A Weekend in Williamsburg, VA

Thursday, April 25, 2019

There is no better way to explore a destination than by packing your bags and heading out on a road trip! This was the case for me in March when I set out on a five-day road trip throughout the state of Virginia. I only had enough time to visit three cities but managed to make the most out of my days in each place.  I learned so much about the history of Virginia, admired Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, indulged in local craft beer, enjoyed diverse cuisine, had a drink at the bar where Dave Matthews band first ignited, and even learned how to ride a Segway.  It was a fun-filled trip with lots to discover and I will be sharing with you some of my highlights from each city I visited.

My first stop in Virginia was the city of Williamsburg! Williamsburg is known for its historic appeal and is home to the world’s largest living history museum. You can spend days learning about the importance of Williamsburg during the American Revolution but there is also a lot of modern-day fun to balance out the history lessons. There are plenty of outdoor adventures, trails along the colonial parkway, thrilling rides at Busch Gardens, stunning golf courses, local cuisine, museums, tasting trails and more.  No matter what your idea of 'fun' is, you'll be able to discover an abundance of it in Williamsburg.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is truly a blast from the past.  The historic area offers visitors an engaging living-history experience where you can discover what life was like in 18th-century Williamsburg.

Many of the buildings in the historic area are in their original state or have been carefully restored on their original foundations. They are open to the public and offer tours of the Capitol, Governor's Palace, Taverns and much more.  What makes the experience even more bewitching are the costume interpreters that recreate events that took place in the Colonial town; maybe you'll run into Patrick Henry while browsing in one of the many trade shops.

The historic area offers hours upon hours of endless learning, and your admission ticket to the past lets you explore the area at your own pace.  The events calendar is also very helpful as there are plenty of tours, special activities and performances happening daily.

Must-Visit: Make sure to do a tour of the Governer's Palace, Wigmaker Shop and Apothecary.  

Williamsburg Inn

If you’re staying in Williamsburg there is certainly no other place quite as spectacular as the Williamsburg Inn.  The Williamsburg Inn is part of the Colonial Williamsburg resorts which feature 6 different lodging options within the surrounding historic area.

As soon as I drove up to the hotel I knew it was going to be a memorable experience. The hotel looks like a majestic estate that should only be accessible by horse and carriage; fortunately for me, my crumby Toyota Corolla was happily welcomed by the doorman.  The service was top-notch from the start; offering complimentary valet parking, a welcome drink and shuttle service to any of the destinations within the historic area. 

The hotel is very regal in style with fine art and antiques displayed throughout the interior and neoclassic architecture on the exterior.  I kept thinking I would see Queen Elizabeth II wandering the halls of the hotel, and to my surprise, she did stay there on two occasions in the past.

The inn offers one-of-a-kind amenities that will make you wish you had an entire week at the inn (sadly for me it was just one night).  You can find gourmet restaurants, a fitness centre, incredible spa, golf course, spacious garden terrace, tennis courts, pool, 900 sq. foot of event space, shuttle service and much more. It is no surprise to me that the hotel holds the prestigious AAA’s Five Diamond rating. 

The rooms are absolutely spacious, cozy, and full of 19th century regency style.  I noticed that the hotel really puts great effort into making sure your room is equip with everything you'll need for your stay.  They even had complimentary slippers, a mini bar, fluffy robes, tub and stand-up shower, a coffee maker and lots more.  I could've spent an entire day lounging on the Queen Anne sofa with a bottle of bubbly and robe because that's the vibe you feel at the Williamsburg Inn; everyone wants to feel like royalty right?

Colonial Dining

There are many restaurants located in and around the Colonial Williamsburg Resorts and Traditions is one that really stood out.  The food, service and atmosphere was exactly what I needed at 9 am.  When I'm tired, all I want is a quiet and laid-back atmosphere where I can enjoy good food and coffee, and Traditions really ticked the box on that one.  

The menu is simple but effective; offering a hearty buffet or classic and southern-inspired a la carte options.  Usually I don't eat a lot in the morning but Chef Michael Ellis decided to prepare a specialty dish for me using all local ingredients.  The dish consisted of a base of creamy grits topped with a mushroom and potato medley, herbs, egg, cheddar and fresh bread.  The flavours of this dish blended together so perfectly and every single bite was so delicious!  I was full for the next four hours and not in an uncomfortable way. I'm so glad I got to experience this meal and chat with the fine folks at Traditions Restaurant.

I also dined at Shields Tavern which is located right in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. The tavern offers guests a unique menu with rum-infused cocktails, crayfish stew, beef pastries and much more. A lot of the dishes are similar to what would have been served back in the 18th-century, but with a modern twist.

The atmosphere inside the tavern is reminiscent of colonial times, especially with costumed servers who share with you the history of the tavern, which was open for business from 1709 through the mid-18th century. The only original room in the tavern is located in the wine cellar and the rest of the tavern was reconstructed due to a fire in the 1800's.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and I highly recommend trying one of the more colonial-inspired dishes paired with one of their beautifully curated cocktails. End your meal off with the famous rum cake; probably my favourite dessert in Virginia.

A trip to Williamsburg wouldn’t be complete without BEER! The Williamsburg Tasting Trail is home to five local breweries and I got to visit three of them.

Alewerks Brewing Company

Alewerks Brewery is the first brewery to open in Williamsburg and a must-visit for any craft beer lover. Their spacious taproom offers six year-round beers as well as some magnificent seasonal offerings and barrel-aged gems.  Alewerks takes pride in their beers and chooses quality at the forefront.  Consistency and staying true to the traditional styles brewed is of utmost importance and is what really makes Alewerks a top-notch brewery in my books.

I was really impressed with the styles they produce and how accurate the descriptions were; there was never a time I tried one of the beers and wasn't sure of the style.  I had a great time sampling all of their wonderful beers and especially enjoyed their colonial-style beer, Old Stitch, which is based on a 18th-century recipe. It's a lovely Northern English brown ale with nutty, toasty notes.  The recipe was developed by a man named Frank Clark, a historic interpreter at the Colonial Williamsburg living-history museum.

As for food, Alewerks serves the most delicious homemade pretzels. They are fluffy, well-seasoned and accompanied by gooey beer cheese. SO GOOD!

Brass Cannon Brewing Co.

Brass Cannon Brewing is a veteran owned brewery and tap room located in the heart of Williamsburg.  They offer flagship beers and creative small batch brews with a new brew being featured once a week.  They also have a can-to-go machine so that you grab a can of any of the 12 beers they have on tap.

The brewery was started by passionate home brewers who's goal was to produce quality beers to enjoy with friends.  That same passion has never been lost and continues to shine through when drinking their beers and even in speaking to the staff. Everyone was so knowledgeable and friendly which really made the experience at Brass Cannon one to remember. 

Brass Cannon offers a lot of weekly events, live music, food trucks, and all sorts of happenings to partake in while sipping on some beers.  Be sure to check out their website to find out whats going on at the brewery.

Amber Ox Public House

Amber Ox Public House was a pleasant escape from the colonial spectacle, I guess the millennial in me was craving for a hip and modern establishment.  Amber Ox is a spacious, casual restaurant and brewery in the downtown Williamsburg area.  The city’s first craft brewpub features a carefully curated list of brews from around the states as well as their own on-site small batch beers from Precarious Beer Project. The food is southern-inspired with a contemporary twist and all of the dishes strive to incorporate locally sourced ingredients. 

I tried the chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits and featured key-lime pie. The chicken was huge and juicy, but I found that there was just way too much batter. The shrimp and grits was rich and buttery, a ton of flavour throughout the dish thanks to the ham.  The key-lime pie was heavenly, a perfect way to end a great meal.

Williamsburg definitely exceeded my expectations and I truly loved all of the experiences and encounters in this charming city! A huge thank you to Virginia and Williamsburg Tourism for an exquisite time!

Next up: Charlottesville, Virginia!

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