Nat Geo Young Explorer Erin Spencer is a marine scientist with a curious fascination with invasive lionfish and tri-cornered hats. After visiting Virginia’s Historic Triangle every year as a child, she ended up moving to Williamsburg to attend the College of William & Mary. Though she now lives in Washington, D.C., she takes frequent trips to satisfy her colonial cravings. Here are some of Erin’s favorite things about her home away from home.
Williamsburg Is My City
October is the best time to visit my city because the leaves are turning, Tribe Football Saturdays are in full force, and the weather is pleasantly cool. Plus, the first weekend in October brings the annual Occasion for the Arts, a large art and music festival that takes over downtown.
You can see my city best from Confusion Corner—the intersection of Richmond and Jamestown roads. The heart of Colonial Williamsburg stretches out in front of you with the College of William and Mary behind you.
The John Greenhow Store in Colonial Williamsburg is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
In the past, notable people like Thomas Jefferson, Glenn Close, and former United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have called my city home.
My city’s best museum is Colonial Williamsburg because it’s arguably the world’s largest living museum. Immerse yourself in pre- and post-Revolutionary War Virginia by talking to interpreters and exploring life in colonial times.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that pedestrians expect drivers to stop at crosswalks and will simply walk out without looking.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is the Sunken Garden on the College of William & Mary campus. The quad is surrounded by charming old academic buildings and always filled with students lazily reading and enjoying the weather.
My city really knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July because half of the city is dedicated to recreating Revolutionary War-era America. Local celebrations include a parade, a dramatic reading of the “Declaration of Independence,” and musket and cannon salutes. Seriously, people from Williamsburg live for this stuff.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they don’t look twice at a person in Colonial garb standing behind them at Starbucks.
For a fancy night out, I grab some friends for half-price wine night at the Blue Talon. A side order of their gourmet mac and cheese is a must.
My city is known for being touristy, but it’s really a haven for the arts. Between dramatic productions at the Kimball Theatre, live bands on the William & Mary campus, and seasonal arts festivals downtown, Williamsburg has established itself as a regional arts hub.
The best outdoor market in my city is the Williamsburg Farmers Market in Merchant’s Square. Running Saturdays from March through December, the market features local produce, baked goods, meats, crafts, and more.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I fill up on free samples at The Peanut Shop.
The Wren Building is my favorite building in town because it’s the oldest academic building still in use in the United States. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler all walked Wren’s halls.
Paul’s Deli is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance you don’t have too many options. However, the occasional dance party has been known to break out at Brickhouse Tavern on karaoke night.
Regular cannon fire could only happen in my city.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
In the summer you should spend a day at Water Country, USA. Williamsburg can get brutally hot in the summer, so you’ll appreciate that lazy river.
In the fall you should embrace your touristy side and take a carriage ride through Colonial Williamsburg. Take some hot apple cider along and enjoy the spectacular fall foliage.
In the winter you should brave the crowds for the Grand Illumination. Always held the first full weekend of December, the event includes the official lighting of Williamsburg’s holiday decorations and an extravagant fireworks display.
The best book about my city is Williamsburg Before and After, by George Humphrey Yetter, because it details the restoration of Williamsburg with vivid “before” and “after” photographs of historic Duke of Gloucester Street.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because it boasts a tight-knit community that’s proud of its past and that is actively shaping our future. Plus, we know the value of a tri-cornered hat.