5. Colonial Williamsburg: Self-Guided Walking Tour
On this self-guided walking tour where an app is your guide, narrator, and map all in one, explore Colonial Williamsburg, a beautifully restored colonial town full of actors living out the lives of 18th-century Americans.
Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one.
Your tour begins at Colonial Williamsburg’s visitor center just north of the town center. As you walk south, you’ll learn about the earliest residents of Williamsburg and the Native Americans who called this place home when the first European settlers arrived.
The first major landmark you’ll arrive at is the Peyton Randolph House, a gorgeous home dating back to 1715. Its former owner was a key revolutionary figure, though you might not have heard about him in school.
Next, arrive at the Fife and Drum Building, where you’ll learn about the importance these simple instruments had during battles. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a performance of Colonial Williamsburg’s very own fife and drum band as they march through town.
Continuing onward, hear about the origins of the Colonial Williamsburg museum project, including how America’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, bankrolled the whole thing.
Afterward, you’ll see the Public Gaol, a grim prison that once held prisoners incarcerated for everything from petty theft to murder. It even held But would you Blackbeard’s pirate crew while they waited to be executed.
Up next is Bassett Hall, the lavish estate where Rockefeller lived while overseeing the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Then, it’s on to the old Capitol Building, where Virginia once declared independence from Britain, just 4 days before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
The next stop is Raleigh Tavern. During the 1700s, this tavern’s unassuming facade hid secret revolutionary meetings within.
Next, come to the Williamsburg Magazine, an old munitions storehouse. Learn the dramatic tale of a standoff between British troops and Williamsburg residents on the eve of the revolution.
As you make your way to the Play House Stage, a recreation of one of the country’s oldest theaters, you’ll hear a few spooky stories about ghost sightings that have taken place throughout Williamsburg.
After that, you’ll reach the Governor’s Palace, where Virginia’s Royal Governor ruled over the people of this state, that is until he was forced to flee in the dead of night.
Then, see two of the town’s most historic structures: the George Wythe House and the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church.
The George Wythe House was home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence who was also a staunch abolitionist. Bruton Parish Episcopal Church predates the town itself and is the whole reason for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg.
Finally, make your way to the historic campus of the College of William & Mary, the nation’s second-oldest university. Finish your tour by seeing one of Williamsburg’s oldest and most impressive buildings and learning a little about the college’s controversial history.