William & Mary, Williamsburg

William & Mary, Williamsburg: Our most recommended tours and activities

Colonial Williamsburg: Self-Guided Walking Tour

1. Colonial Williamsburg: Self-Guided Walking Tour

On this self-guided walking tour where an app is your guide, narrator, and map all in one, explore Colonial Williamsburg, a beautifully restored colonial town full of actors living out the lives of 18th-century Americans. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Your tour begins at Colonial Williamsburg’s visitor center just north of the town center. As you walk south, you’ll learn about the earliest residents of Williamsburg and the Native Americans who called this place home when the first European settlers arrived. The first major landmark you’ll arrive at is the Peyton Randolph House, a gorgeous home dating back to 1715. Its former owner was a key revolutionary figure, though you might not have heard about him in school. Next, arrive at the Fife and Drum Building, where you’ll learn about the importance these simple instruments had during battles. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a performance of Colonial Williamsburg’s very own fife and drum band as they march through town. Continuing onward, hear about the origins of the Colonial Williamsburg museum project, including how America’s first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, bankrolled the whole thing. Afterward, you’ll see the Public Gaol, a grim prison that once held prisoners incarcerated for everything from petty theft to murder. It even held But would you Blackbeard’s pirate crew while they waited to be executed. Up next is Bassett Hall, the lavish estate where Rockefeller lived while overseeing the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Then, it’s on to the old Capitol Building, where Virginia once declared independence from Britain, just 4 days before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The next stop is Raleigh Tavern. During the 1700s, this tavern’s unassuming facade hid secret revolutionary meetings within. Next, come to the Williamsburg Magazine, an old munitions storehouse. Learn the dramatic tale of a standoff between British troops and Williamsburg residents on the eve of the revolution. As you make your way to the Play House Stage, a recreation of one of the country’s oldest theaters, you’ll hear a few spooky stories about ghost sightings that have taken place throughout Williamsburg. After that, you’ll reach the Governor’s Palace, where Virginia’s Royal Governor ruled over the people of this state, that is until he was forced to flee in the dead of night. Then, see two of the town’s most historic structures: the George Wythe House and the Bruton Parish Episcopal Church. The George Wythe House was home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence who was also a staunch abolitionist. Bruton Parish Episcopal Church predates the town itself and is the whole reason for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Finally, make your way to the historic campus of the College of William & Mary, the nation’s second-oldest university. Finish your tour by seeing one of Williamsburg’s oldest and most impressive buildings and learning a little about the college’s controversial history.

Colonial Williamsburg: Scavenger Hunt Audio Guide Tour

2. Colonial Williamsburg: Scavenger Hunt Audio Guide Tour

Embark on an educational and fun-filled audio tour of Colonial Williamsburg. Visit a series of important locations including Peyton Randolph House, Basset Hall, and more, and hear about their significance. Look out for clues to answer trivia questions in the included tour app. Your scavenger hunt-audio guide adventure through Colonial Williamsburg begins at the visitor center. From the visitor center, head to the Peyton Randolph House and check it out. Hear then about the connection that John. D. Rockefeller has with this town and how he helped in restoring it. From there if you prefer you can visit the public jail, or move towards Basset Hall and then come back to the jail later. On this part of the tour, hear about several buildings where revolutionaries met and discussed the idea of independence. Learn then about the Magazine. Some trivia questions will pop up while you are taking the tour. You can either answer the questions and advance ahead on the tour or you can skip the questions if you like. Pay attention to your surroundings for clues to answer the questions. Some other attractions on the route are the Governor’s House, George Wythe House, and Bruton Parish Episcopal Church. The tour will end on the William and Mary School campus.

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What people are saying about William & Mary

Overall rating

3.5 / 5

based on 4 reviews

Little hard getting started with app but got the hang of it on about the 4th stop. Overall good self guided tour. I'd certainly use it again on future adventures.

The app didn't show that we could have parked much closer. Would have saved us a lot of time and likely 2,000+ steps.

We enjoyed the self guided tour except for the hurricane rain that day. Made the best we could of it.