Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Thank you for visiting my family vacations on a budget blog.  My family loves to travel but we do not have limitless funds to travel with.  Therefore, a budget is necessary. My blog post this week will teach you how to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia & not spend a fortune. Please subscribe to my blog so you do not miss a single post from my family vacations on a budget.  Read on to learn more about our day at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

Day 3 of our four day trip to Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia started at the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. We spent the two previous days touring Washington D.C. and now it was time to head to southern Virginia. See the menu to the right to read my blog from our two previous days. 

We left our hotel by 6:30 A.M. so we could get our rental car & hit the road to southern Virginia as early as possible.  We knew we only had 1 day at Colonial Williamsburg & we wanted to make sure we saw everything we could. 

I chose to rent my car from Enterprise because we had good rental experiences previously & they seem to have quality cars at a fair price. There are several Enterprise rental places near Alexandria, VA.  I chose to rent my car from the Reagan Airport location because I knew the day we were returning the car, we would be headed to the airport to fly home.  It just made sense to rent from that location.  Another added bonus was Reagan Airport was an 8 minute ride on the Metro from our hotel.  We could have also taken the free hotel shuttle to the airport, but we left before the shuttle service started for the day. 

The one negative thing I have to say about Enterprise Reagan Airport is that it is a LONG walk from the metro station & the terminals to the rental car location.  Once we arrived at the airport, we walked at least 10 minutes to get to the Enterprise rental car office. We rented a Nissan Rogue or equivalent - we received a Hyundai SUV.  The Hyundai is a step down from the Rogue but it got great gas mileage and served our needs for this trip. We checked the car out for scratches & dings before signing the paperwork. (I recommend videoing the car in case the car rental company later wants to say you damaged the vehicle. CYA) Once it met our approval we signed the paperwork and off we went!
I-95 south of Alexandria, VA

The drive to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia from Reagan Airport is about 2.5 to 3 hours depending on traffic.  It's a beautiful drive with rolling hills and trees. 

We arrived at Colonial Williamsburg around 11 AM. The parking lot was somewhat full but we were able to find a space without a problem.  Parking is free at Colonial Williamsburg.  We headed to the visitor center where my tickets were waiting.  
Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center
If you purchase tickets in advance online or by calling a ticket agent, you can skip waiting in long lines such as the one pictured below. Instead you go to the will call line which was MUCH shorter the day of my visit.

ATTENTION ALL EDUCATORS: Educators receive half priced tickets to Colonial Williamsburg.  Because both my husband & myself are teachers, we only paid half price ($20.50) each for the entry fee which as of October 2017 was $41 for a single day adult ticket.  Take your educator ID badge or a recent paycheck stub for proof. 

Budget saving tip: IF you do not want to pay for tickets to Colonial Williamsburg you can visit the town without purchasing tickets.  You will be able to walk around town & see the sights but you will not be allowed in the buildings where the informative talks are held. I have read several forums where people chose not to pay to enter the buildings but instead did a walking tour of the town.

Colonial Williamsburg is an 18th century city that is the world's largest living history museum.  When you visit Colonial Williamsburg you will step back in time.  Colonial Williamsburg actors are in character and treat you as though you too are living in the 1700s during the birth of our nation. We visited for only one day, but I think 2 days would be an adequate amount of time to see the shows and shops. I wish Colonial Williamsburg would offer the same shows and character talks daily but they do not.  Each day of the week different shops and characters are available.  I guess if you wanted to see everything you would need to stay a week. We only had one day.  Pictured below are some of the experiences we had during our day at Colonial Williamsburg.

We opted to walk to the town site. There are tour buses that run throughout the day that are included with your admission ticket if you choose not to walk. 
The walk from the visitor center to the town site is about a 10 minute walk.
If you prefer not to walk, tour buses are included in your admission ticket.
The streets of Colonial Williamsburg
 The first thing we did when we arrived at the town site was tour the Governor's mansion.  Our tour was lead by an informative guide who was able to enlighten us about life in Williamsburg in the 18th century. 
Governor's Mansion 

Tour guide at the Governor's Mansion.  

One of many shops that line the streets of Colonial Williamsburg
 After our tour of the Governor's mansion, we headed to the Kings Arms Tavern for lunch.  My husband ordered fried chicken & thought it was tasty. My son & I ordered the Norfolk Pottage Pye (chicken pot pie), which was delicious.  We heard the peanut soup was fantastic so we decided to give it a try.  I had never had peanut soup before, but I still thought it was pretty good.  However, I thought a little bit goes a long way. If you eat at Kings Arms Tavern at dinner time you will eat by candlelight just as it was done in the 18th century!
Dinner is served by candlelight at Kings Arms Tavern

Lunch menu for Kings Arms Tavern

Sour dough rolls are included with your meal

Fried chicken

Norfolk Pottage Pye
An almost finished bowl of peanut soup

 After lunch we headed to the Capitol for a guided tour.  We found the streets of Colonial Williamsburg to be vacant.  Maybe it was because we were visiting on the Monday of Columbus Day weekend.  We didn't mind vacant streets, since our two previous days in Washington D.C. were spent in large crowds.

Streets of Colonial Williamsburg
The capitol tour is not to be missed!

Our capitol tour guide made us feel like we were living in the 18th century.

On this outdoor stage we watched a play titled An American Story: James Armistead Lafayette
Soldier waiting for his troop to head off to battle the British! (He stayed in character the entire time!)
To get a feel for life in the 18th century you can reserve a carriage or oxen drawn buggy for a ride around town. Additional fees are charged. 
The streets of Colonial Williamsburg. 

Wig maker shop

Artillery show at the Magazine

The last show of the day was a speech by Patrick Henry.
 I had reserved tickets for the Ghost Among Us tour for 6 P.M. We had about an hour and a half before our tour so we headed to nearby Chick-Fil-a to grab dinner. As always the service was fast and the food was fantastic.  Chick-Fil-a certainly met our budget. 

When we came back to Colonial Williamsburg for our evening tour, we decided to ride the tour bus so we would not be late to our Ghost Among Us tour.  The bus driver told us which stop we needed to get off at & the schedule for the evening.  This was a faster way to move around the town site than walking. We headed to the ticket office where we met our tour guide. 
Tour guide for Ghost Among Us tour
Our tour guide took us into several buildings throughout town where a character would tell us the story of the building.  Not just any story, a GHOST story.  One of the buildings on this tour was the Governor's mansion.
Governor's Mansion at night on the Ghost Among Us tour
We thoroughly enjoyed the Ghost Among Us tour. I would not advise taking small children on this tour as it may be too scary for them.  My 13 year old son absolutely LOVED it.  By the way, because my husband and myself are educators we received a discounted admission price. 

After our Ghost Among Us tour we headed to our hotel for the evening.  We stayed at the Comfort Inn Colonial Williamsburg Gateway. The rates were fantastic. I was able to reserve our room for $77 with tax. The room & bed were comfortable but you could tell we were staying in a lesser hotel than our previous nights at the Residence Inn.  The bathroom was tiny, you could barely open the door without hitting the toilet.  I liked there was a refrigerator and microwave in the room.  This is nice when you are staying multiple days and would like to store drinks and food. I liked the room had a chair to sit in after a long day at Colonial Williamsburg. I liked the location of the hotel was within a five minute drive from Colonial Williamsburg. However, the hotel was mediocre and was in need of an update. We were in Room 337 which was a high floor like we requested.  The elevator did not work the days we were there so we had to walk the stairs, not that it was an issue for us but it could be for others. The front desk offered to put us in a room on the first floor, we preferred to stay with the third floor room. The breakfast room was large enough to seat large groups.  The breakfast offerings were the typical FREE breakfast offerings with hot and cold items to choose from.  However, breakfast tasted bland to me.  If I can't find anything else for breakfast I have always had luck with the make your own waffle.  The waffle I made was bland and tasteless.  There wasn't enough syrup to make it taste good.  Disappointed, I opted for only a yogurt and some juice.  Overall, I would probably stay at this hotel again if in the area. Below you will find pictures from our hotel stay: 

Comfort Inn Williamsburg Gateway
Room 337 Two Queen Room
The refrigerator & microwave were nice to have.
The bathroom was tiny.
Breakfast offered both hot & cold options.
The outdoor pool would be nice for families during the summer.  We did not try it out in October. 
And so the third day of our four day vacation to Washington D.C. and southern Virginia came to a close.  One more day of fun adventures before heading home! 

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Below you will find a map of the places we visited on day 3 of our trip.  

May God bless you on your journey.