Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ye Olde Taverne

Don't forget that you can enjoy a bit of the olde colonial fare at one of Colonial Williamsburg's taverns. You should call 1-800-Taverns to make a reservation and to obtain directions.

King’s Arm Tavern, Price Range: $23 to $36

Shield’s Tavern, Eighteenth Century Coffee House

Christiana Campbell’s Tavern (Seafood), Price Range: $21 to $34

Tavern, Price Range: $4 to $24

Monday, October 29, 2007

Restaurants not in your MARAC dining guide

There are too many restaurants in Williamsburg to include in any dining guide, and I'm not just talking about the pancake houses (some locals like Mama Steve's on Richmond Road) or the restaurants where you can be served by someone in costume.

I have mentioned New Town, which offers quite a variety from cheeseburgers and steak to a chocolatier and Italian cuisine.

Williamsburg's sole Indian restaurant is Nawab located on Monticello Ave. and while this strip mall near the intersection of Richmond Road has seen better days, Nawab is a fine little place with the lunch buffet incredibly popular.

Across the street in the Williamsburg Shopping Center you will find Chez Trinh, a Vietnamese restaurant I have visited more than a few times. Another door I regularly darken is Miyako Japanese Restaurant, a couple doors down from Chez Trinh at 153 Monticello (both restaurants are near the Marshall's store in the strip mall). I first ate at Miyako my second night in Williamsburg and after trying to explain to the disbelieving sushi chef why I was moving to Williamsburg, I have a certain fondness for the place. Well, that and they do a few volcanic sushi rolls (flame not included) that I adore.

Hayashi Japanese Restaurant at 5601 Richmond Rd. is located in Ewell Station, a little strip mall next to the ever-growing Prime Outlets. There is also Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse at 1621 Richmond Rd. (trust me when I tell you that it is hard to miss), which is your typical Japanese Steakhouse. I recommend Hayashi whether you are interested in sushi or interacting with the chef as he cooks at your table.

If you travel far and wide for hot dogs, take yourself over to Puttin' On The Dog, easily missed at 6401 Richmond Rd.

Other News

While there is always much to enjoy in Williamsburg, sometimes a person is just looking for another place to do that thing with that person. Newport News is worth your consideration. In addition to being the home of Christopher Newport University whose Ferguson Center for the Arts seems to keep a calendar worth keeping an eye on (Queen Latifah and Tango Buenos Aires this week), there is also the Mariners' Museum and Lee Hall Mansion (and have I mentioned there is a Trader Joe's in Newport News??). The Mariners' Museum includes the USS Monitor Center, which in addition to a full-scale replica of the USS Monitor also holds the revolving gun turret from the ironclad. Operated by Newport News, the house museum of Lee Hall Mansion documents the 1862 Peninsula Campaign for the public through decorated rooms and the 1862 Peninsula Campaign Gallery.

Another Newport News acquisition is the much older Endview Plantation, constructed in the 18th century. Endview briefly served as a hospital during the Peninsula Campaign and was occupied for the remaining years of the Civil War.

The Newsome House is the 1899 Queen Anne residence of J. Thomas Newsome that served as the hub of the local African American community in the early 20th century. Of course there are other things to do in Newport News as well, so check it out already.


With MARAC in Williamsburg upon us, thoughts begin to turn to Springtime in Chautauqua...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Repository tours

If you are in Williamsburg Thursday afternoon and not already going on a tour or attending a workshop, might I suggest a visit to the Rockefeller Library at Colonial Williamsburg and/or the Special Collections Research Center at the College of William and Mary. You can visit from 1-3:30pm with further information and directions available in the program. Please note one correction to the directions to the College as published: you will be turning from Jamestown Road onto Ukrop Drive (formerly known as Campus Drive). Remember that Thursday afternoon will be your only chance for a tour of the Special Collections Research Center as tours will not be available during Friday evening's reception.

A few detailed maps of the College and CW will also be available at the registration desk while supplies last. Parking at the Rockefeller Library is free. There are a few parking meters by Swem Library at William and Mary or you may purchase a parking permit at the Circulation desk that will allow you to park in any faculty/staff space.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

This will make you drop

Williamsburg has a few shopping options. I believe the outlet mall(s) is actually Williamsburg's number 1 or 2 top tourist attraction.

Merchants Square is adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary and includes a mix of shops and restaurants catering to tourists. Bookstores include the College of William and Mary Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Mermaid Books. The Cheese Shop is a perennial favorite for lunch while Aroma's on Prince George Street is an excellent option for a sandwich or coffee. A list of the various other restaurants in Merchants Square that you may want to check out Friday evening can be found in your registration packet.

New Town is another great location for a mix of shops, restaurants, and other things to do. The Corner Pocket is one option along with what seems to be a new restaurant opening each week. Williamsburg's second Thai restaurant, Thaipot, opened recently and as a service to you I had lunch there recently and can report that the food was good and the setting relaxing. I might choose Emerald Thai, which is closer to the Marriott over Thaipot. Their food seems to be of a similar caliber, similar prices, and while both provide a lovely setting, I really like the tables and chairs at Emerald Thai. There are a variety of dining options in both price and variety, so you may want to make the drive to this New Town and check it out. As I mentioned, Trader Joe's is not arriving until next year (sorry!).

Prime Outlets is for the serious shopper. If you have been to a Prime Outlet is this country, the Williamsburg location on Richmond Road offers nothing different just shops for as far as the eye can see.

Further along on Richmond Road you will come to the Williamsburg Outlet Mall. Yep, more shops.

And then there is Williamsburg Pottery. You can camp and shop all in one location. Seriously though, they have been making so much more than pottery there since 1938. I do not actually try to define or explain the Pottery and won't try here.

When looking for a tricorn hat for yourself, try one of the souvenir shops along Richmond Road.

Williamsburg also has several strip malls that will meet most of your shopping needs, so just ask if you are looking for something in particular.

What I Did on My Williamsburg Vacation

Dear Readers,
I apologize. MARAC is upon us and I have about a dozen posts I intended to share, but the recent invasion of tourists to see me really threw me off schedule (who knew they would be able to stay awake so late into the evening??). Here then is a partial list of how we spent our time and I hope you will find a few things of interest.

Day 1: Arrival. Drove from the Richmond airport to Williamsburg along Rt. 60, which has lots of roadside history signs folks love and brings you into Williamsburg via Richmond Road (aka Everything Tourists Want Road). This was followed by a drive through Colonial Williamsburg (CW) and dinner at Pierce's.

Day 2: Williamsburg Day. Visited just about everything at the College of William and Mary including the new and original statues of Lord Botetourt. Visited Merchants Square for a lunch of peanuts and ice cream.

Although the new Smithfield Hams shoppe was not yet open, we did find plenty of hams in the Peanut Shoppe to prove that we were indeed in Virginia. While getting cash from my bank's ATM across the street I also checked out the archaeological dig revealing a 17th-century building in its former parking lot. You think someone is just building a new building, but no, first they are unearthing buildings.

Peered at CW briefly.
Despite what some would tell you, we did not find that Colonial Williamsburg was built on rock and roll.

Made a quick trip to New Town (New Town=shopping and restaurants). I am sorry to have to tell you that the Trader Joe's at New Town will not open until 2008, so we still have to make the 15 mile drive to the Newport News location. Relaxed on a patio enjoying seafood for dinner. Bought a pie. Mmmmm, pie.

Day 3: Norfolk. Norfolk is less than an hour from Williamsburg, but as there usually seems to be traffic on I-64 or in the tunnel plan for at least an hour's drive. We spent the day at the Norfolk Botanical Garden enjoying the tram and boat rides and communing with wildlife including a bald eagle pair, osprey, heron, turtles, and others. I wanted to go to the Chrysler Museum of Art as well, but some in our little group thought the weather was too perfect to spend time indoors. Little did they realize that almost every day was going to be that perfect. More seafood.

Day 4: Jamestown. Breakfast out (Williamsburg has a few pancake restaurants, dontchayaknow). A long lunch at Williamsburg Winery followed by a drive to Jamestown. There are two Jamestowns for visitors to choose from: the actual Jamestown site on the island operated jointly by the National Park Service and the APVA and Jamestown Settlement operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you are looking for the ships and the living history museum, head to the Settlement. If the dig and associated artifacts and buildings are your thing, head to the Jamestown Site. I'm a fan of the NPS and the dig, but unfortunately we doddled a bit too long listening to the APVA volunteers and were too late for the glasshouse. If you visit during the week chances are good that you will see archaeologists at work. We had more seafood for dinner.

If you visit the NPS site and watch the introductory film, pay attention during the opening montage and let me know if you think the track and field runners competing is a shot of the men's 100m final at the 1988 Olympics when Ben Johnson crossed the line first. It went by too quick for us and it has been nagging at me ever since. Thanks.

Day 5: On to Yorktown. Yorktown is also home to NPS and Virginia options: the Yorktown Battlefield & Visitor Center or the Yorktown Victory Center. At the Victory Center
America’s evolution from colonial status to nationhood is chronicled through a blend of timeline, film, thematic exhibits, and outdoor living history. Yorktown Battlefield offers ranger and self-guided tours of the battlefield where in 1781, the British army under General Charles Lord Cornwallis was forced to surrender to General George Washington’s combined American and French army in the decisive battle of the Revolutionary War.

We opted to drive to Yorktown Battlefield (which was free using our tickets from the previous day's visit to Jamestown) arriving just in time for a tour from one of the men in green and after unsuccessfully looking for a tricorn hat big enough for me in the gift shop, we purchased a CD and let it lead us around the battlefield. Note you can easily do the tour without the CD using the brochure and signage available at the stops, but at only $5 it was the least I could do for the Park Service. If you have visited Yorktown in the last 25 years I will wager that this is the same audio tour you listened to then as it regularly tells you to stop and restart the tape and to take your tape player with you to a particular part of the various stops. In addition to the battlefield, houses are also part of the NPS site and Yorktown is easy to get around. Note that there is a trolley that makes regular stops at several locations in Yorktown including the waterfront, which has been redeveloped in recent years and includes critical tourist options such as a beach, boats (a schooner you can catch a ride on, I think), Ben and Jerry's, and various other shops. You may also choose to visit the Yorktown Victory Monument and the Watermen's Museum.

I have visited Yorktown and Jamestown on bitterly cold and gray days as well as ridiculously sunny and warm days and I think either works well for visits to these sites along the James and York Rivers. Then again, I am a softie for bleak and gray.

We went to another seafood restaurant. Note: if you liked Cooper's in Scranton, check out Captain George's where the buffets are built to resemble ships. Be warned that the decor is in no way as excellent as Cooper's. It is simply the ship theme connecting these two dining wonders.

Day 6: Charles City County. On the way out of Williamsburg, we took the long way to Richmond along Route 5/John Tyler Highway with the plan to visit a plantation. After much deliberation over the various options among the James River Plantations, we chose Berkeley Plantation. Berkeley has a lovely location along the James where after the introductory film a costumed guide will take you on a tour of the main house's first floor. You are then free to wander the grounds to see the Harrison family cemetery, monuments to the first Thanksgiving (take that Plymouth), the first playing of Taps, and others. Berkeley has seen quite a bit of history from its ownership by the Harrison family (filled with governors, delegates, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a President here and there), the encampment of the Union Army, visits by Abraham Lincoln, to the first distillation of bourbon whiskey by a minister. Please note that there are no samples offered during the house tour. There are however "Civil War Horshoes" for sale in the gift shop for $24.95.

Knowing I wanted to save something memorable for a future visit, we did not hit all of the highlights of Williamsburg. Plan accordingly for yourself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Virginia is for wine lovers

You may have heard about the growth in wineries in Virginia. While there is no local wine trail, the local option for visitors is Williamsburg Winery. The winery is Virginia's largest and includes the usual gift shop, tour, and tasting as well as Gabriel Archer's Tavern and a new inn. The lunch sandwiches and platters of cheeses and pates are lovely especially on nice days when you can lounge in the outdoor seating area before moving on to something more ambitious like a trip to Jamestown, which is just a short drive away via the Colonial Parkway.

Of Bar-B-Que and Hush Puppies

Sorry I have not posted this last week, but I was test-driving all sorts of things you tourists like to do. I'm always thinking of you guys and have a trunk full of posts to share, so read them already.

One restaurant folks visiting (or just driving by) Williamsburg always return to is Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que. Pierce's has been around since 1971 and just recently released its sauce for sale in area markets. The menu is hickory-smoked, Tennessee-style Bar-B-Que and includes pulled pork, chicken, and catfish dinners and sandwiches along with burgers.

You should go. Don't let the crowd of cars in the parking lot keep you away. There are more BBQ options in and around Williamsburg, but Pierce's is far and away the most popular.

The hush puppies at Pierce's are the sort I like-on the small side and not sweet. You can find larger, rounder, and sweeter hush puppies at Backfin Seafood Restaurant and Raw Bar along with ginormous fried clams, tasty crabcakes (and crab balls), flounder, and all the rest. If you go for dinner on Wednesday you may just be in time for the weekly radio show of William and Mary's football coach (and institution) Jimmye Laycock.

Darkness falls across the land

On Halloween the band Fight the Big Bull is recreating the album "Thriller" at Cous Cous in Richmond. Fight the Big Bull plays big band, which could just make this one of my favorite shows since that fake Icelandic band came to America. We should absolutely go to Richmond for Halloween.

Don't forget to thank our exhibitors

Thank you again to all of our exhibitors and sponsors including just-confirmed exhibitor Clancy-Cullen Library Relocation.

Vendors you can chat with on Friday:

Academy of Certified Archivists

Clancy-Cullen Library Relocation

Gaylord Brothers

HF Group, LLC – Etherington Conservation Services

Hollinger Corporation

Hudson Microimaging

Iron Mountain/National Underground Storage

Metal Edge, Inc.

Preservation Technologies

Southern Publisher

Monday, October 15, 2007

Your final deadlines

Tuesday is the final day to register for Fine Dining with Chef Jon at the Chef's Kitchen. See page 5 of your program for all of the details.

Advance conference registrations must be postmarked or completed online by Wednesday, 10/17. See the MARAC website for all of your form and linkage needs.

Still looking for a place to lay your head at night? There are a couple hotels within a mile or so of the Marriott and too many others to count in Williamsburg, so it is left to you to decide how close you personally need to be to a pancake and/or waffle restaurant.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

While in Williamsburg: This Century Art Gallery

This Century Art Gallery is located at 219 North Boundary just down the street from the College of William and Mary and Colonial Williamsburg and is billed as "Williamsburg's original non-profit contemporary arts and crafts gallery." The gallery was established in 1959 as The Twentieth Century Gallery and with the impending new century renamed itself. You can learn more about the gallery and catch a peak at the current exhibit at the gallery's website.

Things to do at the College of William and Mary

The Friday evening reception will be held at the Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary. In addition to each other's lovely company, attendees will have anniversary-related activities, special musical guests, and the exhibit "Slavery in Virginia" vying for your attention during the reception.

If you have a bit of free time before, during, or after the conference, a visit to the College can take as little or as much time as you have available. The College's Muscarelle Museum of Art's current exhibits are "America the Beautiful: The Monumental Landscape of Clyde Butcher" and "Building a College: The Colonial Revival Campus at the College of William and Mary." If you are a fan of Ansel Adams, you should check out Mr. Bucher's photographs. "Building a College" tells the story of the creation of the portion of campus often referred to as the Sunken Garden or Old Campus in the early 20th century and includes many items from the Special Collections Research Center's collections including photographs, blueprints, and one of two original boundary stones from 1694.

While you are at William and Mary, you should not leave without visiting the Wren Building, the first building restored as part of the Colonial Williamsburg restoration, as well as taking the time to walk by the other buildings and statues around the Sunken Garden. The Sunken Garden is just behind the Wren Building.

The Youghtanund Drummers and Singers will participate in a new work choreographed by College of William and Mary dance faculty member Joan Gavaler called "Re-Membering:The World is Made Daily in Our Hearts" November 1st-3rd at Phi Beta Kappa Hall at the College. The piece blends music, movement and poetry to explore the themes of personal healing and community connection.

Eating in the neighborhood

The Williamsburg Marriott is not located in "downtown" Williamsburg or next door to Colonial Williamsburg, so you will not be able to step out the door and wander the historic area for ye olde taverne when looking for a bite to eat. There are a number of dining options within a mile of the hotel that I will share in this post. In a later post, I will review the restaurants in Merchants Square, the area of shops between Colonial Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary. Remember that the shuttle bus to the reception on Friday will run extra late to give attendees a chance to enjoy Merchants Square.

The Marriott has three restaurants: Harvest Grille is open for breakfast and dinner, Pitchers is open for lunch and dinner, and the Williamsburg Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Village Shops at Kingsmill, which is about 1/2 mile from the conference hotel, includes a few dining options as well as shopping: French cuisine at Le Yaca ($30-55, reservations recommended), Italian restaurant Doraldo ($12-20), and Mr. Liu’s Chinese Restaurant and Lounge ($10-20, delivers to the Marriott for dinner only).

The Williamsburg Marriott is adjacent to Mclaws Circle, home to many an office as well as shops and restaurants. The following restaurants are all about 1 mile from the Marriott: Emerald Thai (lunch $8-10, dinner $10-16, $15 minimum order for delivery), Maurizio’s Ristorante Italiano ($6-22, delivery available), The Whaling Company ($13-49), and there is a Starbucks at 240 Mclaws Circle as well.

There are numerous fast food restaurants located along Rt. 60 including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, and Kentucky Fried Chicken as well as a pancake house or two. For those of you who have visited Williamsburg in the past, you may remember that you are never far from a pancake house when you're in Williamsburg.

The restaurant guide Sandy prepared will be in your registration packet and will include detailed information about each restaurant including hours and driving directions, check out this map for these and other food options in the immediate area, or
you can check with the concierge on your way out the Marriott's door.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ghosts and hauntings

So, there was the call for folks interested in Halloween-ing activities and I mentioned in that other post that you could probably do your own ghost tour in the Historic Area and on the campus of the College of William and Mary if you wanted to get a book in advance, but I thought I should run down the ghost tours and related haunted doings available.

The Original Ghosts of Williamsburg Candlelight Tour is based on the book by L.B. Taylor, Jr. (actually he has published a couple books about the ghosts we live with here in Williamsburg). Tours depart at 8pm each with a fee of $10 for adults and children 6 and under are free. Tickets should be purchased by calling 757-253-1058 or 1-877-62-GHOST.

There is a haunted dinner theater, "Which Witch is Williamsburg's Snitch," at Captain George's (seafood) Buffet (71 items!?!). Shows are Thursday-Saturday with doors opening at 7pm. Someone
must tell me who the snitch is.

Colonial Williamsburg offers the Tavern Ghost Walks as well as other Halloween-ish events like Legends, Myths, Mysteries, and Ghosts and Cry Witch. Check the CW website for tour availability or make reservations by calling 1-800-501-0156.

Books featuring the Burg

A sometimes reader recently asked for a bit of suggested reading, namely books that take place in Williamsburg. I must admit that my reading related to Williamsburg includes your standard Insiders' Guide to... and a trunk full of books about the place where I hang my scarf (I need the scarf to keep me warn inside, not out) before heading for home. I have other books I'm reading just now, but I am absolutely adding a few of the titles I found for this post to my reading list.

I have been very tempted to purchase the Savannah series of books. Who is Savannah you ask? No, she is not Felicity of American Girl fame's friend, but they do seem to be going for a similar target audience. Savannah is a young london squirrel who now (or then since the books are set in the 18th century) makes her home in Williamsburg. Everyone wants to live in Williamsburg. The fact that in one of the books, Savannah is meeting pirates is almost too much excellence.

There do seem to be a lot of books for younger readers set in Williamsburg (all of that history or something, I guess), so if you are bringing yours or want to leave them with a book about where you are heading off to you have a number of options. In addition to Felicity and Savannah there is also A Haunting in Williamsburg and Willi Gets a History Lesson in Virginia's Historic Triangle as well as others I have simply not been fortunate enough to stumble upon...yet.

Novelist Christopher Bram is an alumnus of the College of William and Mary, which he has used as a setting in some of his work including Surprising Myself and Exiles in America. Bram's book that will ring a bell for many of you is Father of Frankenstein, the basis for the film Gods and Monsters.

Williamsburg has also set the mood in at least two romance novels: Lynne Hayworth's Autumn Flame (Zebra Books, 2001) and Corinne Everett's Loving Lily (Zebra, 2001). Those are not terribly exciting titles, but I'm neither a romance genre publisher nor an author so what do I really know on the subject?

Winning the prize for Best Author's Name That I Really Wonder If It Is Real is Taffy Cannon's Guns and Roses: A Modern Murder Mystery set in Colonial Williamsburg. The book's name is excellent as well, but Savannah's books are going to take that prize home this year.

There was also a Williamsburg series of historical novels by Elswyth Thane published in the 1940s and 1950s, but apparently only the first two are actually set in Billburg.

Finally, there is
M. G. McManus's romance trilogy Nicholson Street, Francis Street, and Duke of Gloucester Street (feel free to pretend you are a local and call it DOG Street-I won't tell) that relate the adventures of archaeologist Charles Dalton, who stumbles on a portal to the past. If you spend any time in the Historic Area while in Williamsburg, you will recognize those street names. (Note: Feel free to ask a tour guide while at Colonial Williamsburg about the portal.)

There are also a couple volumes of The Ghosts of Williamsburg, so if you would like to create your own Halloween ghost tour that might be a step in the right direction. You can pick up The Ghosts on Amazon or at the College of William and Mary Barnes and Noble Bookstore on DOG Street.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Stop staring at my tote

Reason #1,398,006 to come to MARAC in Williamsburg: while you may leave loaded down with brochures and conference stuff, you are not paying what you would at some of those other professional meetings.

Monday, October 8, 2007

If you can't control your peanut...

Bad news, folks. A drought in the southeastern portion of the Commonwealth means that the peanut crop is down. The expected harvest this year is 2,000 pounds per acre down from an average of 3,000 pounds per acre. This doesn't mean you will have to stop doing all of the fun things you like to do with your peanuts and peanut products nor does it mean the peanut shops in Williamsburg won't be here for your visit.

The Peanut Shop in Merchants Square is open 9:30am-9pm daily, so you should have plenty of time to fill all of your peanut needs including Friday evening after the reception when the shuttle bus will run extra late from Merchants Square to the hotel to give you time for all of your dinner, Colonial Williamsburg, and peanut needs to be met. Updates: There is a Saturday early bird discount of 10% off all purchases between 8 and 10 a.m. The Peanut Shop's fall flavors promotion gets you 20% off all apple, sweet potato, onion, and maple products in October. I'm imagining all of those flavors in my mouth at the same time along with peanuts...not liking the flavor.

More peanuts:
Whitley's Peanut Factory's Williamsburg retail outlet can be found on Richmond Road.

Padow's Hams and Deli is also on Richmond Road (like many things that tourists crave).

And I think I have some peanuts in my cupboard leftover from when I moved to Virginia. Look for those in the hospitality suite, I guess.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Here are the exhibitors you can chat with on Friday November 2nd at MARAC in Williamsburg.

A special thank you to Lockheed Martin Corporation for its sponsorship of the Friday breakfast and Metal Edge for sponsoring the Friday morning break.

Academy of Certified Archivists

Gaylord Brothers

HF Group, LLC – Etherington Conservation Services

Hollinger Corporation

Hudson Microimaging

Iron Mountain/National Underground Storage

Metal Edge, Inc.

Preservation Technologies

Southern Publisher