Story Ideas from Colonial Williamsburg
Step Back in Time To 1774
Colonial Williamsburg today is much like Williamsburg was in 1774 on the eve of the American Revolution. It invokes all of the senses. Hear the clang of a blacksmith’s anvil and the beat of the Fifes and Drums. Smell the delightful aromas of our 18th-century kitchens. Listen as true patriots such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington share a point of view that we continue to share today – that the idea of freedom comes with a price. In this colonial town, centuries away from the stresses of 21st-century life, you can truly experience early America as if you were there.
What’s it like to be an 18th-century kid? Throughout the year, you and your children can participate in the family life at the Benjamin Powell and James Geddy sites. Try your hand at 18th-century household tasks. Explore varied indoor and outdoor family activities and talk with family members, young and old, about family life in the 18th century.
Justice, Colonial Style
Law enforcement and the criminal justice system were entirely different in 18th-century Virginia. The accused were quickly brought to trial, and punishment generally was swift. Meet the accused, their accusers, and their defenders and learn how justice was served in colonial times.
Can You Dig It?
We can, and do, at Colonial Williamsburg where ongoing archaeology uncovers new information about the past and gives visitors a chance to get dirty in the name of discovery.
Women of Williamsburg
Though they were unable to vote, 18th-century women exerted their influence in a variety of ways – as business owners, family leaders, social liaisons and molders of opinion. Meet printer Clementina Rind, Martha Washington, Elizabeth Randolph, wife of 1st Continental Congress President Peyton Randolph, slave Charlotte, milliner Margaret Hunter, and other Williamsburg women and learn of their important contributions to the community.
Our carriages are made by hand, not by fairy godmothers. Just ask any of the scores of trades people who work here – apprentices, journeymen, and masters of trades such as silversmiths, wigmakers, shoemakers, and tailors. Wondering what Williamsburg’s 18th-century residents ate? Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways Program examines the 18th-century kettle to learn about the lifestyle of our ancestors. Foodways delves into every aspect of meal planning, ranging from procurement and preparation of foodstuffs to dining to preservation. Foodways interpreters use 18th-century utensils and techniques for cooking demonstrations. Through the Historic Trades you’ll find out what it took to supply the capitol of Virginia with food, clothing and other necessities.
Rare Breeds Make a Comeback
In an effort to preserve genetic diversity in today’s livestock, Colonial Williamsburg adopted a Rare Breeds program. Three breeds in the program – the Leicester Longwool sheep, American Cream Draft horses and America Milking Devons – have fewer than 200 animals registered in North America. Talk with the foundation’s coach and livestock staff about these “fuzzy friends” and their importance to the living history museum’s interpretation of 18th-century Williamsburg.
The Grass is Always Greener
Colonial Williamsburg boasts more than 100 gardens and greens covering 90 acres. In addition to the highly ornamental gardens in the Historic Area, Colonial Williamsburg abounds with dozens of kitchen and vegetable gardens that reveal the more immediate needs of the majority of 18th-century Williamsburg citizens. The untold story of Williamsburg’s 18th-century professional gardeners is the focus of the Colonial Nursery that also sells licensed historical gardening tools and heritage seeds.
Christmas is Coming
With its white lights, natural greens, feasts and 18th-century merriment, the Christmas holidays at Colonial Williamsburg are a tradition known far and wide. Meet the men and women who use miles of pine roping, thousands of wreaths and truckloads of fruits, berries and other plant materials to transform the Historic Area to its yuletide splendor.
Shop 'til You Drop
Recreate 18th-century elegance in your home or office with WILLIAMSBURG® licensed products. From gift shops at the Williamsburg Lodge and the Visitor Center to specialty stores such as Williamsburg Craft House, Williamsburg Celebrations, and Williamsburg at Home, Colonial Williamsburg retail stores offer a variety of reproduction home furnishings and accessories, mementos, and apparel. Learn about the origins of early American products and their continual presence in today’s home.
No visit to the Historic Area is complete without a relaxing stay at one of our world-class hotels. A leader in the hospitality industry, Colonial Williamsburg has recently reopened our landmark hotel, the Williamsburg Inn, after a yearlong renovation. The Woodlands Hotel & Suites, our new 300-room hotel, includes daily continental breakfast for guests. Set amid acres of pine trees, it's a great family retreat. Other lodging includes the Williamsburg Lodge, Colonial Houses and the Governor’s Inn. Witness the evolution of these world-class accommodations and learn why Colonial Williamsburg has become synonymous with “hospitality.”
Sure, we are the country’s biggest outdoor history museum. But we have some pretty amazing indoor museums too. Take the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. Thanks to John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s wife, this was the first museum ever to be solely dedicated to American Folk Art. Today the museum’s 18 galleries are filled with paintings, embroideries, whirligigs, weathervanes, toys, and other works created by the “common man,” dating from the 1720s to the present. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum is the home of Colonial Williamsburg's exceptional collection of English and American antiques. From furniture and silver to textiles and ceramics, the museum delights and inspires visitors with a wide variety of traditional and trend-setting displays.
18th Hole, 18th Century
Rare is the golf resort that combines a world-class golf experience with living history, museums, shopping, children’s activities, and a full range of recreational activities: tennis, swimming, lawn bowling, croquet, a health and fitness center, fitness trails, biking and more. Come experience the legendary Golden Horseshoe Gold and Green Courses. Colonial Williamsburg also is conveniently located near major theme parks, beaches and other historical sites.
Historic Area Dining
Located in the heart of the Historic Area, Colonial Williamsburg’s dining taverns, complete with costumed interpreters and wait staff, offer visitors the experience that 18th-century patriots savored as they contemplated revolution.
18th Century Meets 21st Century
So “…that the future may learn from the past,” Colonial Williamsburg offers a state-of-the-art distance learning experience for school students nationwide in support of the Foundation’s educational mission. Colonial Williamsburg uses satellite technology to broadcast educational programs about African-American and women’s history and the American Revolution to schools around the country. These Electronic Field Trips take place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., EST, in the Lane Auditorium of the Bruton Heights School and are free and open to the public.