Williamsburg with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day
On your Williamsburg family vacation, a perfect day for tweens would start at one of the city's museum restaurants or local eateries before heading into Colonial Williamsburg (one-day pass is $36/adults and $18/youth ages 6 to 17), a town within a town where history comes alive. Visitors are immediately transported back to the life and times of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson via the cobblestone streets, lively reenactments of Virginia history and fifers playing a lively tune. You and your tween can even participate in a Colonial courtroom experience of the 1700s and become one of the kindred spirits.
Other highlights include learning about the rise in specialization, where early settlers bartered and traded living off the land through specialization of goods and services. You can also try your hand at being a silversmith or blacksmith in Colonial Williamsburg. Tweens will enjoy trying out the games that Colonial children played that are similar to the games of today and get an education while having fun writing with quill pens or wearing Colonial attire.
When it's time for lunch, perhaps you'd like to try Huzzah -- which in Colonial times was similar to our shout of "hooray" and boasts meals made especially for the young at heart. Who doesn't enjoy pizza, cheeseburgers, chicken strips smothered with mounds of french fries? If you'd prefer your cuisine to be more sophisticated, you can savor meals at one of several other taverns within walking distance on the Colonial Williamsburg site. Before you leave Colonial Williamsburg, make sure to visit the museum gift shops for a great bargain or souvenir. Then leave history behind and travel a few miles down the road to the Great Wolf Lodge.
When you visit Williamsburg with tweens, you have to spend some time at the local theme parks. The Great Wolf Lodge (549 East Rochambeau Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23188; 757-229-9700) is known for its water park, which is immense and is sure to please children of all ages. Indoor and outdoor water ways abound at the Great Wolf Lodge, but that's hardly all there is to this combination hotel and theme park (rates start at $239/night for a two-night stay and passes to the water park). Tweens can build remote cars, play in a modern arcade room and climb a rock wall in one afternoon. There is a tech station for the tech-savvy tween that comes complete with iPod, Internet, karaoke and MP3 players so they can tweet, twitter, text and blog to their heart's content. After tearing them away from the tech stuff, head a few miles down the road to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Although both are considered theme parks -- and a two-park pass allowing for entrance to both is available for $79.95 ($69.96 after Sept. 7) -- Busch Gardens and Water Country USA offer completely different experiences. Busch Gardens (One Busch Gardens Blvd., Williamsburg, VA 23187; 800-343-7946) has a European theme and is often cited for its beauty among theme parks. The rides, though, are not for the faint of heart. The Griffon, a ride of dives and twists, is one of the tallest dive coasters and hurls tweens through a pulse raising feat of dives and turns like no other. The Loch Ness Monster and Apollo's Chariot are the older draws of the theme park, but continue to draw thousands of fans to their seats each year. There are also several places to indulge and enjoy treats of cool shaves of chilled ice, barbeque ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizzas, cotton candy and pretzels. Over at Water Country USA (176 Water Country Parkway, Williamsburg, VA 23185; 800-343-7946) your tween can indulge in some of the tallest water slides and wild water swimming pools around.
It's never too early to start looking at colleges, and Williamsburg boasts the second oldest college in America, The College of William & Mary. And, before you end your Williamsburg family vacation, make sure to stop by and see the historic sites of Yorktown, Va., and Jamestown, Va. Together with Colonial Williamsburg, the three are considered points on a triangle that together make up the historic sites of Williamsburg.