Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Colonial Hit Parade
Start your time-travel adventure by picking up a copy of the Visitor's Companion. This 12-page newspaper, available at the Visitors Center, lists loads of weekly tours, reenactments, character encounters, live demonstrations, and participatory events. Programs change daily and there's lots to do, so review the paper carefully before taking to the streets. It will help match your family's interests and attention spans to the right activities. Some of the top activities include:
Fife and Drum Corps,
- Family life "experiences" at historic homes. Your kids may gripe about taking out the trash at home, but they'll jump at the chance to grind spices, hoe the garden, cook victuals, air the bed linens, and perform other colonial chores at the many authentic homes scattered throughout town.
- Colonial games on the Palace Green (and other locations).
Whether it's a game of hoops, pick-up sticks, trapball (a precursor to baseball), or mastering the use of a bilbo catcher (getting a wooden ball on a string into the cup), colonial boys and girls can teach your kids how to have old-fashioned fun.
- Order in the court! America was a litigious society, even in its early days. Be a judge, jury member, defendant, or plaintiff in a reenacted trial at the Courthouse. The script is based on a real "suit," as in "I'm not paying for that crop of tobacco you dropped in the water!"
- The military encampment. Sign up for militia duty at the Guardhouse. Upon reporting to the sergeant, you'll receive a long-stick (instead of a musket) and be put through a series of drills. Fix your bayonet and fire!
- Join the bucket brigade. Take one down, pass it around, and there will probably still be 99 more buckets of water needed to fill up the town's fire truck.
- Face-to-face with history-makers. There's a good chance you could bump into Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Martha Washington, or Patrick Henry around town. They're out and about. (History refresher course: Henry is famous for opposing the Stamp Act and saying, "Give me liberty or give me death!").
- Costumed scavenger hunt. For a rental fee, your kids can dress up in colonial costume and run errands all over town -- to the post office to fetch a letter, the milliner's to buy ribbon, or the printer's to drop off an advertisement.
- Learn a trade. Observe tradespeople in action (and ask them questions, too) at more than a dozen sites. Favorite stops: the wigmaker, dressmaker, printing office, silversmith, gunsmith, and foundry. Your kids will gain a new appreciation for making buildings after getting their hands and feet in clay at the brickmaker's yard.
- Fife and Drum Corps. Salute fellow patriots as the Fife and Drum Corps marches down the Duke of Gloucester Street.
- Grand medley of entertainment. Enjoy after-hours merriment at a show featuring circus, carnival, and vaudeville-type acts. Or check out the musical program highlighting 18th-century African-American culture in stories, song, and dance.