Williamsburg with Children (and a Budget)

LauraAll Posts

We weren’t able to take advantage of Williamsburg’s annual “homeschool days” this year, which provides fantastic deals for homeschooling families. But, we did find some ways to save money.

First, we found our inexpensive hotel through priceline.com. By now, you probably have your own favorite way of scoring a deal on hotel rooms. We were looking for one thing: an indoor swimming pool. The girls swam every single night; we got our money’s worth!

Second, we settled in for the week and purchased the Historic Triangle tickets through the Colonial Williamsburg website. These tickets allowed us to visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown as often as we liked for seven days. (I’m still planning on posting about the lovely Triangle. All three locations were fantastic.) Anyway, the real bonus is that children under 6 are free, so we only had to purchase 2 tickets. Both girls were as immersed as any of the adults, and they were enjoying it all at no cost to us! Completely free! If your 5-year-old is even remotely interested in such vacations, now is the time to go! A solid exposure to early America will tide her over until she has studied it more fully in a few years and you have to fork out the big bucks for her ticket. (Note: there are other ticket deals to be had. If you are not staying for the full week, or have other needs, a little research will reveal all kinds of options – including a AAA discount to Colonial Williamsburg.)

Third, we packed most of our food. This was a new undertaking for me, so ignore this paragraph if you’re a veteran. (On second thought, give me your experienced food-packing tips!) Needless to say, I have been on Cloud 9 because a little bit of extra effort went a long way to spare our wallets. We left town with a large cooler packed with lunch-meat, cheese, fruits and vegetables; a couple of totes with snacks, tortillas (instead of bread that will crush easily), simple dinners, applesauce, peanut butter, and honey. This provided our lunches and dinners for the first half of the week. On our trip down, we found pleasant places to pop the trunk and enjoy our lunches, instead of eating McDonald’s in the car. Mid-week, we stopped by a local grocery store and stocked up for the second half of the week. A $5 carton of fried chicken, strawberries, and a simple Caesar Salad provided two full meals for us; and we became quick experts on microwavable noodles, soups, and meals. (As a dear friend pointed out ahead of time, “Anyone can eat that way for a week”. She was right: with some fruit or veggies on the side, each meal was just fine. To my surprise, we survived!) We brought a mini-cooler so that we could pack each day’s lunch and tote it along on the stroller.

I’m still reveling in the glories of packing our own lunch! We saved a ton of money and could eat anywhere we wanted. For example…

At the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant (on our drive down to Williamsburg):


Or with this stunning statue of Pocahontas:


Because we saved money on most of our meals, we could enjoy a treat every now and then: ice cream cones in Colonial Williamsburg, a special lunch with my sister who visited for a day, and a special dinner at a highly recommended pulled-pork pit.

So, there you have it: a week in Williamsburg, VA at minimal cost and maximum enjoyment!