Colonial Williamsburg has become a much more well rounded — and upscale — experience in recent years. Local chefs have adapted traditional Southern cooking and native ingredients to create more exotic combinations. Virginia wineries, once thought of as bargain wines produce high-quality vintages. The central district of Williamsburg is known not only for stark Colonial homes but also for a lavish Spas, fine dining and upscale shops. Of course, if you want to see a staging of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death!” speech, or stick your head in the stocks, that’s still an option.
Virginia wines now hold their own in global wine competitions, and the Williamsburg Winery, a few miles from the Colonial District www.williamsburgwinery.com), is the largest winery in the state. Its chardonnays — particularly the fruity, oaky Acte 12 chardonnay — have won much acclaim from critics. On a spring afternoon, attend a tasting ($8 and $30) and then head over to the adjacent tavern for a wonderful lunch.
This time of year check out the Colonial buildings and re-enactments anytime of day with the spring temperatures highs are around 75. Your Innkeeper can help you purchase discount tickets.
Colonial Williamsburg This Week, a free print publication, contains up-to-date listings of re-enactments, but don’t miss the Governor’s Palace, home to royal governors (and Patrick Henry) and the Bruton Parish Church (one of the oldest Episcopal churches in America). And look for re-enactors who are engaged in political debates. which tend to be less stilted than other re-enactments.
More than just a purveyor of cider mugs and souvenir tricorner hats, Merchants Square, on the west end of the Colonial District, also serves up unusual — and sometimes pricey antiques, quilts, silver and other American crafts. Try the Nancy Thomas Gallery of Folk Art; www.nancythomas.com) or J. Fenton Modern American Crafts; www.quiltsunlimited.com) for updated interpretations — in jewelry, clothing and other formats — of the quirky traditions of folk art found in the Rockefeller collection.
When you get hungry for lunch, grab a gourmet sandwich at the Cheese shop on the square next door to the Fat Canary which has quickly established itself far above the taverns of Williamsburg, which tend to serve mediocre pub-style food in traditional alehouse atmosphere. Fat Canary serve up in suave, Art Deco-looking surroundings, Fat Canary serves nouvelle cuisine that mixes local with innovative takes, resulting in combinations like crispy cornmeal oysters with charred tomato and free-range pheasant with polenta, pine nuts and pancetta. Reservations are essential. Dinner for two without wine is around $100 and worth every penny!
When you finish a long day of walking and shopping, a visit to the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg might just be what you need. Right in the Colonial District, the spa serves the usual menu of treatments, but in keeping with the history theme, it also offers a twist: packages based on practices from the early days of American history, like an 18th-century treatment with colonial-era herbs like penny royal, sage, rosemary, angelica and juniper berries
In colonial times, Williamsburg was known as much for drinking as for debating — taverns served as meeting places, the perfect setting for wielding influence in the powerful Virginia colony. The restored Colonial District features four working taverns — some serving lunch, dinner or both — striving to recreate an authentic atmosphere. Most feature similar workaday fare like sandwiches and local seafood, but the ambiance can’t be beat.
After all this fun and fare it time to head on back to your home away from home, The Colonial Gardens Bed and Breakfast. Where you will sleep on luxury linens on superior bedding and wake to the fabulous smells of Kona coffee and the rest of your breakfast fare. As always call 800-886-9715 to make your Colonial Williamsburg luxury accommodations