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Featured Destination: Historic Colonial Williamsburg

{Editor's Note: When traveling to a particular city or country, the amount of museums, galleries, festivals, and historical sites can leave you feeling overwhelmed. My destination features include my favorite spots, exhibits, and things to see, and all opinions are my own.}

At least once a year, my best friend and I pack up the SUV and take a road trip down to Williamsburg, VA. Truth be told, we'd both move down there tomorrow if I didn't have this pain-in-the-ass husband who never wants to leave NJ and she didn't have seven (yes, 7) jobs.

Colonial Williamsburg is somewhat of a "Mecca" of U.S. history. Founded in 1632,it served as served as the capital of the Colony of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. Williamsburg is a part of the "historic triangle" which also includes the settlements of Yorktown and Jamestown.

If you drive down like we do, a great place to book your room is at the Historic Powhatan Resort. These are one and two bedroom condos built on an 18th century plantation. Sounds expensive right? WRONG! Full priced, rooms run at about $119 a night. I always check Groupon first since they run a deal for the resort 3-4 times a year. The Groupon deal usually includes a dining credit at one of their on-site restaurants. It's situated about a 10 minute drive from downtown Williamsburg, and they're great-especially for large groups or people on a budget-because you can save a ton of money cooking in the condo instead of eating out everyday. They come complete with a kitchen stocked with everything from a dishwasher and appliances to plates and utensils, and the units also have a washer/dryer which is always a bonus. (NOTE: This is a Diamond Resorts International Hotel-aka timeshare pushers. Just say NOOOOO if they try to get you to sit through one. They only tried their crappy sales pitch on us once in all of the times we've stayed there, but it's worth mentioning).

On our way into town, we usually stop at the "Welcome Center" to grab schedules of everything going on that week as their schedules change weekly. At the visitor center, you also have the option of purchasing single day, multi-day, or annual passes. These passes give you admission to a few exhibits which are closed off except to pass holders, two museums, and a few activities such as a walking ghost tour. The first time that we went, we splurged on the yearly pass since it was only an additional $10, but we've been down so many times that we no longer bother.

The gardens of one of the houses that your visitor pass will get you admission into. Beautiful!
Once you get the schedule, there's lots to choose from, such as historical reenactments, shows, walking tour (walking ghost tours at night!) and more. Everyone who works there in in character when you see them-and they never break it. For the non-historical nuts (or if you just need a break) there's lots of shopping, both in downtown Williamsburg and a big outlet mall a few minutes away.

There are lots of cool places to eat in the historic downtown. We love Christiana Campbells's Tavern. George Washington was a frequent patron in his days, and they have a cornbread pudding that is to die for (NOTE: reservations are highly recommended!). There's also King's Arms, Chowning's Tavern, and Shield's Tavern. There are also quick service areas scattered throughout.

Smoked turkey legs anyone? Delish!

Yorktown and Jamestown are only a short drive away. Both have self-guided driving tours that you can take. Yorktown also has a fabulous shopping area down on the water that we usually stop at for lunch.

Lunch with a view at Yorktown. Bonus: they have Ben & Jerry's!
And if you're aren't the least bit into the historic stuff, fear not: There are several award winning wineries in the area!!! We usually each come back with an entire wine cabinet's worth of wine every time we go down.

The Williamsburg Winery is the closest to town. Their wines have won more awards that I can list. Tastings begin at $6 for your basic tasting to $36 for an extensive tour and tasting from their private collection. We've done their $36 tour, and we're happy to report that it was worth every penny.

Venturing outside of Williamsburg, we usually next hit up New Kent Winery in New Kent, VA. It was rebuilt with historic reclaimed materials from buildings that were over 100 years old, and it's even more picturesque than I'm making it sound. They're home to one of my favorite wines, the White Norton. Tastings are $8 and include their pretty etched glass.

Look at all that future wine at pretty New Kent Winery
 That's all for now! Check back soon to see our next featured destination!

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