Good Times in Virginia

Enjoy summer's end with an ultracool theme park weekend.
Farrah Austin
Good Times in Virginia
This family has splashy fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Saturday Splendor
Start off with breakfast in Williamsburg, home to Busch Gardens and the Capitol Pancake and Waffle House. This family-friendly restaurant, located two blocks from the historic district, buzzes with diners munching on large stacks of pancakes dressed with whipped topping and fresh fruit. More than 19 varieties of this morning favorite as well as made-to-order omelets grace the menu.

This mega-meal is an apt precursor to a day of excitement at Busch Gardens (admission is $46.95 adults and $39.95 ages 3-6). Enter its gates, and you'll discover more than just cool coasters and silly bumper cars. This park introduces guests to the best Europe has to offer in games, food, music, and culture.

With so much to see and do, plan your visit around the big attractions first; then hit the small ones when time permits. It's not possible in one day to see everything, so pace yourself, and vow to return.

Sections of the park represent European countries such as Italy, France, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and England. Each one is filled with rides, cultural attractions, and shopping.

From Scotland comes the Loch Ness Monster coaster. Speeds of 60 mph carry visitors through double loops and sharp dips. In Ireland, visitors exercise their purchasing power at Emerald Isle gift shop, which features the largest collection of Waterford crystal on the East Coast. This country also brings the high-stepping moves of Irish Thunder--a 40-minute show of dancing and music direct from Dublin. This is a great way to get inside and cool off from the summer's heat.

Italy lends Apollo's Chariot, a coaster that juices your adrenaline with its overpowering free flight (the effect of flying through the air) rush. The Italians also bring us their taste for gourmet cooking. Inside the Italy Pavilion, guests may choose from authentic cuisine such as baked cannelloni as well as chicken and eggplant parmigiana (prices range from $6.50 to $9.95). Be sure to catch a sensational performance by the Rhythm Chefs, who beat out much more than marinara sauce on their pots and pans.

Sunday Strolls
Spend your last day catching the rest of Busch Gardens' rip-roaring rides or tooling around Colonial Williamsburg for a bit of edu-tainment. Become an unofficial member of the 16th-century city (tickets cost $45 adults and $23 ages 6-17) by way of a walking tour. You'll meet everyone from the local wigmaker to the silversmiths. It's one of the best ways to experience historic Williamsburg. By the end of your stay, you will have visited a couple of continents, ridden some of the most thrilling coasters in the country, and traveled to colonial America--all in one weekend.

For More Information
Kings Dominion, (804) 876-5000 or
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, 1-800-343-7946 or
Colonial Williamsburg, 1-800-447-8679 or

This article is from the August 2004 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.