Take a step back in time to the beginning of America when you plan your next family vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia. The town offers a living history museum where you can meet the people who made America what it is today while strolling along 300-year-old streets. There’s also hiking, biking and paddleboarding, or you can visit one of the local museums including the Virginia Musical Museum. Williamsburg vacation rentals include cozy cottages facing the river, luxury condos and simple farmhouses. Choose from these 12 popular locations when searching for accommodations.

1. Kingsmill Community, Williamsburg

sunset reflection
Source: Flickr / Nicola Ibba

Kingsmill is a resort community located in Williamsburg. Luxury family homes and fully furnished apartments are just some of the vacation rentals available. Relax on the water by renting a boat at the Kingsmill Marina, and go fishing, swimming, or skiing. Invite a few friends to play a round of golf on one of the championship courses, or sign up for a day of spa treatments at the Kingsmill Resort and Spa.

2. Surry

beach stones at the shore
Source: Flickr / fosterh74

Located along the picturesque James River, Surry is a quiet place for your family trip. Take a tour of Bacon’s Castle, and purchase souvenirs at the small attached gift shop. If you prefer to spend time on the water, paddle a kayak or canoe down the James River, or bring your fishing poles and catch some trout.

3. Colonial Williamsburg

horse sleigh ride
Source: Flickr / Jerry and Pat Donaho

Colonial Williamsburg lies in the heart of the downtown district and includes the living history museum. Here you can experience life as it was in the early 1700s in America. The Jamestown Settlement features replicas of ships that sailed from England, a café, and several shops. Take a tour of the Governor’s Palace, or travel to the Water’s Mill Park where you can hike along the water’s edge and go birdwatching.

4. Charles City County

beautiful courthouse

Located just west of Jamestown, Charles City County offers the perfect place for families to relax. Stop by the Charles County Courthouse to view the spectacular architecture and to take pictures of the grandeur. There are several plantations to explore, including the Berkeley Plantation, the Shirley Plantation, and the Sherwood Forest Plantation. Art lovers will enjoy catching the exhibits at the Charles City Arts Center or take the kids to the Comet Bowl bowling alley for a few games.

5. Yorkton

sailing ship at the river

Peace and tranquility await you when you plan your visit to Yorkton and the York River. Sign up for a sailing charter, and spend the afternoon with the family catching your limit of fish. Walk along the city streets, and chat with the friendly locals, or have a meal by the water.

6. New Kent

grassy roadside

Stay close to the action when you choose a vacation rental in New Kent. Drive the long drive to tour the grounds of Gravel Hill, or take the family on an afternoon outing to the Wahrani Nature Park for hiking and animal watching. The Colonial Downs horse track is the place to go to test your luck at gambling or find your favorite bottle of vino at one of the local wineries.

7. Rappahannock River

man preparing the boat

The Rappahannock River channels its way through Fredericksburg and down into the Chesapeake Bay, which is just to the northeast of Williamsburg. This River is 195 miles in length and provides the perfect backdrop for riverfront vacation homes. Bring your kayak to explore the waters in the early morning with the family, or dry your feet and head to one of the local wineries, including Rappahannock Cellars or the Gray Ghost Winery.

8. Newport News

trees and tall buildings

Travel south from Williamsburg and past Jamestown to the bustling town of Newport News. This thriving city is home to the Mariner’s Museum and Park, the U.S. Army Transportation Museum, and the Virginia War Museum. Put on your hiking boots to walk the Noland Trail, or explore the city by bike.

9. Historic Yorktown

remains of a Georgian house

Escape the headaches of everyday living in historic Yorktown. The Colonial National Historical Park includes several buildings from the Revolutionary War for you to stop and take pictures. If you are feeling adventurous, head into the Cornwallis Cave for a day of spelunking with the kids. During your stay in Yorktown, be sure to take a tour of the Yorktown Battlefield, or rent a Segway and take a guided tour through downtown.

10. Richmond

tall buildings near the river

If you prefer to stay close to everything, Richmond is the capital city with a variety of shopping malls, restaurants, and things to do. One of America’s oldest major cities, Richmond is where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech proclaiming “Give me liberty or give me death.” Visit the White House of the Confederacy, or take the children to the American Civil War Museum for a history lesson.

11. Saluda

vacation houses

Choose a comfortable vacation rental home in Saluda away from the crowds. During the day, visit the Saluda courthouse, or travel to the Belle Isle State Park to let the kids play on the playground or have a picnic on the grass. If you are a fan of oysters, the annual Urbanna Oyster Festival is held in Saluda the first of November.

12. Ware River, Williamsburg

tree standing at the lakeside
Source: odis.homeaway

Located in Williamsburg, the Ware River offers many waterfront homes for travelers. Have a cup of coffee on your deck in the morning or grill with the kids in the afternoon. This 9-mile stretch of river offers calm waters for kayaking and canoeing, or you can take a swim at Westland Beach.