by Natalie Miller-Moore
You might notice that Williamsburg, Virginia has an awful lot of web presence for a town of just 12,000 people. That’s because it’s a major tourist destination – more than 4 million people come here each year. So this small town endures an exponential influx of people and that changes the type of place it is. Luckily, that means that there are some great advantages over other small towns: great amenities, lots of shopping and unique places to eat. All in addition to the beautiful Virginia landscape – a combination of coast and woodlands – to enjoy all year-round.
Most people come to see Colonial Williamsburg, the restored heart of this town that was once the colonial Capital of Virginia. During the winter, it’s slower, but more than 100,000 people come in for holiday events like Grand Illumination, the Holiday Parade and tours of decorated homes. The trick is, to find an inside source for information, so that you can make the most of the experience. For example, the best place to see the Grand Illumination fireworks, in my opinion, is the far side of the Capitol – you can see those fireworks up close and still catch the other two locations (the Magazine and the Palace) in the distance. There’s a stage with live music to keep you entertained while you guard your spot, and it’s near enough to parking that you can make your escape easily. Bring your own thermos, or you’ll end up trapped in a concession line when the fireworks start. And, the trick for most locals is that they swing an invite to a party in the Historic Area and wait out the crowds there before and after. Your average tourist might not be able to do that, but hitting the taverns is a great alternative – be sure to make reservations before Thanksgiving, though.
All these tourist attractions make Williamsburg different, but it’s also the kind of place where locals are trying to be helpful – it’s just how a small town is, and just how a tourist destination has to be. I’m always trying to help the people wandering the side streets with map in hand because I know I can probably help set them on the right track in just a minute or so. And, there’s so much to see and so many places to eat while on vacation, that it’s important to get an experienced opinion on what’s best, what’s easiest and how to make the most of your time. So, that’s what I hope to do here – be your virtual guide to Williamsburg. Send me an email if there’s something you want to know and I’ll give you a hand the best I can.
Natalie Miller-Moore has been a resident of Williamsburg, Virginia for six years and is serving as our monthly guest columnist and local expert. On most days, Natalie can be found spending time with her historian husband and young son, tending to her thriving vegetable garden or enjoying all the thrills found right here in Williamsburg.
You can also enjoy Natalie’s writing in the Daily Press.