Enjoy the holidays in dog-friendly Williamsburg!
If dogs could talk, they would tell their humans to accompany them to Williamsburg, Virginia, perhaps one of America’s most dog-friendly cities.
Where else is the most important road nicknamed DoG Street? OK, the name actually stands for Duke of Gloucester, but it is also a nod to the pups that frequent the leafy and grand thoroughfare with so many intriguing sights, sounds and smells.
The city even has canine mascots in the form of Liberty and Justice, the shaggy Briards, chosen because Thomas Jefferson introduced the breed to America. Unfortunately, the pups will retire at the end of the year, but their images remain on the mugs, stuffed toys and other souvenirs.
Invariably, you will see lots of dogs on DoG Street year round, but humans will particularly appreciate a stroll with their furry best friend during the holiday season, when Williamsburg dons a shimmering mantle of rich colors and the air is crisp with anticipation.
The birthplace of America’s inaugural Thanksgiving and of the first Christmas tree, Colonial Williamsburg officially kicks off the holiday season with Grand Illuminations, a celebration with fireworks, unique decorations and musical performances throughout the historic area.
While not all events and venues are dog-friendly, doggie day cares abound, so your canine pal will be in good hands while you do the town.
When it comes time to settle for the night, Residence Inn by Marriott Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Lodge, the Williamsburg Inn and the Brick House Inn are among the many hostelries that welcome four-footed guests.
If you are traveling sans your furry companion, the Fife and Drum Inn (fifeanddruminn.com), with on-site parking, sits a couple of blocks away from DoG Street amidst the thick of holiday action. For the dog-less, the location is primo, since you can stroll to Colonial Williamsburg without going through the hassle of driving to the Visitor Center, taking a long bus trip to the colonial city and reversing the journey to get home.
At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Christmas Town, one of the largest light displays in North America, returned this year for the 10th time with festive shows, food and drinks and an all-new Christmas Town Express holiday train ride through Jan. 5. The theme park offers a climate-controlled kennel.
To burn off extra poundage brought upon by the holidays, check out Colonial Williamsburg decked out in seasonal splendor during the Christmas Decoration Walking Tour, a guided journey through the town’s gaily decorated streets, and Talk of the Town: Christmastide, a daily tour in which an 18th century resident acts as your guide, sharing reflections on the season as you experience the spirit of Christmastide.
At the Governor’s Palace Stage, guests can get lost in “Midwinter Stories” that explain the traditions shared between colonists and Native Americans.
Not as busy as Williamsburg but equally as charming are Yorktown and Jamestown, just a few minutes away. Christmastide in Virginia runs Dec. 20 to 31 at Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum, with glimpses of 17th and 18th century holiday traditions through interpretive programs and demonstrations. The Lord of Misrule appears daily at Jamestown Settlement and period musical entertainment is provided at both venues.
Yorktown steps up to the plate with several holiday activities, including Christmas Market on Main, with more than 50 vendors lining historic Main Street to sell everything from roasted chestnuts to Christmas wreaths.
Everyone is invited to march in the Toyland Parade associated with Yorktown Market Days at Riverwalk Landing. Children’s activities include colonial crafts, holiday music and rides on the Polar Express.
A Colonial Williamsburg in miniature, Yorktown is enchanting any time of year. Riverwalk Landing’s shops and dining, framed with killer views of the York River and its impressive bridge, are magnets for the entire family. The complex is also the home for Patriot Tours and Provisions (patriottoursva.com), which offers SegwayPT tours of Yorktown.
A two-hour tour covers the history of the Colonial, Revolutionary and Civil War Periods, winding its way through the riverfront area, the bluffs overlooking the river and the charming historic village along Main Street. Check out the cannonballs embedded in the walls of Nelson House, a gift from the British during the Siege of Yorktown.
Unfortunately, you can’t take Fido on a Segway, but you can hit the beach at Riverwalk Landing or go into battle at Yorktown Battlefield, where pets on a leash are welcome. Leashed pups are also OK at Historic Jamestown, where the two of you can explore an ongoing dig. Explore along the James River during the late afternoon for stunning sunsets.
More than three dozen restaurants in Williamsburg are happy to host you and your dog at their outdoor tables, including, as you would expect, the DoG Street Pub and the Hound’s Tale.
Breweries, distilleries and wineries abound, and man’s best friend is their friend, too. Copper Fox Distillery (copperfoxdistillery.com) is the home of the first applewood-aged whiskey in the world. Tastings and seasonal cocktails are available for a small fee, and free tours are given on the half-hour.
Aleworks Brewing Company (alewerks.com) offers guided tastings that include six beers and a souvenir glass for $8.
Virginia Beer Company (virginiabeerco.com) hosts a food truck event every day the brewery is open.
You can drink, dine and stay at the Williamsburg Winery (williamsburgwinery.com). Feast on Christmas Day at the Café Provencal before repairing for the night to the charming on-site inn.
Whether traveling with Fido or Fido-less, Williamsburg has unforgettable Christmas memories just waiting.