What To Do in Williamsburg, Virginia

My family moved to Williamsburg when I was in first grade, so I spent most of my childhood growing up there. We moved into a neighborhood that was technically a resort, which only recently seemed weird to me, and we were so close to Busch Gardens that I could hear the trains and the people screaming from on top of the rollercoasters. On nice summer evenings, we would take trips to Colonial Williamsburg to walk our dogs and get ice cream, and I'd see tourists and families with children wearing tri-corner hats and petticoats and I'd always wonder how someone could choose to vacation here. 

The yearly school trips to Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg quickly lost their effect on me. I know many people will agree with me that it's easy to take where you grow up for granted and I only started to realize how great Williamsburg was until I started college and moved away. One of my coworkers recently spent the weekend in Williamsburg and as she was telling me about her time there, it reminded me of all the great places to eat and things to see in my hometown. If you happen to find yourself in Williamsburg, hopefully you can try out a few of my favorite places. 

What To Do:

1. Alewerks - Alewerks is our local brewery and has everything from brown ales to sours to IPAs and Witbiers. I'm a huge fan of their Pumpkin Ale that they have during the fall months. They have a large patio that is perfect for nice afternoons. The brewery offers tours and tasting so make sure to check their site for hours before your visit!

2. Williamsburg Winery - Williamsburg Winery is quietly tucked away and sits on a historic 300-acre farm. In their tasting room, they offer tastings year round and are pouring about 24 different wines. They offer a fine win tasting for $10 and a special reserve tasting for $15 and both tastings come with an etched tasting glass that you get to keep. They have two restaurants, Cafe Provencal and the Gabriel Archer Tavern and you can even stay on site at their quaint inn, Wedmore Place. The winery has several fun events throughout the year, so make sure you check their website before your visit.

3. Colonial Williamsburg Farmer's Market - On the weekends, I always loved going down to the Farmer's Market with my mom. Farmers and bakers come from all over to set up and they have everything from free range meat, to loaves of bread, to flowers, honey and desserts. The market is located right on Duke of Gloucester Street on most Saturdays from 8 am to 12 pm. Even if you're not looking to buy any flowers or groceries, it's always fun to start your morning off by wandering through the market and grabbing a coffee or pastry.

3. Yorktown - On a sunny day, make the short 20 minute drive down the Colonial Parkway to Yorktown. You can visit the Yorktown Battlefield or the American Revolution Museum. But if history isn't really your thing, the adorable historic town sits right on the water and you can sit on the little beach or take a leisurely stroll down their riverwalk. We recommend trying out Umi Sushi, Water Street Grille, or Yorktown Pub for lunch or dinner while you're here.

4. Jamestown Glasshouse - If you've never been to Jamestown, it really is cool to see. You can walk around the historic settlement and can even get on the ships. But my favorite part about Jamestown is the Glasshouse. At certain times during the day, you can actually see them firing and working with the glass. I always thought it was fascinating. You can even take home some cool souvenirs from the glass shop!

5. Busch Gardens - Duh.

I almost didn't add this in because it seems a little obvious. Not to toot our own horn or anything, but Busch Gardens Williamsburg has won "World's Most Beautiful Theme Park" every year since 1990, aka since I've been alive. The park is open from late March to the end of October (but make sure to check online for specific hours). This summer, they will be opening their brand new rollercoasterr, the Invadr, which will be the first wooden rollercoaster in the park. Make sure to visit the Clydesdales before you leave for the day (my mom used to work in the stable so make sure to tell the horses that my mom says hi).

 

Where to Eat:

1. The Cheese Shop - It may seem like just a sandwich shop, but after you eat here once, you'll see why it's always packed. I highly recommend their Prosciutto sandwich on Ciabatta bread, but you really can't go wrong with anything here. Make sure to order extra House dressing! Locals tip: Call ahead and pick up your sandwiches at their side window. It's usually packed so grab a bottle of wine from downstairs and plan on having a picnic in front of the Governor's Palace.

2. Aromas - Aromas is definitely your go to place if you need a quick breakfast or some caffeine throughout the day. I'm a big fan of their Honey Do Latte which includes espresso, steamed milk, honey, vanilla syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and then is topped with whipped cream. Their blended coffee smoothies are amazing as well if it's a little warmer out. They have a wide selection of beverages so there's something for everyone! They even offer spiked coffees if you need a little something extra to get through the day. As for breakfast, make sure to order their Breakfast Burrito or their Sausage, Egg & Cheese on a croissant.

3. The Hounds Tale - The Hounds Tale is owned by the same people who own Aromas. It's only been open since 2015 but it quickly became one of my favorite places to eat and grab a drink. They have a wide selection of beers and have an incredibly inventive menu. Most of their food is small, so you can order a few different dishes to try. Make sure to try their chicken fried duck legs and the shrimp and avocado tempura. So good!

4. Fat Canary - Fat Canary is attached to the Cheese Shop and is run by the same people. There's a reason that Fat Canary has won awards for their food every year since they've opened. They have an incredibly extensive wine list and amazing cocktails. You can't go wrong with their Beef Tenderloin (which is always cooked perfectly) or their Salmon. Make sure to save room for dessert and order the Profiteroles! The food is a bit pricey, but worth it.

5. La Tienda - La Tienda is a well hidden gem in Williamsburg. It's mainly a Spanish market but has a small restaurant as well, containing about 15-20 small tables. They have a wide selection of tapas to order, including Paella, olives, little sandwiches, and other delicious things. Make sure to order a few different things to try! They do wine tastings almost every weekend as well. So you are able to grab a bottle of wine and take it with you to enjoy with your meal.

6. Le Yaca - I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at Le Yaca (and we've been coming here for about 12 years at least). You can eat off their prix fixe menu or can order ala carte as well. I'm a big fan of their beef tenderloin (if you haven't caught on, I love red meat) with a creamy Roquefort port wine sauce. If you're the adventurous type, I'd recommend their escargot as well.  Don't leave here without trying their french onion soup. It's delicious and insanely cheesy. The service here is amazing, always so warm and welcoming. They have a special brunch menu on the weekends as well.

Have you ever been to Williamsburg? If so, what was your favorite part?