Finding places to travel around the world that will excite, entertain and inspire the whole family can be a daunting task. This is why we do what we do–we take the guesswork out of where to travel and the things to do–which hopefully makes your life and travels easier.
Last weekend I experienced Williamsburg, VA for the first time with my two children (sadly, my husband had to stay behind for work). We took a family trip to Busch Gardens a few years back but I didn’t get to see much else. In preparation for the trip I knew that I wanted to visit Colonial Williamsburg, however, I was determined to experience other things the area had to offer as well.
Before embarking on our trip I decided to do some research. I wanted to take my five year old son and my ten year old daughter to places where they’d have fun but also learn something. We decided to visit a few museums including the Virginia Living Museum located in Newport News as well as a brief stop in Colonial Williamsburg. Along the way we found adorable shops, restaurants and more.
So without further adieu we bring you our trip to Williamsburg, Virginia: Day 1.
We live 2 1/2 hours (give or take) to Williamsburg so I knew I needed to stay a few days to really get a good sense of the area, so I booked us two rooms at Kingsmill Resort. I heard wonderful things about Kingsmill from my good friend, Sarah of Capital Moms so I knew we were in for a real treat.
Our Lodgings: Kingsmill Resort
Kingsmill Resort, features 425 rooms on the premises as well as privately owned homes, five restaurants, 17,000 sq. of conference space, a spa, hotel gift shop, fitness center, marina, indoor/outdoor pools and a 15 court tennis center. Three championship golf courses surround the resort (Kingsmill has hosted a total of 29 professional golf tournaments from 1981-2009; LPGA, PGA events and others).
Upon arriving at Kingsmill Resort we were kindly greeted and given directions toward our rooms.
Our main suite held a living room with a fireplace, dining area, full kitchen (including a dishwasher, garbage disposal and more), bath, large master suite and a balcony.
The main suite connected to a separate bedroom and bathroom for my two children with a balcony as well. Our rooms were right on the James River had spectacular views from all sides. The rooms were beautifully furnished and very clean.
After refreshing ourselves from the drive we decided to head out and explore a bit of Williamsburg before nightfall.
Stop #1: Museums/Dinner/Shopping
The Public Hospital Museum
The Public Hospital Museum is a museum that has been rebuilt upon the original hospital’s foundation after a fire demolished it in 1885. Opened in 1773 it was the first hospital in the United States to treat the mentally ill. The museum has six exhibit cells (only four were open when we visited) and everything we saw and read was quite eye opening.
I learned that at the time many people believed that the mentally ill “chose to be irrational.” Mental illness were not diagnosed by a doctor, but rather by a jury of 12 citizens.
Each cell was outfitted with a barred window, a straw mattress which sat upon the floor, chamber pot, and shackles for the wrist or ankles. In the 18oo’s treatment of mental illness began to change (thankfully) and cells were furnished with actual beds and nicer furnishings. When electric wiring (for lighting) was put in during late 1885 the hospital caught fire and burned to the ground. Many interesting artifacts that were recovered from the remains are on display . While nothing in the museum was inappropriate for young children or overtly scary there were some voiceovers that could be disturbing to younger audiences. I would recommend this museum for kids 12+.
An underground concourse from the Public Hospital Museum leads to the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum so it’s a breeze to visit all three.
Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum
As we headed through the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum we viewed an original painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (c. 1796), outdoor folk art; weather vanes, carousel animals and other 19th/20th century outdoor pieces. My kids absolutely loved seeing the nautical figureheads and the carousel animals.
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum
I wasn’t sure that my children would enjoy the Decorative Arts Museum but boy was I wrong. My kids absolutely loved it! Their favorite collection was the ‘Joy of Toys’ collection where many dollhouses and antique toys were on display. They also enjoyed looking at an old telescope, seeing how musical instruments improved over the years and the furniture that was popular 17th and 18th centuries.
There is so much to see in the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum I would suggest at least putting aside half a day for it. My kids and I walked around for about an hour and a half and only saw a small portion of the museum.
One of my favorite items on display was a huge antique stove. I learned that Governor Botetourt of Virginia ordered the stove from London in 1770 for use in the Capitol. It is decorated with fashionable ornament and symbolic imagery. On the lower side panel is the standing figure of Justice with a balance upheld in her right hand and her left holding a sword and resting on the Magna Carta (signifying the sanctity of law and civil liberties). The arms of the Virginia colony are boldly displayed on one end. A notice in a London newspaper in 1770 characterized the stove as “one of the most elegant warming machines…that was ever seen in this or any kingdom.” Isn’t it gorgeous?
After our walk around all three museums we became quite hungry so we walked over to Merchant’s square. The square has many fun shops and restaurants to choose from. Based upon Sarah (Capital Moms) recommendation we stopped at The Cheese Shop to pick up a quick bite to eat.
The Cheese Shop
The Cheese Shop features sandwiches on freshly baked bread, fresh cheeses and other unique products for sale. My kids ordered the grilled cheese on french bread while I ordered the Prosciutto on Focaccia with provolone & roasted tomatoes with their famous house dressing. Everything is fresh, delicious and reasonably priced. I highly recommend stopping in.
Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop
While in The Cheese Shop we spotted Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop across the way and of course we HAD to go in. This store has every candy and chocolate you could imagine. Imported goods, different flavored sodas, fudge, handmade confectionaries and more line the shelves. If you have a sweet tooth make sure you make a stop at Wythe’s.
. After leaving Wythe’s we headed over to the Blackbird Bakery to pick up a slice of the ‘Death by Chocolate’ torte (another recommendation). The Death by Chocolate torte takes three days to make and consists of seven layers.
The Blackbird Bakery ended up being one of our favorite spots in Williamsburg. We came back twice to pick up goodies for breakfast. The bakery is quaint, adorable and the items we picked up were delicious.
I recommend the Morning Glory Muffin, a slice of the Death by Chocolate torte and a few Pain Au Chocolat to go. They had fresh breads and little pies that looked delicious as well.
After our visit to the Blackbird Bakery we headed back to Kingsmill Resort to get some sleep.
Click here for DAY 2 of our adventures in Williamsburg, VA!
*I’ve been to Williamsburg, VA before but only to Busch Gardens
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