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  • Writer's pictureJenny Penland

Back to 1776 ‣ Our Virginia trip recap and a few tips for your own Williamsburg visit.

My mother has always had a habit of nodding off (and on and off and on) to late night infomercials - and when I was a little girl, I'd often curl up in her bed, listening to a loop of QVC jewelry and vacation packages...

(as I type this, I'm realizing the long term effects of this bedtime ritual... All-Time Spending Obsessions: Traveling and Accessories).

Shortly after school had let out for summer, they featured an all-inclusive family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia. By four in the morning (after watching the segment three times in a row) I had persuaded my mom into putting down a deposit: it was drivable, my brothers would like the theme parks, my father would like the history, and after all, we should do things together - as a family. My dad was a particularly hard sell, and I still remember loading up into our van, wondering how I'd managed to convince my parents that this whole thing was their idea.

That family vacation had such a profound impact on me and those memories are some of the best (and only) I have from childhood, so when Kennedy started to express an interest in American history, I began planting those same seeds.

When the time came to plan her birthday, I asked her how she wanted to celebrate and she said, "A reenactment." I was thinking, "A reenactment of what..? Child birth? Gestation?" This could get weird. She rolled her eyes and replied, "No mom, I wanna live as the colonials did!" And the next thing I knew, we were sitting side-by-side on a northbound flight 'outta Florida.

When traveling to Williamsburg by plane, the closest airport is Newport News (PHF). PHF primarly routes private charters and the major carriers tend to have only one flight in and out, on any given day. On the upside, this makes check-in and security a breeze - but as a downfall, if you miss your flight, you’re likely stuck overnight. (Unless, of course, you tell a teensy-weeny white lie, blaming said tardiness on a fictional-fender-bender-induced bout of cardiac arrest. In this case, they will practically bay flight you through the terminal, no question).

(Also, this scenario is purely hypothetical; Twin Air Signs in no way advocates or condones the inflation or misrepresentation of life-threatening illness or medical emergencies, and encourages you to arrive to the airport at least ninety-minutes prior to flight departure).

That aside, the larger nearby airports are Richmond (RIC) and Norfolk (ORF), which are about fifty and seventy-five minutes from the visitor center (or, in terms of Uber fare, about a hundred bucks, round trip). Neither route is particularly scenic, but being as though PHF is thirty minutes away, all are pretty convenient and the swing-factor is flight cost.

One of the great things about Williamsburg is that it has a vast array of lodging options with accommodations ranging from forty bucks to five-hundred dollars a night. During our most recent trip, we rented The Jefferson and The Roosevelt suites at The Williamsburg White House Inn, which prices moderate to high. This eccentric bed and breakfast is over a hundred years old and is only a five or ten minute walk from the visitor center. Each of the seven rooms are decorated in memorabilia honoring a different United States President, and in the downstairs common area, there is a Reagan Dining Room and Kennedy Library (complete with a butler statue sporting a Trump Halloween mask, so suffice to say, it’s pleasantly partisan).

A few years back, we got it in our heads that we'd one day open our own bed and breakfast (The J&K B&B, perhaps? Ha.) and ever since then, have made it a point to stay in smaller inns or boutique hotels, whenever practical. The Williamsburg White House Inn was certainly the most thematic, and had us bursting at the seams with ideas and daydreams. The inn-keepers have maintained the property for nearly twenty years, having moved to Williamsburg to raise their children, after owning another B&B in Rhode Island. And with retirement on the horizon, they even offered for us to take the property of their hands, in five or ten years! (Allow this blog post to serve as binding contract of intent to sell. Please and thanks, John).

Having visited in the off-season, we were lucky enough to have the inn entirely to ourselves for all but one night. Each morning, we’d come downstairs to find a candlelit table adorned with fresh coffee, fruit and juices - and as soon as we were settled, Debbie would serve (an absolutely phenomenal) three-course breakfast. Each morning was a different, delicious entree and accompaniment, with house guests being afforded the option of a continental alternative (side bar: it’s also fun to observe the subtle increase in table manners, when your child is served on fine china).

After breakfast each morning, we’d take the four-block stroll into town. It was fun to reminisce on my first trip and see how similar our interests were, exhibit wise. Bar none, our favorite was watching "Order in the Court," which is a live reenactment of actual cases. Guests can also "Meet a Nation Builder," and we lucked out and got Patrick Henry (May 29th Birthday's, unite!)

For those seeking a little spook, there's also "Cry Witch", and a few ghost tours such as "Ghosts Among Us" and the official ghost walk. Throughout the town, patrons can visit several store fronts, where reenactors have taken on a specified trade in the same apprenticeship manner as was custom in the seventeen and eighteen-hundreds. Some of our favorites were the blacksmith shop, the apothecary, and the dress and wig makers.

Suggested Minimum Length of Stay: Three Nights, Four Days

Top Value: Rodeway Inn

Top Moderate: Comfort Inn Bypass

Top Moderate-High: The Williamsburg Lodge

Top High: The Williamsburg Inn

Top Bed and Breakfast/Inn: The Williamsburg White House Inn

Top SPG: None Accessible



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