Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Break Pt. 1 - Williamsburg

I'd been thinking about it for years, and wondering if the girls would enjoy a trip to Williamsburg.  I'd only been to Busch Gardens there and had never been to Colonial Williamsburg.  I went to their website first, but I wasn't really clear on how much there would be to do for kids.

We stayed at the Woodlands Hotel & Suites by the visitor center.  It was reasonably priced, convenient, and included breakfast.  I'd also read that you could rent costumes for the kids to wear during the day, and I talked that up to the girls prior to the visit.  I'd planned on buying tickets online ahead of time, but didn't do it.  If you're staying on site, don't.  Buying tickets with your hotel is WAY cheaper.  Like crazy cheaper.  They don't tell you the amount of the discount ahead of time, so you may not think it's a big deal.  But it is.  We easily saved $100 that way.

As the trip got closer, I really worried about the weather. We've had a cold, wet spring so far.  If you can even call it spring.  The downside to planning a trip like this is that it's not like we could just cancel and go another time either.

We drove up on Friday night, just beating the rain, and it rained all day Saturday.  We rented costumes at the Visitor's Center.  I don't think they were as fancy as the girls imagined they would be, but by later in the day they finally realized that Colonial people weren't wearing fancy ball gowns all the time.

Our first stop was the Governor's Palace, and we really enjoyed the tour.  Lily and Maddie were kind of confused by the people in character and kept asking me if there was really going to be a ball at the palace that night.

After the palace, we wandered around looking for something that was open.  There wasn't a lot going on in the rain.  We had on ponchos, and that made it really difficult to keep showing our passes.  The map got soaked and fell apart quickly.

We visited the blacksmith and tinsmith shops during lunch, so there wasn't a lot of activity there either.  I'd planned on having dinner in one of the taverns, but since we were there, we had lunch at the King's Tavern instead.

We did the tour of the capital building as well as the public goel as well.  The girls liked the cells the best.

What really saved the day for us was that I saw there would be a "Come Dance with Me" program at the Governor's Palace that night.  For an extra $19 each, we could attend a one hour "ball" and participate in the dances with the actors.  It was a great experience.  Not only being in the candlelit palace at night, but the girls got to participate in two group dances each and really thought it was something special.

I don't have any pictures from the "ball" that evening because it was so dark, but the ballroom is below.

When we went to bed Saturday night, the forecast was for a rain free morning on Sunday.  I was excited to go back and maybe see some of the revolution scenes.  Unfortunately, when we woke up, it was the opposite.  Torrential, pouring rain.  Sleet in your face rain.

So, we headed to the folk art museum, and the girls were very patient.  We looked at antiques and paintings most of the morning.  Lots of other parents were doing the same thing, and I wouldn't really recommend it for kids under 8.  They have one kid-friendly room with coloring, but we heard a lot of screaming.

I'd love to go back sometime when the weather's better.  Lily has checked out some of the American Girl Felicity books from the library, and was very interested in having some of the Colonial clothing.  If I'd paid full price for tickets and hadn't been able to go to the ball Saturday night, I would have been disappointed in the trip, but with the hotel discount we received on tickets and the dance experience, it was a good couple of days overall.

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