Fun family vacation ideas in Colonial Williamsburg with kids

Williamsburg is a popular location for family vacations that's full of rich history and culture, unique family attractions, and spaces for play. Colonial Williamsburg offers learning-through-play opportunities for kids as they explore historical buildings and archaeology sites, watch artisans and craftsmen at work, and try out new skills in interactive spaces. You’ll even find some free kids’ activities around Williamsburg, from exploring the Botanical Garden to playing in Veterans Park. Learn about some of Williamsburg’s family resorts and kid-friendly attractions for a memorable family vacation with kids in Colonial Williamsburg.

Williamsburg family resorts and accommodations

Williamsburg is a city rich in history as the capital of the former Virginia colony and an important location during the American Revolution. Colonial Williamsburg is the heart of this city’s historic district, a living history museum that draws families from around the globe for its unique heritage sites and attractions. Kid-friendly accommodations and family resorts around Williamsburg offer access to some of the most popular sights in the area.

1. Historic Powhatan Resort

The Historic Powhatan Resort is a family resort in Williamsburg with plenty of kid-friendly amenities. Resort accommodations range from 1- to 4-bedroom condos, townhouses, and villas, with full kitchens and washer/dryers. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, sports facilities, and miles of hiking and biking trails. Kid-specific amenities range from playgrounds and children’s activities to a kids' pool and mini-golf course. Within the resort complex, you’ll find a restaurant, general store, and coffee house, as well as nearby shopping and family attractions.

2. Williamsburg Plantation Resort

If you’re looking for a family resort, the Williamsburg Plantation Resort is conveniently located close to some of the area’s most popular family attractions. Accommodations within the resort include condos, townhomes, and villas from 1- to 4-bedrooms, with either full kitchens or kitchenettes, washer/dryers, and fireplaces or balconies. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs and spas, grills and picnic spaces, and sports facilities. Kid-friendly amenities range from separate playgrounds for toddlers and older kids to a game room, events and activities, and plenty of outdoor space to run around.

3. Family resort-style accommodations near Colonial Williamsburg

Visiting the historic sites within Colonial Williamsburg is a major draw for family vacations in Williamsburg, and you’ll find plenty of accommodations in the area offering resort-style amenities. Accommodations in the area around Colonial Williamsburg can range from cozy condos and townhomes to villas and spacious single-family homes, and most are only a short drive from downtown.

Visiting Colonial Williamsburg with kids

In Colonial Williamsburg, you can explore a living history museum where reenactors in period costumes show what it was like to live, work, and socialize in an early Colonial society. Hear the sounds of fifes and drums, take a carriage ride down historic streets, or watch live demonstrations in workshops. Locals recommend beginning your visit to Colonial Williamsburg first thing in the morning, as this popular destination becomes busier as the day goes on. Colonial Williamsburg is working on bringing accessibility to 18th-century architecture, and their website offers information on accessible buildings, resources, and discounted tickets for visitors with disabilities.

4. Catch the free shuttle at the Regional Visitor Center

The Regional Visitor Center is a great place to start on your trip to Colonial Williamsburg with kids. Inside the center, you’ll find information on the area’s history, maps, and points of interest, gift shops, and ticket sales for Historic Area attractions. The center also offers complimentary guides and maps online, as well as online ticket sales. If you’re driving into Colonial Williamsburg, you can park your vehicle at the visitor center and take a complimentary shuttle into the Historic Area. The visitor center and complimentary shuttle busses are wheelchair accessible.

5. Explore the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg with kids

The Governor’s Palace is considered a must-see on any trip to Colonial Williamsburg. It was the official home of the former royal governors of the colony of Virginia. You can take a guided tour of the ornate palace to see the authority and wealth built into this historic structure. On the grounds, you can wander through lush formal gardens, explore the kid-friendly hedge maze, or enjoy a spectacular evening lights tour of the gardens and pond. The Governor’s Palace is accessible for people in wheelchairs.

6. Experience artisan crafting firsthand in the Public Armoury

Different trades and skills were required to support the Revolutionary War, many of which are represented within the Public Armoury industrial complex. You can visit the foundry where artisans cast items from spoons and bells to buckles and knobs out of different types of metals. Within the apothecary, you can learn about what it was like to be sick or injured in the Colonial era and learn about common 18th-century medicines, treatments, and surgical practices. You can also learn about the complex and sophisticated engineering used by a wheelwright to craft different types of wheels in the 18th century.

7. Learn about early government history on a Capitol Building tour

The Capitol Building in Colonial Williamsburg is a replica of the building that was the official seat of the government of Virginia in Colonial times but was destroyed by fire. On a guided tour, you’ll explore spaces including the Courtroom and the House of Burgesses while learning about the founding principles of the early government and its citizens. Tour guides take special care to engage children of all ages, breaking concepts down in a way that kids can understand and learn. Capitol Building tours are wheelchair accessible.

8. Learn the stories of enslaved people at the Randolph House

At the Randolph House, you can see a working 18th-century kitchen and yard, and most importantly learn about the enslaved people who lived and worked here. Within the Randolph House complex, you can see the juxtaposition of an affluent Colonial family and the stories, lives, and experiences of the 27 people enslaved there. The Randolph House experience is wheelchair accessible.

9. Ride through Colonial Williamsburg with carriage and wagon rides

One of the unique ways to experience Colonial life and the history of Williamsburg is on a carriage tour or wagon ride. You can enjoy a leisurely experience riding through the Historic Area of Williamsburg and taking a step back in time to the Colonial era. Wagon and carriages operate daily, weather permitting, and require that children be accompanied by an adult.

10. Watch blacksmiths create tools at the Anderson Blacksmith Shop

The Anderson Blacksmith Shop is an active trade workshop where you’ll see blacksmiths in action while they work the forge. You can watch red-hot iron being carefully removed from the fires of the forge, then see artisan tradespeople hammer the iron into different shapes for hardware, weapons, and tools. Blacksmithing is a true art form, and children especially love watching the artisans at work in this unique craft. You may even have the chance to handle some of the tools made by the smiths within the shop. The Anderson Blacksmith Shop space is wheelchair accessible.

11. Join in on military activities in the Magazine Yard

Within the Magazine Yard, you’ll find military activities and history from the Crown’s empire to the soldiers of the Revolution. In the military complex, you can see what life was like for common soldiers, and you might even be enlisted alongside them to take part in training drills or watch an old-fashioned musket firing. The Magazine Yard is accessible for people in wheelchairs.

12. Play like a Colonial family at the James Geddy House

You can join in on activities in Patriots at Play at the James Geddy House, the home of a prospering trades family. Daily activities change frequently, just as they would have in the 18th century, giving you the chance to experience the daily life of a Colonial family just as they would have lived it. Adults and children alike can participate in daily homemaking activities, as well as games and play, interactive experiences, and unique sensory attractions. Aspects of the James Geddy House may not be wheelchair accessible, so check their website for more information.

13. Step inside cells where pirates were held at the Public Gaol

In the Public Gaol, you can visit the spaces and cells where prisoners and inmates were once held in Colonial times as they awaited trial and punishment. Those in the cells of the Public Gaol ranged from debtors and thieves to political prisoners, including the notorious pirate Blackbeard and his crew. The Gaol is a self-guided space and requires the use of stairs within the building, so it is not wheelchair accessible.

14. Experience the march of the Fifes and Drums

Attending a march of the Fifes and Drums is more than just listening to music; it’s a full-body experience where you’ll feel the vibrations and beats resonate through you as the regiment moves past. You’ll see the colorfully red-and-blue-uniformed regiment march in tight formation as the shrill fife and deep beats of the drums broadcast their presence in the streets of Colonial Williamsburg. Children seem especially captivated by the historical music and stoic regiment as it parades through the streets.

15. Watch archaeological digs within Colonial Williamsburg

Archaeologists in Colonial Williamsburg work to uncover the past through physical excavation, laboratory work, and historical research. You can visit excavation sites as archaeologists explore historic sites within Williamsburg, watching as they dig, sift, and discover. Tours are available to go behind the scenes for a closer look at current excavation projects, see the laboratory, and learn about ongoing projects.

Cool kids’ activities in Williamsburg

If you’re looking for fun things to do with kids in Williamsburg, you’ll find plenty of activities to appeal to children of all ages. For historical locations, you can take a scenic drive down the Colonial Parkway to visit Yorktown, the American Revolution Museum, and the Jonestown Settlement. Thrill-seekers can head to Busch Gardens for rides, slides, and games, or explore the weird and wacky exhibits at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

16. Ride, slide, and play at Busch Gardens

The Busch Gardens theme park and water park offer tons of fun for kids of all ages on family vacations to Williamsburg. The theme park houses rides and attractions for young children, older children, and adults in themed areas and year-round events. In the seasonal water park, there are spaces to cool off, play, slide, and ride for kids of all ages. Busch Gardens also offers animal experiences and encounters, both exotic and domestic.

17. Take a scenic drive down the Colonial Parkway

The Colonial Parkway is a 23-mile stretch of scenic roadway connecting Virginia’s historic triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. Driving down this historic parkway, you will be surrounded by natural beauty, with no modern commercial development in sight. The speed limit is lower to allow visitors to enjoy the scenic drive, with no semi-trucks allowed on the road.

18. Explore the 17th-century colony at the Jamestown Settlement

Many families visiting Colonial Williamsburg on vacation take the scenic drive to the Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum near the site of the original English colony. At the settlement, you can explore the lives of 17th-century colonists with costumed actors, tradesmen and craftspeople, cultural encounters, and interactive spaces. You’ll also see a recreation of James Fort, as well as a Powhatan Native American Town and replicas of the colonists' original ships, the Discovery, Godspeed, and Susan Constant. Nearby is Historic Jamestown, offering even more historical and cultural experiences.

19. Visit the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Yorktown is the third city in Virginia’s historic triangle, along with Jamestown and Williamsburg, that's full of historical locations and Colonial history. One of the most popular family attractions in Yorktown is the American Revolution Museum, with historical exhibits, artifacts, and a Revolutionary War battlefield. Additional historic sites include Colonial National Historical Park, the Nelson House, and the Yorktown Victory Monument. At the Watermen’s Museum, you can check out exhibits on nautical history, or you can take a stroll along the shore at Yorktown Beach.

20. Go pedal boating on the lake at Waller Mill Park

If you’re looking for outdoor kids’ activities in Williamsburg, you can head over to the lakeside Waller Mill Park. This pet-friendly park offers expansive green spaces for kids to run around, as well as playgrounds, picnic areas, and family-friendly facilities. Scenic trails offer hiking and biking options, or you can play on an 18-hole disc golf course. You’ll also find boat and equipment rentals within Waller Mill Park, perfect for a day out on the water kayaking, canoeing, boating, pedal boating, or fishing.

21. See unbelievable oddities at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium

One of the weird and wacky things to do with kids in Williamsburg is exploring the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium. Inside the museum, you can explore themed galleries with exhibits ranging from prehistoric megalodon jaws and authentic shrunken heads to visual illusions and interactive displays. Inside the Ripley’s complex, you’ll also find a 4D Movie Theater, a laser race game, and a themed mini-golf course.

22. Look for butterflies at Williamsburg Botanical Garden

One of the great free kids’ activities in Williamsburg is exploring the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, located in Freedom Park. Within the park, you’ll find everything from a butterfly garden and wildflower meadow to a fernery, native plant gardens, and heirloom gardens. The park offers free admission year-round and is dog-friendly if you’re traveling with pets.

23. Play on a massive playground at Veterans Park

Veterans Park is a spacious public park in Williamsburg that's home to Kidsburg, a 30,000-square-foot playground for children. Separate play spaces for kids 2-5 years old and 5-12 years old include climbing structures and slides, swings, a large replica ship, and even a zip line. The playground is close to family-friendly facilities, and the outdoor space is lighted so that kids can still run around and play even as the sun sets. Within Veterans Park, you can also enjoy scenic walking trails, including a paved Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible trail, lighted sports facilities, and picnic areas.

24. Take an evening stroll around Merchants Square

Merchants Square is a mixed-use complex styled with 18th-century charm in the heart of downtown Williamsburg. The square is lined with local shops and boutiques, dining options, and family attractions, but it’s also a great space for a scenic stroll and people-watching. Merchants Square is often a site for special events, family activities, and celebrations throughout the year, with event calendars available to reference online.