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One of the things I miss, now that we live on the West Coast, is the easy access to excellent history field trips. Thankfully, we still have family in Virginia, so we have a good reason to visit. On our most recent trip to visit family, we spent two days touring Colonial Williamsburg. I tried to convince Hannah to wear her Colonial girl costume, but she thought I was being silly.
Colonial Williamsburg is a fascinating little town that anyone with any interest in history at all will enjoy. It also happens to tie in with our history curriculum this year.
The Revolutionary City has a mix of original and reconstructed buildings. Great attention is paid to details, so even the reconstructed buildings are very close to their 18th century counterpart.
This is not our first trip to Williamsburg, but we always see something different and learn something new each visit. I think it would take a minimum of 4 days to see EVERYTHING. I always try to show my kids things that I think will interest them. On this particular trip we visited a few ‘new to us’ buildings.
On this particular visit we toured the magazine for the first time. The number of weapons hung along the wall was incredible. Every man over the age of 16 was required to own and use a fire arm. That means lots of guns in a fairly small town!
I explored two new-to-me stores on this visit – the apothecary and the coffee shop.
The apothecary was beautifully organized in gorgeous pottery. I am a sucker for beautifully organized spaces. The latin name of each treatment was written on each jar. We had the opportunity to chat with the shopkeeper for quite a bit so we learned a lot about colonial medical treatments.
I have suffered from migraines for the majority of my life and it was interesting to hear that one of the colonial treatments was not much different from a modern solution- coffee. Another treatment involved soaking rose petals in vinegar for 40 days. Then a cloth is soaked in the vinegar and placed on the patients head. Part of me wants to soak rose petals in vinegar and give this a try.
The coffee shop
The coffee shop is a recent reconstruction on the Duke of Gloucester street. The building is new, but one of the employees told me that they had very detailed records about the original coffee shop so the reconstruction is very accurate.
Groups of up to 15 people are able to go inside and pretend it is the 18th century. The colonial waitresses offer each visitor a sample of coffee, hot tea, or drinking chocolate. My family tried all of the options and were happy with everything. The drinking chocolate is quite a bit different from modern hot chocolate, though so you might be disappointed if you are expecting something sweet.
Williamsburg Field Trip Tips
Stay at one of the official Williamsburg hotels. The prices might be slightly higher than those in the surrounding area, but the shuttle bus makes it worth it. Parking can be challenging near the colonial area. We stayed at the Woodlands and were very happy.
Visit during the off-season. Fall – early spring are great times to go to Williamsburg. It isn’t nearly as crowded as during the summer months so you are able to interact with the shopkeepers for longer periods of time.
Check out homeschool week. Williamsburg offers substantial discounts on tickets and lodging to homeschoolers twice a year. I highly recommend visiting then if it is at all possible.
The majority of the gift shops sell the same items. This is helpful because it means you do not need to walk all the way back down the street to pick up something you decided to buy. There are a few exceptions – specialty shops selling jewelry, fabric, and wine.
Have you ever been to Williamsburg?
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