This weekend, my wife and I took a long weekend trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. We had three major goals for this trip:

  1. Visit Colonial Williamsburg
  2. Stay in a bed and breakfast
  3. Relax

All that was required to satisfy the first goal was paying the one day ticket fee and spend upwards of eight hours walking around.

Picking just one B&B out of the many available was a very difficult task due to the variety of places (thirty or so). I’ll save you all the trouble and tell you flat out that, if at all possible, you should stay at the Bentley Manor Inn.

The proprietors, Fred and Jane Garland, have a quality operation. Everything was remarkably clean, neat and well organized. The omelet I had the first morning and apple pancakes I had the second were both very tasty. Fred and Jane made it feel more like a Big Family Breakfast than breakfast out. They were also very knowledgeable of the area and we found their observations and recommendations to be spot on.

Two general observations about B&Bs. First, Fred and Jane, who have spent many nights in other B&Bs, recommend that, if cleanliness is important to you, you should look for an owner-occupied building. Owners tend to take cleanliness more personally when it’s their own house. Second, if at all possible, don’t pay with a credit card. In the current economy, margins are very slim and card fees take a hefty bite out of them.

The first night, we ate at a place that Fred recommended, Center Street Grill. I had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich (Carolina style, i.e., vinegar rather than tomato based) and it was some of the best pulled pork that I’ve ever had. We also did some shopping in the New Town shopping area where the restaurant was located. Lots of national chains, but some local shops and much more reasonably priced than restaurants and shops in the historic area.

After leaving New Town, we headed to Colonial Williamsburg for one of the many ghost tours, “Ghosts Amongst Us.” There is a thriving business in such activities, but only the tours affiliated with the Colonial Williamsburg foundation have access to the insides of the buildings. The stories were seriously spooky.

The next day we did the historic stuff. I wish that our schedule would have permitted us a second day – we had neither the time nor the energy to get through everything. Lots of walking plus most of the historic sites close at 5pm. We concentrated on three main sites. Basset Hall was owned by the Rockerfellers and used as a “cottage” in the spring and fall. The Capital was the seat of the House of Burgesses, where the “Give me liberty or give me death” speech was given. The Governor’s Mansion is a restoration of the building used by the governor during the period where Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia. The guides were all extremely knowledgable and we enjoyed the day very much. I do wish that there had been more reenactment, though.

Lunch was at Seasons Restaurant. Very disappointing. I had a prime rib sandwich which was fatty and tasted rather plain despite being almost $9.00 (a side, such as fries would have been almost $3.00 more). For dinner we went back to the New Town shopping area to El Tapatio Mexican Grill & Bar. Very good food, generous portions, reasonable prices and fast, friendly service.

The next morning, my wife wanted to stop at the Pottery Factory, a store that she had been to previously that was well known for having cheap odd and ends but with a wide enough variety that just about everyone could find something they liked. In the past we have enjoyed shopping at a similar store in Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately this time, we found very little of interest.

Overall, while we enjoyed the activities, we mostly just enjoyed taking a couple of days to be together. We will probably go back – in addition to seeing the rest of Colonial Williamsburg, we would also like to see Jamestown and Yorktown.

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