—Northanger Abbey, Chapter 10
Well yes, we do! And we believe we have the means to accomplish it, for there truly is something for everyone here. We will keep conference attendees busy with our exciting programming, but if you or your traveling companions wish to make every minute of your sojourn in Williamsburg count, here are some tips and suggestions!
An Occasion for the Arts Festival
During our AGM, downtown Williamsburg will also be hosting the annual Occasion for the Arts, bringing together a variety of artisans and performers from the eastern United States. In your free time over the weekend, browse the booths, listen to music, taste the flavors, and enjoy the cultural atmosphere of the Merchant’s Square area. Learn more about An Occasion for the Arts at the festival website. Bear in mind that the increase in visitors will affect restaurant availability; you may want to make dinner reservations in advance, take advantage of our boxed lunch option on Saturday, or plan to go further afield than Merchant’s Square for some of your meals. We will send out a restaurant list in the summer to assist you.
Afternoon Tea at the Williamsburg Inn
The Williamsburg Inn, located beside the Lodge, offers an afternoon tea on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 2:00-3:30pm. The menu changes seasonally but includes a tempting array of sweet and savory items along with the requisite scones, cream, and jam. Prices range from $34 to $40 per person. If you wish to make reservations for afternoon tea at the Inn, please call (757) 220-7754. This is not an AGM-sponsored tea, and space is limited.
Explore the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area
As a conference attendee, you will be able to ride the Colonial Williamsburg buses free of charge along a route that circles the whole Historic Area. Hop on and off at your leisure to explore every corner of the living history museum. As these buses include both the Visitor’s Center and the Williamsburg Lodge on their route, they are convenient for guests staying at either the Lodge or the Woodlands (next to the Visitor’s Center). Buses operate from 9 am to 10 pm daily and arrive at each stop at least once every fifteen minutes. Before and after those times and during peak conference hours, the AGM will offer its own shuttle between hotels. For a map of the bus route and more information regarding riding as a non-conference attendee, please see Colonial Williamsburg’s transportation page.
Other Sites of Interest
Within a half-hour radius:
Historic Jamestowne, also one of our optional tours, is the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America. It features ongoing archaeological digs and fascinating exhibits in the Archaearium museum.
For families with younger folk, consider a visit to Jamestown Settlement, where you can see replicas of a Powhatan village, James Fort, and the original colonists’ ships, speak with costumed interpreters, and engage in hands-on activities.
Yorktown, the site of the climactic battle of the American Revolution, features a small National Park Service museum containing one of George Washington’s campaign tents. Walk through the charming town and tour the battlefield that proved so critical in the struggle for independence.
Yorktown is also home to the new, comprehensive American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, which is one of our optional tours.
Both Jamestown and Yorktown can be accessed via the lovely Colonial Parkway—avoid traffic lights and congestion on this relaxing, tree-lined road that offers panoramic views of the James and York Rivers and smaller Virginia waterways. Learn more here.
Beautiful hiking trails can be found right in Colonial Williamsburg at Bassett Trace Nature Trail (download a trail guide here), but also at Redoubt Park (where you can walk through Civil War-era earthworks), York River State Park, and a variety of other locations nearby.
Bicycling enthusiasts can explore many area roads and trails, including the Parkway, on two wheels. A recent addition to cyclists’ options is the Virginia Capital Trail, running from Williamsburg to Richmond along Route 5. Rental cycles at reasonable daily rates are available from several companies in the area, the most conveniently-located being Bike the Burg.
The Mariner’s Museum houses the remains of the Monitor ironclad (of the famous Monitor vs. Merrimack battle) in an engaging, state-of-the-art exhibit. It also features an exhibit on Admiral Lord Nelson, a gallery of exquisite, hand-made miniature model ships, and a variety of other offerings spanning the centuries.
Busch Gardens Europe, an amusement park which will be open over the weekend with its Halloween programming.
Within an hour’s radius:
Bacon’s Castle, completed the year before the Great Fire of London, is the only 17 th century home still standing in Virginia. It played a role in the 1676 rebellion led by Nathaniel Bacon against Virginia’s governor, William Berkeley, when Bacon’s men drove out its owner, Arthur Allen, and briefly made the house their stronghold.
The James River Plantations, located along Route 5, were the homes of some of Virginia’s wealthiest and most influential residents in the 18 th and 19 th centuries. Our Monday tour will conduct attendees through Shirley and Berkeley, but you may wish to explore Sherwood Forest or Westover on your own.
All of these are impressive, but a plantation home on the York River once put them to shame. Rosewell, home of the Page family, was one of the few manor houses that truly rivaled its English counterparts. It was said that five people could walk abreast down its grand staircase. Surviving until 1916, it was consumed by fire after what may have been a fault in its recently- installed electric wiring. It exists today as an evocative ruin, still as imposing as it must have been in its heyday.
The John Marshall House and the John Wickham House are standouts, both for their history and their architecture. John Marshall, though renowned as Chief Justice of the United States, is not as widely recognized for being a Janeite—but he was one! He was also the judge for Aaron Burr’s treason trial in 1807, and John Wickham, a former Loyalist who lived nearby, served on Burr’s defense team. In 1812, Wickham constructed a lavish home boasting classical frescoes, lofty ceilings, and a memorable staircase shaped like an artist’s palette.
Wilton House is one of only two colonial homes in North America that still retains its original floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, and it is a stunning survivor! During the Revolutionary era, it was a stopping place for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette.
The American Civil War Museum, on the grounds of Tredegar Iron Works, has recently completed a brand new building to enhance its presentation of this seminal conflict in American history. Learn about the development of antebellum southern industry, the wartime experience of Richmond, and the continuing struggle over the memory of the war, all in one spot!
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts houses extensive collections of ancient and modern art and artifacts. Admission is free, so wander at your leisure!
The Moses Myers House is only open on weekends, but it offers an unrivaled window into life in Federal Virginia. Constructed in 1795 by Moses Myers, Norfolk’s most prominent Jewish resident and a veteran of the American Revolution, it features stunning plastered ceilings, elegant furnishings, and fascinating heirlooms belonging to the original inhabitants. How did their faith impact their lives and their social world? This is a unique story told through a remarkable structure.
Both the Moses Myers and the 1794 Willoughby-Baylor House are properties of the Chrysler Museum of Art, and the Willoughby- Baylor showcases some of the museum’s collection. Admission is free, so while you’re at one, visit them all!
The Virginia Zoo is a remarkable tour of the world’s animal life arranged by continent in impressive habitats. A farmyard area allows for interaction with more domestic creatures, and peacocks roam freely throughout the site. A treat for children and adults alike!