Between travel, hotels, and food, we know vacations add up. So that’s why we’re always looking for the best budget activities in every city we visit! If you’re heading to Virginia’s Historic Triangle, we hope you’ll enjoy this list of free things to do in Williamsburg:
Free Things to Do in Williamsburg:
Wander Colonial Williamsburg
You don’t have to buy a ticket to enjoy Colonial Williamsburg! There are lots of activities you can do for free. A few examples are the public auction, listening to the Fife and Drum corps, attending the Welcome to Williamsburg orientation, watching the firing of the noon gun, or listening to the organ recital.
Another spot that’s open to the public is the Bruton Parish. It’s free to enter the church and surrounding grounds, but a $1 donation is requested. A ten minute prayer service is held a noon each day.
Try mead at Silver Hand Meadery
There are many delicious drinks to try while you’re on the Williamsburg Tasting Trail, but you’ll have to pay for most of them. If you’re looking for a free tasting, you’ll want to visit the Silver Hand Meadery. Mead is made from fermented honey combined with herbs, spices, and fruits. The tasting includes samples of about 5 meads.
We also highly recommend adding on the honey tasting for $6 per person. You’ll get to try honey from around the United Statues. We loved the Mesquite and Alfalfa and bought two jars to bring home. This was our favorite part of the visit!
Ride the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry
Whether you actually need to get from Point A to Point B or just want a leisurely ride along the James River, the free Jamestown-Scotland Ferry is perfect. The approximately 15-minute ferry ride takes you from near the Jamestown Settlement across the river to Surry. You drive your vehicle (or bicycle) onto the ferry and, once it gets moving, you can walk around the deck. The ferry operates 24/365 but you should check out the official website for exact times.
Bike the Virginia Capital Trail
The Virginia Capital Trail is a 52-mile dedicated multi-use trail connecting Richmond and Jamestown. It begins near the Jamestown Settlement and heads north. Along the way you’ll pass many historic areas including Revolutionary War battlefields and colonial plantations that were home to former U.S. Presidents.
Visit the Williamsburg Farmers Market
In Williamsburg on a Saturday? Stop by the Williamsburg Farmers Market for local produce, seafood, coffee, cheese, baked goods, wine, and more. The market takes place in Merchants Square, but you’ll want to check the official website for the year-round schedule. Free parking is also available on nearby Francis Street (lot P6) on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until noon.
Watch for free and reduced admission days at the museums and historical sites
If there’s an attraction you know you want to visit, be sure to keep an eye on the websites and social media for special deals. Here are a few that have reoccurring specials throughout the year:
- Yorktown Battlefield and Historic Jamestowne: Each year, the National Park Service offers a variety of FREE entrance days and Yorktown Battlefield and Historic Jamestowne are part of the NPS! In 2019, the free days include August 25 (NPS Birthday), September 28 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day), among others.
- Colonial Williamsburg: Keep an eye on the special offers page of the website for updates on free/reduced admission. For example, active duty military, reservists, veterans, National Guardsmen, and their immediate dependents receive FREE admission on Veterans Day weekend! Tickets are also discounted 50% for teachers in 2019.
Stop and smell the roses at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden
The Williamsburg Botanical Garden is open every day from 7:00 am to sunset and admission is free! The park features plants native to the Virginia Coastal Plain region. An Annual Butterfly Festival is held each summer. Check the Facebook page for details.
Visit a Williamsburg park
The botanical garden is located within Freedom Park so that’s one to check off your list while you’re there. According to the park webpage, Freedom Park was home to one of the nation’s earliest Free Black Settlements in America from 1803-1850. You’ll also find an 18th century cemetery on the grounds and several recreated historical cabins.
For more history, check out the walking trails at Redoubt Park where you’ll find two Civil War redoubts.
Prefer to be a little more active? Waller Mill Park is a good option but will cost you $2 per vehicle. Waller Mill has wooded hiking trails, a dog park, disc golf, kayak rentals, a fishing pier, and more.
Ride the Yorktown Trolley
We highly recommend you spend a morning on the Yorktown Battlefield driving tour. After you’re finished, park your car at the Visitor Center and ride the free trolley to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The trolley makes stops at the Yorktown Victory Monument (pictured above), along Yorktown Beach near the pub and restaurants, and at the Watermen’s Museum, among others.
Explore the College of William & Mary campus
Located steps from Colonial Williamsburg, William & Mary is the second oldest institution of higher learning in America. Some famous alums include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, and James Monroe.
The historic campus is open to the public. You can even visit the first two floors of the Sir Christopher Wren Building, which is the oldest college building still standing in the United States according to the William & Mary website.