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What To Do In Williamsburg VA – First Timer

What to do in Williamsburg: A 5 day Williamsburg VA Itinerary

Growing up, my family often traveled to Williamsburg, VA on vacation, so I can help you decide what to do in Williamsburg VA. The town and surrounding area is packed with things to do and it’s an easy drive from most major Eastern cities.

5 days is the perfect amount of time to see all the major sites as a first timer. This list of our favorite things to do in Williamsburg includes Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, antique shopping, candy, and more!

A long weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend here. Plus, this Williamsburg VA itinerary can easily be adapted for families with children or for couples looking for a romantic getaway. I’ve added extra ideas for both of those scenarios at the end.


Where to stay in Williamsburg, VA

Since my dad worked as a civilian for the Navy, we always use their low cost program to stay in timeshare resorts for the week. I realize this option isn’t available to everyone, so here are a few alternative hotels/resorts:

The Fife and Drum Inn – One of the few options to stay “downtown”, meaning within walking distance of Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary. This bed and breakfast offers nine rooms plus a cottage. Rates start at $169/night.

Wyndham Kingsgate Resort – This is one of the resorts we often stay at with the military discount, but it’s also available to the general public. Suites can be booked through hotel websites like Booking.com for rates as low as $125/night. This is a great option if you like having a kitchenette or separate bedrooms.

Hampton Inn & Suites Williamsburg – Hilton members can use points at a variety of Hilton hotels in the area. The Hampton Inn and Suites is a great low-cost option that also includes free hot breakfast.

Williamsburg Lodge – As part of Marriott’s Autograph collection, this is a unique option for families who use hotel points to travel.  This is a gorgeous building with newly renovated rooms just steps from the historic area.


Williamsburg Lodge


What to Do in Williamsburg VA: 5 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Travel Day / Explore Williamsburg

  • Use your first day to make your way to Williamsburg, whether by car or plane. It’s only 3 hours from Baltimore, 4.5 hours from Philadelphia, or 6 hours from NYC.
  • Check in to your hotel before planning to get acquainted with the surrounding area
  • A great place to start is Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchant’s Square. Easy parking is available at 230 N Henry Street Garage. Within the surrounding blocks you’ll find numerous boutique stores, cafes, and restaurants.
  • End your day at Kilwin’s for ice cream and a variety of other treats!

Days 2 & 3: Colonial Williamsburg

  • Intro: Colonial Williamsburg is a sprawling historic recreation of life in America during the Revolutionary War. It is the world’s largest living history museum filled with skilled artisans, actors, building tours, and notable events that transport you back to the 18th century. While it’s free to stroll through the streets and visit shops, you’ll need an admission ticket to enter the historic buildings and participate in the tours. A ticket also gives you access to two art museums and a complimentary shuttle for transportation around the property. Tickets start at $45 (adult) and $25 (ages 6-12) for a single day. However, I recommend getting the multi day pass, which allows you unlimited access for 3 consecutive days. This pass is $55 (adult) and $30 (ages 6-12).
  • Visitor’s Center – Start your day at the Visitor’s Center, where you can purchase tickets or redeem an online voucher for pre-purchased passes. There’s plentiful parking and the shuttle will take you right to the historic area. We’re also huge fans of the free 30 min movie, The Story of a Patriot! It’s a quick film about a Virginia planter who becomes a member of the House of Burgesses. As he interacts with Patrick Henry, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, he comes to realize he wants to fight for freedom. There are some excellent quotable lines and a general feeling of patriotism that will set the stage for joining the Revolution once you step outside!
  • Highlights of Colonial Williamsburg (Don’t miss these attractions!!)
    • The Governor’s Palace – An in-depth tour of the palace, which was designed as a symbol of British authority. The gardens are extensive and worth a stroll too.
    • The Bindery – As a book lover, this is a must-do! This craftsman shows the time consuming process of how books were made.
    • The Capitol Building – Learn about the beginnings of our government
    • James Geddy House – Understand what it was like for a trade family living during these times
    • George Wythe House – Visit the home of a prominent attorney
    • Wetherburn’s Tavern – The only tavern available to tour
    • Charleton’s Coffeeshop – Learn about the importance of the coffeehouse as a meeting and business place. Plus, enjoy free samples of coffee or hot chocolate!
  • Daily Events – Check the daily schedule for additional events, lectures, kids activities, and more that take place at specific times throughout the day. Some are included with admission and some (like ax throwing or carriage rides) require purchase of a separate ticket.
  • Where to Eat
    • I highly recommend eating at least once in the historic taverns! The four taverns are open only on certain days and Christiana Campbell’s is dinner only, so plan in advance where you want to eat. All but Chowning’s Tavern take reservations.
    • Raleigh Tavern Bakery – Our go-to snack stop. You can grab a light lunch or choose from a variety of baked goods.
    • Merchant’s Square – Just a short walk from the historic district is the shopping and dining area full of options for a quick lunch or sit down dinner.


Day 4 – Busch Gardens

  • Intro: Busch Gardens is an amusement park with a European theme. The park is split into sections that represent different countries, including Italy, France, England, Germany, and more. It has 7 roller coasters, including my all-time favorite, Apollo’s Chariot. You’ll also find a mix of the standard less intense rides and a few options for the kiddos. The shows in this park are notable as well. Don’t miss Celtic Fyre in Ireland, an impressive display of Irish dancing and singing.
  • Tickets: The regular price of one-day admission is $92, but check their website for current offers. You may also find discounts at AAA, TicketsatWork, Groupon, or other coupon sites.
  • Hours: Check the website for specific hours, but the park is generally open from 10am – 9pm on weekdays and 10am-10pm on weekends throughout the summer.
  • Events: Special events are held throughout the year, including Bierfest, Howl-O-Scream, Christmas Town, and more.


Day 5 – Exploring

  • Shop for treasures and antiques at the Williamsburg Antique Mall, The Flipping Flea Market, and Lucky Junque
  • Visit the Yankee Candle Village store for an immersive shopping experience. It’s so much more than just candles. Treasures of all types are available to browse in the themed rooms and you might just encounter snow!
  • Williamsburg General Store – A classic collection of home goods, souvenirs, treats, and hodge podge items


If You Have More Time in the Area

  • Tour Bassett Hall – The Rockefeller’s Virginia retreat is fully furnished and tours are included with your Colonial Williamsburg ticket.
  • Add on the rest of the Historical Triangle (Jamestown and Yorktown)
  • Spend an additional day at Colonial Williamsburg (check out the spots you missed or revisit favorites)
  • Cool off at Water Country USA water park
  • Drive an hour east to Norfolk to catch a Norfolk Tides baseball game or visit their zoo


Things to do in Williamsburg, VA for couples

  • Williamsburg Tasting Trail – Visit an excellent selection of breweries, distilleries, wineries, and a meadery!
  • Go hiking at Freedom Park or along the Powhatan Creek Trail
  • Take a haunted tour of Colonial Williamsburg, such as the “Ghosts of Williamsburg” tour.


Things to do in Williamsburg, VA with kids

  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum
  • Jamestown / Yorktown Settlements – More interactive for kids than Colonial Williamsburg
  • Take a day trip to Virginia Bearch


What would you include on your Williamsburg VA itinerary? 

*Special thanks to my mom and dad for their input on what to do in Williamsburg VA!

5 Day Williamsburg VA Itinerary


  • Reply
    August 26, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    What great timing! We’re heading down there this week! Thanks for this, will have to keep it in mind!

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      August 29, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      Hope it helps! Have a great vacation!

  • Reply
    Kasey Holloway
    August 29, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    I love going to Williamsburg since it’s only a few hours away from us! One thing I love doing is riding a bike around the historic area. Since there are no cars, you don’t have to worry about getting hit, and it saves you a ton of walking!

    • Reply
      Rachel Kamery
      August 29, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      That’s a great tip! I’ve never rented a bike before, but it sounds like an excellent way to see the area.

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