are original, and the rest are matched to an extraordinary inventory of 16,000 items. Lavishly appointed as it is, the palace is furnished to the time just before the Revolution. During the Revolution, it housed the commonwealth's first two governors, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. The original residence burned down in 1781, and today's reconstruction stands on the original foundation. A costumed guide greets you at the door for a tour through the building, offering commentary and answering questions. Notable among the furnishings are several pieces made in Williamsburg and owned by Lord Dunmore. Social events are described on the walk through the great formal ballroom, where you might even hear the sounds of an 18th-century harp, clavichord, or piano. The supper room leads to the formal garden and the planted terraces beyond.

    Northern end of Palace Green, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Colonial Williamsburg entrance required

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