Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia: history
Williamsburg received its name in 1699 in honor of William III of England-- but later the town became the site of heated debates about whether the young colonies should break away from England's reign.
After the American Revolution, Williamsburg because less important. Then, starting in 1926, the historic area was restored as Colonial Williamsburg. Today more than 500 18th-century buildings have been restored and rebuilt.
Colonial Williamsburg Virginia today: living history
Best of all for the visitor are the re-enactments: you can watch blacksmiths, saddlemakers, wigmakers, silversmiths; you can ride in horse-drawn carriages, talk to inn-keepers, and hear daring patriots whisper about revolution-- such is the atmosphere, in Colonial Williamsburg. A staff of 3500, including archaeologists and historians, are helped by more than 800 volunteers to bring the 18th century back to life.
You'll find different events throughout the year: check Williamsburg Online for Highlights. Also check the days of the week: some days are Court Days, Muster Days, Revolutionary Days, etc.
Note that visitors are free to wander the streets in the historic district, but you'll need to buy tickets to enter the buildings.
Colonial Williamsburg is great for kids. Here's a comment from Insiders' Guide for Williamsburg:
"Colonial games are played at several locations in the Historic Area, and kids can try their skill at trundling the hoop, stilt walking, jumping rope, lawn bowling, nine pins, leap frog, blind man' bluff and other games.
"At Robertson's Windmill visiting children help with seasonal farm chores; during the summer, hands-on activities include doing laundry, making soap or dipping candles. Those more inclined towards dirtying clothing rather than towards washing it will enjoy the Carpenter's Yard, where help is needed to tread clay in the pit in preparation for brickmaking."
Kids can grind corn, saw wood, get water from a well... There are also special programs all year, especially in summer.
Triangle: Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown
You can also venture beyond Williamsburg to two nearby historic settlements.
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in America, and has plenty of history: famine in the winter of 1609, conflicts with Native Americans; and in 1676, colonists rebelled against the Virginia Governor and burned the town. The government moved to Williamsburg, and Jamestown was deserted.
Today, the historic area has been restored. You can visit replicas of early ships and a re-creation of James Fort.
Yorktown's history started later: the siege of Yorktown was the final major battle of the American Revolution. Today the battlefield is a national park.
And when you've had enough history...
Try some nearby attractions, such as Water Country USA, Kidsburg (a community-built playground with a mock-up of a historic ship, James Fort Tot Lot, and two theaters) and Busch Gardens Europe, a major theme park in Williamsburg.