Colonial Williamsburg is a “living-history museum” located in a historic district in Williamsburg, Virginia. Encompassing 301 acres, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area re-creates 18th-century Williamsburg as it appeared preceding and during the American Revolution. Throughout the city, sights, sounds, and activities help guests reconnect with America’s past and become active participants in 18th-century life. The Historic Area is protected from modern intrusions by a 2,800-acre greenbelt.
From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the capital of England’s oldest, richest and most populous mainland North American colony and the seat of power in the new nation’s most influential state. Named in honor of William III, King of England, and designed by Royal Gov. Francis Nicholson, Williamsburg is one of the country’s oldest planned communities.
In the late 1920s a project was started to recreate the town as it would have existed in the 18th century, led in part by John D. Rockefeller. In 1928 public land was transferred for the project, and thereafter 720 buildings that postdated 1790 were demolished. Reconstructions of colonial buildings were built on the original foundations using period illustrations, written descriptions, early photographs, and informed guesswork. In total, 500 buildings were reconstructed or restored, with 88 being labeled as original colonial structures.
Today the area is owned and operated by the non-profit Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a foundation that was endowed by the Rockefellers. Visitation peaked in 1985 with 1.1 million visitors but declined thereafter, but has grown somewhat since bottoming out in 2004.
See Williamsburg#Get in for details on getting to the city. While it is free to walk through the historic district, to experience all of the sights within the historic district requires purchasing a ticket from the visitor center. Once you purchase your admission pass, you can either take the shuttle bus or walk to the Historic Area. The historic district is open 365 days a year.
- Sampler Ticket. Allows use of the shuttle, entrance to two trade shops, entrance to the Public Gaol, and entrance to one family home. $25.99 for adults (13+), $12.49 for youths (6-12). (updated May 2015)
- Single-Day Ticket. Allows use of the shuttle, and access to all trade shops, homes, gardens, reenactments and other sites in the historic district. Also provides a 10% discount on tours, evening programs and carriage rides. $40.99 for adults (13+), $20.49 for youths (6-12). (updated May 2015)
- Multiday Pass. Offers everything included in the single-day pass but is good for unlimited repeat visits through December 31. $50.99 for adults (13+), $25.49 for youths (6-12). (updated May 2015)
- Annual Pass. Offers everything included in the multiday pass but is good for unlimited repeat visits for one year from the date of purchase. Also allows for exclusive tours and provides a 25% discount (instead of 10%) on tours, evening programs and carriage rides. $66.99 for adults (13+), $33.49 for youths (6-12). (updated May 2015)