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June 5, 2014

5 Things You Might Not Expect at Colonial Williamsburg

By Ben Swenson

Golden Horseshoe Golf

Golden Horseshoe Golf Club

Golden Horseshoe Golf Club

For 50 years, golfers have been teeing up at one of Colonial Williamsburg’s hidden gems: The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club adjacent to the Revolutionary City. The links lay within easy walking distance of the restored town, but the 45 holes on three courses are almost entirely surrounded by an old forest. Renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed The Golden Horseshoe, which has been named among the nation’s premier courses by Golf Magazine, Golf Digest, and Golfweek. Golf is a family affair for the Jones family – Robert Trent Jones, Sr. also updated the nine-hole Spotswood Course, and his son, Rees, designed the Green Course that opened in 1991. A community open house is planned for June 18, when visitors can take a tour of the Gold Course and the spa.

The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg

The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg

The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg

Speaking of spas…. Just as the dramatic events that played out in 18th century Williamsburg set a course for the people we would become as modern Americans, past centuries have also influenced how we care for our bodies. A continuum of wellness has carried on through the ages and nowhere is this better shown than at The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg. State-of-the-art techniques that reflect evolving practices to promote well-being—such as the Native American-inspired 17th century detoxifying herbal wrap and hot stone massage—are among the host of services offered at this facility. You probably expect that wheelwrights and wigmakers are among the tradesmen of Colonial Williamsburg, but you might be surprised to learn that massage therapists and aestheticians are included on the roster of experts, too.

An Immersive Spy Game – RevQuest: The Old Enemy

Think all is well in the Revolutionary City? Not so fast. Colonial Williamsburg teems with undercover agents working to secure American independence—or to sink it. Now you can become part of a secret fraternity and with the added advantage of your 21st century technology. RevQuest: The Old Enemy is an immersive spy game that plunges “questors” into the clandestine web of 18th century espionage. You’ll find meaning where others see only window dressing, decipher handwriting on walls, send and receive encrypted text messages, and if you can make heads or tails of it all, secure the blessings of liberty for your fellow countrymen.

Costume Rental

Costume rental

Costume rental

Guests plan a vacation to Colonial Williamsburg for those in-the-moment, 18th century encounters available nowhere else. What better way to immerse families in the pulse of the Revolutionary City than to dress the young ones like the tradesmen, interpreters and shopkeepers they’ll see about town? Kids’ costumes are available for rent at Williamsburg Revolutions in The Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center and at the open-air booths on Market Square in the historic area. The largest sizes generally fit a teenager of 13 or 14. When children wear the clothes their colonial counterparts would have, they feel a special connection to their vacation, and all those firsthand experiences they have at Colonial Williamsburg—from marching beside the Fifes & Drums for the daily Recruitment Call to rolling a hoop and stick down Palace Green—take on a whole new meaning.

Help Restore a Town at the Brickmaker

Vacation is a time for good, clean fun and at Colonial Williamsburg, that involves playing in the mud. In fact, doing so helps the ongoing restoration of historic structures. Head to the Revolutionary City’s brickmaker, and you’ll have a chance to kick off your shoes and tread in a pit of sand, clay and water, mixing the essential ingredients for bricks. Some guests return in autumn to see their work fired in a kiln. This season, guests will help make more than 18,000 bricks that will replace damaged ones in original buildings, such as the Wythe House, and build reconstructions like the Market House. By the way, the brickmakers employ feet of all sizes; you’re never too old to help restore a city.

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