If you're planning on visiting Williamsburg and are not quite sure what to do or where to start, check out the suggested itinerary below. You may also download a PDF of this tour to print out and take with you! Click the images below for printable itineraries.
Wander through Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area and discover the variety of 18th-century gardens. The 90 acres of gardens and green spaces range from the formal splendor of the Governor's Palace garden to the utilitarian kitchen garden of the James Geddy site to the tranquil Colonial Revival garden at Bassett Hall.
More than 26 other well-known historic and pleasure gardens as well as kitchen gardens make a superb walking tour in Colonial Williamsburg. Make sure one of your stops is the Colonial Garden and Nursery, which displays many rare and unusual varieties of heirloom vegetables as well as a collection of heirloom rose and fruits. Staffed by interpreters and garden historians, it features a botanic garden of North American and European herbaceous plants and an herb garden with examples of culinary, medicinal, and household herbs used by the colonists.
Among the scenic locations on campus can be found more than 300 species and varieties of woody plants, a living archive that also supports research by faculty and students at the College. By vote of the Board of Visitors, this collection is known as "The Baldwin Memorial Collection of Woody Species" after John T. (J.T.) Baldwin, Jr., professor of biology from 1946 to 1974.
The campus tour of woody species is self-guided and follows in the footsteps of the walking tour given for many years by Professor Baldwin. It begins and ends near the Wren Building on the Old Campus, following a loop that includes the 15 locations including a pair of large Coast Redwoods!
Busch Gardens has been named the world's "Most Beautiful Park" for 20 consecutive years by the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA).
This outstanding accomplishment is due partly to the lush terrain of Virginia's native countryside, but also to the dedicated landscapers and grounds crew that beautify the park's more than 150 acres of gardens, walkways, and flowerbeds. More than 30,000 plants and flowers are grown in the park's 18,000 square feet of greenhouses and cold frame growing space. In addition, Busch Gardens is committed to environmental preservation. Our greenhouse staff releases tens of thousands of beneficial bugs into the park each year as a natural form of pest management, while ground crews pull thousands of weeds by hand each season.
The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is located in Freedom Park, a two-acre ellipse that will be seen by visitors approaching the parking area. The "Ellipse Garden" functions as a demonstration garden for plants known to do well in our coastal plain climate; the majority of plantings are species native to the area, and are labeled with scientific and common names.
Pathways guide the visitor through the Butterfly Garden, the Herb Garden, the Native Garden, two Wetland sites, a Native Meadow, Pine Woodlands, and Native Grasses. A pavilion with a green roof, benches, and picnic tables offers shelter.
The Colonial Parkway is a twenty-three mile scenic roadway stretching from the York River at Yorktown to the James River at Jamestown. It connects Virginia's historic triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Several million travelers a year use this route to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Virginia.
Besides significant historic resources, the park contains a diversity of natural resources including extensive wetlands, miles of stream and river shoreline, forests, fields, and many species of animals and flowering plants. The park is within the mid-Atlantic coastal plain of Tidewater Virginia and has a direct hydrological link to the Chesapeake Bay. Most of the park extends along either the York or James Rivers, two of the largest rivers contiguous to the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Enjoy the natural and historic resources of the park while walking, bicycling, birding, fishing, photographing or during a leisurely drive along the Colonial Parkway or tour roads.
Welcome to Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield, site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. The Revolution secured independence for the United States and significantly changed the course of world history.
On October 19, 1781, a British army under General Charles Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender to General Washington's combined American and French army. Upon hearing of their defeat, British Prime Minister Frederick Lord North is reputed to have said, "Oh God, it's all over." And it was. The victory secured independence for the United States and significantly changed the course of world history.
Park records identify 1017 species of vascular flora. Predominant vegetation types within the park include approximately 5500+ acres of forest (including about 690 acres of forested wetlands), approximately 2200+ acres of emergent (herbaceous) tidal wetlands and more than 1100 acres of open fields.
The parks wetlands, forest and fields support a rich variety of plants and animals. According to surveys by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage and the College of William and Mary's Center for Conservation Biology Colonial NHP has the second highest number of federal and state listed rare, threatened and endangered species of all the National Park Service units in Virginia. Click here for more information.
Springtime is planting time at the Yorktown Victory Center, a living-history museum that includes agriculture in the story of the nation's beginnings. Varieties of field crop - including tobacco, cotton and flax - and herbs and vegetables grown during the 18th century are cultivated at a re-created 1780s farm. Visitors may be invited by historical interpreters to help with turning earth, watering and weeding.
Dozens of varieties of plants used in the 18th century for food, medicine, fabric dye and insect repellant are cultivated year-round in the farm's spacious kitchen garden. Peanuts, collards, cowpeas, okra, peppers and gourds are grown in a small garden representing foods a slave might have cultivated for personal use or to sell at market. A small orchard yields Golden Pippin apples, a variety dating to the 18th century.
The Nelson House, a National Park site, was the home of Thomas Nelson, Jr. (1738-89), Yorktown's most famous son and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Nelson's devotion to the patriot cause during the American Revolution contributed significantly to the creation of the United States. Located next to the Nelson House is a fine example of a restored English Boxwood garden.
During late spring and into the month of June you will see beautiful tall onions growing along the Colonial National Parkway and throughout Historic Yorktown. The Yorktown onion is not native to this country, but came from the Old World. The scientific name of both our plants and those of the Old World is Allium Ampeloprasum. Allium is latin for garlic, while Alpeloprasum means "leek of the vineyard".
The Yorktown Onion probably made its way to the New World, like many other plants, by accident. Legend has it that the seeds came here during the Revolutionary War mixed with crop seeds or fodder. Regardless of how it got here, it became firmly established as a wild plant in what is now York County.
Opened to the public in 2005, the Riverwalk Landing is the newest portion of the Yorktown Waterfront seaport, attracting visitors from across the country. The landscaping consists of native and exotic plants that lend to an aesthetically pleasing blend of changing seasonal colors and textures. Visitors can expect to find White Crape Myrtle, Hydrangea, pansies and tulips at various centers and along the pedestrian trail at the Landing. Each perennial garden, container garden and light pole adorned with flower baskets make Riverwalk Landing a beautiful spot to visit at any time of the year.
Springtime is planting time at Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum that includes agriculture in the story of the nation's beginnings. Varieties of field crops and herbs and vegetables grown in the 17th century are cultivated at Jamestown Settlement's re-created Powhatan Indian village and 1610-14 English colonial fort.
Corn, a food staple of the Powhatan Indians that English colonists adapted to their diet, is planted in early spring at the Powhatan village and outside the fort. Beans and squash are later planted around the emerging cornstalks. Tobacco, Virginia's premier cash crop during the colonial period, also is cultivated, with seedlings planted in mid-spring. Peas, carrots, lettuce, chard, onions and radishes are among vegetables planted in the spring.
The Virginia Living Museum has the largest display of native plants in the Commonwealth of Virginia through exhibit and landscape plantings and display gardens. The Museum encourages conservation gardening and gardening with wildlife in mind.
Plantings within the indoor Cypress Swamp and Mountain Cove habitariums display trees, shrubs and perennials found in those geographic areas of Virginia. A series of "spot the tree" ID signs along the outdoor boardwalk help visitors identify native Virginia trees.
The Butterfly Garden contains over 60 species of plants native to Virginia that are important to native butterflies. This includes trees, shrubs, vines and perennials that produce either nectar for adult butterflies or food for butterfly young (caterpillars). This outdoor garden attracts numerous wild butterflies. It is a certified Monarch Waystation.
The Virginia Garden highlights Virginia's botanical history from 1607 to the present. The garden includes native plant species that were present when the first settlers arrived at Jamestown; flora that was introduced to the colonists by Native Americans, and the plants that helped the settlers to survive those first critical years. The garden also displays introductions to Virginia's flora by the colonists and some native species that were exported to England to be used commercially and in gardens there.
The Conservation Garden showcases earth-friendly ways to garden. Seven themed landscape beds (each with educational signage) around the Goodson Living Green House illustrate how native plants, mulching and composting can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. It shows how landscaping methods can reduce storm water runoff that pollutes local waterways, while providing food, water and shelter for wildlife.
The Goodson Living Green House shows homeowners, architects and contractors all the latest techniques and products they can use to build and maintain an earth-friendly home, presented in a way that makes them visible and understandable to the general public. Techniques include everything from a green roof and alternatives to pvc piping to solar water heater and decking material alternatives.
Opening in May 2011 - Holt Plant Heritage Greenhouse at the Virginia Living Museum
The museum is creating a working greenhouse for plant propagation, research into new ways of propagating rare and endangered species, displays of native plant collections, quarantine space for plants to be used in animal exhibits, growing areas for taller specimens, and potting benches for hands-on native plant horticulture for children and adults. This multi-use space will be open to tour groups and classes on an appointment basis and will be visible to visitors when the museum is open.