Mother-Daughter Weekend in Williamsburg
Williamsburg is quickly becoming my second favorite place in coastal Virginia. While the history is a huge draw, you can’t discount the countless other exciting attractions and all the glorious dining and imbibing opportunities. In the last month, I’ve visited Williamsburg three times and I’ve had a different experience every time. I had the pleasure of sharing the city with my mom who came to love the Greater Williamsburg area as much as I do.
We stayed at a hotel on Williamsburg’s Richmond Road, which is bustling with attractions, shops and plenty of dining options. I love eating local, so whenever I have friends and family visit, I want them to experience the best of the city’s local eats. Since it was late when we arrived, we had fewer options. Fortunately, Anna’s Brick Oven stays open until 11 p.m. on weekends.
Growing up, Friday nights were always for pizza, so we split a small cheese pizza. Anna’s also serves up award-winning Italian food so I ordered the Spinach Ravioli, while my mom chose the Pesto Genovese. My biggest regret of this meal is that I didn’t get a single picture because I was so excited to eat.
The pizza was my ideal cheese pizza. The traditional use of a brick oven resulted in crisp crust, a soft body and melty cheese with no bubbles. Once we finished the pizza, we moved on to our large servings of pasta.
My mother’s Pesto Genovese was linguini covered in herb rich pesto. My Spinach Ravioli was served in a creamy alfredo sauce with spinach, mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. The spinach tasted like it had been seasoned with red pepper flakes that introduced some heat to the dish, but it was much subtler when I ate the leftovers a few days later.
Saturday morning was cold and dreary with sprinkles of rain. We set out for an early start to the day with breakfast at Colonial Pancake House. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many pancake houses are in Williamsburg. There is no shortage of breakfast selections across the Historic Triangle, but skip Cracker Barrel or IHOP and get a serving of Williamsburg’s local appeal.
Colonial Pancake, a family-owned establishment, is dripping in nostalgia and charm. The breakfast menu is straight forward. Choose from the house specialties, eggs, omelets, breakfast sandwiches and, of course, waffles and pancakes. I went with a ham omelet with cheddar cheese while my mom chose the corned beef hash with two over easy eggs. We also decided to split the Apple Pie Pancakes.
While the restaurant seems like a spot geared towards tourists, with key chains, books and other souvenirs for sale, you could tell that it was also a favorite by locals as well. The table behind us chatted about some of the key historical events that took place in the city. Across from me, a William & Mary student read while enjoying a breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee.
The restaurant was busy but not overcrowded as the friendly servers quickly brought out plates of hot food. It took almost no time to receive our order. The generous helpings had us struggling to finish the order of pancakes topped with warm cinnamon apples after we ate our eggs. Once we finally finished our meal, we were happily satiated and ready to explore the city.
A trip to Williamsburg is not complete without visiting Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area. It’s free to explore the Historic Area but to gain entry into attractions like the Wythe House, Public Armoury and Bruton Parish Church, you’ll have to purchase a ticket.
My mom and I walked around for a bit, reading about some of the many historical houses and watching people go by on horse drawn carriages. Then, we headed back up Duke of Gloucester Street to Merchants Square where we browsed some of the shops in the charming space.
The 18th-century style retail village is filled with a number of shops and restaurants. From an old-fashioned candy shop and merchants selling handcrafted goods to a gastropub, wine bar and modern apparel retailer, Merchant Square has something for everyone. As I pointed out all of the different stores and restaurants to my mom, I had to show her DoG Street Pub which is where I thoroughly enjoyed a very large hot dog. Click here to read about it.
As the rain started to cease, we decided it was time to do something else. We headed to Go-Karts Plus for some “friendly” mother-daughter racing.
Go-Karts Plus is the ideal attraction for families looking for some thrills and fun games. My mom and I spent more time than I intended in the arcade as my mom developed a slight addiction to the Deal or No Deal game. Later, we headed to the Figure 8 track for a race. I would like to publicly call my mother out for cheating. She most definitely took off before the green light. Given our opposite driving styles (speed demon vs. Hoke from Driving Miss Daisy), I suppose she would’ve beat me regardless.
After racing, we headed to another Williamsburg hot spot, the Williamsburg Premium Outlets. I don’t love shopping so this was definitely more of my mom’s wheelhouse. The outlets were packed but that wasn’t surprising considering it was a weekend and the sun had just started to come out. We hit a few stores but were unsuccessful in finding anything worth buying that day.
My favorite part of family vacations growing up was that my parents always made sure that we experienced something new. I made sure to do the same and achieved that when I took my mom to a tasting at Silver Hand Meadery.
I told my mom a few times that I wanted to take her to a meadery, but she heard meat-ery.
I don’t think that’s actually a thing.
If it was, it would totally be something my dad and I would enjoy.
Mead is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey. Silver Hand offers a free mead tasting as well as a honey tasting for $6/ person. During the honey tasting, I learned how many distinct flavors of honey there are, from the popular clover honey to avocado blossom honey that is similar to molasses.
After the honey tastings, we were able to sample eight of Silver Hand’s meads. I was pleasantly surprised at how subtle the honey flavors are in most of the meads. I was worried the drink would be saccharine but I can totally see myself enjoying a glass of mead at the end of a long work day or over a meal. Leading the tastings was Mark who also gave us food pairings to go with each mead. For example, Silver Hand’s Ginger Me Slowly mead pairs best with pasta and Asian food. My mom was nice enough to buy me a bottle of my favorite mead, Soak Up the Sun, that had notes of citrus and was just semi-sweet.
We ended the long day with dinner at Food for Thought Restaurant. The quirky restaurant is decorated with photos of inventors, scientist, iconic leaders and more remarkable figures throughout history. From classic American dishes to offerings for vegans, vegetarians and seafood lovers, Food for Thought serves up original recipes that are sure to stay on your mind.
My mom and I started with the seasonal drink, Butter Apple Cider with Spiced Rum, as well as the Shrimp Boat appetizer.
The warm apple cider was perfect for the brisk evening. Topped with a slice of apple that had a thin layer of the butter on top, the cocktail was easy to sip on throughout the meal.
Fried Argentinian red ship resting on baby potato skins made up the Shrimp Boat. The crispy shrimp were tossed in a southwest remoulade sauce reminiscent of Bonefish Grill’s Bang Bang Shrimp, but with more flavor and a little more heat. For those who are timid with spice, the dish is served with bruschetta tomatoes to help tame that heat.
For our entrées, my mom and I ordered the Down South and The Crab-A-Bella, respectively, along with a few bacon-wrapped scallops that were a special for the evening.
The Down South is Food for Thought’s take on shrimp and grits. Their homemade cheese grits are topped with a generous serving of Argentinian red shrimp, bell peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes all in a piquant pan sauce. After a few bites, my mom urged me to try the dish. I obliged and spooned all the elements of the dish into one bite. After that, I wanted to devour the whole thing.
Focusing on my own food, I began to work on the large spinach-stuffed, crab cake-topped portabella mushroom that sat before me. When I ordered this dish, I didn’t think it would be as filling as it was. I underestimated the size of the cooked portabella mushroom stuffed with sautéed spinach. I tried to distribute the crab cake covered in melted provolone cheese for each bite of the stuffed mushroom instead of eating it by itself. The jasmine mushroom rice and bruschetta tomatoes, along with the bit of stuffed mushroom and crab cake I had left, made for an excellent lunch later that week. The sweet smell from the crab cake and flavor of the jasmine rice filled the kitchen in the office and had everyone asking “what smells so good?”
After getting the remainder of our food boxed up and finishing the bacon-wrapped scallops that we were entirely too full for, we headed back to the hotel. My mom and I ended the night in one of our favorite ways, watching a comedically dramatic movie on Lifetime.
Sunday morning came and it was time to leave Williamsburg. Before we fully departed the Historic Triangle, I took my mom to visit the scenic waterfront city of historic Yorktown. While there, we parked at Riverwalk Landing and enjoyed brunch with a view at Riverwalk Restaurant.
Overlooking the York River and Coleman Memorial Bridge, Riverwalk Restaurant serves award-winning cuisine using locally-grown and organic ingredients. On Sundays, the restaurant offers a brunch buffet from 10 a.m.– 2 p.m.
From your table, you can order egg dishes including omelets and eggs benedict as well as pancakes and waffles. The brunch buffet features quiche, corned beef hash, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, breads, muffins, pastries, breakfast potatoes, smoked salmon and more. The buffet also showcases local delicacies like creamy crab dip served with Old Bay chips and rich She Crab soup.
I ordered a ham, spinach and onion omelet with cheddar cheese while my mom went with the eggs benedict. I later found out, after eavesdropping on the table next to us, that the omelet of the day featured crab meat and swiss cheese. I had some minor regrets not ordering that but still enjoyed my selection. My mom’s eggs benedict featured prosciutto instead of the classic ham.
When we weren’t hitting the buffet, we took in the landscape and watched people (and adorable dogs) traverse Riverwalk Landing’s paved walkway. After our meal, we did the same thing before heading back to Virginia Beach.
Growing up, my mom and I would often take weekend or day trips. Whether that was an expedition through the streets of New York City or a quick trip to Philadelphia or Tyson’s Corner, Va., we never had a problem hitting the road. Both she and I had a great time exploring Williamsburg and spending some quality mother-daughter time together.