At the end of June, we visited Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens in Virginia. Originally, we had planned to go to Chincoteague Island, which is also in Virginia. Mark had mentioned to me that he was interested in seeing Colonial Williamsburg, so at the last minute, I checked into it and found that it was the much, much less expensive option. Lauren also preferred the idea of going to a big amusement park rather than the beach.
Colonial Williamsburg was not what I expected at all. I thought it would be more touristy, a place where you paid admission to enter through a gate and then spent the day in a crowded confined area where costumed performers walk around and speak in the King's English. It is that, but it's also an actual neighborhood where people live. You can walk around it for free anytime of day, like you would your own neighborhood. Granted, with the exception of the colonial themed shops and restaurants, the most of the buildings are closed and the majority of costumed performers head home around dinnertime. So although we didn't go the paid admission route that gets you access to tour the buildings, we really enjoyed the town during the evening hours when we could take our time exploring and also avoid both the crowds and the heat.
The Duke of Gloucester Street, or the DoG, is the main street in Colonial Williamsburg.
At one end, is William and Mary, which is the second oldest college in America after Harvard. Across the street from the original school building is Merchant's Square, which has nice gift shops and restaurants. After you walk a couple of blocks past the modern buildings of Merchant's Square, you're in The Revolutionary City. It's pretty neat!
Of course, you can also access the historical area through the official Visitor's Center. From there, you walk across a bridge that connects you to a long pathway that eventually leads into the Revolutionary City. It's much more moving to enter this way, because there are plaques along the Footbridge to the Past that are a reverse timeline from the present to the eighteenth century. On the return journey, you're reminded of significant individuals and their contributions to the growth and development of American democracy and society. It really gives you a sense of how far our country has come.
Here's Lauren sitting on the stoop of one of the buildings on DoG Street.
There are plenty of places to buy colonial themed souvenirs, in both open air markets like this one as well as mercantile shops.
This was taken inside the Greenhow Store. John Greenhow was a famous merchant who owned a store on DoG street. He's quoted as saying, “If I do not offer it, you do not need it.”
Adding to the authenticity, there are livestock throughout the town. In addition to these sheep, we also saw some cattle, but we didn't get see the resident chickens.
There are more than 500 buildings in the Revolutionary City, and admittedly, I took photos of a good bit of them. The George Tucker House was one of my favorites. It houses receptions held by the Williamsburg Foundation for the various donor societies.
Located across from the George Tucker House is a renowned Compton Oak tree. Note the sign behind Lauren says, "Please no climbing."
This is the Governor's Palace, which is Colonial Williamsburg's most famous building. It's said to be very impressive on the inside, so hopefully we will visit there again and take a tour.
While we weren't walking the streets of the past, we were walking the streets of Europe at Busch Gardens.
It's easy to see why it's been voted "The World's Most Beautiful Theme Park" every year for the last 26 years. These flower baskets were hanging on a concession stand. And if the concession stands look this pretty, the rest of the place must be amazing.
See what I mean?
Wolves are Lauren's favorite animals, so I had her pose in front of this mural in New France.
This bridge is over the Rhine River, which connects the Scotland and Germany areas of the park.
I fondly remember the commercials for Busch Gardens, then known as The Old Country, from when I was growing up. Back then, there was no ride more frightening than the Lochness Monster. I've always wanted to ride it, and on this trip, I finally realized my childhood dream - three times! And if Lauren had her way, there would have been a fourth.
Speaking of forth, Lauren was able to successfully convince Mark to ride "Escape from Pompeii" four times. If you look closely, you can see them in the middle row.
On the way back, we spent the night in Alexandria, so here are a couple bonus photos. This the Cherry Blossom, a paddleboat that's owned by the Potomac Riverboat Company.
Lastly, Mark had the brilliant idea of re-creating a photo that we had taken when we first visited Alexandria in 2008 when Lauren was just three years old. She's sitting on the steps of Gadsby's Tavern.
And here's the original.