This tour is approximately 3 Hours.
Colonial Williamsburg presents a living, breathing town in the years preceding and during the American Revolution. Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick Henry plotted America’s freedom here. Today, tavern patrons plot their next move on a colonial board game. Whether you’re a 21st-century hurried mom, hassled dad, or been-there-done-that kid, you can become a true participant in the Revolutionary City.
Put on a three-cornered hat, fall into rank, and drill with the colonial recruits, or walk on charming streets, through parks and gardens, and into quaint homes and grand buildings. By enjoying Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area on foot, you come face-to-face with people who “live” in the 18th century.
While Colonial Williamsburg offers the country’s largest live interactive history museums, don’t forget to explore the remarkable indoor museums, too. Discover Bassett Hall, the Williamsburg home of the Rockefellers. Since early 2007, you’ll find the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg under one roof. Examine masterpieces of furniture, silver, portraiture, textiles, and maps throughout the exhibits at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary by moving into its new home and invites you to discover the unique skill and whimsy of self-taught artists. Museum programming includes a variety of activities and lectures of interest to all ages.
This is a place of truly historic proportions. In fact, our Historic Area spans 301 acres. Among the 88 original buildings and more than 500 meticulously reconstructed architectural gems are colonial homes, government buildings, trade shops, and taverns. Daytime programs and evening performances bring you face-to-face with “people of the past” who engage you in passionate debates, challenge your children to a game of pick-up sticks, or show how they work the land.
Some highlights of Colonial Williamsburg:
The Capitol – The first colony to speak for American independence did it with the unanimous voices of the gentlemen who gathered in the Capitol. One of colonial America’s most important buildings, this is where the General Assembly debated and framed legislation and where courts dispensed justice.
The Governor’s Palace – The residence of seven royal governors and the first two elected governors of Virginia – Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson – is shown as it was when Lord Dunmore, the last British governor of the Virginia colony, lived there. It was truly the focus of the city’s fashionable society and finest entertainment.
Historic Trades – Some of the best craftspeople in the world work here using 18th-century tools and techniques in their chosen trades, keeping these skills alive. Be sure to visit several. A few choices are the Basketmaker, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Shoemaker, Wheelwright, Wigmaker, Windmill and many more.
The Public Gaol (Jail) – A visit reveals the stories of the prisoners and the jail keepers who lived here with their families. Costumed guides use vivid storytelling methods to bring to life the ever-changing population of the Gaol, from the infamous Blackbeard’s pirates to runaway slaves, people of disordered mind, debtors, prisoners awaiting trial or execution, and ministering clergy.
THE REVOLUTIONARY CITY
Embark on a revolutionary adventure and become an active participant in critical moments on America’s road to independence. From mid-March until the holiday season, Colonial Williamsburg brings you Revolutionary City, a dynamic two-hour event highlighting Williamsburg’s role in one of America’s defining historical periods. Step into the drama at the east end of the Historic Area where the town’s inhabitants go about their daily activities. One day, learn what led to the collapse of royal government. On another, explore the theme of revolutionary citizens at war. On a third, discover who actually built the new nation and the challenges they faced.
Mondays: Although men like Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Washington, and the Marquis de Lafayette played major roles in voicing the ideals of freedom and liberty and winning the battles for independence, many others quietly built the nation by going about their everyday lives. Examine their stories and the roles they played in the transition from subjects to citizens.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays: What caused loyal subjects to turn against the king’s government? Discover the events that prompted outrage and how Virginia’s royal governor responded to the protests. Learn how families reacted to events and became divided or united and what decisions the town’s residents, free and enslaved, faced. Take part in the debates that led to the Declaration of Independence.
Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays: Once independence was declared, Williamsburg’s citizens had a new set of concerns. Find out how war affected the people and local economy, what enslaved African Americans thought about the uncertain promises of freedom, how the town adapted to occupation by British troops, and what it meant to have Washington’s forces encamped in the area before the siege of Yorktown.