FREE Things to Do in Colonial Williamsburg

Updated July 21, 2020.

This Faraway Friday is also… Freebie Friday! All travelers have to make sacrifices–time, sleep, and most notably money. On my most recent trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, I didn’t have time to really make the full admission price worthwhile. I did, however, have enough time to enjoy Colonial Williamsburg and have some fun in this historic city! Here is my list of the best FREE things to do in Colonial Williamsburg.

10. Explore the Historic Gardens

This is especially fun if you also dabble in the dirt yourself with a green thumb. You’ll find plenty of useful plants common in 18th century cooking, remedies, and households that you won’t typically find in a more modern garden. It’s open to the public, and there is a little shop in there, too, in case you want to take something home for your own garden!

A Glimpse of the Garden
More here: 10 Reasons to Visit Colonial Williamsburg

9. Bruton Parish Church and Church Events

Bruton Parish Church is not a part of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, as it is an active Episcopal church. They regularly hold church services and concerts in the evenings, and you are welcome to enter and ask questions of the volunteers inside. A $1 donation is suggested, but not a requirement. See the pews where George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other notable historic figures sat!

Bruton Parish Church
Keep reading: How to Spend 1 Day in Williamsburg

8. Fireworks

Heading to Williamsburg for the Grand Illumination (the first Sunday in December) or Independence Day? Get ready for fireworks! No one can hide fireworks–you can see them in the sky! You can watch them right on the Palace Green or at the Capitol Building. Just scope out your spot early!

Governor’s Palace Decorated and Ready for the Grand Illumination

7. Shop

Okay, so shopping is not inherently free, but you do not have to buy a ticket to enter the shops along Duke of Gloucester Street. They’re so cute, and they carry both unique historic items and modern versions you can use in your home! Check out my guide to Shopping Like a Colonist for more!

Stationery Sets at the Post Office Shop
More here: Your Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Williamsburg

6. Tour the William and Mary Wren Building

Even if you’re not thinking of attending William and Mary, you will find something to enjoy here at this historic college. It’s free, right across the street from the Colonial Williamsburg historic area, and it will absolutely serve to enrich your Colonial experience!

William and Mary Wren Building

5. Make Friends

Coming from the D.C. area, the kindness of the people in Southern Virginia is very pronounced–and welcome! Everyone I met who works there was kind, happy to help, and seemed like they were having fun! I also met the nicest couple at the pillory and stocks next to the courthouse, and then I had lunch with them at Chowning’s Tavern! You never know who you’ll meet, so be sweet!

I got to sing Christmas carols from the Ox Cart with my new friends!

4. Have a Colonial Meal

Okay, so eating at a restaurant is not free, but again, you can do this without buying a ticket! You have several options to choose from, but I really like Chowning’s! Try the Brunswick stew or Shepherd’s Pye for an authentic taste of the past!

Shepherd’s Pye, anyone?
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Colonial Williamsburg

3. Pet the Animals (but don’t feed them!)

It’s true! You may pet the horses, sheep, dogs, etc., but do not feed them, and stay in front of the horses with blinders on so they can see you. See the sheep roaming about? Please don’t chase them, but do enjoy watching! And if they come up to you, you may pet them. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to see Liberty the Dog, feel free to pet and play with him, too! He’s a sweetheart.

Liberty getting ready to spread joy from the ox cart!

2. Ask Questions

Want to know more about early American life or are you curious about how something was used? Feel free to ask someone in Colonial garb! They are very knowledgeable, and they work there because they are passionate about history!

This is my friend and carriage driver extraordinaire, Amanda!

1. Walk Around the Colonial Capital City!

It’s true! You can walk around without buying a ticket. There were so many runners, people just passing through and stopping for lunch, and doing Christmas shopping when I was there. It’s fun and interesting to walk the same streets once walked by George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, George Mason, and more! Enjoy the architecture, the costumes, and the scenes of daily life in this one-of-a-kind city!

A carriage rolls down Duke of Gloucester Street

Are you ready for your own trip to Williamsburg? Check out my United States Page for more!

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