Colonial Williamsburg Go back in time to 18th-century Virginia
Colonial Williamsburg meticulously re-creates the crucial period of 1750 to 1775, the end of the colonial era and the anxious eve of the Revolutionary War. The level of detail is astonishing, from the actors who portray Revolutionary-era statesmen, blacksmiths, wig makers and slaves to the flocks of squawking ducks and grazing sheep. It’s the country’s largest and most popular living-history museum—and one of the world’s finest.
The cultural and political capital of Virginia from 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was home to government buildings and a lively social scene among the colonial aristocracy. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both spent time here debating the merits of forming an independent country. In 1926, John D. Rockefeller Jr. initiated a top-to-bottom $68 million (£43 million) restoration in which 88 of the original buildings and 500 other structures were either restored or rebuilt, along with 90 acres of gardens and public greens. Today, it’s impossible to tell which of the buildings were restored and which were totally reconstructed on their original foundations.
Williamsburg is a treat for both adults and children. Walking the cobbled streets of the Historic Area, you might find yourself having an impromptu discussion with ‘Thomas Jefferson’, ‘Martha Washington’ or one of the wide cast of townspeople going about their daily lives.
You can attend the trial of a pig thief; watch a gunsmith craft a flintlock rifle; sign up for a candlelit tour of the city’s haunted spots; or view a performance by the town’s parading fife-and-drum corps. Tour the Georgian-style Governor’s Palace with its extensive topiary gardens and holly maze, the H-shaped Capitol, the Courthouse of 1770 with its pillories and stocks out front, and the George Wythe House, home to Thomas Jefferson in 1776, when he was a Virginia General Assembly delegate. Stop for a tipple at any of the four historic taverns offering colonial dishes in period settings.
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