For the history buff Colonial Williamsburg is a dream come true. Not only do you get to see a precise reconstruction of this enchanting colonial town (which was once the capital of Virginia) and which has been painstakingly restored to its colonial splendor, but this isn’t just some static museum. Colonial Williamsburg is truly a location where you can immerse yourself in history.
One of the main players in the American Revolution, Williamsburg has more history per square inch than most cities do in their entire circumference. Here you can visit Raleigh Tavern (http://www.history.org/almanack/places/hb/hbral.cfm); the tavern where Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry debated the Revolution with George Washington and where the house of burgesses reconvened when they had been disbanded. Here you will find the Burton Parish Church the oldest Church in the US that is still holding regular services (http://www.history.org/almanack/places/hb/hbbruch.cfm). Here you will find exact replicas of 18th century wig shops and blacksmiths; printing presses and general stores; each manned by historic “interpreters” who actually practice their arts from barrel making to glass blowing and baking and who will explain the entire process to you as you walk through their working shop.
You will also find these historic interpreters roaming the streets; driving the horse drawn carriages (in which you can tour the city), working in the gardens, tending the working farms, playing authentic 18th century instruments in the shade of the original trees that lined these streets during the time of George Washington and the founders of the American Revolution.
As perfect a recreation as it is, Colonial Williamsburg was not always so perfect, but had fallen into disrepair after the American Civil War. But there were always those who treasured her, and this absolutely amazing living history museum was the brainchild of Reverend William Archer Rutherfoord Goodwin. This far-seeing individual was once the rector of Burton Parish church and began raising funds for the town’s reputation in 1907. In 1924 he stepped up his restoration plans and enlisted John D. Rockefeller Jr. for help with the project; a project which has been growing and expanding ever since.
While it costs absolutely nothing to walk the streets of Williamsburg (of which Colonial Williamsburg is a part) and enjoy the lovely colonial architecture and stop to admire the street performers, regular fife and drum parades and, in short, enjoy the ambiance, if you wish to view the restored workshops and houses and farms you have to purchase a pass which grants you access to the more involved displays.
Passes range from one-day passes to week-long multi and flex passes that include entry to other nearby activities such as Jamestown, Bush Gardens and Water Country USA so that you can indeed plan a vacation that will not only be entertaining but educational and can be tailored to fit any family’s tastes and preferences (http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/) Of course if you live in the Williamsburg area (or indeed, within driving distance) there are even more opportunities available for you, and special ‘local visitor’ passes, student passes and annual passes are available for deeply discounted rates.