14 April, 2021

WanderLove: a road trip from Williamsburg to Norfolk

Wanderlust is defined as a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia we call that feeling WanderLove. And while travel in 2020 is a bit different thanks to COVID-19, you can still discover the endless beauty of Virginia with an epic road trip! To help you plan your next road trip vacation, we're sharing some of the Commonwealth's most scenic and adventurous itineraries, including the best outdoor adventures, points of interest, restaurants, and lodging options to add to your itinerary.

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<p>On this road trip, we'll take you through the Historic Triangle and Virginia & # 39; s Salty Southern Route, to notable destinations such as Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown before venturing into Southern Virginia to slow down and enjoy the flavors the region is world famous for. to become. . </p><div class='code-block code-block-4' style='margin: 8px auto; text-align: center; display: block; clear: both;'>
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10 miles, approximately 21 minutes from Williamsburg to Jamestown; 13 miles, approximately 23 minutes from Williamsburg to Yorktown

Using Williamsburg as your home base, branches out along the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown and then Yorktown. This is one of Virginia's most scenic coastal drives, so you won't regret taking the time to take a leisurely drive through the area to visit these iconic historic sites.

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<h5 class=Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

While in Jamestown, visit both Historic Jamestowne (the original site built by early colonial settlers) and the Jamestown Settlement (the museum that recreates the cultures and traditions of the early colonial settlers and the area's indigenous peoples).

In Historic Jamestown, you can see the remains of the original site where Pocahontas, John Smith and John Rolfe walked, all of which were carefully excavated by archaeologists striving to learn about the early 17th century way of life. Drive through the park's five-mile loop to get a sense of the scenery that made this area a great choice for the colonial settlers. Stop at the Glasshouse of 1608 to see live glass blowing demonstrations and learn how early settlers practiced this technique in Jamestown.

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<h5 class=Photo Credit: Michael Lavin

The Jamestown Settlement is a must for visitors of any age, who delve deeper into the history of the early colonial settlers and the Powhatan people who lived on the coast of Virginia in the 1600s. The exhibits here use the knowledge gained by the archaeologists working at Historic Jamestowne, adding context and story to the artifacts discovered there. In addition to the history of Virginia, the museum explores the lives of the colonial settlers while they were still in England, tracing the stories that led them on their travels to the New World. Part of this aspect includes recreations of the original three ships the settlers transferred, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery. Climb aboard the ships and hear from costumed interpreters about their arduous journey across the Atlantic.


Follow the Colonial Parkway back to Williamsburg. Make sure to wear good walking shoes as the next stop on the route is Colonial Williamsburg. The largest living history museum in the world, Colonial Williamsburg has over 300 acres and every inch is packed with American and Virginia history. From demonstrations of 18th century crafts such as blacksmiths and brickyards to art exhibitions in restored historic buildings, you will feel immersed in the lifestyle of the 18th century. Walk through the pristine gardens and take a break at one of six historic taverns to have lunch or enjoy a "pint" like an authentic Virginia settler. Watch re-enactors perform military drills as they march across the grounds in costume. And if you're looking for a place to spend the night, multiple lodging options are available on the historic grounds, including the five-star Williamsburg Inn and the newly renovated Williamsburg Lodge, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection.

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Photo Credit: Mark Atkinson, IG Account: @me_atkinson

The second leg of this road trip along the Colonial Parkway takes you from Williamsburg to Yorktown. Known for the Battle of Yorktown, which would be the last major showdown between the British and the settlers during the American Revolution, this historic city has several important landmarks worth visiting on your trip.

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<h5 class=Photo credit: Skylar Arias Adventures, IG account: @skylar_arias_adventures

First, spend some time perusing the exhibits at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown, which tells the story of how American was founded. Be sure to watch the 16-minute movie "The Siege at Yorktown", which features immersive special effects such as the scent of cannons and smoke that make you feel like you're part of the action. After visiting the museum, head outside to the great outdoors with living history, and see re-enactors tell the stories of the soldiers, doctors, and settlers who lived during the American Revolution, including a soldier demonstrating how to build the can fire muskets commonly used in combat.

Next, Yorktown Battlefield gives you the chance to stand up against the soldiers. After watching the short film at the American Revolution Museum, you can clearly keep this pivotal battle in mind. End your historic Yorktown tour with the Yorktown Victory Monument, which pays tribute to the soldiers who fought for American independence.

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<h5 class=Photo Credit: Fred DeSousa

Head to Yorktown Beach to stroll along the sand and enjoy the views of the York River. Take to the water for an unforgettable cruise with Alliance Yorktown Sailboat Charters. After you're back on dry land, explore the shops and restaurants at Riverwalk Landing in Yorktown, right next to Yorktown Beach.


Photo Credit: Traveling Newlyweds, IG Account: @traveling_newlyweds

Restaurants, breweries, wineries and more

Fat canarySophisticated bistro serving upscale American dishes and wines, with a cheese shop and a terrace.

Le Yaca French restaurant-French gourmet restaurant in Williamsburg, open for weekend brunch and daily lunch and dinner.

Williamsburg Winery-Historic winery and vineyards on the same property as Wedmore Place.

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<h5 class=Photo Credit: Ron Magee

Waypoint Seafood & Grill—Seafood restaurant in Williamsburg that celebrates all the flavors of the Chesapeake Bay.

Fat Tuna Grill & Oyster House-Williamsburg seafood restaurant; menu offers a raw bar, seafood sandwiches and fresh entrees.

Alewerks Brewing Company-Popular Williamsburg craft brewery with a great range of year-round beers and seasonal favorites such as the Pumpkin Spiced Ale and Coffeehouse Coffee Stout.

Craft 31-Williamsburg restaurant is known for its menu of gourmet burgers, pizza & # 39; s and a raw bar, as well as an extensive selection of craft beers.

Cochon on 2ndUpscale restaurant serving handcrafted artisan dishes that combine local ingredients with eclectic culinary inspiration from around the world.

Blue Talon Bistro-Williamsburg's historic downtown restaurant offering "serious comfort food"; open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Billsburg Brewery-Williamsburg Brewery known for its traditional lager, lagers and ales.

Yorktown Pub-Local seafood restaurant in Yorktown with a casual atmosphere.

Water Street Grille-Restaurant located on historic Yorktown Beach, known for an extensive list of craft beers; serves a wide variety of dishes from freshly caught seafood to sandwiches, burgers and pastas.

Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Cafe—Coffee shop and cafe in the historic village of Yorktown that roasts their own in-house coffee.

Hotels, resorts and other accommodations

Kingsmill Resort-Williamsburg resort with a luxury spa, multiple on-site restaurants, a seasonal outdoor water park, three golf courses and a marina.

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Williamsburg Inn-Luxury Colonial Williamsburg accommodations with a wide variety of guest services and amenities, including several excellent on-site restaurants; pet friendly rooms available.

Williamsburg Lodge-Newly renovated Colonial Williamsburg lodge with on-site restaurant, full-service spa, golf course and seasonal pool; pet friendly rooms available.

Wedmore Place-Picturesque inn with 28 lavish guest rooms and suites on the same grounds as The Williamsburg Winery; Most rooms have a wood burning fireplace and include a complimentary continental breakfast in the on-site restaurant, Cafe Provencal.

Great Wolf Lodge-Family-friendly resort with a 67,000 square foot indoor water park; several eateries on site.


Photo credit: Joseph Leute

The Hornsby House Inn-Historic five-room inn on Main Street in Yorktown.

York River Inn Bed & BreakfastYorktown bed and breakfast overlooking the York River; three unique rooms to choose from.


31 miles, about 50 minutes

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<h5 class=Photo credit: Sanjeev Havanur, IG account: @sanjeevjhavanur

Leave Yorktown and follow Route 17 southeast to Newport News and the Virginia Living Museum. Walk through the open-air animal exhibits featuring many species native to Virginia, including the bald eagle, northern river otters, red foxes, wild turkeys, and bobcats, then check out some of the many other exhibits covering all of the incredible history of dinosaurs to current conservation techniques and the study of astronomy. If you are traveling with children, this museum is a perfect opportunity to combine vacation with education and teach them about science, history and nature, all in a fun and interactive environment.


Photo Credit: The Vacation Channel IG account: @vacationchannels

Take a short trip to The Mariners' Museum Park, a museum of maritime history and heritage. Although the museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, you can still take advantage of Mariners 'Park and the Noland Trail, a 550-acre park and five-mile trail that surrounds Mariners' Lake. Pack a picnic lunch for your outing and dine near the Lions Bridge, which overlooks the calm waters of the James River.

Continue on Route 17, cross the James River and travel to Smithfield. Spend a few hours at Windsor Castle Park, a 208-acre riverside public park in the heart of Downtown Smithfield with a forest trail system, a mountain bike trail, a dog park, a kayak and canoe launch in the James River, and its namesake from the park, the historic Windsor Castle mansion. Originally called Windsor Castle Farm, the estate dates back to 1637 when the land was part of a lot purchased by Arthur Smith, founder of the town of Smithfield; Today the park is an important part of Smithfield's Historic Downtown Walking Tour.

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<h5 class=Photo credit: Elly Condit

In addition to the history, don't miss the real taste of Smithfield by sampling the local pork and peanut products. Part of the Salty Southern Route, Smithfield is known for its hams, and if you want to buy delicious souvenirs to take home, head to Darden's Country Store, an old-fashioned country store and smokehouse. You'll likely find Virginia peanuts at every store and supermarket within a 50-mile radius of Smithfield, but a few places to pick up these salty treats (as well as other local flavors) include Taste of Smithfield, Smithfield Station and Smithfield Gourmet bakery and cafe. Look for Hubs Virginia Peanuts, a local brand and one of the best peanut producers in all of Virginia. If you want an immersive peanut experience, take a trip to the town of Franklin and The Hubs Vine, a market that offers Hubs peanuts and a variety of local foods and products, a wine bar, and fun games like life-size battleships , shuffleboard and cornhole.

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Photo credit: Elly Condit

Travel northwest of Smithfield for a short detour to Chippokes Plantation State Park in Surry County (also part of the Salty Southern Route). Just across the James River from Historic Jamestown, Chippokes was established in 1619 and is one of the oldest continuously worked plantations in the country. The park offers a glimpse into what life was like 400 years ago for early settlers, but modern outdoor recreational activities can also be found in the park, such as 20 kilometers of cycling, walking and horseback riding trails, access to fishing along the river, and a campsite and cabins for overnight stays.

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Restaurants, breweries, wineries and more

Fin Seafood-Seafood restaurant Newport News featuring fresh dishes made from a range of local, organic and sustainable ingredients.

Second Street Restaurant-Chic yet casual restaurant with American cuisine; locations in Williamsburg and Newport News.

Tradition Brewing Company-Authentic Newport News brewpub and craft brewery with flagship beers like the Tradition Craft Lager and Tradition West Coast IPA, as well as seasonal favorites like the Persnickety Witch Pumpkin Ale and Oktoberfest Marzen.

Ironclad Distillery Co.-Newport News distillery known for its world-class bourbon and whiskey.

Wharf Hill Brewing Company-Smithfield craft brewery, bar and restaurant with a selection of ten rotating craft beers on tap.

Summerwind Vineyard-Family owned and operated vineyard in Smithfield open Friday to Sunday.

Taste of Smithfield Restaurant-Smithfield restaurant serves authentic, fresh Southern food paired with a wide selection of local craft beers; store attached to the restaurant sells local Virginia produce such as peanuts and genuine Smithfield ham.

Q Daddy's Pitmaster BBQSmithfield BBQ restaurant owned by a second generation Pitmaster; picnic tables available outside.

Dock of the Bay-Seafood restaurant with locations in Carrollton, outside Smithfield, and in Portsmouth; currently open for limited dining and take-out.

Vintage tavern –Suffolk restaurant with seasonal Southern dishes; limited indoor and outdoor seating available.

Hotels, resorts and other accommodations

The Smithfield Inn-Historic bed and breakfast, restaurant and tavern in Smithfield.

Smithfield Station-Smithfield waterfront inn with views of the Pagan River and fireplaces in every room; Jacuzzi & # 39; s available in select suites. Restaurant on the grounds of Smithfield Station, known for fresh seafood and dishes made with Smithfield Ham.

The Lodge at Kiln Creek-Boutique hotel outside of Newport News with rooms with balconies.


27 miles, approximately 47 minutes


Photo Credit: Corey Pittman, IG Account: @mainfocusmedia

Exit Smithfield and take Route 17 towards Norfolk. If you have some extra time add a short detour to Suffolk. This charming small town in Southern Virginia is known for the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the largest intact portion of a diverse and thriving ecosystem that once covered more than a million acres, spanning southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. . A haven for a wide variety of wildlife and rare plants, Great Dismal Swamp also offers outdoor recreation options including hiking and biking trails, wildlife photography and kayaking or canoeing on Lake Drummond, a 3,100-acre lake near the center of the swamp. Large, terrifying cypress trees rise from the still water, creating an unforgettable backdrop for your paddle. For a more extreme option in outdoor recreation, consider booking a skydive adventure with Skydive Suffolk and see Coastal Virginia from an unparalleled vantage point.

HR18042303V_016.TIF Photo Credit: Trevor Frost, IG Account: @tbfrost

Back on Route 17, continue to Norfolk; Learn about the area's rich marine history at Nauticus, a maritime science museum with interactive exhibits, live-action shows and documentaries. But the biggest exhibit (in both size and popularity) is the battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships ever built by the US Navy. Take a self-guided tour of the vast ship's deck, or purchase an additional tour with your museum ticket to hear about the ship's significant contributions to the U.S. Navy's victories during World War II.

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<h5 class=Photo Credit: Fred DeSousa

Depending on what you're interested in, Norfolk has something for everyone; The Norfolk Botanical Garden offers a serene respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and is a must for any budding horticulturist; for visitors with children, the Virginia Zoo is home to more than 700 animals from around the world and offers another opportunity to combine education and entertainment; Shoppers and foodies should explore Norfolk's pedestrian-friendly Granby Street.


In addition to walking the streets of Norfolk, you can do more outdoor recreation within the city limits by walking or cycling the Elizabeth River Trail. This 10.5-mile paved trail runs along the Norfolk waterfront, making for a relaxing and picturesque city break that takes you through Norfolk State University, Downtown Norfolk, Harbor Park, and other notable areas of the city.

While Norfolk is the last stop on this WanderLove adventure, there are several other nearby towns and villages worth visiting, including Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Consider extending your trip for a few days to have some extra fun at these nearby coastal destinations.

Restaurants, breweries, wineries and more

Township-Farm-to-table restaurant with locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach that use seasonal ingredients that are sourced as locally as possible, with some of the produce grown in their own gardens; menu changes regularly to reflect the current flavors of the season.


AW Shucks Raw Bar & Grill-Fish restaurant and raw bar Norfolk in the Ghent neighborhood that uses local and seasonal ingredients.

LeGrand Kitchen-Norfolk restaurant that offers clever American seasonal dishes; currently have outdoor dining, takeout and limited indoor seating.

O & # 39; Connor Brewing Company-Norfolk craft brewery and taproom with over 20 rotating beers on tap.

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<p>Blanca Food & Wine-<em>Norfolk restaurant with a mix of Spanish, French and Italian dishes and an Old World wine list.</em></p>
<p>Voila! –<em>Gourmet international cuisine in a relaxed environment in Norfolk's historic district. </em></p>
<p>Grain & Saltine – Two restaurants at The Main Hotel in Norfolk; Grain serves lofty bar food and a wide variety of craft beers and has a roof terrace with fantastic views of central Norfolk; Saltine is a gastronomic concept with fresh seafood. </p>
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Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.

Rip Rap Brewing Co.-Family-friendly Norfolk craft brewery with a wide variety of beers from light ales to dark stouts and porters; with nine rotating beers on tap.

Mermaid Winery-Winery with locations in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk and the Chix & # 39; s Beach neighborhood of Virginia Beach; In addition to their own wines, they also serve a selection of charcuterie, cheeses, and full lunch and dinner menus at both locations.

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<h4><strong>Hotels, resorts and other accommodations</strong></h4>
<p>Glass Light Hotel & Gallery—<em>Boutique hotel and glass art gallery in the heart of Downtown Norfolk; part of the Marriott Autograph Collection. </em></p>
<p>The Inn at Four Eleven York-<em>Norfolk inn and restaurant that combines modern comfort with a rustic style; four unique luxury suites. </em></p>
<p>Hilton Norfolk the Main-<em>View of the Elizabeth River in central Norfolk; features an indoor pool and a rooftop bar and restaurant. </em></p>
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The Founders Inn & Spa-Located in Virginia Beach, but only 8 miles from Norfolk International Airport, a luxury inn on 26 pristine acres with an indoor pool, on-site restaurant, full-service spa and pet-friendly accommodations.

The Pinner House-Boutique bed and breakfast in Suffolk with individually decorated rooms, suites and a coach house.

The Truitt House-Elegant 1909 Suffolk mansion that has been restored into a bed and breakfast with on-site restaurant.

Looking for more WanderLove road trip adventures? Use these guides to help you plan your next Virginia vacation!

And check out these additional articles from our partners:

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