Plenty of utensils and wares decorated tables in 18th-century America, but only a few became a symbol of protest during the Revolution, one of them was the teapot. It's these subtle traces of cultural change that take center stage in the permanent and temporary exhibits at DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Here, developments in civilian and military infantry, such as ignition systems and muzzle-loading firearms, signal the progress of 18th-century weaponry, while 1690s-1820s furniture from New England through the Mid-Atlantic highlight developing cultural and regional trends.
Though a bulk of the museum's collection—including one of the biggest assortments of British ceramics outside England—was mainly used in the home, some objects were designed for outside the domestic sphere. An original fire engine built in the mid-18th century stands unscathed by flames, and a collection of medals made for George Washington honors the time he beat up that cherry tree. Scholars delve deeper into these and other artifacts during lectures held in Hennage Auditorium.
Taste of Williamsburg's guides would love to spend the whole day showing you the sites of the city. But they'd rather do that while they show you where the city's best ribs are. And since you're already on that side of town, they may as well as take you across the street for a life-changing slice of cheesecake, available only during its Dessert Attack tour.
During enthusiastic walking food tours, a savvy guide shows small groups around Williamsburg's thriving dining scenes, taking them through neighborhoods from Merchants Square to New Town and helping them discovering new dining digs across the city. At each stop, chefs at an array of restaurants prepare traditional regional dishes or global cuisine—at one establishment guests may sample Virginia ham or peanuts, at the next they'll enjoy reinterpreted macaroni-and-cheese or goat-cheese pizza (which George Washington often enjoyed cold for breakfast).
Founded in 1889, Preservation Virginia is one of the oldest historic-preservation organizations in the country. Its dedicated team has worked on more than 200 historic places, including landscapes, structures, and archaeological sites. The organization provides visitors with a tangible example of life in the past at a number of historic homes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, including Patrick Henry's and Chief Justice John Marshall's homes. Historic Jamestowne, the site of the first permanent British settlement in North America, recreates the landscape of the first meeting between the explorers and Native Americans. Due to the work of the organization, visitors still gaze upon a yeoman planter's cottage that dates back to 1740. Preservation Virginia also teaches aspiring laymen during conservation workshops, compiles lists of endangered historic sites, and spearheads tobacco-barn-protection efforts.
Randy and Jill Pryor took their first segway tour in 2010 and didn't want it to end. The experience inspired them to travel to the Segway, Inc. headquarters, where they became certified Segway Level II technicians. They founded Patriot Tours & Provisions in order to share the experience with others, which is exactly what they do during guided jaunts through Yorktown. There's the historical tour, which winds through sites linked to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and the breeze tour, which explores the York River and surrounding historical neighborhood. They also offer off-road nature rides through New Quarter Park and tours of the Kingsmill Resort.
An extensively strange museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not! boasts more than 350 exhibits showcasing odd, rare, and mind-undoing world records, people, and animals. At the in-house 4-D theater, Ripley's hosts thrilling flicks with fantastical on-screen action—action that is complemented by the fourth dimension of interaction, in-audience effects. To cap off the strange-sperience, visitors take a single shot at the impossible laser race, a laser-laden challenge that requires cat-like balance and a cat's-cradle-like ability to weave through light beams. Between perusing the exhibits, taking in the audio-visual amalgamation of the theater, and overcoming futuristic obstacles, this adventurous outing to Ripley's is primed to shock, surprise, and brain-tickle even the most seasoned of UFO investigators or pilots.
Colonial Williamsburg's 300 acres of taverns, tradeshops, homes, and community buildings stand preserved as if it were the 1770s, at the turbulent moment when Virginia colonists were debating independence from Britain. As visitors stroll the sun-dappled streets, they immerse themselves in the daily life of the town's citizens—shopkeepers, artisans, politicians, and enslaved servants who dream of freedom, but fear the chaos of war. Political discussions and protest demonstrations give guests the chance to leap into the revolutionary spirit themselves. Or, they can browse the town's 22 historic trade shops, where nearly 80 masters, journeymen, and apprentices practice pre-industrial trades from blacksmithing to leatherworking.
A duet of museums give historical context to the town's vibrant life. Housed under one roof, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum let guests admire three centuries' worth of rustic ornamental woodwork or learn how a portrait of George Washington saved a family farm. Alternatively, for a taste of the 20th century, they can stroll across the landscaped grounds of Basset Hall, the former residence of John D. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Jr.