If you are looking ahead and thinking about what you’d like to do during an upcoming school break, consider these Greater Williamsburg vacation ideas. My family and I just returned from Virginia and we had so much FUN.
We love to travel with our children. In fact, it’s something we absolutely believe in. Exploring the globe with your little ones is probably the best education you can pass onto them as educators and providers. Show them what is truly out there. Introduce them to history, culture, people, unfamiliar cuisines… get them used to asking questions about the unknown. Teach them to always wonder.
Our most recent travels took us a few hours south. I know that Virginia is known for Colonial Williamsburg (which was awesome—check out my post!), but there is truly so much more to do! I can’t wait to show you all the great things to do in Williamsburg that we had the chance to explore.
Greater Williamsburg Vacation Ideas
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
We had the chance to visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg while on our Greater Williamsburg vacation and BOY was I thrilled about that. I remember visiting as a young child with my mother and so it was such a treat to head back with my family. There’s something really special about this amusement park.
It’s actually quite beautiful and has been named the “Most Beautiful Theme Park in the World” by the National Amusement Park Historical Association for 28 consecutive years. Part of the appeal is being able to walk through the different countries. The music changes, the food and drink changes, the souvenirs change. So much fun!
Address: 1 Busch Gardens Boulevard, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: (757) 229-4386
Lists of Lands:
- Festa Italia
- New France
As you walk through each area of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, I want you to know that you will always find something to do for your toddler or young child since they have a program called KIDsiderate. I really did appreciate that as a mom. While my older two were racing off to hit the biggest coaster they could find, Caleb and I usually ended up finding the kiddie ride and it was just PERFECT.
Did you know that Busch Gardens Williamsburg now has pin trading? How amazing!!! Pins and lanyards are available at select shopping locations all throughout the park. Just head on into one of the stores and grab your choices at your leisure. Then, look for any Busch Gardens Williamsburg team member that is wearing a lanyard with pins. You can go up to them and trade at will. Take your pick!
In case you are wondering, you can only trade pins that are purchased from Busch Gardens Williamsburg. So, you can’t bring any old pins from home. Believe me, I asked. 🙂 You can trade up to three pins at a time with a Busch Gardens Williamsburg member. You can also trade with other pin traders that you find in the park. Sweet!
Besides rides, great food, and pins, Busch Gardens Williamsburg offers plenty of games and fun as well. Expect a full day of excitement and adventure! Truly! It’s such a great spot to add to your Greater Williamsburg vacation. Do not miss out on this one.
Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum that your children will never forget. In fact, I have to admit that it was one of my favorite stops during our Greater Williamsburg trip. Besides an indoor structure which includes museum-like exhibits and a show that you can sit down to watch, there were several outdoor exhibitions to explore.
- Jamestown Settlement
- Jamestown Settlement Ships
- Powhatan Indian Village
- James Fort
You know when your children come home from school and tell you that they’ve learned about a particular period in time? Maybe it’s resonated with them in some way which causes a gleam in their eye? Well, times that by 100 because with the Jamestown Settlement, you walk through history – not read about it. You hear stories about the Indian Villages as you literally walk through replicas of one.
Watch as your kids’ eyes light up because they will GET IT – right before their eyes.
Address: Route 31 South, adjacent to Historic Jamestowne
Phone: (888) 593-4682
I’m not sure, as parents if there is much more we can ask for from an experience. I just know that as I watched my family touch and feel their way through Jamestown Settlement, I felt like it was a truly special day.
And for those of you who have gamers in their lives, the James Fort will really impress them! My son insisted this section was created by Playstation – or at least inspired by the console. He was so amazed by how much the forts resembled so many of his favorite video games. LOL! We kept telling him, “Buddy! I think it’s the other way around! History inspired Playstation!!”
Oddly enough, gaming roped my son right in and in a very serious way. He was running from one building to the next, one fence to the next, one barricade/cannon/carved out hollow tree/garden – you name it and he could pull up a digital reference. If I worked for the tourism board, I would create a video game map sheet and have the tweens and teens try to check off their favorite games as they walk through the settlement! That would really make a fun day for them I am sure!
And by the way, we also had lunch right there on location at the Jamestown Settlement. The cafeteria had just about everything! My daughter is a vegetarian and she was able to get a delicious veggie burger. My boys got yogurt parfaits. My husband opted for a hearty sandwich and I chose a grilled chicken sandwich with a salad. So, don’t worry about not being able to find something on the property because you WILL.
If you’re looking for more history in the area, you’re in luck. Greater Williamsburg is home to a lot of history.
- Historic Jamestowne: The actual site where English settlers arrived to the now United States, and there are still live archaeology digs as the site was just re-discovered in the early 1990s!
- Yorktown Battlefield: The site where the British surrender allowed the United States to gain its independence
- American Revolution Museum at Yorktown: This museum tells the stories of our nation’s founding, and similar to Jamestown Settlement, there are live outdoor areas with historic interpreters on a revolution-era farm and Continental Army camp. We didn’t have a chance to visit these places, but they’re on our list for our next visit! You can even purchase combination tickets to save money if you’re planning to visit all of these historic sites.
Go Karts Plus
As you may or may not know, I have a 6-year-old son and it was very important to me to make sure that he had plenty of time to run around and let off some steam. While we did enjoy exploring the more historical side of Greater Williamsburg, I did need to balance our family vacation out with a little action as well. Speaking of balance, I also have tweens and teens which means I really need to be careful about what locations I put on our to-do lists. Will they be able to satisfy my entire bunch?
Address: 6910 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
Phone: (757) 564-7600
At Go-Karts Plus, I can happily say that everyone had a really great time. There were larger courses for the older kids to explore and then smaller ones specifically created for younger kids in mind. I even jumped in on the fun and I wasn’t the only parent doing so. There were plenty of adults at Go Karts Plus without children having a great time on their own.
I just about had to rip my thirteen-year-old off of the Disko ride. It was her absolute favorite! We got one of those unlimited bands and I think she made great use out of it. LOL! While she kept throwing herself back on the line, my boys kept themselves busy on the rollercoaster, the bumper cars, or in the arcade. Lots of great options! Have I mentioned the miniature golf yet?
There are a few different plans that you can explore when it comes to tickets:
- 60 tickets for $60
- 25 tickets for $30
- $1.25 per ticket
- Unlimited band – $35 per person *restrictions apply, please see website for more information.
One more thing I want to note about Go Karts Plus – it was a really relaxing and easy day. We strolled from ride to ride, let the kids choose where they wanted to go, sat down and watched them hop on and off on their own. It was a consolidated space and it was entirely manageable. A great afternoon for sure!
If you are looking for a more leisurely stroll through history, then check out Historic Yorktown. You can wind in and out of shops and get to learn a little bit about this beautiful country in between purchases. Yorktown is its own town, but part of the Greater Williamsburg destination as a whole, and offers the best of all worlds. It was a no tour, no fuss, no stress kind of afternoon. And you know what? If I am being honest with you… we all needed to slow down a bit after so many days on full speed ahead.
So, we headed straight to Patriot Tours and Provisions and rented a few bikes. There are plenty of options up for grabs if bikes aren’t your thing. Perhaps you’re more interested in Segways? Well, you’re in luck because Patriot Tours and Provisions offers a wide variety of options for families looking to explore, and you can take guided Segway tours for a fun way to learn the history of the area.
Address: 321 Water St., Yorktown, VA, US, 23690
Phone: (757) 969-5400
By Segway, bike, single and tandem kayaks, or stand up paddleboards, make your way all throughout Yorktown. But don’t forget to. miss the Nelson House – home of Thomas Nelson Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. You will find a revolutionary-era cannon lodged into the brick! I don’t want to post pictures of the cannon because I think it would be cool for you to check it out on your own! But if you can’t wait, I did include it in my round up Greater Williamsburg daily vlog. Be sure to check it out.
Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure
My family had such a great time spending the afternoon at Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure, in Williamsburg, Virginia. If you haven’t heard of this company before, it’s an outdoor adventure company with a variety of hands-on experiences like Tree Top Adventures, Forest Segways, Tree Top Junior Adventures and Zip Trekking Adventures. Be sure to read my full write up about our zip line adventure while in Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area
Have you ever wanted to visit the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area with your family but don’t know what to expect? In case you haven’t heard of the destination before, Williamsburg is best known it’s part in shaping political culture and was truly the most influential of the American colonies in the 1700-1800s. Now, set as an educational center geared to recreate a living history encounter of what once was, the property showcases what life was once like as part of the colonies. My family spent the day exploring and had so much fun walking through living history. Be sure to read all about our recap of Colonial Williamsburg here.
Where To Eat In Greater Williamsburg
Friends – you HAVE to go to Shorty’s Diner! The staff was some of the nicest people we have ever met! My daughter fell in love with our waitress. Natalie wants to open up her own restaurant and she kept telling me that she wants it to feel exactly like Shorty’s Diner! It had that nice of a vibe.
Forget about the amazing staff just for a minute – if you could – we need to talk about the food. I’m talking about stick to your ribs, Southern fare. And if I had an extra day, I would have returned for seconds. It was THAT GOOD. The building used to be an old Pizza Hut and they kept some of the old nostalgia. Look out for old doorknobs and things like that. Fun fact!
Located in: James-York Plaza
Address: 627 Merrimac Trail, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: (757) 603-6674
Oh, and if you are a northerner, their sweet tea will crack your front teeth. Ask for it half and half at a minimum. Fair warning! My husband gave it a try and it tasted like a dare. But again, that’s because we are from New York. Locals would probably not say the same thing.
I cannot reiterate this enough – if you are planning a Greater Williamsburg vacation, please eat breakfast at Shorty’s Diner!
Top meal recommendations:
- Shorty’s classic sampler
- Blueberry cakes
- Sausage biscuits and gravy
- French toast
Amber Ox Public House
Amber Ox was actually the very first place we ate once we landed into the Greater Williamsburg area. We were tired, starving, and still a bit unfamiliar with the layout of the land. Within a matter of five minutes, we were set straight and on the right path with a warm welcome and some hot biscuits at Amber Ox. What a great meal.
Fried chicken, ham, a great kids’ menu, and a wonderful atmosphere – this restaurant was just what the vacation doctor ordered.
Address: 525 Prince George St Suite 102, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: (757) 790-2299
And can we talk about this super cool coffee pour? Apparently, it’s a normal thing that everyone knew about except for me. I was all giddy and excited about it and Bill was all, “what? this ol’ thing?” LOL! I loved it!! This is the only way I want to have my coffee served from now on. Slow poured over and into a carafe. SW-EET!
Top meal recommendations:
- Chicken and Waffles
- Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chops
- Smoked Cheddar Grits
- Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
A really great, on-trend vibe – but one that also welcomes families. So, as someone who is from NYC, I can tell you that I REALLY liked the feel of this space. It felt new while at the same time hearty. Greater Williamsburg actually has booming craft beverage scene called the Williamsburg Tasting Trail, with five craft breweries, two distilleries, a winery and a meadery, and Amber Ox’s Precarious Beer Project is part of that!
Second Street American Bistro
Another great night out was had a Second Street in Greater Williamsburg – an American Bistro that’s known for big plates and delectable dishes. I have to start off this entire story and let you know that the table next to me was talking about how they called their waiter’s mother to her know what a kind and attentive boy he really was and I just thought that was the sweetest thing ever. Can you get any more Southern than that conversation?! I don’t think so!
Second Street an American Bistro
Address: 140 Second Street Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: (757) 220-2286
A great kids’ menu for the young ones and ample portions as well. We also indulged on a few sweet treats at the end and I can tell you – with certainty – that I wore stretch pants the very next day. This restaurant is fairly large – larger than most of the ones we visited while in Greater Williamsburg – but it was PACKED. I think that is a great sign that the food is worth your time.
Top Meal Recommendations:
- Pickle Fries
- 2nd St. “Thai Poppin” Shrimp
- Chicken Cobbler
- Hickory Grilled NY Strip
Dog Street Pub
And while I don’t have many photos from Dog Street Pub because the lighting didn’t really welcome an opportunity for it, I will say that this is another great local restaurant you and your family should stop to enjoy.
Address: 401 W Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Phone: (757) 293-6478
The restaurant almost looks like two separate spaces. The front of the house has a much more polished vibe which I was totally digging – with high rise chairs and tabletops. However, I had a very sleepy baby and there was no way that we would last an entire meal. So, we opted for a booth in the back and thank goodness for it. Caleb passed out almost immediately from our jam-packed day.
I’ve mentioned this before, but Natalie is a vegetarian. There were plenty of options for her to enjoy. Everyone else also had plenty of delectable picks. My dish might not have photographed magazine ready, but the flavors were all there! Really delicious and fresh! What more can you ask for!
Top Meal Recommendations:
- Kalamata Tapenade
- London Particular
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Brick Chicken (pictured above)
So, when are you planning your trip to Greater Williamsburg? Hopefully, sooner rather than later! We had a trip that was made for the books! Our kids are already asking to return and we can’t WAIT to do so. Family vacations are the gifts that keep on giving.
Greater Williamsburg has so much to offer every single person in your house. From history buffs to adrenaline nuts, satisfy the entire group with one swoop.
Saturday 11th of May 2019
I haven't been to Williamsburg since my senior year in high school. I definitely need to plan another trip there, because it looks like so much as changed!