Toddlers laughed in the water jungle and water canons blasted overhead. Teenagers screamed inside enclosed slides, as they jettisoned from the top of a platform through pitch-black darkness into a hard-splash pool. At Water Country USA, hot dogs roast all day and lounge chairs are a commodity at summer’s height. The sun was at its height, a heating lamp turning everyone a deep shade of brown, or red depending on the sunscreen. On our family vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, the weather had been fickle, changing from high heat to chilly rain as the day progressed. The freak weather welcomed us to our rented townhouse. It followed us to Colonial Williamsburg and lingered overhead at Busch Gardens. But I had sketched out our week with enough back-up plans to thwart nature’s curveballs during our family vacation.
What to Do in Williamsburg with a Multi-Generation Family
A large family, our group drove from New York to Virginia in a dual car caravan with two kids, two couples, my brother, and father. The oldest was 62, the youngest 4. So, we had to be creative and flexible with our schedule, adding enough variety to make this vacation great. Our agenda included Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, Williamsburg Marketplace, Water Country USA, and Jamestown.
Through AAA, we were able to get multi-day combo passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. The package allowed us to come and go between the parks, at a discounted price. At first we thought the savings were the biggest perk of the deal. But once we arrived in Williamsburg, we discovered that the ticket’s flexibility was its greatest asset.
Cold Mornings at Colonial Williamsburg
In the morning, our family would roll leisurely out of bed. Our townhouse was divvied into two sections: a large house with living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, and 2.5 bath; and a smaller apartment with kitchenette, one bath, one bed, and sofa bed. My sister and her family stayed in the latter. The rest of us piled into the former. On cold mornings, the kitchen filled with the smell of toasting breads and coffee. Mist over the driveway was common as were chilly temperatures. So we headed to Colonial Williamsburg, where the open streets and sparse shade could be tough for families in the mid-day heat.
In the cool mornings, we strolled without a struggle, crossing large yards and following marching bands. The governor’s house was fantastic and looked great in the early light. The kids enjoyed the traditional garb and little workshops dotting the main avenue. The sweet shop was fantastic and served fizzy ginger beer, a more gingery (non-alcoholic) version of ginger ale. For lunch, just as the fog began to burn off, we headed to the local colonial tavern.
Hot Afternoons at Water Country USA & Busch Gardens
By noon, the misty chill dissipated. The sky was clear and the sun shone like a white beacon of sunbathing bliss. To cool off, we used our day passes for either Busch Gardens or Water Country USA. Both complexes are huge and fashioned for all types, from waterbabies to surf pool seniors and rollercoaster junkies to live music lovers.
At Water Country USA, two highlights included the kid’s water jungle called Rock n’Roll Island and my brother’s favorite, the Aquazoid. If the weather turned in the afternoon, our trip back to the house was less than five minutes.
The highlights at Busch Garden are myriad. Everyone in the family loved the live show with Celtic music and dancers. I even bought a CD. Apollo’s Chariot was a fun ride too. The smoked meats were great inside the New France section and the beer hall in the German quarters served great red ale. The Rollercoasters were thrilling.
For us, a family vacation is about being together as a group, enjoying activities all day that aren’t trite or torturous. Williamsburg offered a great balance and variety of attractions for our multi-generational family even though we’d traveled to Virginia in tricky weather.
On a different trip, I traveled with my multi-generational family to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These majestic peaks that straddle the Tennessee/NorthCarolina border are great for hikes in the woods and views of waterfalls.