In the Historic Area
Duke of Gloucester Street is the center for 18th-century wares created by craftspeople plying the trades of our forefathers. The goods include hand-wrought silver jewelry from the Sign of the Golden Ball, hats from the Mary Dickinson shop, hand-woven linens from Prentis Store, books bound in leather and hand-printed newspapers from the post office, gingerbread cakes from the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop, and everything from foods to fishhooks at Greenhow and Tarpley's, a general store. In fine weather, check out the outdoor market next to the Magazine.
Run by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Craft House, on Duke of Gloucester Street at Henry Street in Merchants Square (tel. 757/220-7747), features Williamsburg's own brand dinnerware, flatware, glassware, pewter, silver, folk art, jewelry, and ceramics. Its sister store, Williamsburg At Home (tel. 757/220-7749), carries high-end furniture and housewares.
Other "shoppes" in Merchants Square offer a wide range of merchandise: antiques, antiquarian books and prints, 18th-century-style floral arrangements, candy, toys, handcrafted pewter and silver items, needlework supplies, country quilts, Oriental rugs, and everything Virginian, including hams and peanuts. It's not all of the "ye olde" variety, however, for national chains such as Chico's, Williams-Sonoma, and Barnes & Noble (disguised as the William and Mary Bookstore) are here, too. Merchants Square has free 2-hour parking for its customers.
On Richmond Road
Shopping in the Historic Area is fun, but the biggest draws are along Richmond Road (U.S. 60) between Williamsburg and Lightfoot, an area 5 to 7 miles west of the Historic Area. If you like outlet shopping, Richmond Road is for you.
Most of the action is at Prime Outlets Williamsburg ★★, between Airport and Lightfoot roads (tel. 877/466-8853 or 757/565-0702; www.primeoutlets.com). The largest and best outlet mall here, it dwarfs its competition by a mile, which is about how far you will walk from one side to the other. I always drive through it first and spot my favorite shops before hunting down a parking space. You'll find an ever-growing array of shops including Bass, Bose, Brooks Brothers, Coach Leather, Crabtree & Evelyn, Eddie Bauer, Etienne Aigner, Harvé Bernard, J. Crew, Jones New York, Jos. A. Bank, L'eggs/Hanes/Bali, Maidenform, Mikasa, Naturalizer, Nike, Reebok/Rockport, Royal Doulton, Seiko, Van Heusen, and Waterford Wedgwood. They are open Monday through Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday 10am to 7pm.
Before getting there you'll pass Patriot Plaza Premium Outlets (tel. 757/258-0767), between Ironbound and Airport roads. It's a small, upmarket mall with Orvis, Plow & Hearth, and a few others. Shops here are open Monday through Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Among the major stores in residence at The Williamsburg Outlet Mall (tel. 888/746-7333 or 757/565-3378), at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Lightfoot Road (C.R. 646), are Bass, Bon Worth, Dockers, Dress Barn, Farberware, L'eggs, and Big Dogs. It's enclosed in an air-conditioned mall, a saving grace on sweltering summer days. It's open Monday through Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday 10am to 6pm.
Across the highway you can browse for collectibles and perhaps find a priceless piece of antiquity at the Williamsburg Antique Mall, 500 Lightfoot Rd. (tel. 757/565-3422; www.antiqueswilliamsburg.com), with 45,000 square feet of dealer space. It's open Monday through Saturday 10am to 6pm, Sunday noon to 5pm.
Continue west 1 1/2 miles on U.S. 60, and you'll come to the Williamsburg Doll Factory (tel. 757/564-9703; www.dollfactory.com), with limited-edition porcelain collector's dolls. You can observe the doll-making process and buy parts to make your own. Other items available are stuffed animals, dollhouses and miniatures, clowns, and books on dolls. It's open Monday through Saturday 9am to 5pm, Sunday 10am to 4pm.
On the Wine Trail
In 1623, the Jamestown settlers were required to plant "20 vines for every male in the family above the age of 20." By doing so, it was thought, the fledgling colony would develop a profitable wine industry. As it turned out, the profitable industry was tobacco, not grapes, and winemaking never took off.
Until the 1980s, that is, when the Williamsburg Winery, 5800 Wessex Hundred (tel. 757/229-0999; www.williamsburgwinery.com), Virginia's first modern vineyard, proved that good grapes could be grown on the Peninsula. Wine Spectator magazine's critics have twice cited its vintages for excellence. Its Governor's White is the most widely purchased of Virginia's wine, although you may find the John Adlum blended chardonnay much better. Tastings and 45-minute tours cost $8 per person.
Time your visit to have a bite of lunch along with your Two Shilling Red in the winery's Gabriel Archer Tavern. Freshly baked French bread accompanies interesting salads, sandwiches. It's reasonably priced, too, with lunch items running $8 to $13, dinner main courses $10 to $20.
The winery is open Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 5pm (Apr-Oct daily to 6pm). The tavern serves lunch Monday to Friday, dinner Thursday through Monday. From the Historic Area, take Henry Street (Va. 132) south, turn right on Va. 199, left on Brookwood Drive, and another left on Lake Powell Road to the winery.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.