A few weeks ago I woke up on a beautiful fall morning on a day that promised to be one of the last days of Indian Summer here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Temperatures were forecast to be in the low-70′s, sunny, not too breezy – in other words, virtually perfect. As I got the coffee started, I began plotting as to the best way to get my husband, who was in the middle of a project, to turn the potential of this virtually perfect day into a little trip I’d been wanting to take to Williamsburg. Now there are three crucial stops when first visiting Williamsburg, Virginia: 1) Its amazing historic area, a world class restoration project done by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2) The College of William and Mary, a college with a stellar reputation, attended by Thomas Jefferson, among others, and 3) The Williamsburg Outlet Malls . Or you could put them in reverse order– ha, ha, just kidding, Freudian slip.
So it was a leisurely walk down Duke of Gloucester Street that beckoned to me that fine day. ( And afterwards, if truth be told, a brief side trip to the Outlets, just a tiny little visit, hardly anything at all, really.) From my house to Colonial Williamsburg is about an hour and a half drive down I-64 west, which for much of the trip cuts through beautiful wooded scenery and over small bridges with winding waterways below, an easy and pleasant drive. Although we often have lunch at the Cheese Shop or the Trellis on Merchant’s Square when we visit, that day I wanted to stop at Williamsburg Winery ( www.williamsburgwinery.com ), located just a few miles from the historic area, for lunch at Gabriel Archer Tavern. On a beautiful day this pretty cafe with an outdoor seating area overlooking the vineyards at the Winery is especially delightful. And its French Country Platter, a medley of pates, assorted cheeses and fruits served with a crusty baguette, is excellent, especially when accompanied by a glass of the Winery’s buttery Chardonnay.
After lunch we were ready for our walk in the historic area, the warm day so pleasant, the fall foliage on the huge oaks and maples absolutely vibrant. Although I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg ( www.history.org ) dozens and dozens of times I never tire of it– thank you, John D. Rockefeller, your money and your interest made this fabulous restoration happen. The historic area is located on about three hundred acres and involves the full restoration and reconstruction of hundreds of Colonial buildings including homes, out buildings and commercial buildings ( including the reconstructed taverns, the restaurants of olden days, now re-opened serving delicious food prepared from Colonial recipes, my favorite being King’s Arms Tavern ), common greenway areas with grazing oxen and sheep, beautiful Colonial style vegetable gardens and interpreters in costumes ready to explain the history and answer just about any question. The Williamsburg Foundation bills this fascinating slice of 18th century Virginia as “the world’s largest living history museum”. Something new is always going on, new restorations are constantly getting underway, new historical features are frequently popping up on their excellent website, one of the latest being Thomas Jefferson’s “blog”. In my opinion, Williamsburg is one of Virginia’s greatest treasures, worthy of repeated visits, especially in different seasons, with Christmas as a “must visit” time for us nearly every year.
And then, like a small but tasty after- dinner mint, a quick trip to the Williamsburg Premium Outlet, my favorite outlet mall, primarily for a peek around to see what’s new. Also a stop at Bass for a pair of boat shoes and a stop at Nautica for a shirt for my oldest grandson. Did the quick peek, got the new shoes and shirt, also checked out the brand new Calphalon cookware store, poked a quick nose in at Harry and David for a jar of their cherry preserves, tempted but said “no” to a bag of Moose Munch. Then, lickity-split, as requested by my husband who was hoping to get back to his project, on the road again headed back to the Eastern Shore, our delightful Indian Summer day in Williamsburg officially over.