Surprises Abound in Williamsburg

Stroll around Virginia's historic gardens where blossoms burst out in beauty.
Annette Thompson

It's the ideal time to explore this historic town where cool March days give way to April's warmth, where redbuds, dogwoods, and cherry trees line the dirt paths. Yellow tulips open into bright cups in one bed, and purple crocus pop out of the dark cool ground in another seemingly overnight. Throughout the 100 or so gardens in and around Colonial Williamsburg the impatient flowers start their annual show.

Stories Come to Life
In the world's oldest and largest outdoor living-history museum, the 18th century thrives. The 301 acres, filled with 88 original buildings, plus 500 reconstructed Colonial homes, shops, taverns, and public offices, allow guests to escape the worries of modern times. This month, that glory arrives tinged with gold forsythia, pink azaleas, and grape hyacinth.

Look for the season's best shows at the Colonial Nursery where the staff gladly educates you on the style, tools, and techniques of 18th-century ornamental and utilitarian gardening. Peek around other buildings to glimpse pretty gardens coming into flower throughout the district.

The Season's Treasured Moments
Shopping for heirloom seeds and plants at the Colonial Nursery.
Spying new lambs: Look in fields along Nicholson and Botetourt Streets.
Wandering through the maze of shrubs behind the Governor's Palace. (Climb the stairs atop the icehouse at the back of the gardens for a bird's-eye view of the maze.)
Renting period costumes for the kids at Market Square and the visitors center.
Snuggling under a blanket on a Carriage ride down Duke of Gloucester Street ($20).
Dining fireside at a colonial tavern (reservations required). We recommend the King's Arm for its hearty peanut soup and roasted duckling.
Attending the 62nd annual Garden Symposium held here May 4-7.

Colonial Williamsburg: www.history.org or 1-800-447-8679. One-day admission: $36 adults, $18 ages 6-17. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.


"Surprises Abound in Williamsburg" is from the March 2008 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.