What's There to Do in Williamsburg?

Whether you're a history buff, a lover of the great outdoors, an avid shopper, or a connoisseur of fine dining, this is the place for you.

strolling in CW


If our on-campus option does not satisfy you, and the options at William & Mary do not either, fear not!

When it is time to study, you can escape the library and settle down in the corner of one of the many cozy coffee shops in the area: Aroma’s on Prince George Street is always bustling, Illy Caffe on Duke of Gloucester Street (DOG Street to the locals) offers fantastic pastries, but a trek by car to Tipsy Bean’s gets you away from the excitement of campus and in line for some of the best tasting coffee in town.

When it is time to relax and dine out, meet your friends for Thai at Aticha (sometimes faculty are rumored to make an appearance), try a pie—savory or sweet—from Jamestown Pie Company, or get in the 1950s spirit at Retro’s on Prince George. Want authentic Greek gyros? Go to Spartan’s. Chinese food made by a former chef who cooked for the Chinese embassy in Washington? Go to Peter Chang. Bagels and lox? Manhattan Bagel is the place for you. An authentic Southern breakfast or lunch? The Old Chickahominy House has been cooking here since 1955 (the Edwards County ham biscuits and Brunswick stew are regional specialties and are worth a trip). BBQ: we’ve got that in spades: check out Pierce’s Pit, they have been around since 1961, or try Old City, Rocco’s, Matchsticks, or Route 60.

And, last but not least, you could not be a true William & Mary student if you did not visit one of the dozen pancake houses on Richmond Road and beyond. Williamsburg, in addition to its historic significance, lays claim to another title: the greatest number of pancake houses per capita in the country. We spoke too soon—you should also check out some authentic Virginia peanuts at the Peanut Shop.  

And every William & Mary student knows that sandwiches at the Cheese Shop on DOG Street, a spot famous for its house dressing, are worth a trip (some alums drive hours just to get their hands on them).

We’re not done yet! Pizza? Mellow Mushroom makes a great pie (we recommend the “Pacific Rim”). The queso at Precarious is to die for…as is the beer.

Still hungry after studying late for torts or constitutional law? It happens! Every Virginian knows the solution to your study-fueled cravings is Cookout on Richmond Road. You won’t regret it!

The list goes on and you are probably hungry after reading this. There are more than 100 restaurants and even a winery in greater Williamsburg. You’ll probably still be exploring and eating by the time your 3L year comes to a close.


Museums: there are dozens. A good place to start is Colonial Williamsburg’s art museum only a stone’s throw from the Law School’s front door. A block away from that, your status as a William & Mary Law Student gets you free admission to Colonial Williamsburg (and discounted admission for your family and friends). Colonial Williamsburg, or “CW” to the locals, is the world’s largest living history museum that offers a window into 18thcentury life in Virginia.

Staying close by? Lake Matoaka on campus is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. You can also enjoy campus events, stroll through an art exhibit at William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum, or cheer the Tribe on at a football or basketball game.

A little farther afield, check out the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center, or Historic Jamestowne.

Indoor entertainment? Regal New Town Cinemas or the Movie Tavern at High Street offer excellent spots for catching the latest films. Feeling daring? You can throw axes at Axe Republic (perhaps you can even put your newfound contracts skills to the test when reading the axe liability disclaimer).

Outdoors, take advantage of Williamsburg’s strategic placement between the York and James rivers for kayaking, canoeing, or swimming. Canoe, kayak, hike, or bring your dog to Waller Mill ParkChickahominy Riverfront Park offers boating, fishing and easy access to the Virginia Capital TrailYork River State Park has hiking, biking and equestrian trails as well as fishing and boating. Bike along all 20+ miles of the Colonial Parkway, Freedom Park's 20+ miles of mountain bike trails, or the Virginia Capital Trail which stretches 52 miles from Jamestown to Richmond.

If you are a golfer, Williamsburg is home to more than a dozen courses. Not a pro-golfer? Try mini golf at Pirate’s Cove. Tennis more your speed? Our indoor tennis complex is only steps away from the Law School. If you are looking to work out, being a student will gain you admittance to the Wolf Law Library for cerebral exercise, but also the university's state-of-the-art Rec Center can address your physical fitness needs.

Drive the scenic Colonial Parkway and view the expansive vistas of the rivers and tidewaters that make the Williamsburg area an inspirational site known for its natural beauty.  

Looking for music? Free weekly concerts start up in the spring and continue through the fall at the historic Bruton Parish Church in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. Speaking of Colonial Williamsburg, take a break from finals in December and check out fireworks over the Governor’s Mansion at the Grand Illumination.

Not tired yet? Take a ride on the wild side: ride the Griffon at Busch Gardens, then cool off at Water Country USA.


Shop to your heart's content at Merchant’s Square, just five minutes from campus, or drive out to the Premium OutletsNew Town, or any of the city's dozens of stores and specialty shops.

Looking for something different? Colonial Williamsburg offers historically inspired goods for your home and kitchen (these also make great gifts for parents). Want to impress your constitutional law professor? You can pick-up one of those “historic handwritten” copies of our Constitution there.

Antiques? The Williamsburg Antique Mall has 45,000 square feet for you to explore. Books? Check out The Book Press, which has a wide selection of books on architecture and Virginia history. The Yorktown Bookshop is just a short drive away and full of hidden treasures.

Looking for local crafts and wares? Check out Yorktown Market Days every weekend May-December on the York river. Looking for fruits and vegetables for your next culinary creation? Come by Merchant’s Square near the Law School every weekend March-December for the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market.


William & Mary campus is only a few blocks from the heart of historic Williamsburg, so you are never far from great restaurants, nightlife and shopping. Check out our long list of things to do in Williamsburg and visit us soon to experience it all for yourself.

Want to explore all that Hampton Roads has to offer? An hour down the road, you'll find lots more to do in Richmond (to our west), Norfolk (to our east), or Virginia Beach (further to our east).