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When you’re visiting a place for the first time, it’s easy to gravitate toward the landmarks that make it famous—think the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Colosseum in Rome (or Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia!). Though tourist attractions get the most credit for giving a city its vibes, there’s another way to put your finger on the pulse of a new place (and one that might not take as much time or cost as much money)!
Exploring the low-key places within a popular vacation spot is a great way to avoid the tourist crush while still getting the most out of your visit. In addition to its major attractions, there are also hidden gems throughout Williamsburg that won’t keep you waiting in long lines. Plus, they all contribute to the unique personality of Williamsburg—part living history museum, part culinary treasure and part adventure-seeker’s paradise.
Here are five special hangouts we recommend visiting the next time you’re in the ‘Burg!
For a breathtaking natural setting based on 18th-century English landscape gardens, pay a visit to the serene Sunken Garden at the College of William & Mary. Its sprawling lawns were designed to “lift the spirit and lead the eye toward a natural setting” called Crim Dell, a preserved stretch of land considered to be a “campus jewel.” In the words of William & Mary graduate Thomas Jefferson, “the College shall forever look upon the country.” It’s a lovely place to stroll with a loved one and a cup of coffee in the morning hours, or sit quietly with the latest page-turner.
Aromas Coffeehouse, Bakery and Fresh Cafe
Who doesn’t love trying a new coffee place? At Aromas Coffeehouse, you get great coffee and sooo much more. The menu is positively percolating with every imaginable caffeinated beverage, plus cold treats, killer breakfast recipes, sweet treats and even cheese and chocolate fondues. Seriously, look at this menu and tell us you don’t want to go here right now.
This natural playground for every age has the advantage of being close to everything and full of fun things to do with friends, family, or even solo. Waller Mill Park has a 360-acre lake for boating, kayaking, canoeing, pedal boating and fishing, plus hiking trails for all levels, playgrounds, picnic areas, a dog park, and 3-mile long disc golf course. Vacations don’t have to be pure indulgence, so throw in a mix of fun activities to keep your family feeling healthy!
Speaking of indulgence! The Hound’s Tale is a kind of special treat you only stumble across if you’re very lucky. Between its cozy atmosphere with high-backed chairs and warm low lighting, its high-quality craft cocktails made with love, and thoughtful, stick-to-your-ribs meals crafted by a CIA-trained chef, this is pub life like you’ve never seen before.
We’ve talked about Yorktown before, and for good reason. This waterfront spot helps make the Historic Triangle truly unique. Besides great dining, shops, and museums, there’s also ample outdoor fun to be had, including opportunities to sail the storied York River. Hop aboard the Alliance for an exciting day of sailing, history and beauty.