At Merchants Square, Williamsburg shopping and dining merge in a unique and historical setting – browse dozens of local shops and choose from several restaurants, all in the same downtown district. It’s the commercial center of town, bordered by Prince George Street on one end, Duke of Gloucester Street on the other, and the Colonial Williamsburg historic area directly next door.
Built during the vast renovation and redevelopment of Williamsburg in the 1920s, led by John D. Rockefeller, Jr, Merchants Square retains its original and distinct colonial-era look, with historic storefronts, brick sidewalks, and outdoor seating throughout. It’s a far cry from the modern American mega mall and a much more relaxed experience.
Best of all, Merchants Square is at the doorstep of our Williamsburg bed & breakfast inn, easily accessible on foot, and convenient for shopping and enjoying excellent meals during your stay, all in the heart of Williamsburg.
Whether you’re looking for a casual, quick bite while you shop or a more elegant sit-down meal, the dining options in Merchants Square are as diverse as they are delicious. One of our favorites is the Blue Talon Bistro, located right across the street from us, where they have been serving tasty and affordable comfort food for almost 20 years. Their “all-day” menu features breakfast standbys like corned beef hash and eggs benedict, lunch classics like the bistro burger and quiche lorraine, and a dinner menu with everything from escargot to rotisserie chicken. Any time of day, you’ll find something to love on their extensive menu, but note that they are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Another longtime local favorite in Merchants Square is the Fat Canary, which has been family-run since the beginning, dishing out seasonal plates and winning culinary awards for two decades. Executive chef Thomas Power, Jr. grew up in Williamsburg and got his chops in far-flung restaurant kitchens, traveling the world before bringing his cooking expertise back home to the Fat Canary. His focus changes with the seasons, always featuring fresh and local ingredients, with dishes like grilled salmon and seared duck breast anchoring the menu. Their wine list is also impressive, with 20 wines available by the glass and a bevy of French, Italian, and American varietals sold by the bottle. Make a reservation (their upstairs dining room is always busy) or eat downstairs, which takes walk-ins, if you’re willing to wait for a table. Note: they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Berrett’s is the go-to seafood spot in Williamsburg, serving their famous sauteed crab cakes and wide-ranging menu for 40 years. Far from simple fish and chips, their dishes take seafood to another level, such as baked flounder with scallops or flash-fried catfish over shallots and bacon. The oyster bar is also legendary, their daily catch harvested from the waters surrounding the Virginia peninsula. If your taste buds veer away from seafood, try their filet mignon, seared pork shop, or wild mushroom orzo. Their Merchants Square location is open every day from 11:30 am – 8:30 pm, with reservations taken for indoor tables and no reservations required for outdoor tables.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option while on the go at Merchants Square, perhaps between visits to events at neighboring Colonial Williamsburg, grab a salad, grain bowl, or wrap from Saladworks. Their menu features 12 signature salads, paninis, and sandwiches, all for under $15 and easy to eat while out and about.
Those looking to relax with a beer will love Precarious Beer Project, which recently won acclaim as the country’s Best Brewery Group of the Year, and has everything from four IPAs to hoppy wheat ales, honey lagers, and non-alcoholic beers. If wine is more your speed, the Williamsburg Winery has a tasting room in Merchants Square, where you can kick back in their shaded outdoor wine garden with an affordable $14 flight of red or white wines.
For a casual bite, just outside our door is Retro’s good eats! Featuring burgers, BBQ, fresh-cut fries, and fresh salads, it is one of our favorite lunch spots. There is plenty of seating inside and out for a great time out from your day.
Whatever your style or taste, the shops in Merchants Square are all unique, making it a perfect place to browse and go from shop to shop. Clothing boutiques vary from the French Twist, which has a European flair, to the fine linens at J. Fenton and the Carousel, an adorable mother-and-daughter-owned children’s clothing store. Men can find everything from preppy summer wear to sportscoats at R. Bryant, while William and Harry veers towards the upscale, with golf polos and leather duffel bags. Handmade jewelry is the focus at Precious Gem, all custom-curated by the owner, a renowned goldsmith, and at Danforth Pewter, everything is “metal made by hand,” from lamps and ornaments to necklaces. We think the pewter Fife and Drum Christmas tree ornament is a perfect memento of your visit to our B&B in Historic Downtown Williamsburg.
If you’re visiting a student at William and Mary, the Campus Shop is the best off-campus place to pick up a W & M hoodie, shirt, pennant, or even a custom diploma holder if your child is graduating soon. And don’t miss Everything Williamsburg, where you can find one-of-a-kind souvenirs, like a George Washington coffee mug, a fife or drum (like those played in Colonial Williamsburg), or an authentic tavern mug like those served at King’s Arms Tavern.
Many boutique shops on Prince George Street include Sweet Tea Williamsburg, Nurtured Notion, and the new Downtown Gallery by Ryan Eure Designs.
Every Saturday from the early spring through the fall, the Williamsburg Farmers Market takes place at Merchants Square from 8 am to 12 pm. Start the day with a pastry and coffee from Illy Cafe and browse the 40 vendors. The first market of the year was on March 4th, 2023, and the market season is now officially underway, rain or shine.
Second Sundays have also opened for the 2023 season. This festival featuring over 100 crafters and four music stages, is held every Second Sunday from March through December from 10 am to 5 pm.
If you’re visiting during the weekend of April 21-23, 2023, don’t miss the annual Spring Sidewalk Sale, when Merchants Square vendors offer huge discounts on their wares, often 50-75% off select items. It’s a great time to browse casually and pick up some incredible deals.
The following weekend, on April 30th, 2023, art takes over Merchants Square for Art on the Square, happening for the 58th year and featuring an impressive variety of artistic styles and mediums from the 90 artists chosen by a juried selection process. All proceeds benefit local arts programs, so bring home some handmade art to remember your trip to Williamsburg while supporting the local community.
Reserve your guest room with us in the center of Williamsburg and explore all the shopping, dining, and fun-filled events right next door at Merchants Square!