Life in Williamsburg

R GallagherBy: Ryan Gallagher, Class of 2019

Prospective students, friends, and family members often ask me what life is like in Williamsburg. They seem to have the impression that Williamsburg is a historically preserved tourist town, a sleepy retirement spot, or a pitstop between Virginia Beach and Richmond.  Although some aspects of these impressions may be true—Colonial Williamsburg and the Cheese Shoppe are exponentially harder to navigate in the summer than in the winter—Williamsburg has a great deal to offer law students.

Simply put, I think Williamsburg is the perfect place to attend graduate school. As a Law School alumnus recently put it, “Williamsburg has enough going on to keep you from getting bored, but not too much to distract you from what you’re there for.”  Williamsburg offers plenty of places to eat, things to do, and beautiful scenery—everything that a three-year transplant could want.

Williamsburg is neither a small town nor a big city, which I think is an asset. It takes me ten to fifteen minutes to get to the Law School from the opposite side of town.  I am originally from a small town in Kentucky.  If you wanted to do something—go out to eat, see a movie, go to school for the day, and so on—you had to drive at least thirty or forty minutes to do so.  After high school, I moved to the biggest city in the state for college.  Traffic in Louisville could make what should be a ten-minute drive to Target a rage-inducing, hour-long standstill.  Williamsburg does not have this problem.

As I mentioned above, Williamsburg has plenty of things to do. Students are able to take advantage of Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, the undergrad campus, and Colonial Williamsburg (which is only a short walk from the Law School).  Law Students get free admission to William & Mary’s home basketball and football games.  Additionally, law students typically use the gym, trails, and participate in intramural sports on the undergrad campus.

Williamsburg is also perfectly situated geographically. It takes forty to fifty minutes to get to Richmond or Virginia Beach, two hours to Charlottesville, and three hours to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  Furthermore, if you are interested in history, Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement in America) and Yorktown (the site of General Conwallis’s surrender to General George Washington to end the Revolutionary War) are both only twenty minutes away.  Williamsburg’s perfect position along Virginia’s coast provides W&M Law students the opportunity to take a variety of day or weekend trips.

I hope you will consider giving Williamsburg a close look. It is not merely a tourist trap or a pass-through between Richmond and Virginia Beach.  Williamsburg’s movie theaters, food, amusement parks, history, College, and location make it a perfect place to go to law school.

New Years in Williamsburg

firstnightwilliamsburgThere are plenty of great ways to spend the last day of 2015 in Williamsburg!

  • Busch Gardens’ Christmastown– Enjoy more than 5 million twinkling lights and their signature peppermint fudge hot chocolate as well as great shows.
  • Happy Hogmany in Colonial Williamsburg- In the 17th century the government had suppressed Christmas celebrations, so Scotland turned to New Year’s Eve for its end-of-year frivolity, a tradition that remains strong to this day.  Join John Turner, David Gardner, and Cliff Williams as they present songs, tunes, and stories to say farewell to 2015 and welcome 2016.  Happy Hogmanay is held at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum from 1:30pm-2:30pm.  Admission is $9 per person.
  • First Night Williamsburg– First Night of Williamsburg is a family-oriented, non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve celebration of the performing arts presented throughout the City and on the campus of the College of William & Mary. Buttons are $15/person.

Excursions to Waller Mill Park

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

For success in law school, I have learned that scheduling free time for myself is important. Without time to relax and have fun, I would absolutely drive myself crazy!

Personally, I find a lot of enjoyment in physical activity. Back home in western Pennsylvania, I regularly visited local parks to run, hike, and bike their trials. Since coming to Williamsburg, I became determined to keep that pastime in my life. Thankfully, I found a wonderful park located only about a ten-minute drive away from the law school: Waller Mill Park.

My first trip to Waller Mill Park was purely to explore. After paying for my parking pass ($2), I spotted the park’s 286-acre lake, the Waller Mill Reservoir. The docks had a variety of canoe and kayaks for visitors to rent, and there was even a fishing pier. Although I was intrigued, I was not dressed for a day on the water, so I passed on the opportunity to head onto the lake and headed toward the trails for hiking.

waller mill 1My first trail was the Bayberry Nature Trail. A little under a mile in length, I enjoyed the simplicity of the Bayberry Nature Trail, but I definitely had the time and energy to check out another trail. I then made the trek to the Lookout Tower Trail, which was much more challenging. The trail was almost three miles long with varying elevation. The trail gets its name because it contains a tower overlooking the Waller Mill Reservoir and that tower offers a spectacular view. The rest of the trail is also beautiful with plenty of scenery to enjoy. Upon completing the Lookout Tower Trail, I headed home, very happy with my first Waller Mill Park experience.

My subsequent trips to Waller Mill Park have been for runs on the bike trail. Nicely tucked into the wooded forest, the bike trail is a two-mile, asphalt trail that is perfect for running wallermill 2and biking. Two miles is on the shorter side for a bike trail, but the scenery is beautiful, so I did not mind doubling back on the trail to up my mileage. On warmer days, the shade from the trees above the bike trail can make any run more enjoyable.

Before the weather gets too cold, my next trips to Waller Mill Park will involve some of the other activities available. First on the list is kayaking. Visitors can rent a kayak or canoe for $5 per hour, and I cannot wait to explore that giant lake. Also, if my family ever visits with our dog, I will definitely be going to the dog park that is available!

There are plenty of other aspects of the park that I have not yet been able to explore (including a disc golf course). Want to learn more about Waller Mill Park? You can check out its website here.

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Williamsburg Winery

lizradby Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

A lot of people know that Williamsburg is home to some of the best and brightest students in the world. But did you also know that Williamsburg is also home to great wine? And what if I told you that you could try it for free as one of those best and brightest students?

IMG_3091It’s no secret among my friends that I love the Williamsburg Winery, and after a visit, I’m sure you will too. Dating back to the Colonial era, the land that the winery sits on has been cultivated by generations of farmers and tenants, until the first vineyards were planted in 1985. Since then, Virginia’s light climate and hospitable land have helped the winery produce what wine educators have called “some of the best wines in the world.” The winery offers several tours and tastings each day for visitors, and visitors even get an etched wine tasting glass. The best part? With a student ID, William & Mary students can do the wine tasting for free on weekdays.

A few weeks ago, my roommate and I took advantage of this deal and headed to the winery in the afternoon after our classes had ended for the day. We sampled six of the winery’s best wines, ranging in taste and price. Our tasting started with some lighter white wines, like the James River White, a fresh sauvignon blanc, and my roommate’s favorite, the flowery Midsummer Night’s White vidal blanc. Then we moved onto some of the heavier wines, like fruity merlots and full-bodied cabernet francs. To finish, we got a choice between two of the winery’s specialty wines, which include dessert wines (my favorite!), spiced wine, or one of the winery’s reserve wines. And because the wines available to taste change with the seasons, no two visits are ever quite the same.

IMG_3092Free tasting glasses in hand, my roommate and I ended another great visit to the winery by sitting outside at the picturesque picnic tables near the vineyard. When will you take your first free visit?

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1L Tour of Colonial Williamsburg

satiraby John Satira, Class of 2017

I have always considered myself a history buff. I loved going to museums as a child, I enjoyed history classes in high school, and I majored in history in college. In a decision that surprised absolutely no one, I accepted an offer to join one of the most historical law schools in the country: the Marshall-Wythe School of Law. However, during the first few weeks of classes, I was so busy adjusting to life as a law student that I did not have the opportunity to explore and learn about historic Colonial Williamsburg on my own.

Thankfully, William & Mary offered a guided tour for law students to experience the vast history of the Williamsburg community. The event, sponsored specifically for 1L students by the George Wythe Society of Citizen Lawyers, involved an informational stroll around Colonial Williamsburg followed by a reception in the Sir Christopher Wren Building on the William & Mary campus. As if my love of history was not enough to encourage me to attend, Dean Davison Douglas himself was joining the 1L students, so I knew that it would be a worthwhile excursion.

04The event’s attendees were divided into different groups, and we were each led through Colonial Williamsburg by a very energetic and knowledge tour guide. Our tour guide was not alone in guiding the tour, as we met a few colonial reenactors who shared information as well! Some of my favorite informational tidbits include:

  • In colonial times, twice-convicted criminals would not only spend time in the stocks, where their neck and hands would be locked between two planks of wood, but their earlobes would also be nailed to the planks. Ouch!
  • During the Civil War, a Williamsburg citizen with no military rank regularly ordered soldiers to protect the town at all costs. But she was not concerned with her own safety; instead, she believed that Williamsburg was essential in founding the United States and that it must be protected at all costs.
  • Grave robbers that were caught digging in a Colonial Williamsburg cemetery in search of a Masonic treasure map were a partial inspiration for the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure.

06The tour ended with a presentation by the George Wythe Society featuring Dean Douglas in the Wren Building, and nice reception followed. There was plenty of food and drink for all attendees. During this time, I was able to meet some more of classmates, and I also talked with 2L and 3L students from the George Wythe Society, who really piqued my interest in getting involved with the group.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my evening on the George Wythe Society Tour. I was finally exposed to the great history of Williamsburg, I got to interact with my fellow 1L classmates, and had a great dinner. What more could you ask for?

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Williamsburg Farmers Market

keefeby T.J. Keefe, Class of 2017

Whether you’re interested in stocking-up for the week’s meals, or just want an interesting stroll downtown, the Williamsburg Farmers Market is definitely worth a visit. Every Saturday morning, an impressive variety of vendors assemble in the city’s historic core. Arriving from all corners of Virginia, bakers, butchers, farmers, and other artisans bring their goods to town. Beginning at 9:00 AM, locals can stroll rows of tents in pursuit of everything from fresh fish to handmade soap. If you’re there early enough, you’ll likely catch live music and cooking demonstrations on Duke of Gloucester Street.

farmers market

I’ve been to the Farmers Market a number of times now and have had the chance to

sample a few new foods. In addition to great chocolate milk, the Old Church Creamery offers small-batch yogurt that is worth a try. For a more adventurous dairy-fan, the Everona stand sells sheep’s milk cheeses that are sure to impress. If you’re more of a produce person, AgriBerry, Amy’s, and Zamora Produce all offer excellent seasonal fruits and vegetables. For protein, there’s a stand that sells local poultry, lamb and pork, and even one that sells bison steaks. No visit is complete without dessert, and King-of-Pops has that covered.  This gourmet-popsicle stand offers cold treats with flavors, including lemon basil and raspberry mint. All that variety makes for a very enjoyably experience. So, next time you’re up early on a Saturday, check out the Williamsburg Farmers Market.


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Colonial Williamsburg Collegiate Pass

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of 2017

I like being a tourist.  This past summer, I had the chance to drive through sixteen states and a Canadian province on two separate road trips, taking lots of pictures and visiting numerous sites – and gift shops! – along the way.  I was excited to learn, during Law Week, about a special deal that Colonial Williamsburg offers to William & Mary students.  This gem is called a Collegiate Pass and lets me tour the entire historic area for free.  Yes, you read that right.  I can tour and explore dozens of colonial buildings and local art museums as many times as I want, and I don’t have to pay a cent.  With my Collegiate Pass, I can also get bargain admission on special Colonial Williamsburg events, like ghost tours and concerts.  In addition, I can get reduced-price tickets for my parents and friends when they come for a visit.  All I needed to do to get this offer was walk to the Lumber House Ticket Office and present my W&M ID card.

British flags line the street in Colonial Williamsburg.  As the woman who gave me my pass explained, “You’re not in the U.S. anymore.  It hasn’t been created yet!”

British flags line the street in Colonial Williamsburg. As the woman who gave me my pass explained, “You’re not in the U.S. anymore. It hasn’t been created yet!”

In addition to all the historic sites, downtown Williamsburg is also known for its numerous shops and restaurants.  The Collegiate Pass has me covered there too.  As part of my pass, I received a coupon book containing a bunch of good deals for businesses in Merchants Square – including a coupon to the William & Mary bookstore and a BOGO offer on coffee from Blackbird Bakery.  (I may or may not be planning to drink both coffees myself.  Don’t judge.)

Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

Everyone knows that law school is a rigorous academic environment.  To maintain a healthy and happy life, it’s imperative to take some breaks and pamper yourself from time to time.  Going on “vacation” to a popular tourist destination that’s within walking distance sounds to me like the perfect way to forget about school for a couple of hours.  Especially if it’s free.

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Williamsburg Most Popular Fourth of July Destination

williamsburgHappy Fourth of July!

Yahoo! Travel recently names Williamsburg the most popular destination for Fourth of July. Who can blame there? There are many activities and events in the Historic Triangle, not just on the Fourth but also throughout the weekend.

Watching fireworks? The most popular fireworks viewing locations in the area are Colonial Williamsburg (Market Square or Palace Green & throughout the Historic Area), over the York River in Historic Yorktown, Busch Gardens, the Virginia Living Museum, and Two Rivers Country Club.

During the day of the Fourth, there is a lot more to do in the Historic Triangle.

  • 8 a.m. Yorktown Independence Day 8K Run and 5k Walk at York High school.
  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Liberty Celebration at the Yorktown Victory Center.
  • 9 a.m. Parade on Water Street with Live Music – Yorktown U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Band.
  • 10 a.m. Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums with musket and cannon salutes behind the courthouse.
  • 12 p.m. Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Colonial Williamsburg at the courthouse.
  • 6:30 p.m. Danielle Bradbery (2013 winner of The Voice) at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater (doors open at 5 p.m.).
  • 7 p.m. Sounds of Liberty Bell Ringing Ceremony at the Riverwalk Landing Stage in Yorktown.
  • 8 p.m. United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band (Dixie Band) – Riverwalk Landing Stage.

Click here for more information.

Yes, there is something for everyone in Williamsburg!

Happy Fourth  – wherever you are this weekend!

French Cuisine on a Law School Budget?

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend came to visit me for the weekend. He lives in Georgia, so whenever he makes the trip up to Virginia to see me it’s a bit of a special occasion. To celebrate, we made reservations at one of the restaurants in Williamsburg that I’ve been dying to try ever since someone raved to me about how amazing its food was: Le Yaca.

Before I go on, full disclosure: I’m a bit of a food snob. Before starting law school, I spent four years at college in a big city, where you can find virtually any kind of cuisine or type of restaurant at literally any hour of the day or night. When I moved to Williamsburg, I had very, very low expectations about the variety of food that I would find here. Fortunately, this is one of the times that I am happy to admit that I was totally wrong. Williamsburg has all sorts of restaurants with delicious fare and international flare—and often with reasonable prices, which is something all law students can appreciate.

Le Yaca FireplaceOne of those places is Le Yaca, Williamsburg’s premier French eatery. A staple for anyone in town who loves the taste of homemade European cooking, Le Yaca has been satisfying palates and filling stomachs here since 1980, and I can totally understand how it got its reputation as one of Williamsburg’s best restaurants. When my boyfriend and I arrived for our dinner, we were greeted by a roaring fire and simple, barn-like décor. The smell that hit us as we walked through the door was amazing—warm bread, wood smoke, and roasting meat, exactly like you would expect in a tiny mountain village somewhere in the Alps.

Le Yaca SteakTo start our three-course dinner, we both had hot bowls of French onion soup and baguettes. For my entrée, I had pepper-crusted beef tenderloin glazed with a Cognac sauce on top of some crunchy greens and roasted potatoes. My tender, juicy steak was cooked perfectly. As I cleaned my plate, I was so distracted by how delicious my meal was that I had almost forgotten that we’d ordered dessert as well. My boyfriend ordered a rich crème brulée, while I ate an airy lemon mousse topped with fresh raspberries. After we finished eating, we stayed at our table chatting by the fireplace, too full to move, before finally leaving the cozy restaurant for the night.

It’s always nice to take some time off between writing memos and applying for internships to enjoy some of the finer things in life. Perfect for anything from a casual brunch to a romantic night on the town, Le Yaca’s inviting atmosphere and excellent menu make it easy to do just that. Sure to please anyone looking for a taste of France here in Williamsburg, this restaurant is not one to miss.

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Aromas Café Offers More than a Sweet Scent to Students

by Graham Bryant, Class of 2016

One of the most important things to look for when deciding on a law school is the availability of quality caffeinated beverages close to the campus. Conveniently, Aromas Coffeehouse, Bakery, and Fresh Café has the denizens of William & Mary covered.

Aromas stock image (2)Conveniently located on Prince George Street—an easy ten-minute walk from the law school and one street away from Colonial Williamsburg’s Duke of Gloucester Street—Aromas is an institution among William & Mary students. I also was a William & Mary undergrad, and I can honestly say that Aromas was in my top ten reasons for choosing William & Mary Law School.

Aromas offers something for everyone. If you’re into live music and local artists, they have music nights each week and occasionally even host open-mic nights. If you simply want to get your tea—or coffee—and a pastry and run, that’s fine too. You’ll just have trouble choosing among their plethora of tea and coffee blends, or settling on only one made-on-site-that-day pastry. Finally, if you want to relax with a group of friends and share a meal, Aromas has an extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu that’s surprisingly affordable—even on a law student’s budget.

aromas-interior (2)In fact, one of my favorite things to do is get Saturday morning breakfast at Aromas before beginning the day’s work. And I’m not alone—every morning I’ve been there this year, I’ve run into other law students.

Despite being incredibly popular with tourists, Aromas remains a remarkably student-friendly location. Sure, my Saturday morning breakfast outings are typically swarmed with vacationers, but there are always students working on their laptops or doing readings. In fact, I drafted a sizable portion of my Civil Procedure outline while sipping tea on Aromas’ front patio. This student-friendly atmosphere is a cornerstone of the Aromas mystique, making it a great place to meet with other law students or even undergrads.

If you really want to become a regular, though, stop by Aromas at night. Usually, only locals and students are around in the evenings, and the friendly wait staff will soon know you by name. In addition to avoiding the tourist crowds, all the live music events happen at night.

As a prospective member of the William & Mary Law community, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Aromas is the best place in Williamsburg to purchase bulk coffee beans and loose-leaf tea. It’s not well advertised, but if you ask them, they’ll be happy to sell you a bag of that bean blend you love so much. You might just need to have a healthy supply when finals crunch time approaches.

So if you’re in town to visit the school, I would encourage you to stop by Aromas and get a feel for downtown Williamsburg. If nothing else, grab a slice of their chocolate overload cake. You can thank me when you start in the fall.

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Kingdom v. Pigge — The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf

On Friday, November 15, 85 students from a local middle school visited the McGlothlin Courtroom for a program hosted by The Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT). The program, entitled “Fractured Fairytales,” consists of a mock trial in which all of the witnesses and parties are based on classic fairytale characters or creatures. The characters and their respective classic stories are each given an odd or idiosyncratic twist that creates a legal problem that is at the center of the mock trial. The students, at the end of the trial, served as the jury and determine the verdict where they found Pigge guilty of attempted murder.

3L Nandor Kiss as the Big Bad Wolf

3L Nandor Kiss as the Big Bad Wolf

Friday’s case, Kingdom v. Pigge, was a merging of the classic Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs story with the 1L Torts classic Katko v. Briney (the spring-loaded shotgun case). Mr. Wolfe, a relentless magazine salesman, simply would not leave Jack Pigge alone. Jack Pigge—the same Jack who previously cut down the beanstalk, killing the giant in the process—subsequently sets a trap for Mr. Wolfe, seriously injuring him in the process. The Kingdom brought attempted murder charges against Jack Pigge, who was claiming self-defense.

Fractured Fairy Tale Case

Fractured Fairytale Cast

CLCT will be organizing another Fractured Fairytale Trial during the Spring 2014 semester featuring guest appearances by faculty members for law school student viewing. For more information about Fractured Fairytales or CLCT, please contact Celeste Vaughn at

CLCT is an entrepreneurial public service organization at the College of William & Mary Law School and a joint initiative of William & Mary and the National Center for State Courts. CLCT’s mission is to improve the administration of justice through the use of technology.