We are very thankful for this chance to experience Colonial Williamsburg Revolutionary City. When the opportunity first presented itself to me, I was shocked and ecstatic: (1) I love history. (2) The kids would love this experience. We were given a budget to work with, and when it’s a family of 6, you still have to be creative to make it all work (e.g., find the best price taking a red eye… I know, kinda crazy), and it was completely up to us what we wanted to do, see, and eat when we got there. We stayed at Colonial Wiliamsburg Woodlands hotel, since that was suggested to be the most family friendly option, but there are plenty of other accommodations to choose from.
As I was booking, I noticed they had a “Kids Play, Stay, and Eat Free” package and so that’s what I went with. It includes all the admission tickets to the museums, most buildings, and tours (there a couple things like carriage rides or ghost tours that would be an additional expense if you want to do that), the hotel had a new water park (we’re not talking theme-park huge here, just to give you some perspective, but more than enough for the kids to love). Regarding meals, there was what I considered to be a higher-end continental breakfast (it had many options, to include a DIY waffle-maker, sausage, eggs, fresh-cut fruit, yogurts, hot/cold cereals… just your basic as bagels and pastries) and kids get to eat free for dinner (we appreciate little perks like that)! I think it is the best option for families, just for the tour tickets alone. We were able to get in to see show/tours that would typically require an extra fee, but with our package, that was already included! Extra things that we had to pay additional for were the carriage ride and the meals during lunchtime for the kids.
The whole place is really family-friendly. One spot in particular we spent a lot of time at was the Colonial Garden. Ben was marveling at the 18-century methods they used to care for it; he was mesmerized as he walked around observing the various plants and vegetables. The girls were able to help out with the watering, and I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how that is exactly how I want my garden to look like. I love the look of overgrown bushes and flowers tumbling into each other, and while I try to mimic that at home, mine looks more like an overgrown mess.
One request the girls had was to ride a carriage, but for this you need to make sure you’re at a ticketing office right at 9am because they sell out quickly, especially in the hot summer months because they don’t let the horses ride past noon on hotter days. We rode an open carriage because that is what fit our family of six, and it also happens to be the same carriage Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip rode when they visited here in 2007. Though it’s a short ride (fifteen minutes), the girls faces told us it was well worth it.
There are shuttles that can take you from one area to the next, but we also found it quite easy to maneuver about on foot. Sure, it was hot and humid, as we were all sweating cats and dogs, but the fun and excitement of roaming the streets and interacting with different characters really distracted us from the hot conditions.
For lunch, we ate at the taverns since we were usually exploring the historic area; Chowning Tavern was our favorite. Dinners we spent at Huzzah! (adjacent to our hotel) and Traditions (adjacent to the Williamsburg Lodge). Huzzah was super family-friendly and the kids got to make their own pizzas. Traditions was a little more formal, and I got to indulge in crab cake and the girls got dishes that were equally as fancy, but just kid size. With the package we signed up for, the kids were able to eat free at both places for dinner (and also the taverns, but we never went to the taverns for dinner). I think deals like that for families are much appreciated.
Another thing we read about was the brickyard. Brave was commenting how much she wanted to come back in October to see the bricks fired up, since that’s what she read in the book. Though, we didn’t get to see that, the girls did get to take part in treading the mud to make brick. They were really hesitant at first, but eventually (with a lot of coaxing), they went in. Go figure, at home they don’t hesitate to play in the mud, but here when they are encouraged to, they hesitate.
There’s so much we saw and did that I’m sure the girls probably weren’t able to keep track of it all. We plan to continue studying the American Revolution and Colonial Times, so I think reading more books after the visit will allow us to continue building upon their knowledge. We let them indulge in some costumes to commemorate their time there (Brave chose coloring books however), so that will get added to their dress-up box and we will recreate our own scenes of the Revolution at home. My mind is already spinning with learning activities we could do to dive deeper into this time period, and we are all very thankful for the opportunity to experience this living history museum in-person and for all the memories we created together as a family.
Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at colonialwilliamsburg.com. I‘m super thankful for this opportunity, and this is able to happen thanks to all of you. As always, all opinions and thoughts are always my own.
We are thankful for the opportunity to spend a few days immersed in the history of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. The girls and I spent some time leading up to our adventure reading books and preparing to see a glimpse of what life might have been like during colonial times. We read If You Lived in Williamsburg in Colonial Days, Hogheads to Blockheads, and they also read The Colonial Caper Mystery at Williamsburg (a fun easy to read chapter book). True and Brave also started reading about Felicity of The American Girl series (thanks to your recommendations!), so that really helped paint a picture of what Williamsburg was like for little girls during this time period. We brought the books mentioned with us on our trip, as well as Colonial Williamsburg: A Pocket Guide. We had all of these on hand before our trip (bought from Amazon), but I did see them all for sale at the Colonial Williamsburg gift shops.
I wanted to give the girls as much background information as possible before our trip, so when we went, they would be able to make connections with what they read to what they saw in real life. They had a lot of “aha! moments” when they recognized a place, activity, or shop mentioned in one of the books we read. In addition to that, I used the pocket guide throughout our visit as a reference to learn more about a particular place. We’re technically on a break from homeschooling, but learning was still happening even while on vacation.
Our first stop was Powell House. The girls and I were super excited to start off with something we were sort of familiar with from the books we read. The girls helped bring in fire wood, make a little tart, and played with some of the toys in the house. The girls are super shy, so they really need encouragement to get involved in the action, but they were doing it (Brave more than the others) and I could see they were in amazed with seeing this in person. The whole place is really overwhelming at first, so I’m glad we had some previous knowledge that really helped us get started and more familiar with the place. I highly recommend reading books before going because it also helps you map out your day on what may be of more interests for you and the children.
This face of True’s is a bit funny because in the picture prior to this, you can see Ben getting sworn into the Continental Army by Captain James Ennis. True (and the other girls) were not happy about that at all. True believed it was entirely real, and that scowl on her face stayed on for hours after we told her it wasn’t. She said that “if that was a joke, it wasn’t funny.” I guess those army guys were quite convincing.
There were so many reenactments going on all over the place. We hopped from one place to another and were just in awe at how well everyone played their parts; the whole family was totally into it! The girls would ask (with our encouragement) the various characters if they were a patriot or a tory. The tailor gave a very good answer to explain at how complex that question was since England was their home country, the difficulty of their choices, and what they believed to be what’s best for them. Just like it is now, it’s not completely easy to side with one or the other, but there are pros and cons to both sides.
To aid in the Colonial Williamsburg experience, there was a Colonial Williamsburg scavenger hunt that got the children really involved into learning more bits about life during the American Revolution. I think this was a great way to further learning and get everyone exploring more of the history of this revolutionary city. We went into all the trade shops trying to match the picture with the description in the hunt, and the girls were pretty excited to get seven matches and collect their prize. Ben, Brave, Soul, and Glow even got to march with the militia, with fife (a small flute) and drum fanfares for a victory march. They also had canon salutes which were super exciting and super loud! You had to brace yourself right before they fired each one.
This place is very educational, but it’s also a lot of fun! I’ve mentioned before that I get geeky about historical things, so I was relishing it all. There is so much for everyone; kids can go to the dancing school and learn various social dances of that time, adults (and kids) can participate in a re-enactment of an 18th-century trial or engage other political figures from that time period in a discussion of the political tensions going on, or you can just tour museums and historic buildings and soak things in that way. There is seriously something going on all throughout the day that you can’t even cover everything in just the few days we were there. You will no doubt leave some stones unturned and will be wanting to go back to explore more; I know we feel that way. If you’re living on that side of the coast, I’m pretty jealous at how much easier it might be for you to take a weekend trip to Colonial Williamsburg Revolutionary City than it is for us.
One of my favorite things, and no doubt the girls’ favorite, was being able to tour the R. Charlton Coffeehouse and getting to try some of their chocolate. We read all about that in one of the books, and how chocolate then isn’t quite the same as hot chocolate today. When the big girls saw the sign for the coffeehouse, they were so excited and exclaiming, “Mommy! Rememeber when we read about that?! Maybe we can try chocolate.” Sure enough, after the tour, they served the guests your choice of tea, coffee, or chocolate, and of course my girls all picked chocolate. The lady was surprised at how much my girls loved it (it’s pretty much straight cocoa and spices) and guzzled down their cups. I think you can see in the picture above which girl loved it most!
Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at colonialwilliamsburg.com. I’m very thankful for this amazing opportunity, and thankful to you all for the support you give me and the companies I choose to partner with.
This is more of us roaming around Singapore, and you get a one picture of us with our bowls of food (we ate so much there!). There will probably be two more posts just of all the different food we tried; we wanted to try as many new dishes as we could! Ben and I seriously walked everywhere, as well as the MRT (their subway system), and my friend, Abby (pictured above), was the best tour guide. Not only did she take us all over the place, she knew so much about Singaporean history and we loved hearing all her stories. All her stories made this country come alive for us even more, and it deepened our appreciation for this city/country.
Of course, besides the plant nursery, Ben would love the place where you can buy all sorts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats! He went by himself the first time (I was prepping for my classes), and he came back with $15 worth of fruits that we had never tried before! We also pretty much ate all the fruit in one sitting. We had rambutan, lychees, custard apple, mangosteen (my fave!), dragon fruit, and water apple. We didn’t venture to try durian (though I did have a durian dessert!). He took me back to the Tiong Bahru wet market a few days later and I loved looking at all the different things they were selling. Totally different from our farmers markets for sure!
It was so humid and steamy that once I took my camera out snap some pictures, my lens was completely covered in fog. That’s why that first picture looks somewhat cloudy, and I had to keep wiping the fog away to take more pictures!
While in Singapore, Ben wanted to check out their plant nurseries. Of course, right?! If was far off the beaten path, and not really a tourist thing to do, but it was worth it. Besides the Bloesem team, our friend Abby was our tour guide in Singapore (she goes to grad school in CA, but was home for the summer), so we were really able to get the inside scoop on this special country. She helped us navigate around and took us to the plant nursery.
Ben was in search for a particular citrus tree that is illegal in California, while he didn’t find it in Singapore, we did find a lot of interesting fruit trees we had never heard of before. I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over a lot of the other plants I had never seen before, and I was so wishing that customs would just let me walk right through with all these plants in my arms. I did jot down a few names in hopes of tracking them down here somewhere, so my wish still could come true somehow.