Political feuds. Infidelities. Racial tensions. Once capital of the colonies, Williamsburg possesses a deep history stretching back to the 18th century, and guide Allison Wildridge illuminates the city's many legends on her narrated walking ghostly tours. She also recommends that guests dress for the weather, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring digital cameras.
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).
A businesswoman by day, Bonnie Florek turns into a ghost by night. Donning 18th-century period dress and assuming the identity of one Lucy Ludwell, Bonnie regales tour groups with hair-raising tales of witches and ghosts that were once tried and hanged in Williamsburg. Bonnie founded Spooks and Legends Haunted Tours as a means of immersing tour groups in an interactive, goose bump–inducing jaunt through Williamsburg’s historic streets and into the past.
Spooks and Legends Haunted Tours’ guides lead tour-goers on 75-minute family friendly and adult excursions as they narrate true tales of cryptic happenings and how the town’s denizens met their mysterious ends. The nightly tours meander through the oldest lanes and thoroughfares of Williamsburg, stopping periodically to peer at local horror–hot spots such as the Ludwell-Paradise House, known for housing the ghost of a lunatic, and the Jones Family Cemetery, known to be full of spirits hovering over their graves. Tour-goers are encouraged to bring their cameras along to document any unnatural sightings of apparitions, orbs, or suspicious screams emanating from the stomachs of hungry black cats following the group.
Rare-breed horses trot down green, tree-dappled streets, past rustic wood and brick buildings. As cracking drums and chirping fifes echo off ancient streets and the gnarled trunks of trees, a solider in a red jacket, boots, and military epaulets addresses a group of visitors clad in baseball caps and T-shirts. The historical interpreters and other staff of Colonial Williamsburg bring the restored 18th-century town's history into the modern era through live demonstrations, walking tours, and educational programs. The living museum town sprawls across a 301-acre Historic Area, which encompasses designated historic structures such as the opulent Governor's Palace, Capitol building, and Magazine, many of which are perched atop their original foundations. Within some buildings, interpreters explain the significance of various period furnishings such as medicine cabinets and original 1770s Twister mats.
Visitors can witness live demonstrations of blacksmithing, saddling, and carpentry in Williamsburg's 19 historic trades shops, or traverse galleries inside DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, and Bassett Hall. In warmer weather, the Historic Area's manicured gardens bloom with period-appropriate plantings, and a garden maze confounds explorers with winding hedges and resident gnomes who insist on reading maps upside down. On tours, guides lead visitors through archaeological collections or into a reenacted courtroom session, and at Great Hopes Plantation, interpreters provide glimpses into the lives and plight of African-American slaves. Other seasonal activities span hands-on children's programs, Revolutionary War reenactments, and fife and drum performances.
Twice a day, Virginia Balloons' hot air balloons roar to life, elevate into the air, and showcase the landscape that makes Virginia an ideal place to defy gravity. The colorful balloons float above farmlands, along Virginia Beach, and over the lush forests that grow in the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains. And if natural wonders aren't enough, the wind can carry balloons over historical Virginia for a bird's-eye view. Pilots, each with thousands of hours of flight time, guide these high-flying adventures. And, to create lasting memories, they toast each completed flight before sending balloons back to Oz for storage.
For many, owning a yacht is as unlikely as parallel parking a yacht on the eighth try. Since 2001, SailTime Virginia Beach has been dedicated to ousting these doubts with an innovative and affordable model for boat access. In addition to its membership and ownership programs, the business hires USCG-licensed master captains to take the helm for charters on their fleet of Hunter sailing vessels, which range from the 22' Hunter 216 to the 36' Hunter 36. When traversing the cresting waves, passengers may spot pods of porpoises, who often leap out of the water to high-five onlookers. Those wishing to sharpen their own nautical skills can enroll in SailTime's ASAC-certified sailing school.
Hampton Roads Air Tours delights passengers with overhead views of ships drifting in and out of Norfolk's downtown harbor; the centuries-old foundations of the Jamestown Settlement; the lighthouses of Cape Henry; and a sprawling patchwork quilt of lakes, forests, and meadowlands. The company's pilots helm small, wide-windowed planes to grant passengers this unique aerial perspective on day and night tours. They fly passengers over natural landscapes and cities by day and over Norfolk after sunset when the city lights blink to life. Their seasonal flights fill hearts with wonder as guests witness yuletide light displays or a giant cupid scaling a skyscraper with his betrothed. During aerial-photography flights, pilots provide riders with full open-window access for shooting personal, artistic, and business-related projects.