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How long to stay?

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Birmingham, AL
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How long to stay?

We (me, husband, 16 yo son, 15 yo daughter) are planning a trip to Williamsburg for this upcoming Spring Break. It will be March 22 - 29, 2014. We are thinking we might go up and spend a few days in DC but I want to be sure we have time to see and do all those can't miss things in Williamsburg. We love history and want to see all of the historical areas and hopefully if they are open we would like to spend a day at Busch Gardens.

How many days do you think is necessary to fully enjoy the Williamsburg area?

Brookneal, Virginia
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1. Re: How long to stay?

That depends on how deep you want to go into the history.

The "Williamsburg area" also includes Historic Jamestown, Yorktown,and the Plantations on route 5 between Williamsburg and Richmond.

Chronologically speaking, Jamestown was first, followed by Shirley Plantation (celebrating 400 years this year), and the other plantations, followed by Williamsburg, and then Yorktown (as the place of the last battle and surrender of the Revolutionary War).

I could spend a whole day in historic Jamestown and the archaearium (lots of artifacts) and you never know when a dig might be underway.

There is also "Jamestowne Settlement" - a re-created (on an adjacent location) settlement with actors that show what life was like there.

You could probably see 2 plantations in one day, taking your time to walk around and fully experience the grounds, house, gift shop, etc. http://www.jamesriverplantations.org/

Williamsburg itself is a lot like Disney world- you probably won't see it all in one visit anyway.

2 - 3 days depending on how deep you want to go.

Here is a list of the ORIGINAL buildings that go back to the colonial days, as opposed to those that have been re-built: history.org/Foundation/…20Buildings-ALPHA.pdf

That has links to info about their history, and if you are real history buffs you may want to learn a little before your trip to whet your appetite and help you narrow your focus if time is an issue.

Yorktown can take a day as well- we always see the battlefield but never seem to make it to the Victory Center- which is part of the whole "Jamestowne Settlement" thing- they have a re-created farm and army encampment.

For me (and this is just my opinion) if I have little time and had to choose I always opt for the REAL historical place instead of the re-creation.

But yes, I'd take a day for Yorktown too.

A little known fact, Yorktown has its own fife and drum corps- young people who are practicing and hope to one day be part of fife and drum in Williamsburg. Sometimes you can catch them practicing. :)

Yorktown also has some nice small gift shops (Swan Tavern Antiques and York Hall) , as well as the original Carrot Tree restaurant which has excellent food (gourmet sandwiches, sides, scrumptious desserts served in an original building).

Very cute town- a smaller, less commercial and more laid-back version of Williamsburg- including a street or two closed off to traffic, historic cemetery, historic homes (one has cannonballs from the last battle still in the walls- you can see as you walk by) and they have their own beach on the York river with a small waterfront board walk and restaurants and shops.

Very pedestrian and bicycle friendly! And very charming and less "showy" than Williamsburg.

http://www.visityorktown.org/

Hope you have a wonderful trip!

Arlington, Virginia
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2. Re: How long to stay?

That's a lot of good information from JT. If you prefer to spend less than a week in Williamsburg so you can go to Washington, D.C. too, I think it's entire possible to get a good dose of history by spending 2 days at Colonial Williamsburg, 1/2 day at Historic Jamestowne (the National Park Service site) and 1/2 day at the Yorktown Battlefield. (And I also always visit the ACTUAL sites and not the re-creations.) Then, if you spend a day at Busch Gardens, which is a great amusement park, you'd be spending 4 days in the Williamsburg area.

Williamsburg...
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3. Re: How long to stay?

Our first visit here (two adults, no children) we were here for 5 days in April. We returned in December for about 5 more days. Then we came for two more visits for about 6 days each time, about 2 years apart. Then we moved here!

So, from someone who really loves it here, I would say 3 or 4 days as a minimum, but 5 would be better.

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4. Re: How long to stay?

Short drive from Williamsburg to Newport News and the Mariners Museum which has an impressive collection, including the wreckage of the Monitor from the Civil War battle, one of the first iron clad ships. Big museum with huge grounds and lots of things to see.

Edited: 05 October 2013, 05:22
Chicago
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5. Re: How long to stay?

I agree with the 3 to 4 day estimate. Those of us who enjoy the area have no problem with a week in the Tidewater area.

Understanding your desire to move on to DC, 4 nights in Williamsburg will give you three full days or more in the area. Plan your drive to DC in order to avoid rush hours. Expect brutal traffic conditions around DC.

Birmingham, AL
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6. Re: How long to stay?

I guess I didn't realize just how much there is to see in the area. We might skip out on DC. We have been there before and just thought since we weren't too far we would drive up and see a few of the things we missed on our last trip. But I loved DC and really could spend a whole week there again....so may save it for another trip.

Thanks for the great info!!!

Chicago
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7. Re: How long to stay?

You can also visit nearby plantations along Rt 5 toward Richmond (Berkeley and Shirley).

After Jamestown take the ferry across to Surrey.

If you haven't seen Monticello, you may wish to include it in this trip, if you need to fill a day.

Edited: 09 October 2013, 14:32
8. Re: How long to stay?

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