Williamsburg area prepares for holiday travelers

Tjefferson@vagazette.com

Thanksgiving is approaching, meaning more drivers will be on the roads, and more visitors will fill area tourism sites and shopping areas.

Area residents planning to visit family for Thanksgiving can expect some company on the roads.

Nationwide, AAA projects 48.7 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving, an increase of 1 million travelers compared with last year. That's a 1.9 percent increase over 2015, and the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2007.

To help ease traffic congestion, VDOT has announced it will suspend most highway work zones and lift lane closures on interstates and other major roads starting at noon on Nov. 23 to noon on Nov. 28.

Williamsburg area motorists will see some middle-of-the-road gas prices this holiday season, although those costs could continue to fall as the holiday approaches.

Williamsburg gas prices are anywhere from $1.86 to $2.19 per gallon, according to virginiagasprices.com. The statewide average is $1.99.

"As oil prices have crumbled under the realization that supply continues to outpace demand, gasoline prices have fallen in tandem as we approach the holiday season," said GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan in a news release. "I'm sure that's music to the ears of millions of motorists."

Families visiting the Historic Triangle — or who are simply planning to stay home — will find an array of things to do this holiday.

"Our destination does pretty well with travelers for Thanksgiving," Bob Harris, senior vice president of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance said. "It's a great time of the year and coincides with the launch of Christmas Town and Midnight Madness at our shopping outlets."

Busch Gardens Christmas Town opens up on Nov. 25, the same day Williamsburg Premium Outlets will be offering Black Friday deals. Shop-local Saturday follows on Nov. 26.

Colonial Williamsburg is prepping for Thanksgiving and expects to see more visitors than normal.

Colonial Williamsburg's ice skating rink, Liberty Ice Pavilion, will open for a second season this weekend.

"We are sold out for Wednesday and Thursday and close to capacity on Friday," said Cole Wallace, Williamsburg Lodge House Manager. "It's busy and festive. People are excited about visiting family. It's a fun time."

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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