A visit to Colonial Williamsburg —especially on a quiet day in the off-season— is as close as most of us will ever come to time travel. In the early morning, as you stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street with your best friend, the sounds of carriage wheels on cobblestones, the smell of wood smoke and musty boxwood, and the sight of workers in colonial costume hurrying to their posts will transport you to the 18th century.
Once the largest and most populous city in the colony, and for a time the capital of Virginia, Williamsburg was restored by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. What began as a simple restoration project became the world’s largest living history museum. The 301-acre colonial areaincludes hundreds of restored original structures andcostumed interpreters at the trade shops demonstrate the techniques of the past, making everything from hats to jewelry.Daily street theater performances draw visitors into the drama of the day, as carts drawn by oxen and horse-drawn carriages move through the town. You can watch Colonial “residents” roll hoops on the Palace Green or march regally in the Fifes & Drum Corps.
You’ll see lots of four-legged tourists as you explore, especially on Duke of Gloucester Street (DOG Street as the locals call it), but for a quiet walk, it’s less crowded on the side streets and in the residential area near the Williamsburg Inn. However, do take a turn around the Palace Green! Watch out for horse-drawn carriages and the occasional team of oxen—as well as mounted costumed interpreters—and also watch where you step! Pets are allowed in parts of the Historic Area such as Duke of Gloucester Street, but are not permitted in museums, historic buildings, any sites requiring an admission ticket or any sites where food is served.
Running from the Christopher Wren Building to the Capitol, Dog Street is lined with colonial homes, trade shops, taverns and gardens. The Christopher Wren Building is the oldest building at the College of William & Mary and the oldest of Williamsburg’s restored buildings. Construction on the building, designed by the notable English architect of the same name, began in 1695 and classes are still held there today. Follow the brick path to the back of the building, where you’ll discover the Sunken Garden and the six buildings surrounding the garden that make up the Old Campus.Circle around the University Center to the Crim Dell Bridge, voted the most romantic—and most photographed— spot on the college campus. Legend has it that if you cross the bridge holding hands, you’ll be lifelong friends and if you kiss while on the bridge, you’ll be lifelong lovers.
On Saturdays from April through October—and with special holiday offerings in November and December— the Williamsburg Farmers Market in Merchants Square is a fun place to browse for culinary treats and, during Christmas, lovely handcrafted wreaths and holiday arrangements.Get there early to snag a free parking spot!
Although there are several pet friendly chain hotels on the outskirts of town, if you really want to live in the moment, the Forbes 5-Star, AAA 5-Diamond Williamsburg Inn is stunning.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Williamsburg Inn was built in 1937 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. You and your pooch will be treated like a Rockefeller at this gracious, resort that has hosted the rich, the royal, and the powerful from around the globe. Expect stunning Regency décor and stellar service from this official Colonial Williamsburg hotel. Your dogs are welcome—only two dogs per room— and must be leashed on property and crated when left alone in the guestroom, and dogs are not allowed in dining areas. See the official pet policy for details and fees.