From theme parks, to living-history museums, to outdoor adventures, Greater Williamsburg, Virginia is bursting with fun attractions and memory making opportunities.
Its location makes it quite accessible to many people living on the East Coast and an excellent location for a family getaway.
And it’s an easy three-hour drive from our home base in Raleigh, NC.
We spent five days in the region in partnership with Visit Williamsburg, exploring all the fun things to do in Williamsburg VA and the Greater Williamsburg area with kids.
Here’s what we recommend for your family vacation to Greater Williamsburg, VA.
Things to do in Williamsburg VA
1. Historic Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg is where history comes to life.
We visited back in 2010 when Kalyra was only two and a half with my parents. It was a noteworthy experience and we were excited to return to the Greater Williamsburg area to explore it in more depth.
I love slipping back to the easy pace of 18th Century Colonial Virginia where cars can’t be found, and only the gentle clip clop of hooves over the cobble stones can be heard.
The British certainly knew how to make charming villages.
The restored shops, taverns, homes, gardens and government buildings of historic Williamsburg VA are so pretty to explore.
With live reenactments, noon day cannons, Patriots at Play games and inspiring speeches by George Washington, there is a lot to explore and enjoy in Colonial Williamsburg VA.
Plan to spend an entire day here, it’s one of the top things to do in Williamsburg VA.
2. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a European-themed park with a strong focus on thrill roller coasters!
It’s one of our favorite theme park experiences so far in the US.
The roller coasters were epic fun; The Griffon, one of the scariest and most intense roller coaster I’ve been on.
We have a lot of great family memories from Bush Gardens Williamsburg which I know we’ll be talking about for some time.
But, it’s not all thrill rides, there are plenty of tamer rides, like river cruises and swinging chairs.
Each themed land at Busch Gardens VA has entertainment shows which are great to stop and watch while having lunch or a break.
We enjoyed the Oktoberfest dancing and singing show in Germany land. Singing “Prost” certainly reminded me of my time at the Munich Oktoberfest in 1997.
There’s also a fun new 360-degree virtual reality ride The Battle of Eire.
Pop on your emerald green warrior helmet and some VR goggles and prepare to join the last fairy guardian, Addie and the dragon in a battle with the dark forces to recover the lost heart of Ireland.
Busch Gardens is one of the most popular Williamsburg VA attractions.
3. Jamestown Settlement
Kids can climb into a sailor’s bunk, steer with a whipstaff, and wander through one of the three recreated ships that brought the first English colonists to Virginia in 1607.
Stroll through the Powhatan village to learn more about the Indigenous tribes that lived here before the colonists arrived.
Learn the story of the troublesome relationship between the two as the colonists tried to survive and create a settlement and how the Powhatan struggled to accept these foreign invaders.
The story of Pocahontas and how instrumental she was in helping to restore peace to the two is also told extensively at this museum.
Our girls were very excited to learn that she’s so much more than a Disney princess.
4. Yankee Candle Village
One of only two flagship stores in the US, the first being the original Yankee Candle Village in Massachusetts, and the second in Williamsburg, Yankee Candle Village is so much more than just a sweet-smelling place to buy candles.
There are different showrooms of boutique apparel, unique household items, candy shop, a fudge counter, a coffee counter, an ice cream counter, and ornaments for every occasion.
The Candle Emporium here has over 200,000 candles and 200 fragrances.
We had an unexpected two hours of fun exploring this store. I’ve now discovered a new shopping love and one of the fun things to do in Williamsburg VA with kids.
I love how pretty and sweet smelling my new pineapple and serenity candles make my living room and bedroom.
Yankee Candle Village comes complete with a year-round Santa Claus in his Toy Workshop. He popped over to say hi and remind us to stay good for Christmas.
He refused to let me in on any secret projects the elves were working on though.
The highlight was the Wax Works section, where we made our own dipping wax figurines, a wax mold of our hands, and our very own multi colored and smelling candle.
We also made a personalized photo label of the girls in Williamsburg on a yellow pineapple candle.
We had the opportunity to experience the Key to the Village, which I think is an outstanding program of customer service implemented by Yankee Candle Villages.
If any of the servers feel connected to an interaction they had with a customer, they can give them the Key to the Village.
With that comes a few special treats: The Wax Work section, a jar of candy, and a Hershey’s ice cream.
Ask for what coupons are available before you shop, as they tend to have different sales happening. It will be helpful as I’m sure you will want to buy a lot in the store.
5. Yorktown Sailing Charters
Climb aboard the Yorktown Schooner, Alliance & Serenity for a sail along the York River past the battlefield where the USA won its independence.
Yorktown Sailing Charters run multiple tall ship sails a day.
Our day sailing cruise on a schooner down the York River was pushed back to sunset due to the weather. Sunset is a peaceful time to be on the river sailing up and down and learning a little more of the history and local stories of the area.
We passed by the docking area where the naval warships offload their ammunition and the forest area where the CIA do secret training.
Do not go in there for a sticky beak. Someone will be escorting you back out in a matter of seconds after a few questions.
The girls loved helping to hoist up the sail. I was not shy in volunteering either.
The captain is very friendly and is happy to share many stories with you as you sail. You may even get to steer the ship for a bit.
6. Historic Jamestowne
Historic Jamestowne is a fascinating experience to do with kids in Greater Williamsburg.
The site of the first English settlement is a live archaeological site. You can see what has been recovered from the earth and may even see archaeologist at work uncovering more artifacts.
This is the area where the English settlement (and future United States of America) nearly failed.
You’ll learn more about life in the settlement and what obstacles the colonists had to overcome.
Don’t miss the Archearium, where you can see a couple of skeletons from the settlement and learn about their stories.
It is on Jamestown Island which is a pretty place to explore if you have time, so you can further gain an understanding of the landscape the English colonists encountered.
7. Go-Karts Plus
Time for some old fashion family fun.
Go-Karts Plus has 8 acres of fun and games and, as the name suggests, are most noted for go- karts!
There are four go-kart tracks, Bumper Cars, Blaster Boats, a small roller coaster, an expanded arcade, and a mini golf course.
The Gold Rush Mini Golf was my most memorable course ever as I scored two holes in ones, got my lowest score ever, and came out family champion.
I’m usually the one going way over par or hitting constant gutter bowls if we play ten pin bowling, so please allow me my moment of glory.
Savannah nailed a hole in one with me on the first hole, and we did a victory boomerang dance together.
This is the stuff that makes long-term family memories and strengthens bonds.
After several laps around the various go-kart tracks, my racing sidekick, Savannah rushed to give me a gigantic hug.
“I had the best time with you Mummy. I love you so much. We’re best friends.” Heart melted all over the floor.
Thank you Go-Karts Plus for creating something so simple and fun to help families unplug and reconnect.
Put this on your list of fun things to do in Williamsburg VA!
8. Williamsburg Indoor Sports Center (WISC)
If you’re wondering what to do in Williamsburg VA with your kids that’s indoors, head to the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Center.
As the weather was not favorable, we could not go on our planned kayak and bike ride around Jamestown Island, so we headed to the WISC instead to play in their area called The Zone and had a blast.
It’s the first time we had played laser tag as a family. We’re quite the commandos and played a couple of games of simulated war games!
It was a load of fun and good sweaty exercise.
We also had fun pretending to be jewelry thieves maneuvering around laser beams in the laser maze to reach the buttons on the wall.
And then our family favorite – indoor rock climbing.
I loved the different walls they had here. It was fun when the girls raced each other up the Lego wall, and conquered the column climb.
I was the only one in the family that chickened out to that one!
9. Yorktown Battlefield and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
One of my favorite things to do in Greater Williamsburg was touring the Yorktown Battlefield.
After learning so much about the Revolutionary War, it was wonderful to see the area where the Americans defeated the British at Yorktown, which ultimately led to America’s Independence.
When you combine that visit with the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown nearby, you get a profound sense of what they were fighting for and why.
While these attractions are separate entities with separate tickets, visiting both is a great way to round out the full story of the battle for America’s independence, especially since they’re only a 5-minute drive from each other and combo tickets are available.
I loved the interactive nature of the museum and the ability to further understand complicated documents like The Constitution and how it’s relevant to our current lives.
There are also live interpreters sharing what life was like at the time and giving demonstrations like musket firing.
Don’t miss “The Siege at Yorktown”, 180-degree movie reenactment and the award-winning Liberty Fever introductory movie.
Both are something special.
10. Bike Riding
There’s nothing we love more to do as a family then explore destinations on bikes. The Greater Williamsburg area has miles of bike trails for you to explore.
Our bike ride on the Historic Jamestown Bike Trail was cancelled due to it being chillier than it usually is this time of year, but you can choose from a three-mile or five-mile loop on Island Drive which features a panoramic view of the James River and gives an insight into the landscape.
Freedom Park also has more than 20 miles of mountain biking trails wind through forests and along creeks and open meadows.
Places to eat in Williamsburg VA
1. Retro’s Good Eats
For burgers, hot dogs, and loaded chili and cheese fries, Retro’s on Prince George Street will have you covered for a cheap, and old-style US meal.
2. Baker’s Crust
For omelet lovers, head to Baker’s Crust.
Innovative and delicious with a wide selection and they cater to gluten-free (with gluten-free English muffins even). There’s pancakes, French Toast, eggs benedict as well.
And flapjacks the size of your plate. For the Aussies, I thought a flap jack was small like a pikelet! No Ma’am. Big like a plate!
3. Second Street Bistro
If you’re ready for a hearty meal after all that roller coaster shaking and adrenalin at Busch Gardens, head to 2nd Street Bistro.
Delicious and upmarket food, with a casual vibe. The service was outstanding. Noticeably attentive and friendly from all servers passing by.
Don’t miss a bowl of the clam and corn chowder – simply the best I’ve had. And the lamb shanks just flake off the bone into the red wine jus. It’s full of flavor.
One of our favorite Williamsburg restaurants!
4. The Virginia Beer Company
Virginia Beer Company is a brewery, taproom and beer garden designed with families in mind.
Shelves full of games lay ready to entertain them, and you! Food trucks sit in the beer garden ready to satiate your stomach. Relax into the chilled atmosphere and play some games with your kids.
I had a giggly game of Like Minds with the girls while enjoying a Saving Daylight citrus wheat beer. They have regular brews to try plus limited creations and seasonal craft beers.
They host a variety of food trucks and live events on a weekly basis.
Greater Williamsburg is also home to the Williamsburg Tasting Trail, which includes five breweries, two distilleries and the Williamsburg Winery, Silver Hand Meadery (honey wine), all local to the area.
5. Duck Donuts
We made our girls grab a proper breakfast at the hotel before we set out for a traditional American breakfast of donuts!
The girls report that the donuts were sensational!
I loved that they make them to order, so they come up so fresh and still warm! I wish I could have eaten some.
Duck Donuts was the best coffee that we found in Greater Williamsburg. We returned there on our way back home to Raleigh make sure we had a good cup for the drive.
6. Culture Café
Culture Cafe strives to unite cultures and food by serving small plates in a uniquely communal dining experience.
It’s quite an eclectic cafe with plenty to look at.
The Sunday Brunch menu was limited for our gluten-free requirements, but Craig chowed down on a delicious cauliflower veggie burger and I enjoyed my shakshuka when of my favorite breakfast dishes.
The regular lunch menu looks sensational.
Don’t miss the lavender latte. It’s one of the cafe’s signature drinks.
7. Blue Talon Bistro
Blue Talon Bistro in the historic downtown provides serious comfort food in a warm and casual environment, and it was our favorite place to eat in Williamsburg.
It’s a French-inspired restaurant with a few American leanings.
Count how many roosters you can see within the restaurant while you’re waiting for you meal.
The girls each wrote their own myth of how the rooster got blue talons, which was cute and a terrific way to entertain them while we enjoyed a lovely bottle of French Pinot Noir to go with our delicious duck, which Craig says was the tastiest he has ever had. MMM. Love French duck!
We tried escargot (snails) for the first time. They were covered in a delicious garlic and parsley butter so tasted delicious. I’m not sure I’d order them all the time, but it was worth tasting them.
This is the restaurant to do that in.
And a pot of mussels steamed in white wine with shallots, butter, lemon, tomatoes & garlic also went down at treat.
The service was also very good, and Savannah left with a comment to say our waitress was a very kind lady.
Where to Stay in Greater Williamsburg VA
We stayed at the Wyndham Garden Inn which is one of the hotels near Busch Gardens Williamsburg VA.
Everything is relatively close in Greater Williamsburg, so you could stay closer to the historic Colonial Williamsburg area and still access the theme park easily.