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Established in 1693, the College of William & Mary is the second-oldest educational institution in the United States; just a few decades younger than the prestigious Harvard University. Commissioned by King William III and Queen Mary II, the college received royal patronage until 1776, when it was declared as a public establishment. A public research university since 1906, the college currently has a strength of nearly 8,500 students and offers a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate courses. Set amidst a beautiful 1,200 acre (485.62 hectares) campus, the property is home to a multitude of historical pieces of architecture such as the Earl Gregg Swem Library, the Matoaka Amphitheater, and the Crim Dell bridge. Most notable alumni include Robert M. Gates, Mike Tomlin, Christina Romer, John Stewart and David M. Brown.
The Governor's Palace was the home of Colony of Virginia's Royal Governors and later post-colonial governors Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. Built in the early 1700s, the main building was burned down in 1781 and was reconstructed in 1930. The reconstructed building was based upon the original architectural design as well as influenced by Jefferson's suggested renovations while he was a governor. Visitors can tour this elegant residence which was built to showcase the Crown's influence. After seeing the Palace, make sure you explore the gardens outside and see if you can navigate your way around the boxwood maze.
The Capitol was built in 1705 and housed colonial Virginia's House of Burgesses. The brick building was destroyed in a fire in 1748 and the rebuilt Capital was the sight of several important events, including where Patrick Henry delivered his famous speech against the Stamp Act and where Thomas Jefferson debated the importance of religious freedom. In December 1779 the Virgina government moved to Richmond and the building was used for various businesses, including as a law school and as a military hospital, until it was destroyed in 1881. In 1934 the Capital was rebuilt once again, this time to look like the original Capital, and it was furnished with period decor. It is now it open for tours where you can learn about the Colony of Virgina and the American Revolution.
More than just a road, the Colonial National Historic Parkway connects Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown in a 23-mile stretch of road. From the York River to the James River, the whole road was constructed to allow motorists appreciate the natural beauty of the area and evoke the sensation of going back in time to the colonial era. The Colonial Parkway is not merely a means of travel, but truly an attraction in itself.
Flanked by the meandering James River, Historic Jamestown is the erstwhile site of the iconic James Fort. An expanse soaked in enriching history and culture, this is the site which marks the existence of the early English colonists who set foot in North America. Having yielded mysteries and original remains of the fort, this site is home to an archaeological museum called The Archaerium, which illustrates the beginnings of the town, its colonial history as well as its earliest industries. Set along the banks of the river, the Dale House Cafe has on offer some increasingly delectable dishes, while the Glasshouse is yet another place to soak in the town's rich history. Known to be the earliest permanent settlement of the English in America, the town shelters a troupe of notable attractions like the Tercentenary Monument, the Governor Harvey House and the deeply antiquated Jamestown Church.
There's plenty to do in this charming riverside town. There are many small cafes, shops and restaurants that visitors can spend an entire day exploring; often, there are markets held by the river. There are also many historically-significant points of interest to learn about that revolve around the Civil War and the American Revolution.