File this blog away for when you need to break out your galoshes and grab an umbrella. Even when the sky is gray and it starts raining cats and dogs, that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a wonderful day in the Revolutionary City!
As a youngster on our annual spring break trip to Williamsburg, my family always planned for at least one nasty weather day where we would do some indoor activity away from the historic area. This was a great idea at the time, but now that I’m older, it’s one of my favorite times to be in the colonial capital.
Why, you ask? For starters, the town is usually a lot less busy than normal. You practically have the whole place to yourself! Not only that, but everything seems a little more lush and vibrant—perfect for snapping photos. The smells and aromas of the town are enhanced. Stews simmering in the kitchens smell heartier; fires in the fireplaces smell sweeter.
I love all rainy days in CW, but my favorites are in the fall when the temperatures are usually cooler and you can cozy up in a sweatshirt or jacket and a comfy pair of jeans. Puddles collect on the brick sidewalks showing reflections of buildings and trees, and children (young and old alike) can be seen splashing in the puddles.
So what is there to do you ask? Here are my Top Five Things to See and Do on a Rainy Day, any time of year!
#1 The Raleigh Tavern Bakery
Located behind the Raleigh Tavern, just off Duke of Gloucester Street, the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop is the perfect place to get in out of the rain and sip on a cider, coffee, or tea. Remember those enhanced smells I mentioned earlier? Well imagine the smell of freshly baked gingerbread cookies hot out of the oven. And starting July 7, you can now find the bakery busy baking those gingerbread cookies fresh every day—using ingredients based on an 18th-century recipe.
#2 Lunch in a Tavern
One of my favorite things to do in CW at any time is to dine in one of the taverns, but this is especially true on a rainy day. Ask for a table by a window so you can look outside as the costumed interpreters go about their business and the rain slowly runs down the window. Perhaps there will even be a rumble of thunder in the distance as your server brings your Chowning’s Shepherd’s Pye.
#3 The Art Museums
Did you know that Colonial Williamsburg is home to two wonderful art museums: the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum? Located on Francis Street, these museums are world class and feature early American historical artifacts, art, and other treasures. There is an abundance of displays to see, including the brand new Thunderbirds: Jewelry of the Santo Domingo Pueblo. A rainy day is the perfect time to spend appreciating and exploring these outstanding museums. You can spend a few hours out of the rain and still won’t see everything they have to offer!
#4 The Trades Shops
With so much to see and do in the Historic Area, it’s often hard to spend much time seeing any one thing in particular. That’s why I love a rainy day when you can get in out of the elements and spend some quality time really learning about historic trades like blacksmithing, silversmithing, or printing and binding. These tradespeople have a wealth of knowledge to share, so instead of hurrying through to get back outside, it’s nice to take your time, stay a while, and really understand the 18th-century way of life. The shoemaker is my favorite. Tucked in a small building, there’s usually a fire going in the cooler months and you can hear the pitter patter of the rain on the roof. I think you’ll want to stay a while!
# 5 Governor’s Palace, Grounds, & Buildings
Governor’s Palace is one of the crown jewels of this historic town. There is certainly a lot to see, including the home, the grounds and gardens, and the outbuildings. In peak times, lines to tour the Palace can be quite long, but if you come on a rainy day, you’re likely to get right in. If you’ve remembered your umbrella, you can take a peaceful stroll through the gardens as the rain gently falls around you. As you make your way around the grounds, you’ll come to a set of outbuildings that includes the kitchen, an excellent place to venture in and learn about 18th-century cooking techniques. The smells of baking bread or a stew cooking over an open fire are liable to intoxicate your senses!
So there you have it, my top five favorite things to do on a rainy day. I hope to see you about town when the next rainstorm rolls through!
Guest Blogger: Ryan Redding
Ryan Redding is a lifelong lover of Colonial Williamsburg. He started visiting with his parents when he was just a baby, so CW has always felt like a home away from home. He recently relocated to Williamsburg from Southern Michigan with his wife, Rhiannon. They love spending their free time in the Revolutionary City and enjoying everything it has to offer, including dining in our historic taverns!
Ryan is also a golf fanatic and enjoys writing for the Virginia Golf Report about golf in central Virginia. You can follow his Colonial Williamsburg adventures through his personal blog, The Dog Street Patriot.
Tell us, do you have any favorite rainy day activities Ryan didn’t share? Leave them for others in the comments below!