Growing up, my family and I would take at least one trip a year to Williamsburg, VA. It made for the perfect family vacation growing up: between Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg and the Premium Outlets, there were plenty of activities in Greater Williamsburg that the whole family could enjoy!
I’ve always thought of Greater Williamsburg to be family friendly, but I’ve never had the chance to explore it as a 20-something without children. That is, until recently. The kind folks over at Visit Williamsburg invited me to experience Greater Williamsburg as an adult without kids, and it did not disappoint. If you’re looking for your next girl’s getaway or couples trip, here’s why Greater Williamsburg should be on your list.
GREATER WILLIAMSBURG TRAVEL GUIDE – GETTING THERE
For a trip to Greater Williamsburg, I recommend either bringing your own car or renting a vehicle. It is approximately a 2.5-hour drive from D.C., but in my experience, it’s closer to 3 hours during the summer with the additional I-64 beach traffic. Parking is super easy in Greater Williamsburg, and mostly free. We only had to pay for one parking garage during our time in Williamsburg, and it wasn’t super expensive.
If you don’t plan on bringing a car, Uber, taxis and public transit are an option as well. If you’re flying, it’s easy to either fly into Richmond International Airport or Norfolk International Airport. RIC is 45 minutes away from Downtown Williamsburg, while Newport News/Williamsburg Airport is a 25-minute drive.
GREATER WILLIAMSBURG TRAVEL GUIDE – THE GREAT OUTDOORS
One of my favorite things about Williamsburg is that it’s right on the York River. Here are a couple of ways you can take advantage of being so close to the water:
- Sailing Cruise: One of the highlights of our trip was the cruise we took with Yorktown Sailing Charters. It was an interactive experience, and we were able to volunteer to raise the sail alongside the crew. The views from the river are stunning, and we loved that there was beer and wine for sale on board. If you’re looking for a way to spend a sunny afternoon, this sailing cruise is the perfect activity!
- York River State Park: York River State Park is approximately a 20-minute drive from Downtown Williamsburg, and it is a beautiful escape from the heart of the city. There’s something for everyone at this park: they have quite a number of hiking/bicycling trails to choose from, plenty of grills to host a barbecue, and you can go boating or fishing on the York River.
GREATER WILLIAMSBURG TRAVEL GUIDE – DINING
I got to visit Williamsburg during their annual Taste Festival, and I had no idea that this town was ideal for foodies! Some of the best restaurants I tried included:
- Brunch at the Williamsburg Inn: Williamsburg Inn is a 5 Diamond Award-Winning hotel, and their Sunday Brunch did not disappoint. The atmosphere was very upscale. However, it was still approachable. The service was fantastic, the food was inventive, and you could tell that their team paid very close attention to the food and drink.
- Gabriel Archer Tavern: Gabriel Archer Tavern was a highlight for me. For brunch, they have classic American dishes, lots of southern options, and a had a few farm-to-table menu items that you could only find in the Tidewater region.
Their selection of bloody marys was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen: I opted for their Chesapeake Bay Bloody Mary, which came with a local oyster and a crab leg in it and was rimmed with Old Bay. I might be biased since I grew up on the Bay, but that was the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had!
- Culture Cafe: If you need a quick, delicious breakfast before exploring for the day, Culture Cafe is the perfect spot. It’s quirky, cozy, and has a good range of items on their menu, from a healthier avocado toast to a classic chicken and waffles dish. If you’re anything like me and sometimes need to work while on trips, this would also be a great spot to grab a coffee and set up shop.
- Amber Ox & La Tienda: I had the opportunity to try out a few special menus from Amber Ox & La Tienda at the Williamsburg Taste Festival back in April, and I was very impressed. I plan on trying out their regular menus during my next visit!
GREATER WILLIAMSBURG TRAVEL GUIDE – BREWS & VINO
Williamsburg is home to a fantastic winery, a few breweries, and distilleries. I got to sample a few of the local craft beverage offerings at the Taste Festival, however, there are two can’t miss spots:
- Williamsburg Winery: I’ve been to plenty of vineyards in Virginia. However, I was incredibly impressed with Williamsburg Winery. This winery sits on a 300-acre plot, and it also has an inn, and a restaurant on-site (Gabriel Archer Tavern, which I mentioned above!) Since Williamsburg Winery sits on flat land and is close to the ocean, some varietals cannot grow at this vineyard. However, there are some stand-out varietals that are always consistent, year after year: including their Petit Verdot. The winery tour was very informative, and they had plenty of different options of wine for every palate. We took home their Argentinian Malbec and their rosé.
- Amber Ox: Amber Ox is home to the Precarious Beer Project beers. We sampled a few during the beer dinner at the Williamsburg Taste Festival and came back the very next day to try out the rest of the beers on their menu. The beer is clean and well made, had a ton of unique flavors, and their selection had a good variance. This is one Virginia brewery you should definitely keep an eye on!
GREATER WILLIAMSBURG TRAVEL GUIDE – SHOPPING
If you’re familiar with Williamsburg, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Premium Outlets. Growing up, my family and I would always make a stop here. However, what if I told you that Williamsburg is also home to a few trendy boutiques? Here are my top picks for the best boutiques in Merchants Square:
- Three Sisters Boutique: I nearly spent all of my money at Three Sisters Boutique — they carry some of the most trendy women’s apparel brands, including Show Me Your Mumu, Free People and Quay. Bad news for my bank account: their friendly sales associate informed me that I could also shop their boutique online and have their products shipped directly to my house.
- The Shoe Attic: I loved The Shoe Attic because they had a large selection of shoes from some of my favorite brands, including Sam Edelman, Dolce Vita, Seychelles, Jeffrey Campbell and more. In addition to shoes, they also carry apparel and accessories from trendy brands like Wildfox, Project Social T, Ban.do and Hanky Panky.
- French Twist Boutique: You guys know my obsession with all things France — and when I stumbled upon French Twist Boutique, I was in for a treat. All of the clothes they carry are made in France, their scarves are produced in Florence, and their jewelry is crafted by local artists.
- Ocean Palm: Ocean Palm is Williamsburg’s signature Lilly Pulitzer store. In addition to Lilly, they also carry vibrant, preppy brands like Jack Rogers, Eliza B, and Kendra Scott. If you’re looking for a fun, bold ensemble to wear during vacation, Ocean Palm is the place to shop!
Photos by Tom McGovern
Thank you to Visit Williamsburg for partnering with me on today’s Williamsburg Travel Guide post! All thoughts and opinions are my own.