Updated April 2021
We went to Williamsburg, Virginia to explore American history in a hands-on way. But there’s only so much kids are willing to learn on summer vacation.
If we didn’t break it up with some non-educational fun we would have had a rebellion of our own. Luckily, the area increasingly has family friendly attractions with nary a tri-corner hat in sight.
Here were a few of our favorite other things to do with kids in this popular family vacation town.
4 Surprising Things To Do With Kids in Williamsburg
Get Wet at Water Country
We’re not roller-coaster people—we’re fairly chicken when it comes to theme park rides, in fact—so we skipped famous Busch Gardens.
We thought Water Country USA* would have more activities that a timid 7YO and her slightly less timid parents could do together. And it was the right choice.
Aside from letting Tiny Traveler play in the kids area while we made evening plans, we did everything together at this water park.
On a weekday in late August the crowds were manageable, but it still pays to get there a few minutes before the gates open at 10:00 am.
You have your choice of lockers for your valuables and dry clothes. And you can easily find a group of chairs by the wave pool to be your base for the day.
After that, we recommend hitting the slides early on, especially the bigger and more popular ones. The lines for those got longer as it got later but the lazy river and wave pool were always readily available.
We noticed shorter lines on the smaller slides, especially those where you had to carry your tube up yourself—and we were fine with that. They were fun and not scary and you could repeat them a few times with little effort.
Wild Thang, an older slide tucked away behind the Colossal Curl, is a good option with kids who are outgrowing the splash pads but too small for the big slides.
Check Out the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market
We love green markets. If there’s one happening in the place we’re vacationing we always visit.
Saturday mornings offer a good-size farmer’s market at Merchant’s Square, where you’ll no doubt head for dinner at some point.
Seasonal produce, coffee, baked goods, pork products and southern specialties like boiled peanuts are for sale. It offers good people-watching and sampling and is a good resource for picnic supplies.’
When you do come through for dinner, I liked Berret’s Seafood Restaurant, a block off the main square, the best of three restaurants around the square that we ate in.
The service is friendly and the she-crab soup is one of the best I’ve had. Plus, the kids’ menu offers crab cake, shrimp and salmon along with the usual items.
Tip: if you have time, take a stroll around the nearby classic William & Mary campus while you sip your coffee. It’s beautiful, most of the walk is pretty shaded and no one cares if your kids are a boisterous.
Take a Swim at Yorktown Beach
Yorktown Village is small but has an appealing riverfront shopping area and beach (above) called Yorktown Landing.
This public beach is free and offers calm water for kids to play in, dockside fishing and waterfront dining. We didn’t get a chance to swim, to our chagrin, but enjoyed wading, walking and digging on the beach after dinner one evening.
The Yorktown Pub looks like a dive from the outside, but it’s family friendly and a good choice for inexpensive and really good seafood that’s often local.
We made a post-water-park feast of raw clams, fried oysters and steamed shrimp. You’ll also find typical pub food options for kids who don’t eat seafood.
Enjoy Good Southern Food
You can find lots of good local food and locally brewed beer in the restaurants around Williamsburg and Yorktown. We went out of our way to have lunch at the Old Chickahominy House anyway, and it was worth it.
Located halfway between Williamsburg and Jamestown, the house is divided between the restaurant and an antiques store. You can window shop in the latter while you wait for your table.
This is old-school home cooking: They offer fruit salad and ground ham and almost everything comes with or on biscuits. Tiny Traveler and I had bowls of chicken with small, pillowy dumplings. Rich had Brunswich stew dotted with plump lima beans.
Of course there’s pie. Whatever types they’ve baked that day ask for a slice of each. Neither the chocolate chiffon or buttermilk pies disappointed and the fruit pie looked awfully good.
Pin it for later!
*We were guests of Visit Williamsburg at Yankee Candle and Water Country USA. We received a discounted rate at the Woodlands Hotel. We don’t guarantee coverage in exchange for access and our opinions are always our own.