Colonial Williamsburg integrates early American history
with present day golf.

Interfacing one of the largest outdoor museums in the world with some of the finest golf in the state of Virginia may seem like an odd combination yet for many vacationers the union works like a charm. Colonial Williamsburg, the restored capital of early Virginia, together with a cluster of excellent golf links, deliver two attractions in a single destination. Moreover, this double barrelled venue 240 km south of Washington, D.C. can be reached from Montreal in a day‘s drive.
When Williamsburg was eventually abandoned as the capital in 1781 in favour of Richmond, the community fell into decline until 1925 when American financier John D. Rockefeller Jr. spearheaded a project to revive the town and turn it into a living museum. Today, the former pioneer settlement that receives over a million visitors a year contains more than 90 original buildings, shops, houses, taverns and an ancient stone jail–all authentically restored and containing a vast collection of period furnishings. Daily, throughout the year, visitors witness costumed interpreters playing the roles of pioneer merchants, craftspeople, slaves, soldiers and nation-building colonists in a colourful representation of Williamsburg as it was on the eve of the American Revolution.

This revived frontier community is clustered around Duke of Gloucester Street, a wide avenue that runs for nearly a mile. Anchored at one end by the handsome Capital building (former seat of colonial power) and at the other end by the College of William and Mary (second oldest institution of high learning in the U.S.), the main drag is criss-crossed by smaller streets wherein lie important historic buildings like the Governors Palace–symbol of British authority in the fledgling colony. During the 1700s, the elite of the town gathered here to mingle, dance, party and display themselves as the epitome of civility in the New World. The palatial building was the official residence for a succession of seven royal governors representing the English monarchy in Virginia. Escorted tours of the mansion are provided by costumed guides and an impressive introduction to this regal residence is a large foyer and grand staircase where walls and ceilings are lined with an enormous display of gleaming rifles, pistols and swords. This weaponry and a prominent royal coat of arms demonstrated the authority and power by which British governors ruled.

However, just down the street from the Governors Palace, England’s power of the day was being vigorously condemned in a much less grand Williamsburg building. In the days preceding the American Revolution, patriots regularly gathered in the Raleigh Tavern over mugs of ale to rail against the policies of the British Crown.
Today, Raleigh and some of the town‘s other taverns like Shields and Kings Arms offer visitors an opportunity to dine and drink in a colonial-inspired environment where servers wear period costumes and menus reflect early American fare like Brunswick stew, cornbread, game pie and barnyard chicken roasted on a spit. Most establishments also offer a contemporary menu where you can get everything from a burger to a juicy steak.

Throughout this walking-friendly town, there are pioneer interpreters demonstrating early American trades like shoemaking, basketry, blacksmithing, weaving and wig making. There are bakers, printers, bookbinders, tailors, carpenters, spinners and harness makers. Also, an always popular highlight is daily fife and drum band parades plus a variety of interactive programs that appeal to the young and old alike. Tourists visiting the Courthouse, for example, might be asked to play the role of an 18th century juror and help decide the fate of a colonial accused of stealing a chicken or committing a murder. In the evening, candlelight tours incorporate concerts, dances, mock duels and ghost stories. Shopping is also one of Williamsburg’s popular attractions and numerous shops are stocked with reproductions of colonial china, brass, candles, basketry, lamps, furniture and even period wallpaper.

All of this stepping back in time seems like a huge departure from golf but for visitors who want to mix history with a round on the links it’s a good fit. One of the finest local courses is the Golden Horseshoe located just steps from the town’s historic centre. This facility has two 18-hole championship layouts plus a 9-hole executive track. The three courses are set amidst 125 acres of Virginia woodland, ravines, rolling fairways and natural hazards. Both 18-hole courses are challenging yet not overly intimidating.

Complementing the Golden Horseshoe is the Colonial Golf Course which offers an excellent, traditional layout in an unspoiled natural setting. It is also home to a respected teaching academy. One of the most dramatic area courses is the Legends of Stonehouse, an 18-hole mountain-style track where extreme elevation changes, deep ravines and tightly treed fairways put golfers to a challenging test. Each hole presents a truly awesome combination of landscape and layout designed to penalize the player unfortunate enough to forget that accuracy on this course is everything. At the Kingsmill Golf Club, golfers can take their pick of three outstanding, 18-hole courses (River, Plantation, Woods) each offering a different golf experience based on layout and topography.

While rates vary for both golf and local accommodations there is a host of reasonably priced packages available. Two night family packages can be found for under $300 and golf packages begin as low as $189 for two nights and three rounds of golf. A one day pass for Colonial Williamsburg costs $34 for adults and $15 for children. Two day passes are $48 and $24.
Travel Planner

For a free Colonial Williamsburg vacation planner call 1-800-HISTORY. For more information about golf and golf packages call 1-877-818-GOLF. Information can also be found online at . A 2006 Loonie Savers coupon booklet specially designed for Canadians features two-for-one and 50 percent off offers at 67 participating accommodations, restaurants, golf courses and attractions throughout Virginia. Offered in both English and French, the Loonie Savers coupon booklet can be accessed and downloaded online at or call 1-800-675-3230. The booklets are also distributed through Quebec and Ontario CAA offices.

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