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Wheelchair Accessible Williamsburg, VA

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Williamsburg Virginia

With kids!

Williamsburg is definitely not a hidden gem, with it’s popular historic sites, vibrant food scene, and hopping theme park and water park. That said, it’s not on the travel list for many wheelchair using families because most places that are known for their history are also known for their inaccessibility. Allow me to challenge that reputation.

In addition to Colonial Williamsburg being easy to navigate, there are a plethora of unique attractions, experiences, and fun dining opportunities that are easily wheelchair accessible. We spent five days exploring wheelchair accessible Williamsburg with kids, but it’s the type of place that you could easily slow travel and spend a long time.

Getting There and Around

While Colonial Williamsburg is a very walkable city, there is a lot more in the area. If you’re doing a quick weekend trip, you may be able to skip the car and enjoy the many highlights in central Williamsburg, but I would recommend having a vehicle on hand so that you explore beyond.

When to Go

The main streets are great for rolling around – and this is the only traffic you’ll need to avoid! Williamsburg, Virginia is one of those rare destinations with more than one peak season. In addition to summer vacation, most tourists flock here for the Christmas holidays – when the holiday comes to life in traditional colonial style. Christmas in Williamsburg is a bucket list worthy site to see.

That said, Williamsburg is far enough south that it stays warm a bit longer to make it perfect in shoulder season (just before and after summer), too.

What to Do

Historic Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is the world’s largest living history museum. While there are some of those cobblestone walkways that make wheelchair travel tricky, the roads are closed to traffic, making it an excellent place to roam and discover. In the historic center, you can easily navigate on smooth streets made for pedestrian traffic. On the outskirts, where all the taverns, restaurants, and boutiques are calling, the sidewalks are brick. The brick was mostly well maintained and easy to navigate, with curb cuts at all intersections.

Getting inside all of those historic buildings is another story. They all have stairs to enter. The best workaround we found was to take a tour! Our guide, Trish, from Williamsburg Walking Tours, was a master storyteller, great with kids, and had an expansive expertise in Virginia history. She brought the stories of each building to life, and shared photos that went beyond the insides of the buildings to include portraits, letters, and copies of artifacts that told the full story. This was an incredible way to experience history in a way that was accessible to all.

The markets and interactive experiences are mostly street level – so it’s easy to immerse yourself in the experience.

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement is another destination that is pleasantly accessible, in spite of being central to both the area and the nation’s history. In addition to a fully wheelchair accessible museum, it’s an immersive experience where you can talk with both natives and settlers (historical reenactors) and learn from history. Carve a kayak, watch a feather weaving, hold a musket and try on armor. Most of the structures in the village and the fort had ramped entrances. The only thing we couldn’t enter with the wheelchair was the ships. The ramps to the ships are steep and end at the top of the wall, requiring a large step down to enter the ship.

Yorktown

The entire Williamsburg area (maybe all of Virginia?) is a history lover’s dream. Swing a few minutes down the road and jump from a colonial focus to the Revolutionary War. Did you know there’s a National Park in Yorktown? We ran out of time to explore the visitor’s center and the grounds of the last major battle of the revolutionary war, but there is so much to see both in the park and around town.

Park in the upper lot at Riverfront Landing and take the free hop on/off trolley for both the historic tour around town and transportation to all the sites! Don’t be thrown off by the stairs to enter the trolley – they transform into a lift!

While you’re in Yorktown, don’t miss the beach! There’s an accessible walkway along the river’s edge, and a free beach wheelchair available on loan to help you navigate the sandy beach. For convenience, the chair can be reserved in advance by calling 757-890-3370. Pick up is at the Dockmaster office, just across from the accessible restrooms.

Indoor Water Park

Williamsburg is home to the Great Wolf Lodge, and the most inclusive water park experience we’ve ever had. The lodge has a waterproof wheelchair available on loan, and you can roll right into the wave pool and splash areas on ramped entrances. The pool, lazy river, and hot tubs have chair lifts for easier access. Because it is so wheelchair friendly, and everyone can play together, it deserves its own day. I guarantee your kids will thank you.

Mini Golf

I’m not sure if this is an unusual thing to add to an accessible itinerary, but it’s so hard to find minigolf that we can do with a wheelchair that I didn’t want you to miss it! Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf offers one of the few wheelchair accessible mini golf experiences we’ve found. The course is two levels, so they’ve created an accessible route that allows you to mix and match pieces of both courses to play a full 18 holes on one level.

The Wagster’s Magic Theatre

We’re still talking about this one, trying to figure out how they did it all!

This was not only a highlight of our trip to Williamsburg, but one of our favorite travel experiences all year. Forget everything you think you know about magic. The Wagster’s Magic Theatre is escapism at its best. For just a short time, you can forget about the every day stresses of life as you become completely entranced by the wonder of experiencing the impossible. We laughed hard and stared harder. It leaves you feeling good and ready to take on the world. The theatre is designed with wheelchair space at the end of each row, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck in the back, or up front. The ramp to get into the building is steep, but they were in the process of getting a portable ramp to put over it for easier accessibility.

Freedom Park

Nature is good for the soul, and we love to find a piece of it wherever we go. Freedom Park is a great place to get some time in the woods – and it’s still filled with Williamsburg history. Freedom Park was home to one of the nation’s earliest Free Black Settlements, and you can find historically accurate cabin recreations during your journey. It was also a Revolutionary War battle ground and an archaeological gift for Colonial history.

There are a few accessible trails. Multiuse Trail 3 is a great one with kids because it goes by an open field with a Virginia fence that makes a great outdoor play space. It also passes the botanical garden.

Where to Eat

Williamsburg is a foodie dream. I had no idea. I’m all about cooking in to save money while traveling, but you’re also going to want to try some of the local culinary attractions. Here are our favorites that are 100%All of the following had easy wheelchair accessibility with either ramped or zero-entry doorways, space to navigate, and accessible restrooms.

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que: Low and slow is the key to the long-term success of Pierce’s Pitt southern recipe Bar-B-Que. The oven is reserved for the family recipe desserts made from scratch: the meat is all cooked on the open pit out back… for seven to eight hours. Try the chicken BBQ and banana pudding. It was pretty much how I imagine heaven. They also have a kids’ menu for little hooligans who refuse to eat real food.

Food For Thought: Put away the cell phones and connect over a conversation centered meal at Food for Thought. The English teacher in me (and the connected mom) loved this place. The restaurant is themed around thought provoking quotes, with a menu designed like a novel. The tables come stocked with questions and conversation starters to spark meaningful connections with even the youngest guests. Listen and learn about the events and thoughts that are shaping your children. You’ll go home with happy tummies and hearts! The menu selections are as thoughtfully curated as the discussion prompts with a variety of traditional favorites and unique creations. The children’s menu is a chapter book version of the full novel, with similar diverse options served in smaller portions.

Aromas Coffeehouse: This one gets less wheelchair accessible as the morning goes because the crowds make it harder to navigate. I’m leaving it on my list because Aromas Coffeehouse has earned its place as a local favorite. In addition to handcrafted espresso drinks, they have a wide range of both freshly baked pastries and hearty healthy breakfast options. Dog friendly!

Precarious Beer Hall: Lunch in an arcade? Definitely a win all around. Precarious Beer Hall is celebrated for their local brews, but you can’t go wrong with the food vendor options, either. I recommend the tuna taco at Electric Circus Taco!

Craft 31: This pizza hits just right. The sourdough crust, which takes over 12 hours to prepare, has become known as “Richmond Style” pizza – creating its own Virginia brand of pizza. Craft 31 also offers gourmet burgers, craft beer, and a raw bar, but I couldn’t resist the Bottom’s Up pizza and orange crush – both on-site specialties.

Culture Cafe: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more tantalizing menu… which means there was nothing my youngest wanted to order. The chef was were incredibly gracious and made her scrambled eggs. Two chefs with one glorious dream have made Culture Cafe into a food hub that celebrates diversity. They put an innovative twist on traditional comfort foods, using local produce and wasting nothing. This is a place where all are meant to feel at home, and all will enjoy the time spent in that comfort enjoying good food.

I also tried mushroom coffee, here. It tastes nothing like mushrooms! Highly recommend.

Anna’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta: Anna’s served me the most Italian pizza I’ve had on this continent, and the marinara tastes almost just like grandma’s. I feel like that’s all you need to know? Save room for a cannoli or chocolate fudge cake.

Where to Stay

Any chain you might prefer is available in Williamsburg, but I cannot imagine a better launch pad for a family vacation than Great Wolf Lodge. Accessible family suites, with two bathrooms, offer the space for meeting individual needs. You can choose between a roll in shower or an accessible tub. The lodge includes activities throughout the day. If it’s an off-day and you’re not able to get everyone out to explore, you can still enjoy yoga, crafts, bingo, story time, dance parties, and more right inside the lodge. The on-site buffet is delicious. If you’re not that hungry, you can opt for Dunkin’ for breakfast and pizza for dinner – without leaving the lodge. Extend your vacation with fun add-ons like Wizard’s Quest, bowling, laser tag, and gem mining.

We were hosted here, but it’s one that I know we’ll return to because we didn’t have time to explore half of the fun options available. If you’re worried about price, try Groupon. As I’m writing this, they have packages available at 67% off. With Groupon, always read the fine print: customer service is a nightmare and refunds are nearly nonexistent – but the deals can’t be beat!

Great Wolf also offers their own discount packages.

Why Williamsburg

We were blown away by just how much we could enjoy as a family in Williamsburg. The only thing we couldn’t do was tour some of the historic options, but the accessible activities that we had never been aware of definitely tipped the scale to make this a great trip. We’re already building a list for “next time” (it includes the Jamestown Pie restaurant and Christmas Mouse – if you want to get it right the first time) of all the things we didn’t get to do! Check out our full itinerary on the Visit Williamsburg blog!

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