Lexington Visitors Center
Getting there: I-64 West to I-81 South, Exit 188B (40 miles)
The home of famous generals. Self-guided tours are available for this historic town. See the Virginia Military Institute, the Stonewall Jackson House, and Washington and Lee University. Home of the Virginia Horse Center and Natural Bridge.
Getting there: Rt. 29 South to Rt 130 West at US 11 (65 miles)
Previously listed as a Natural Wonder of the World. Offers café and gift shop. Connected to the Natural Bridge Caverns.
Norfolk Visitor Information Center
Getting there: I-64 East to coast and follow signs (165 miles)
Chrysler Museum of Art
245 West Olney Rd. at Mowbray Arch
Treasures from Chinese bronzes to paintings of the 1980s. Free.
Norfolk Botanical Garden
Houses 175 acres of various flowers and gardens. Home of the Azalea Festival. Train and boat tours of the gardens March-Oct. Fee.
Stroll the waterfront and visit the shops and restaurants with a view of the Norfolk Harbor. Located next to the Omni Hotel on Waterside Drive. The MacArthur Center features an upscale mall, including Nordstrom's and other fine shops.
3500 Granby St., Norfolk
Daily 10 am-5 pm
The Norfolk zoo opened a major new African continent exhibit in 2002. $7 adults, $5 children.
Getting there: I-64 East to Toll Road 44 to the Shore (179 miles, or three hours).
For an enjoyable weekend at the beach, summer or winter, try "The Beach." Off-season and AAA rates available. Visit the Virginia Marine Science Museum (757-425-FISH); go whale or dolphin watching. Extensive boardwalk; restaurants and shopping.
Newport News Mariners' Museum
Getting there: I-64 East to exit 258 A, follow signs
The museum is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the sea. Many models of famous ships and a research library. The turret from the USS Monitor is now housed here. Fee. (AAA, Seniors, and active duty military discounts available.)
James River Plantations
The collective name for several fine old homes located between Richmond and Williamsburg, mostly along Virginia Rt. 5 (approximately 80 miles). Fee. You can buy a block ticket to four of the plantations.
The birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and of U.S. President William Henry Harrison. The Coach House Tavern is located on the grounds. Fee.
This home was built in 1849 and features a three-story winding staircase.
6701 John Tyler Hwy, Charles City
Daily 10 am-5 pm
While this Charles City site has been home to the Ruffin family since 1847 (Edmund Ruffin fired the first shot of the Civil War at Fort Sumter), the existing house was built in 1937. The original burned in the Civil War. The house, grounds, and gardens are open for guided tours.
Sherwood Forest is said to be the longest frame house in the country at 300 feet in length. Fee. AAA discount available.
This home was built in 1723 and is noted for its walnut staircase, which rises three stories with no visible means of support. It was the home of Robert E. Lee's mother. It is still occupied by the 11th generation of the original family. Fee. AAA discount available.
Visitors Center (757) 229-1607
Getting there: I-64 East to coast and follow signs to exit 242A (130 miles). Located on Rt. 31 South at Colonial Parkway
The site of the first permanent English settlement in the United States. Living history museum depicts life in America's first permanent English colony. $10.75 adults, $5.25 children.
Getting there: I-64 East to coast and follow signs (130 miles). Located on Rt. 1020
The site of the Revolutionary War surrender of British General Cornwallis. Start at the National Park Service Visitors Center, at the end of the Colonial Parkway, or call the Yorktown Victory Center, 9 am-5 pm daily. Admission to the Yorktown Victory Center is $8.25 for adults and $4 for children.
Getting there: I-64 East and follow signs (2 hours)
Visit Busch Gardens ( www.buschgardens.com), Colonial Williamsburg, and the Williamsburg Pottery Factory (www.williamsburgpottery.com). Jamestown (757-229-1733) and Yorktown (757-898-3400) are close by, so don't miss them either. See the Washington Post Sunday Travel section for information about Williamsburg area motels.
Jump-started with donations from John D. Rockefeller, Virginia's colonial capital has been restored to nearly its 19th-century self. Start at the Visitors Center for tickets and parking. Merchants Square has many fine shops and places to eat. The historic area, closed to vehicular traffic, can be reached by the shuttle bus from the Visitors Center. Call for reservations. One- and two-day tickets or the Patriot Pass, which offers unlimited visits for one year.
Fredericksburg Visitors Center
Getting there: Rt. 20 North to Rt. 3 East (70 miles)
George Washington's hometown, four Civil War battlefields within a 17-mile radius, 100 antique shops, and a National Historic District with more than 350 original 18th- and 19th-century buildings. Start at the Visitor's Center, 706 Caroline St., open daily.
NASA Langley Research Center
Getting there: I-64 East to Rt 134 and follow signs (165 miles)
The Virginia Air & Space Center features a moon rock, the Apollo 12 command module, and an IMAX theater. Films are also shown in the evening hours Thu-Sat. Fees for theater and exhibits.
Getting there: I-64 East and follow signs (1 hour-70 miles)
The former capital of the Confederacy still retains many of the Confederate trappings, but a good dose of interesting culture as well (greater Richmond's pop. is 800,000).
4305 Sulgrave Rd.
A Tudor-style house built in England during the latter part of the 15th century. In the late 1920s it was dismantled and one-third of the house was shipped to its current location above the James River. Fee.
9th St., Capitol Square
Richmond's most visited spot. Tours offered daily.
2626 West Broad St.
This museum for children 2-12 years old allows them to explore and participate in exhibits. Fee.
Getting there: 22 miles north of Richmond on Rt. 30 off I-95
Open daily Memorial Day (last Monday in May) through Labor Day (first Monday in September). Open weekends only the rest of the year. A 400-acre theme park. Hair-raising rides, 16-acre water park, daily stage shows. Fee, but cheaper in the off-season. Look for discount tickets in grocery stores or fast food chains.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
1800 Lakeside Avenue
Daily 9 am-5 pm
40 acres of spectacular gardens features large glass, classically styled conservatory. Has on-grounds dining room and special children's garden/play area. Directions on website. Admission: $10/adults, $6 children 3-12. Children under 3 free. Senior discount (55 and over). Closed only on January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.
Maymont Park & Estate
2201 Shields Lake Dr.
This 100-acre turn-of-the-century estate includes Japanese, Italian, English, and herb gardens. Restored Victorian home, carriage collection, Nature Center/Wildlife Habitats, and Children's Farm. Gardens and grounds are free. Donation requested for estate home, Nature Center, and Children's Farm.
American Civil War Museum
12th & Clay Streets
Collection of Civil War memorabilia, home of Jefferson Davis. Fee.
Science Museum of Virginia
2500 West Broad St.
Great for kids, but adults and children alike will be delighted by the IMAX films. Fee.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
2800 Grove Avenue & North Boulevard
Particularly famous for its collection of Fabergé jewels, including five of the famous Easter Eggs. Entrance donation requested. Call for special exhibits.
Washington, D. C.
Visitors Center by White House (202) 789-7000
Metro Info (202) 637-7000
Getting there: Rt. 29 North to I-66 East and follow signs (115 miles)
Smithsonian Institute and associated museums, U.S. Capitol, White House, Arlington Cemetery, Supreme Court, and National Zoo. Monuments such as the Washington, Vietnam Veterans, Jefferson, and Lincoln. The National Art Gallery, various private art galleries, the Kennedy Center, theaters, historic Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria, and much more.
Getting there: I-64 East to I-95 North to Rt. 1, take George Washington Pkwy (100 miles)
The 3,000 acres of George Washington's historic estate and burial place are located nine miles south of Alexandria via the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The mansion contains much of the original furniture and many of the family's personal belongings. Concerts Fri/Sat nights April-August. Fee.
Getting there: Rt. 29 North to Rt. 15 North to Rt. 50 W (1.5 hours)
Middleburg, and nearby Leesburg, are charming country towns loaded with antique shops. The 1700s-era Red Fox Inn (800-223-1728) is a very romantic spot to spend an evening. Each room has a roaring fire, four-poster bed, and antique appointments. Leesburg has expanded as part of the Washington, D.C. suburbs in recent years, and has an outlet mall with good deals on Pottery Barn and Williams & Sonoma products.
Getting there: I-64 West and follow signs (35 miles)
Pronounced Stan-ton, it is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson. Take Rt. 11 North from Staunton to find several interesting antique "malls," including Rocky's at Weyer's Cave. Visit Wright's Dairy-Rite, and original drive-in restaurant. Staunton's Blackfriars Theater, a recreation of an indoors Elizabethan playhouse, features the internationally acclaimed American Shakespeare Center.
Museum of American Frontier Culture
1290 Richmond Rd., Staunton
March-Dec 9 am-5 pm; Dec-March 10 am-4 pm
Four working farms, each from a different time and place—18th-century German and Scotch-Irish farms, a 17th-century English farm, and a 19th-century American farm. Self-guided tours take about 2 hours. $10/adults, $9/college ID, $6/children.
Woodrow Wilson Birthplace
24 N. Coalter St.
Shenandoah Mountains Area (around I-81)
Getting there: I-81 exit 235 to Grottoes
Getting there: I-81 exit 269 to Shenandoah Caverns (about 75 miles from C'ville).
See the Capitol Dome, the famous bacon formations, Rainbow Lake, and Cardross Castle. Bring a jacket. While you're there, check out "American Celebration on Parade," a collection of floats from the presidential inaugural parades. Open year-round starting at 9 am; closing hours vary with the season.
Getting there: I-64 West to I-81 North to Rt. 211 Exit 264 and follow signs (90 miles)
Huge underground chambers, one with an organ. Tours depart every 20 minutes and last one hour. Adults $19, children $9. Includes admission to the Historic Car and Carriage Caravan Museum.
Getting there: I-64 West to I-81 North, Exit 240. West to Bridgewater and follow signs
Natural Chimneys Regional Park comprises seven great natural limestone towers. The National Jousting Hall of Fame jousting tournament is held here. Hiking, picnicking, swimming, and camping available.