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"Unexpected visit to Williamsberg Virginia" Topic

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138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 6:41 a.m. PST

My wife has arranged an unexpected visit to Williamsberg Virginia at the beginning of November. We'll be there between the 8th and 12th of the month.

Couple of questions (a) How long should we give to see Colonial Williamsberg.

(b) any other things that are must see items in the area.

We will have a car so transport isn't an issue.

Suggestions for what to do and see would be welcomed.

WarWizard10 Oct 2017 7:06 a.m. PST

Last time I was in Willamsburg (2 years ago) I took my daughter for the first time. I went to my usual favorite locations. Williamsburg proper (allow at least 1 full day).

Other locations within driving distance: (I would allow half a day for each)
Fort Monroe – in Hampton. Robert E Lee was stationed their, has a rich history.

Yorktown – I would take the Colonial drive from Williamsburg to Yorktown, very scenic. And lovely in the Fall. I was their in 1981 for the Battle of Yorktown bicentennial. That was a BIG celebration. Ronald Regain attended, they had over 5,000 re-enactors.

Jamestown – Small venue – I would pass on this one if not enough time.

Busch Gardens is fun – but I don't think it is open in November.

I always enjoyed the Mariners Museum in Newport News

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 7:13 a.m. PST

Other things to see – OMG, where to start ??!!??

If you have the time, visit the excavation sites
close by and in Williamsburg


Then there is Yorktown, not too far link

Recreations of ships which brought early settlers to
what became Jamestown link

IDK how long you plan to be in Williamsburg (restored
Colonial area) or when, but the artificers themselves
(Blacksmith, tannery, apothecary, dry goods, baker,
etc.) can keep me entranced for hours.

And if it is in session and you have the time, do attend
the Colonial House of Burgesses !

Tommy2010 Oct 2017 7:16 a.m. PST

You can do most of Colonial Williamsburg in a day. From there, it's a very short drive to both Jamestown (in one direction), and Yorktown (in another). You can easily spend a day doing each of those.

All three are well worth seeing.

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 8:38 a.m. PST

Yes I agree with Tommy20 all three are within a short drive of each other and worth seeing. Jamestown has the ships docked that you can go on and inside to see how they lived when crossing over, they also have an Indian Village outside the recreated Fort/settlement. A Day for Jamestown, a day for Williamsburg, Yorktown is also a great place with the bunkers in place, artillery and museum. Will give you a good feel of the battle.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Oct 2017 9:14 a.m. PST

I would recommend 2 days in Williamsburg if you have the time. There is so much to see there.

You are also very close to,the Richmond area National Battlefields park including the Seven Days battles and Cold Harbor etc.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member10 Oct 2017 10:15 a.m. PST

Having lived in the area for several years, let me clarify a little.

If you are really into such things, I would say you should allow at least two full days to say you have really seen Williamsburg. There are many historic buildings open for tours, and more to view from outside. And so many fascinating living history demonstrations of various crafts: gunmaking, blacksmithing, printing and bookbinding, cooperage, even wig-making, etc.

Williamsburg is about a half-hour drive on U.S Hwy. 60 from Newport News, where The Mariners Museum is located (easy to find, just off the junction of Hwy. 60 and Route 17). The latter is a large museum covering the whole range of maritime history, and which has the turret from the U.S.S. "Monitor" that was raised quite a few years back. Allow several hours if you are much interested in maritime history.

Jamestown is located in between the above, and is really two separate operations. The actual site of the original settlement is a National Park Service operation, but only the ruins of a brick church still remains standing above ground; however, archaeological excavations over the past couple of decades have discovered many interesting things, including some arms and armor. Nearby is a state facility with a reconstruction of the original fort, costumed interpreters, and replicas of the 3 ships which carried the first settlers of 1607. It is good for a couple of hours anyway.

The battle between the "Monitor" and C.S.S. "Virginia" (ex-"Merrimack") took place in Hampton Roads between Newport News and the Norfolk-Portsmouth area across the James River. There used to be boat tours available from Newport News, but November may be too late in the year. Also located in Newport News is the War Memorial Museum--not too large, but with a worthwhile collection of weaponry and equipment.

Fort Monroe is in Hampton, which adjoins Newport News. Besides the fort itself, there is a museum inside and a collection of coast artillery pieces in a courtyard of the fort. Allow an hour or two, if you visit.

Yorktown is about a half-hour drive from Newport News on Route 17. Again, there are two separate operations. The National Park Service maintains the actual battlefield, but adjoining it is another Virginia State facility, the Yorktown Victory Center, which displays artifacts, dioramas, and replicas. This site is also good for a couple of hours or more.

RKE Steve10 Oct 2017 10:41 a.m. PST

If you are into Wine, do go to the Williamsburg Winery. They have a great deal on tour, tasting and lunch. Good wine and good food.

Russ Lockwood10 Oct 2017 2:09 p.m. PST

Like the others said: Williamsburg-Yorktown-Jamestown are all great places to visit. I took a week after the Borodino 2002 miniatures game at Fort Monroe (also worth a trip to the fortress). The Mariner's Museum in Newport News is also well worth the trip. That would make a nice few days in the area. I also see the Virginia War Museum is in Newport News, but I haven't visited that one.

Richmond is about 60 miles from Williamsburg and the Museum of the Confederacy is there and worth a couple hours -- note, it seems surrounded on three sides by a hospital and medical buildings -- if you can't find street parking, you park in the garage and get your ticket validated by the museum.

Chokidar Inactive Member11 Oct 2017 7:01 a.m. PST

..why does the devil in me suggest that one to see might be the Museum of the Confederacy – way things are going may not be around much longer…

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2017 11:39 a.m. PST

You might want to post this on the American Revolution and F&I boards.

Ceterman Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

Way wrong, Chokidar.
IF things go RIGHT, that's where ALL the statues, flags & such SHOULD be, at/in Museums. NOT where tiki-torch carrying Nazis can rally around them at Universities, shouting "Jews will not replace us". There SHOULD be Museums, telling our good & bad History. That way, you wanna go see em? Pay your money & go. I personally am tired of looking at a bunch of losers' flags. I certainly don't wanna help pay for em going up at my Courthouse with my tax dollars. (Of course, some, don't pay their taxes) I've been there several times, btw. Excellent Museum. There was a lot more than flags to see last time I was there.
Museums NOT Municipalities. That is my take.

Outlaw Tor11 Oct 2017 5:59 p.m. PST

U.S. Army Transportation Museum is on the grounds of Fort Eustis. It might have appeal.


YogiBearMinis Supporting Member of TMP13 Oct 2017 4:52 a.m. PST

I wholly agree with you Ceterman, but Chokidar might only be expressing the concern of some that certain historical items will not even be allowed in museums. I don't think that fear is completely unfounded, though unlikely.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 10:14 a.m. PST

Firstly thank you all for the excellent ideas. Some have had to be postponed to a future visit.

The first issue I had to cope with was the fact that my wife was told to fly into BWI (Baltimore Airport). This put us 3 hours from our destination in Williamsburg. I had anticipated flying into Richmond.

We therefore had only three days in the Williamsburg area.

The second problem was that our friend who had invited us to stay has a visceral dislike of "The Silly War" which rather cut down on your initial suggestions here.

What we ended up doing was a follows:

Jamestown (the reconstructed settlement) and not the NPS archaeological site. I've done both English Civil War and Tudor reenacting and was impressed with the site.

Williamsburg Winery – who doesn't enjoy a glass. Impressed some would be decent substitutes for my beloved Burgandies.

Yorktown – both the NPS site and the American Revolutionary Museum. Again both are excellent and well worth visiting.

Williamsburg – dined here twice (The Kings Arms and Shields Tavern). The day and half we spent there did it justice. A day would have been rushed.

Remember I said we were stuck 3 hours from our airport? That gave me a dilemma; our flight was 6:20 from BWI. Allowing for check in that would have meant leaving Williamsburg at 2:00. The end result was we drove to Baltimore the day before we were to fly. This gave us a opportunity to take one Civil War site, we, or more to the point I, chose to visit Massassas. Again, because of time constraints we only got to visit the site of the 1st Battle.

Over all a great trip.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member15 Nov 2017 11:01 a.m. PST

If there is a next time, you might want to check on air service into the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, which would put you closer to the various sites already discussed. I understand there is an annual autumn wargaming convention in Williamsburg.

Bill N15 Nov 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

It is always helpful to get feedback on trips like this.

historygamer16 Nov 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

Curious. Did you buy tickets for Colonial Williamsburg? I ask as many people visit but don't by the passes.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 8:59 a.m. PST

Historygamer yes we did buy passes.

You can visit without but as I understand it you're restricted as to access to certain things, live the crafting interpreters and some of the major buildings. On the other hand, why buy a ticket to visit Williams and Sanoma?

Since I wanted to interact and learn, rather than simply shop, we bought tickets.

The other aspect; it costs money to run Colonial Williamsburg. They have already laid off 100 costumed interpreters this year and closed down one craft operation. I'd like to see the site succeed and be able into the future.

historygamer16 Nov 2017 9:03 a.m. PST

Just curious. Their ticket sales have been way off their high water mark of the late 80s. They (CW) reported that they were losing $147 USDk a day.

Many people go down, wander around, go in the shops (all the historic buildings, other than the shops require tickets), eat in a tavern, etc., but don't buy a ticket.

I think their visitation was around 660k last year, off from their all time high of 2.2m. Busch Gardens gets around 1.7m visitors per year, so you can see the delta and why they are in such huge trouble.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

Yup, history doesn't sell anymore. At least not this history. There are things they can do to update service though. Simple things like buying a drink while walking around is a glacial process. Long lines, one checkout.

historygamer16 Nov 2017 4:03 p.m. PST

Agreed. There are a lot of things they can do. They lowered prices but the city slapped a special sales tax on their tickets. The city wanted the money to help promote Williamsburg as a "destination" place. Give me a break.

Beaumap Inactive Member11 Dec 2017 11:02 a.m. PST

We spent 2 very worthwhile weeks based in Williamsburg. Crossing the river on the ferry into Surrey County adds to the fun.
4 days in Williamsburg inc winery, modern town, museums
2 days in Yorktown – battlefield, museum, re-enactment village, main drag and boat trip
2 Days in Jamestown
Newport for Fort Monroe, beach and Navy Museum
2 days over the water – plantations, Civil war fort etc
etc etc

Normal Guy11 Dec 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

Wow, that was a great trip.

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