Things to Do in Williamsburg
Americana of the 50s and 60s lives on at Water Country USA, the largest water park in the Mid-Atlantic region. Music from the time period complements rides and live shows, including more than 15 water slides. Dare devils live for the high-thrill ride Vanish Point, on which the ground falls out from under riders as they fly down the 75-foot, nearly vertical water slide. For those who prefer to chill out, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Island fits the bill, with a large pool encompassed by a lazy river. The newest attraction, Colossal Curl, features funnels, twists and seconds of complete weightlessness.
Water Country USA makes the Mid-Atlantic summer heat and humidity bearable, with rides and attractions to keep the entire family cool. Live shows, including the dive show “Aquabatics” take place daily in the summer. Water Country USA and Busch Gardens Williamsburg are sister theme-parks and are located only three miles from one another.
Located in Colonial Williamsburg, Bruton Parish Episcopal Church is a National Historic Landmark. Visit to view the well-preserved example of colonial religious architecture and perhaps take in a concert at the active church. First built in 1674, the current structure dates back to 1715.
On Oct. 19, 1781, General George Washington’s allied American and French forces declared decisive victory over the British Army, bringing an end to the American Revolutionary War and with it, independence to the United States. The Yorktown Battle remains one of the most famous and important battles fought on American soil, and the site now sits in the Colonial National Historic Park, where visitors get a glimpse into the last major battle of the war.
Over 3 million people visit the sites here every year, and two of the most prominent pieces of the battlefield are the 1724 Nelson House, where British General Cornwallis resided, and the nearby Moore House, where negotiations for British surrender took place.
For many travelers, the highlight of a trip to historic Williamsburg is a tour of the ornate Governor’s Palace, which served as the official residence of the Royal Governors of the Colony of Virginia. Construction on the Governor’s Palace began in 1706, and although updates and remodeling continued for decades, official construction concluded in 1722. Thomas Jefferson was the last governor to live in the palace.
The 30-minute guided tour of the site takes visitors back to the early 18th century. Docents lead the tour dressed in period-era clothing through the palace's three floors, each spanning over 3,300 square feet, an extensive cellar and numerous outbuildings. The main house burned down in 1781 but has since been restored to much of its former grandeur.
See the country’s first hospital devoted to the care of the mentally ill, and learn about the treatment of mental illness in early American history at the Public Hospital of 1773. The building is located in the Colonial Williamsburg living history area, and features exhibition cells, galleries, and artifacts.
The hospital was first founded in 1773 and reopened as a museum in 1985. There are six exhibition cells on the first floor of the east wing, set up to show the types of treatments used over the years. Additional galleries and artifacts illustrate the history of the hospital and the practices of 18th and 19th century medicine. Guided tours offer additional insights.
Entrance to the Public Hospital of 1773 is included as part of your Colonial Williamsburg ticket.Guided tours are held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9am and last for about an hour. The topics and displays of the museum may not be suitable for young children. The museum is wheelchair accessible.
The museum is located south of Francis Street in Colonial Williamsburg. The shuttle bus stops just outside. There’s also an underground concourse that leads to the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
The Public Hospital Museum is open daily from morning until evening. Since it’s open later than many of the other attractions on the Colonial Williamsburg tour, it makes sense to save the museum for the end of the circuit.
It's easy to visit the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, which includes the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, as it's located in the same building as the Public Hospital of 1773. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s holdings include more than 70,000 antiques and works of art, 15,000 architectural elements, and 20 million archaeological artifacts, including clothing, instruments, toys, furniture, and paintings.
Discover the art of glassblowing, as it was done centuries ago, at the Jamestown Glasshouse. Part of the Colonial National Historic Park, Jamestown Glasshouse is a recreation of a colonial-era glasshouse, complete with costumed artisans and interpreters who create glass products by hand, using traditional tools and techniques.