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Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Dardenne Prairie...
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Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

My wife and I will be vacationing in the Williamsburg area for our anniversary this October. We chose Williamsburg because we had some free airline vouchers, and I've always loved the Tidewater area (and US History).

My wife has never been there, but loves seeing new places. While I am obsessed with history, she's not into it at all. She insists that she doesn't dislike history, but she just never "got it" in school or college. It was always something she couldn't make a connection with.

I'm wanting her to have a great time on our vacation, but I also want to get her in on some of the great historical attractions that Williamsburg has to offer. I've traced her family history, and found that her ancestors came over from England to the historic triangle area in the 1620s. I think it'd be a shame for her to miss out on all this area has to offer, especially when it has so much direct personal history for her family line.

I know that we're going to do Busch Gardens Howl-o-Scream one or two days, and I also plan on taking her shopping. I'm really looking for a way to expose her to all the great historical attractions in the area, but I also don't want to feel like I bored her the whole trip. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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1. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

I find a way to "get it" is to make a connection with the present. What does she enjoy? Art? Needlework? Is she a foodie? Does she enjoy woodworking? Interior decorating? Gardening? Theatre? Music? Does she enjoy museums? If she can connect a present interest with the past, that may draw her in, and Colonial Williamsburg has many ways to do that.

She may enjoy Historic Jamestowne, where America began with the landing of Colonists from the Virginia Company in 1607. Attending a play, concert, or an evening program may get her more involved. Or maybe she'll enjoy shopping at Prime Outlets or in Merchants Square, or pampering herself at the Spa, while you soak up history. If you want more specific info, please post back and let us know.

Dardenne Prairie...
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2. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Thank you for the quick reply. Two things I can say overwhelmingly my wife loves are:

1)Nature - especially wildlife and native flora

2)Music - especially violin and fiddle music.

I just know how much history means to me, and how I get such a magical feeling going to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestowne, Yorktown, etc. I'd love to share that with her, but I also know I can't force it on her.

My biggest fear is that I shell out the bucks on tickets for Colonial Williamsburg and other events (loved Pamplin Park in Petersburg and would like to take her there), only to find out she's extremely bored by it all.

Virginia
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3. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Does she like to look through houses...mansions?

Williamsburg...
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4. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Two things I'll recommend for her:

1. Crystal Concert with Dean Shostak. He plays the glass armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin. It produces the most heavenly music! He also demonstrates other glass instruments, including a glass violin.

2. One (or both) of the "gardens" walking tours. Through the Garden Gate, to learn about how the historical gardens were researched and recreated, and Gardens of Gentility, to learn about examples of how gardens differed according to the status of the owner.

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5. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Oh, and a third thing - the loop drive on Jamestown Island (Historic Jamestown). Lots of native flora and some fauna there. Bring the insect repellent and it will be more enjoyable!

rod
Marshall, Michigan
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6. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Try the narrated Jamestown Island Explorer Cruise (757-259-0400) along the shore of Jamestown Island. This is a 90-minute nature and history boat tour on the James River aboard the Explorer, a 49-foot covered pontoon boat. The narration on the tour includes Jamestown history, humor, and local folklore. The boat is often able to approach bald eagles, osprey, herons, and deer along the shoreline without alarming them. Binoculars are available so that you can better see the wildlife.

The cruise boat is located at a marina just behind the parking lot at Jamestown Settlement.

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7. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Sounds like your wife is a good sport, and you're a thoughtful person. This works well!

I don't think you can go wrong in Williamsburg because the standards for everything are so high. You don't have to like history to appreciate the gift to America that the founders of the restoration have created in the last 80 years. You don't need any special emotional connection to colonial times to enjoy a candlelit dinner in a tavern. And the music and drama that are on offer have genuine entertainment value, historical or not.

Zoey is quite right about Dean Shostak, who not only has pioneered the unusual world of glass musical instruments, but is a fine violinist in his own right, and a musicologist. He owns a fiddle which may be Davy Crockett's own instrument. Attending one of his Crystal Concerts is a real treat. Google him for more info. Amazon carries his many recordings, as does the online merchandising operation of Colonial Williamsburg.

And on the subject of violins, remember that Thomas Jefferson was a dedicated violinist who pursued both classical and popular music. If you're lucky, you'll encounter the handsome and urbane historian/interpreter Bill Barker, who does such a good job bringing Jefferson to life on the streets of Williamsburg.

And I think Zoey is on-target, too, to suggest that your wife might like to just take the car and go shopping, or disappear into the spa for half a day, leaving you to lose yourself in the magic.

Congratulations to you both, hope you have a wonderful time!

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8. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

You get to do a lot of that with the kiddies.

Belive it or not it can indeed be a growth process. You just need to find the attractions.

A good friend who felt like your wife entered history, as Zoey says, via her love of things besides what was commonly taught in history class.

She loved pretty flowers and all nature. She liked a certain amount of self-containment and making use of what one had. So she was fascinated with the vast herb gardens in some historic spots she visited ... as well as the use of pocket gardens and the utility of kitchen gardens. She loved the wide lawns of some historic communities, the social village green and the doctors' medicinal gardens in some historic villages. Evenutally she found out about very very old rose and tulip and daffodil cultivars...1500s and such...and got into them.

Another thing that played into her approach to the historic was, funny enough, her love of the large spaces in contemporary homes which also allowed nature indoors with all their glass. From there she discovered those things called "historic homes" and from there the vast mansions and large plantation homes with the high ceilings, variety of wood floors, great openness. Her love of quality workmanship and details allowed her to appreciate the finer points of architectural and decorative design, wether the squareness of Federal Homes, the detective work of finding how the new sections were adjoined on the "goodyear" homes, or the wonderful utility of space in the much older homes to the amazing flow of space in mansions. She became excited by the lighting and views allowed by transoms and leaded glass windows and huge Palladian windows and all the sunrooms and balconies evenutally created for good health.

How about that Jeffersonian a/c idea? That intriques her to this day. She has bought homes based on the general idea to save on a/c bills.

She also liked the family aspect....the idea of how/what/where mom cooked, got her food and herbs; the kitchen eventually moving outdoors for safety; the idea of even the richest people of the time living, eating, sleeping in one warm room with the animals important for their lving and sweeping it out regulargly till the withdrawing room became popular.

And while she hadn't started out to enjoy history per se she did like history of language and, now that I think of it, things like the history of the "withdrawing" room becoming what was more modernly known as the "drawing" room intriqued her.

Oy, now she's big into historical research and archeology.

Be careful what you wish for:)

This should be the Gardens of Wmsbg page. (You've probably already seen this page already. When you pull it up click on every tab. Some tabs have mutiple dropdowns like History and Ed.)

www.history.org/history/CWLand/index.cfm

This is the Gardens programs...there are a couple of tours:

www.history.org/history/CWLand/progrms1.cfm

And I understand...if your wife gets this interested...that during the famous Historic Garden Week in Virginia Williamsburg has 250 gardens open.

Here are some of the James River Plantatins that aren't a far drive since you're spending some time in the area:

http://www.jamesriverplantations.org/

Dardenne Prairie...
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9. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

Thank you to everyone for all of the great advice. The suggestions have been perfect, and we will definitely take advantage of them. We are both eagerly looking forward to our anniversary vacation.

St. Louis, MO
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10. Re: Williamsburg for someone who is not into history?

The garden tours are indeed wonderful! I've taken them a couple of times. Also, this may sound silly, but it's great fun for me--if you begin at one end of Duke of Gloucester street in a garden (admission to the gardens in back of the houses is included with some admission tickets to the historic area) you can travel garden-to-garden almost to the other end of town. Sometimes you have to exit to the main road and continue again in the next block, but this can be quite fun. You will see amazing garden designs, very pretty flowers, and they are all planted as they would have been in the 18th century. Someone told me to wander from garden to garden prior to my last trip, and it was one of my favorite experiences. It might sound silly, but if your wife appreciates nature and flowers she might enjoy it.