For advance information specific to the Historic Area, contact the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg, VA 23187 (tel. 800/447-8679 or 757/220-7645; www.history.org). Open 365 days a year, the foundation's visitor center is both a font of information and the beginning of any visit here. There also is a regional information desk in the visitor center.
The next-best source for general information about the hotels, restaurants, and activities is the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, 421 N. Boundary St., Williamsburg, VA 23187 (tel. 800/368-6511 or 757/229-6511; fax 757/253-1397; www.williamsburgcc.com), between Lafayette and Scotland streets, 2 blocks north of the Historic Area. The alliance sells one of the best maps of the area, and you can search for money-saving package deals on its website. The office is open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm.
The Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association (tel. 800/211-7165; www.gowilliamsburg.com) publishes its own visitors guide and operates a hotel and motel reservation service in conjunction with the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.
Amtrak Trains and Greyhound buses arrive at the Transportation Center (tel. 757/229-8750), at Boundary and Lafayette streets.
Williamsburg is on I-64 about halfway between Richmond and Norfolk. For the Historic Area, take Exit 238 (Va. 143) off I-64 and follow the signs south to Va. 132 and Colonial Williamsburg. The visitor center will be on your left as you approach the town. Va. 199, which forms a beltway around the southern side of the city, joins I-64 at Exit 242 east of town; this is the quickest way to get to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. The scenic Colonial Parkway runs through a tunnel under the Historic Area; you can get on and off at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center.
The 1-mile-long-by-half-mile-wide restored Historic Area is at the center of Williamsburg. The 99-foot-wide Duke of Gloucester Street is this area's principal east-west artery, with the Capitol building at the eastern end and the Wren building of the College of William and Mary at the west end. Merchants Square shops and services are on the western end of Duke of Gloucester Street, next to the college. The visitor center is north of the Historic Area.
Richmond Road (U.S. 60 W.) runs northwest from the Historic Area and is Williamsburg's main commercial strip, with numerous motels, restaurants, and shopping centers, including the area's outlet malls. On the east side of town, York Street/Pocahontas Trail (U.S. 60 E.) goes out to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Bypass Road joins these two highways on the north side of the Historic Area.
Getting Around the Historic Area
Because cars are not allowed into the Historic Area between 8am and 10pm, you must park elsewhere. The Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center has ample free parking. After you have bought your tickets, you can use them to ride Colonial Williamsburg's shuttle buses from the visitor center to and around the Historic Area (only ticket holders are allowed on these buses). The buses will take you between the visitor center and the Gateway Building, behind the Governor's Palace, where guides conduct a 30-minute Orientation Walk. It's a good way to get an overview of the village. From there, the buses make a circle around the circumference of the Historic Area. The buses begin operating at 8:50am, with frequent departures until 10pm. The two lines merge after 5pm, forming one loop around the area.
You can also walk from the visitor center to the Historic Area, a 20-minute stroll via a footpath.
Getting Around Williamsburg
The easiest way to get around outside the Historic Area is by trolley and public buses operated by Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT; tel. 757/259-4093; www.williamsburgtransport.com). Newest addition to the fleet is the Williamsburg Trolley, which runs from Merchants Square west on Richmond Road to High Street, then southwest to the New Town shopping area on Ironbound Road at Monticello Avenue near Va. 199. Fare is 25¢, with exact change required.
Not to be confused with Colonial Williamsburg's shuttles in the Historic District, WAT's buses run around the town and surrounding area Monday through Saturday about every hour from 6am to 8pm, to 10pm during the summer months. Bus fare is $1.25. Exact fare is required. The Blue Line runs west from the Transportation Center and passes a majority of the area's motels, chain restaurants, and shopping centers on Richmond Road (U.S. 60 W.). The Gray Line operates east from the Transportation Center to Busch Gardens via Lafayette Street and Pocahontas Trail (U.S. 60 E.). The Yellow Line links the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center to the Transportation Center and Busch Gardens from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The land is flat here, so getting around via bicycle is a great idea. Bike rentals are available from Easter through October at the Woodlands Hotel & Suites, at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center (tel. 757/220-7960).
Historic Taxi (tel. 757/258-7755), Williamsburg Taxi Service (tel. 757/254-2190), and Yellow Cab of Williamsburg (tel. 757/722-1111) are based at the Transportation Center.
Getting to Jamestown & Yorktown
Other than driving, the easiest way to get from Williamsburg to Jamestown and Yorktown from March 16 through November 1 is via the Historic Triangle Shuttle (tel. 757/898-2410), which follows the Colonial Parkway. The buses depart the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center daily every 30 minutes from 9am to 3:30pm, with the final return trips departing Jamestown and Yorktown at 5:15pm. The rides cost $2 each way but are free with admission to Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, and Yorktown Battlefield. Save your admission tickets.