Shopping in Williamsburg
Williamsburg Premium Outlets
Conveniently located within plain sight of US Highway 60 and touting discounts of 25-65% off, the Williamsburg Premium Outlets center caters to the savvy shopper looking for a great bargain. With no fewer than 24 shoe stores and 58 clothing stores carrying popular brands such as J. Crew, Michael Kors, Ann Taylor and Timberland, it would be hard not to find at least 1 item for your closet here. Add to that an array of home furnishing stores, along with fine leather and luggage. If you sign up to become a VIP member online, you’ll receive deals and discounts around town, as well as updates on special sales and events. Members of the military, veterans and their families can show ID at the on-site information center to receive coupon books year-round.
The Historic Shops of Williamsburg
The nice thing about shopping in Colonial Williamsburg is that it’s hard to walk away from a purchase without learning something. The Historic Shops of Williamsburg offer a multitude of stores, as well as open-air stalls (operating seasonally) that cater to anyone interested in understanding the significance of the items they buy. At the Colonial Nursery, for example, visitors can enjoy elegant displays of seasonal plants and flowers, as well as participate in hands-on workshops, such as wreath decorating and candle-making. The Golden Ball offers reproductions of 18th-century fine jewelry, while the John Greenhow Store sells willow baskets, porcelain and glassware. Not only do these shops give visitors a glimpse of the styles and tastes of a generation gone by, they offer insight about how these relics were made.
After you’ve taken in the magnitude of history that surrounds you in Colonial Williamsburg, give yourself a mental break to admire the quaint shops of Merchants Square, an outdoor shopping village mirroring the 18th-century architecture that surrounds it. Because of the location — a short walk from Colonial Williamsburg — you’ll find that many of the shops cater to tourists and most are not cheap, but the setting makes it worth a visit. Shops such as the Jazzy Giraffe and Closet Envy, both small boutiques, offer an array of women’s designer clothing. Scotland House Ltd., which touts itself as “the bonniest shop in America,” features apparel and gifts from England, Scotland and Ireland, including bone-china mugs, wallets, ties, purses, traditional clothing and books. If shopping for fine food is more your thing, there is a specialty cheese shop, 2 bakeries and a gourmet candy store. There are also restaurants that offer outdoor seating on the square. Depending on the time of year, visitors can catch live music or theatrical performances.
In Yorktown, about 15 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, lies a line of specialty shops stretching along the York River. Riverwalk Landing was designed with art enthusiasts and history buffs in mind, and it houses businesses such as Patriot Tours and Provisions, which offers guided Segway tours of historic Yorktown. If you’re interested in watching an artist at work or learning to make some art of your own, Auntie M’s American Cottage allows you to do both. There are also restaurants with water views, boutiques and a local bookstore. If, after shopping, you’re in the mood for a bit of a stroll and a bit more history, you can take the mile-long hike along the river from Yorktown Battlefield to the Yorktown Victory Center.
Like many shops in Williamsburg, Master Craftsmen is quaint. Situated on a quiet street next to an art gallery, the house in which the studio and shop reside looks like any other 18th-century home in Colonial Williamsburg. Specializing in fine jewelry that is crafted on-site, it is most known for its sterling-silver cuff bracelets, but the shop also sells earrings, frames, Christmas ornaments and other gifts. It’s worth visiting even if you only want a lesson on how the hammered silver bracelets are made.
What began in 1938 as a small pottery stand, where owner Jimmy Maloney spun his own pots from the clay of the James River, has now become a well-established marketplace featuring gourmet kitchen items, housewares and outdoor gardening supplies. The shopping complex feels a little like a showroom for home goods, but that’s part of its charm. It’s easy to see how visitors could fill an entire afternoon shopping here. Featuring gourmet foods, an award-winning wine shop and its famous salt-glaze pottery, this is one arena-sized attraction worth taking in.
Yankee Candle Village
There really are places you have to see to believe. While some know Yankee Candle Co. by its slogan, “America’s best loved candle,” what many may not know is that it has created its own “village” in Williamsburg — 1 of only 2 such places in the US. In this indoor town center, where it’s Christmas every day and it snows every 4 minutes, shoppers can enjoy more than 250,000 scented candles on display. They can also take a look inside Santa’s workshop (he’s here all year); amble through the candy store, where 125 different types of candy are on display; or make their own candles in the wax works factory.