Looking for family activity ideas in Williamsburg? If you have the colonial capital in your backyard, why not visit each week? Use your Good Neighbor or Annual Pass to get your family thinking and exploring this summer with themes!
We’re sharing a little pre- and post-visit reading, watching and interaction to keep the kids busy in between each themed visit! There’s no right order, so skip around and make up your own. (Pro tip: a rainy or extra hot week is prime for Week 5 exploration at the Art Museums). Visiting for just a week? Pick two or three topics to focus on, or let each child pick an area of interest!
Week 1: Marvel at British Grandeur
- Pre-visit Research: Read about architectural preservation to learn how buildings are reconstructed or preserved, read more about how the Governor’s Palace was refurnished, then take this quiz to see photos of before and after the reconstruction of Williamsburg.
- Visit: Take a tour of the Governor’s Palace, and experience the grandeur of royal government in Virginia just before its collapse.
- Virtual Follow-up: Revisit the Governor’s Palace with our online virtual tour, and get a closer look of the works of art and artifacts.
Week 2: Meet Nation Builders
- Pre-visit Research: Learn about our Nation Builders, read blog posts the interpreters who portray them have written.
- Visit: Listen to a Nation Builder share their story and how they contributed to the founding of our nation.
- Virtual Follow-up: Watch a video, and read a blog post about what exactly goes into this character interpretation. Consider how these actor interpreters are often portraying someone whose values differ from their own in this blog post and this video.
Week 3: Focus on Often Untold Stories
- Pre-visit Research: Meet an American Indian interpreter, enslaved preacher Gowan Pamphlet, and enslaved Revolutionary spy James Lafayette ahead of time.
- Visit: Learn more about the lives of enslaved people in the Randolph Yard, see Created Equal, and recognize the work and contributions of enslaved individuals and marginalized groups as you walk through the colonial capital.
- Virtual Follow-up: Explore the Capitol virtually, discovering the people behind lesser known stories, watch a video about how archaeological evidence can inform interpretations of enslaved individuals, and dive into more resources, linked here.
Week 4: Natural Questions
- Pre-visit Research: Research what it means to be a Level 2 Certified Arboretum, and take a look at the Interactive Arboretum map of trees and gardens at Colonial Williamsburg.
- Visit: Walk Bassett Trace Nature Trail, visit our Gardeners in the Colonial Gardens, and be sure to scan the QR codes on Arboretum trees throughout the Historic Area.
- Virtual Follow-up: Read more about our Gardens!
Week 5: Get Artsy
- Pre-visit Research: Watch videos about the conservation of museum objects to find out how paintings, textiles, and furniture are prepared for exhibitions, and print these coloring pages to color the collection before you see the original palettes in person!
- Visit: Visit the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover fine and decorative arts as well as folk art.
- Virtual Follow-up: Do a scavenger hunt through the virtual tour of the Art Museums to see what you might have missed!
Week 6: Examine Evidence
- Pre-visit Research: Learn about the five-year Custis Square Archaeology Project, excavating the land owned by one of 18th-century Williamsburg’s most colorful residents.
- Visit: See the archaeologists at work at the Custis Square Archaeology Project.
- Virtual Follow-up: Meet Archaeology Director Jack Gary and get to know some artifacts in the labs in this video.
Week 7: Explore Historic Trades
- Pre-visit Research: Read about what it’s like to be an apprentice at Colonial Williamsburg, and watch videos from the trade shops.
- Visit: Meet apprentices, journeymen and masters in historic trade shops, asking questions about what you see. (Here are a few frequently asked ones to read up on first!)
- Virtual Follow-up: Read blog posts by your favorite tradespeople.
Week 8: Discover Rare Breed Animals
- Pre-visit Research: Learn about how we cared for our animals during our temporary closure and about some new additions who joined our four-legged families this Spring in this blog post.
- Visit: Sheep, chickens, oxen, and horses you see at pasture and behind the Wythe House. Be sure to stop and talk to our coachmen about our horses as you walk Duke of Gloucester Street!
- Virtual Follow-up: Learn more about horses in the 18th-century and today with Marquis de Lafayette interpreter Mark Schneider in his video series “Travel & Transportation.”
With these resources, 100% digital ticketing, 301 acres to explore, and more we have your #SummerSolved.