What to do in Williamsburg Your First Time: 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. There’s truly something for everyone here, from history to shopping to thrills.
5 days is the perfect amount of time to see all the major sites as a first timer!
This Williamsburg VA itinerary includes our favorite things to do in Williamsburg includes Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, antique shopping, candy, and more!
Plus, my suggestions for what to do in Williamsburg VA 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.
Williamsburg VA Itinerary
Where to stay in Williamsburg, VA
There are a unique blend of historical, charming hotels, chains where you know what to expect, and spacious resorts in Williamsburg VA.
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 Patriot’s Place 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.
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.
Colonial Williamsburg Tickets
- Tickets currently start at $50 (adult) and $29 (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 $60 (adult) and $34 (ages 6-12).
- I’d suggest using Undercover Tourist for tickets to save a few bucks! They typically offer at least a few dollars off the admission prices.
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!
Check the daily schedule of what to do in Williamsburg 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
- This is one of my favorite suggestions for what to do in Williamsburg. 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. The best bet for discounts is Undercover Tourist or see if your AAA offers any reduced prices!
- 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 Williamsburg VA
- 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
What to do in Williamsburg VA for couples
- Visit an excellent selection of breweries, distilleries, wineries, and a meadery! If you want to leave the driving to someone else, take a Brewery & Distillery Bus Tour!
- 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.
- Drive over to the Virginia coastline and enjoy a day at the beach with one of these beach reads!
What 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 Beach
What would you include on your What to Do In Williamsburg VA itinerary?