Sometimes you just need a break from the season and a relaxing day of holiday cheer. Imagine a day of strolling the streets of Colonial Williamsburg as you enjoy warm gingerbread, hot cider, and historic Christmas decorations. Team DW&S has a few tips for enjoying the day.
Did you know that you can walk around Colonial Williamsburg at no charge? The three- hundred- acre interactive living history museum includes roads and paths that are all walkable. Browse all the paths, many gardens, and enjoy the holiday decorations at your leisure.
Or purchase a Colonial Williamsburg Pass. The pass allows you to fully become part of the story. You can visit the inside of homes, workshops and even the Royal Palace. Purchase your pass at the official Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor’s Center. Park at the center, purchase the pass and ride a heated shuttle to the living museum site. To fully enjoy your day, this is a top DW&S tip. The center is open, daily 8:45-5 PM, and is located at 101-A Visitor Center Drive, Williamsburg, Virginia.
At the regional visitor’s center, you can purchase tickets or redeem online tickets. You can also learn about daily events and special holiday events. If you are looking for a Colonial Williamsburg gift, you will want to visit the gift shop. During our visit, we first went to the visitor’s center and used the shuttle to get to the historic district. We ensured our return in time to shop at the end of the day.
Gifts that we found, both in the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitors Center and within the historic site. Gifts we found include books, recipe collections, candles, soaps, pewter pieces including jewelry, and favorite wool stockings and hats.
Once you enter the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg, you will surely notice the holiday decorations. Millions of people visit each holiday season, just to see the decorations. Doors and railings within the site are adorned with fresh fruits, dried flowers, nuts, and oyster shells. The streets flow with holiday cheer, but did you know that the custom of decorating does not necessarily date to the days of Colonial Williamsburg? Historians believe that Williamsburg would have been decorated in simple greenery. The tradition of decorating with natural adornments that are used today actually dates to the 1920s. Colonial Williamsburg first started decorating with natural resources in the 1930s. To us, it does not matter—we love the decorations. If you want to replicate the decorations at home, you will find several books in shops in and near the site.
A Colonial Lunch
One of our favorite stops was at King’s Arms Tavern. Visitors do not need a Colonial Williamsburg Pass to visit this famous tavern. Still, lunch at this spot adds to any day. King’s Arms Tavern is located in the heart of the historic district at 416 East Duke of Gloucester Street and is open Thursday through Monday, 11:30 AM-2:30 PM for lunch. We suggest arriving early.
The King’s Arms Tavern was initially opened by Jane Vobe in 1772. Today’s tavern is an authentic reproduction and serves 18th-century recipes with a modern twist. Here is a list of Team DW&S favorites from the lunch menu:
Peanut Soupe: This is a Southern favorite and is garnished with Virginia peanuts
Norfolk Pottage Pye: Tender chicken and vegetables in a creamy stew, baked under a flaky pastry
Southern Pecan Pie: A Southern favorite, topped with Bourbon laced whipped cream
Raleigh Tavern Bakery
Stop by the Raleigh Tavern Bakery, also on Duke of Gloucester Street, and purchase a steaming hot cup of cider. During the holiday season, the bakery also adds fresh-baked pies to their menu. Or pick up a gingerbread cookie to eat while strolling along. The bakery is open daily during the holiday season from 9 AM-6 PM. One of our favorite memories of the day was enjoying a hot cider, gingerbread, and holiday decorations along Duke of Gloucester Street.
Historic Hot Chocolate
Historians at Colonial Williamsburg strive to ensure that the living museum depicts an accurate glimpse into period life. That includes the hot chocolate served and enjoyed during the holiday season. Colonial hot chocolate was not sweet; so, the chocolate served today is not. Colonial hot chocolate was blended with nutmeg, hot chilies, and cinnamon. The hot drink was mixed with full-fat milk for a more vibrant, intense, and creamy experience. The Colonial version was delicious, and we urge you to give it a try. If you like it, you can find it for sale in several shops within the site. For those that love unique chocolate, this makes the perfect stocking stuffer.
Have a Beer
If craft beer is a favorite, you may want to include a stop by Josiah Chowning’s Tavern while in the historic district. The tavern is in a 1766 reconstructed tavern and also has a Southern menu of pub fare. Our favorite was a Shepherd’s Pye with a craft beer or some Tavern Ale Potato & Cheddar Soup.
We have to admit that we ate and drank our way through the Colonial Williamsburg. We walked the streets while enjoying a hot chocolate and an old-fashioned peppermint stick. The legendary Peanut Soup did not disappoint. We warmed up our afternoon with some hot cider and gingerbread while purchasing cookies to give as gifts. And then we settled into Chowning’s Tavern for some soup and a beer before heading back to the visitor’s center. This was a day full of holiday cheer for history and food lovers.
If you like visiting cool towns, check out Staunton, Virginia.