Updated May 2020.
It’s a very special Throwback Thursday–all the way back to the 18th century! Recently I had just one day to spend in Colonial Williamsburg, VA, and though I’d been before, I wanted to make the most of my time there. Here is a quick itinerary for your own visit if you want to make the most of your one and only day in the Colonial Capital!
Stop #1: Take a Walk Down Duke of Gloucester Street
Get a lay of the land! Duke of Gloucester Street (also called “DoG Street”) is the main road through Colonial Williamsburg. It’s a mostly dirt pedestrian walkway, so you won’t have to worry about cars, but you may have to look out for horse manure! Go ahead and walk the length of the street (about a mile one way) and get your bearings. Make a note of things you just don’t want to miss!
Stop #2: Breakfast at Aromas Coffee House and Bakery
Start with a hearty breakfast to power through into the past! Aromas will get you the coffee fix you need and some delicious omelettes or baked goods.
Stop #3: Tickets
You can certainly purchase tickets online before you go, but if you didn’t, you can get tickets at the ticket office at Henry and Duke of Gloucester Streets, which opens at 9:00am. Single Day Passes are $40.99, but more options and offers are available, so find the one that fits best for you!
Stop #4: The Governor’s Palace
It’s true! You can visit a palace. And it’s a popular spot, so head straight here when you get your ticket so you can be at the head of the line! From guns and swords lining the entry walls to the authentic shoes and garments on display in the bed chambers, you won’t want to miss the grandeur of the Governor’s Palace!
Stop #5: The George Wythe House
I love George Wythe. He is an endlessly interesting historical figure, founding father, and subject of a controversial murder trial! He was the first ever law professor in America, and in fact he was Thomas Jefferson’s law professor. Most interestingly, the circumstances surrounding his death are highly suspicious. A nephew, arsenic-laced coffee, a contestable will… And that’s just the start! At any rate, he was definitely a member of the gentry, and his home is on the Palace Green. Don’t miss taking a tour of his home!
Stop #6: Bruton Parish Church
You can’t miss this church–it’s the one with the steeple! Churches in the Colonies played a huge role in their communities. Take a few minutes to look around inside, or even plan to attend a program that evening! Be sure to walk around outside as well. Martha Washington had four children with her first husband before she married George Washington, but two of those children are buried here.
Stop #7: The Courthouse
Sit in on a Colonial hearing and keep yourself out of trouble with a stint in the stocks and the pillory! What’s the difference? You’ll have to visit to find out! Because Williamsburg was Virginia’s Capital City, their Courthouse was a busy one. Any case in Virginia that couldn’t be settled elsewhere had to come here. Hear about some of the most important cases that helped shape the country we have today!
Stop #8: Lunch
Head over to Chowning’s or King’s Arms Tavern for a sit-down, Colonial meal, or pop into the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop for something light to get you through the afternoon.
Stop #9: Printing and Bookbinding
Printing these days is no big deal. You can have 100 copies of something in a matter of minutes! But not so in Colonial America. It was a much more trying and lengthy job then, and seeing the process will make you truly appreciate our present technology! It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Colonial Williamsburg.
Stop #10: The Capitol Building
This one can’t be missed. The Courthouse you visited earlier is the place where laws were carried out. This building is the place where laws were made. There may be a line for this one, but it is worth a bit of a wait.
Stop #11: Public Gaol (Jail)
Is someone in your party bored with Colonial history but totally into pirates? Do not miss the old jail! Many prisoners were held here throughout the city’s history, but most notoriously, Blackbeard’s men were kept here, tried, and almost all of them were convicted and hanged here in Williamsburg! They were taken to the gallows riding on top of their custom-made coffins. How’s that for creepy?
Stop #12: R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse
Another of my favorite spots is this coffeehouse. Coffeehouses have been around for hundreds of years, but their purpose has changed slightly. But the best part of about this coffeehouse is their drinking chocolate. Give it a try!
Stop #13: Supper
You earned your supper tonight! If you want a find seafood meal, you’ll want to call ahead and ask for reservations at Christiana Campbell’s, but if you can’t get in there, try King’s Arms Tavern, Chowning’s Tavern (pronounced “chew-ning’s”), or Shields Tavern. Take your time, and enjoy the Colonial American dining experience!
Stop #14: A Nighttime Tour
Take your pick! If you’re still up for a little more walking and stories of old, sign up for a ghost tour in the evening. You’ll be glad you saved this for last–Williamsburg has seen its share of violence and death between holding pirates at the jail, occupations at wartime, and more. Beware!
I hope you feel ready for your day at Williamsburg! My goal is for you to see the town as efficiently as possible to make the most of your admission price and enjoy your experience! Have you been to Williamsburg before? Tell me about it below!
And don’t forget to check out my United States Page for everything you need and more!
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