Williamsburg Top Family Attractions

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is taking excitement and thrills to new heights in 2011. With the addition of a new psychological thrill ride, “Mach Tower,” the rejuvenation of an iconic village and the return of exciting events, 2011 will bring a year of thrills at the Williamsburg theme park. “Mach Tower,” opening late spring, will lift riders nearly 240 feet above Oktoberfest and drop them at breathtaking speeds. And the fun doesn’t stop there. Busch Gardens’ Oktoberfest village is getting a fresh new look complete with restaurants, games and performance areas. Summer, fall and winter are packed full of excitement with the return of IllumiNights: A Busch Gardens Encore, the 13th anniversary of Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration, the holiday spectacular that transforms the European-themed park into a winter wonderland. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Admission: $63.99; Kids 3-9 years old, $53.99. Special group rates are available. For more information, please call (800) 343-7946 or visit www.buschgardens.com/va.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg offers a total vacation experience. From the Historic Area, which brings 18th-century Williamsburg to life, to the modern amenities of hotels, shops, restaurants, golf courses, and a spa, you’ll find something for everyone in the family.

Join in the drama of Revolutionary City as the east end of the Historic Area becomes a lively stage for two hours of audience-interactive street performances. Witness life in the city as the people of Williamsburg play their role in the struggle to become a nation. Join Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and others as they debate the issues at the heart of the Revolution!

Play a round of golf and relax at our full-service spa after a day of shopping in more than 20 WILLIAMSBURG brand stores. Enjoy an evening of dining, music, games, and fun. Dine in the taverns-with family-friendly balladeers and entertainments and see a comedic play where the audience is encouraged to boo and cheer. Dance in the candlelit Capitol, search for the ghosts amongst us, and join the revolution. Cressets light your way to the sites of action in the Historic Area.

When you stay in an Official Colonial Williamsburg Hotel, you’re just steps from all the activity-every day of the year. Colonial Williamsburg’s operating hours are normally 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but vary seasonally. For more program or ticket information visit colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Historic Yorktown

One of the true jewels of the Historic Triangle is Historic Yorktown, which has equal measures of history and charm, all in a breathtaking Riverfront setting. On the waterfront visit the Watermen’s museum, which tells the story of the men and women who settled in the Chesapeake Bay area and earned a living from the tributaries that feed it. Yorktown also is the home of several fine antique shops, art galleries and charming restaurants all nestled in the village and overlooking the York River. Don’t miss the free trolley that operates daily spring through fall. To add to the charm of your visit, take a sunset sail on the York River aboard the Schooner Alliance. Historic Yorktown has something to offer everyone.

Historic Jamestowne (Colonial National Historical Park)

Historic Jamestowne preserves and interprets the site of the first permanent English settlement in America. The Visitor Center includes exhibits, a multi-media theater presentation about America’s Birthplace, and a museum store. Watch as archaeologists continue to uncover the 1607 James Fort site and discover their findings in the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium museum. Tour the original 17th-century church tower and reconstructed 17th-century Jamestown Memorial Church and walk through New Towne where the settlement grew beyond the fort walls. Park Rangers conduct daily walking tours through the original settlement along the scenic James River. Watch costumed glassblowers demonstrate America’s first industry at the Glasshouse and explore the lush natural setting along the five-mile Island Drive. Museum stores are available at the Visitor Center and at the Archaearium and lunch is available on the banks of the James River at the Dale House Cafe. Admission is $10.00 per adult (age 15 and younger is free) and includes admission to the Yorktown Battlefield. National Park Service passports and APVA memberships are honored. Visitor information is available at 757-229-1733 or 757-898-2410, or via the internet at www.HistoricJamestowne.org.

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement explores the world of America’s first permanent English colony. Expansive exhibition galleries and an introductory film trace Jamestown’s beginnings in England and the first century of the Virginia colony, and describe the cultures of Powhatan Indians, Europeans and Africans who converged in 17th century Virginia. Historical interpreters depict 1600s life at outdoor re-creations of the colonists’ fort, the three ships that arrived from England in 1607 and a Powhatan Indian village, and at a seasonal riverfront discovery area. Visitors are invited to grind corn, scrape out a canoe, play games, wear armor and engage in other activities that make the 17th century come alive. Gift shops and café located on museum premises. Open daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (until 6 p.m. June 15 - August 15). Closed Christmas and New Year’s days. 2011 admission: $15.50 adults; $7.25 ages 6-12. A value-priced combination ticket with the Yorktown Victory Center is available. For general public information call (757) 253-4838 or toll-free (888) 593-4682 or visit www.historyisfun.org.

The Mariners’ Museum

Just a 30-minute drive east of Williamsburg is The Mariners’ Museum, one of the largest and most comprehensive maritime museums in the world. Designated as America’s National Maritime Museum by Congress, the museum preserves and interprets maritime history and culture through an international collection of small craft, handcrafted ship models, rare figureheads, navigational instruments, paintings and other maritime artifacts. The Museum is home to the USS Monitor Center, one of America’s premier Civil War Attractions and the largest state-of-the-art conservation facility on the East Coast. The surrounding 550-acre Mariners’ Museum Park, the nation’s largest privately owned and maintained park open for free to the public, provides opportunities for outdoor activities on the scenic Noland Trail and beautiful lake Maury. Open Mon. - Sat. 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Open Sun. 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. Admission: adults $12.50; children ages 6-17 $7.25; children ages 5 and under free.

Riverwalk Landing

On the shores of the York River, visit Riverwalk Landing. This beautiful waterfront development, designed in the spirit of colonial architecture, is reflected in the town’s historic buildings and features specialty shops, riverfront dining, an outdoor performance venue and free parking. The waterfront is also home to two piers - one for medium cruise ships and tall ships, the other for personal watercraft. Part history, part adventure, Riverwalk Landing offers one-of-a-kind programs like pirate pillage, movies on the lawn, beach music and jazz concert series. Browse through the many local vendors at Market Days, selecting from local produce, seafood and quality art. The summer time is the right time for gree outdoor concerts, requiring only a blanket, chair or picnic basket. If you prefer after a day of shopping, sit on one of our many benches throughout the Plaza, watch the ships come in, or walk along the clean white sand of Yorktown’s beachfront. Most outdoor programs are free to the public and with ample free parking, you can come and spend the whole day. Take a sail on the Schooner Alliance or if you are traveling by boat, dock at one of two piers alond the Riverfront.

Water Country USA

Guests are in for the slide of their lives in 2011 at Water Country USA. The mid-Atlantic’s largest water park is adding an epic new drop slide, “Vanish Point.” The 75-foot drop slide will join the 43 acres of pools, children’s play areas, lazy rivers and water rides that make up Water Country USA. The park also includes “Rock ‘n’ Roll Island,” featuring nearly 600 feet of body slides, a 700-foot lazy river and a 9,000-square-foot pool all set to a 1950’s and ‘60s surf theme. For guests who want to relax, enjoy one of the park’s 1,500 free lounge chairs or rent one the park’s 16 private cabanas. Kids two years old and younger are admitted free. Admission: Adults - $46.99; Kids 3-9 years $39.99. Special group rates are available.

Yorktown Battlefield (Colonial National Historical Park).

Walk the fields of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War where the surrender of Lord Cornwallis to General George Washington in 1781 secured independence for the United States of America. Ranger-guided programs are offered from the Visitor Center, which also includes an orientation film, museum and bookstore. Highlights of the battlefield driving tour include the fortifications and cannon used in the siege, Moore House (site of surrender negotiations) and Surrender Field. Many original 18th-century homes still stand in the town, including the Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Open daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.. Visitor Center 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. with extended hours spring - fall. Admission: Adults $10 and includes admission to Historic Jamestowne (children under 16 free). National Park Service passes honored and available. Visitor information available at 757-898-2410 or online at www.nps.gov/colo.

Yorktown Victory Center

Through gallery exhibits and living history, the Yorktown Victory Center portrays America’s struggle for independence from the beginnings of colonial unrest to the formation of a new nation. Exhibits examine the Declaration of Independence, provide eyewitness accounts of the American Revolution, explore the story of the Betsy and other British ships lost in the York River during the 1781 Siege of Yorktown, and chronicle the development of a new government with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In a re-created Continental Army encampment visitors can join a cannon crew and learn about 18th-century medical care. A farm complete with buildings and gardens re-creates rural life of the 1780s. Open daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (until 6 p.m. June 15-August 15). Closed Christmas and New Year’s days. 2011 admission: $9.50 adults; $5.25 ages 6-12. Value-priced combination ticket and annual pass with Jamestown Settlement are available. For general information, call (757) 253-4838 or toll-free (888) 593-4682 or visit www.historyisfun.org.