Spread over 301 acres concealed from the modern world by thick woods is one of the largest living museums in the world, the largest outdoor living history in the U.S. and the main attraction in Williamsburg. Indeed, for many people Colonial Williamsburg is Williamsburg, such that the two terms are synonymous. Also known by locals as CW or just the Historic Area, Colonial Williamsburg consists of some approximately 500 preserved or restored buildings that once stood here, in Virginia’s former capital. Taken together, these buildings are meant to realize the experience of an 18th-century Colonial city, inhabited by interpreters who speak, for lack of a better word, "Colonialese." Visitors enter through a visitor center and, depending on the tickets they purchase, have access to preserved buildings, including the restored Virginia’s Governor’s Palace; Bruton Parish Church (where George Washington and Thomas Jefferson attended services); stalls where folks weave, hammer pig iron, etc.; and the former Virginia Capitol, where immigrants are naturalized in a yearly ceremony meant to preserve the American civic ideal that, in so many ways, began here. Liberties have been taken with history—Colonial cities were never so clean and well ordered—but CW takes admirable steps to explain controversial issues like slavery. In the end, despite some issues of accuracy, Colonial Williamsburg is a place where the historical roots of America are extremely accessible, and for that, we nod our tri-cornered hat in approval.
Attractions & Landmarks, Parks, Gardens & Cemeteries, Educational, Arts & Museums
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- Nearest Train: Williamsburg Amtrak Station