Virginia: With the best drives & family excursions

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Overview

You'll never fall into the tourist traps when you travel with Frommer's. It's like having a friend show you around, taking you to the places locals like best. Our expert authors have already gone everywhere you might go--they've done the legwork for you, and they're not afraid to tell it like it is, saving you time and money. No other series offers candid reviews of so many hotels and restaurants in all price ranges. Every Frommer's Travel Guide is up-to-date, with exact prices for everything, dozens of color maps, and exciting coverage of sports, shopping, and nightlife. You'd be lost without us!

Meticulously researched by a longtime resident, and infinitely more detailed and complete than its major competitor, Frommer's Virginia has everything you need for the perfect trip. You'll rely on our honest, in-depth reviews of accommodations in every price range, from colonial inns and distinctive B&Bs to family-friendly motels. We'll bring you the latest on the dining scene, including sophisticated cafes, historic taverns, and down-home Southern barbecue joints.

With Frommer's in hand, you won't miss any of the highlights: Jefferson's Monticello, the solemn expanses of Arlington National Cemetery, charming small towns, Colonial Williamsburg, the best trails in Shenandoah National Park, the sun and surf at Virginia Beach, and Civil War battlefields--plus the best fishing, golf, hiking, river rafting, foliage tours, and much more.

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Editorial Reviews

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Frommer's guidebooks are packed with the essentials: maps, expert advice, and recommendations for the top places to eat, sleep, shop, and simply relax. Frommer's guides offer more hotel listings than most other series and also include an excellent opening chapter that highlights the best of each destination -- those absolute don't-miss experiences that will make your trip something special. Art, music, fine dining, and much more are covered in detail, with all costs, directions, and other vital information included.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764543418
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/5/2004
  • Series: Frommer's Complete Series , #568
  • Edition number: 7
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Born and raised in North Carolina near Hampton Roads, Bill Goodwin has lived in northern Virginia since 1979. He was an award-winning newspaper reporter for the Atlanta Journal before becoming a legal counsel and speechwriter for two U.S. Senators, Sam Nunn of Georgia and the late Sam J. Ervin Jr. of North Carolina. Now a full-time travel writer, Goodwin also is the author of Frommer’s South Pacific.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps.

What’s New in Virginia.

1. The Best of Virginia.

2. Planning Your Trip to Virginia.

3. For International Visitors.

4. Northern Virginia.

5. Fredericksburg & the Northern Neck.

6. Charlottesville.

7. The Shenandoah Valley.

8. Roanoke & the Southwest Highlands.

9. Richmond.

10. Williamsburg, Jamestown & Yorktown.

11. Norfolk, Virginia Beach & the Eastern Shore.

Appendix: Virginia in Depth.

Index.

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First Chapter

Frommer's Virginia


By Bill Goodwin

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-4341-5


Chapter One

The Best of Virginia

America's first permanent English-speaking colonists had a rough start at Jamestown in 1607, but within a few years the beautiful and bountiful land they called Virginia had greatly rewarded them for their courageous efforts. They first set foot on a sandy Atlantic Ocean beach at Cape Charles, at the mouth of one of the world's great estuaries, the Chesapeake Bay. Beyond them lay a varied, rich, and highly scenic land. They settled beside one of the great tidal rivers whose tributaries led their descendants through the rolling hills of the Piedmont, over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and into the great valleys beyond.

Almost 400 years later, the history-loving Commonwealth of Virginia abounds with historic homes and plantations, buildings that rang with revolutionary oratory, museums that recall the storied past, and small towns that seem little changed since colonial times.

Fortunately, preservation hasn't been limited to historical landmarks. Conservation efforts have kept a great deal of Virginia's wilderness looking much as it did in 1607, making the state a prime destination for lovers of the great outdoors. Whether you like to hike, bike, bird watch, fish, canoe, or boat-or just lie on a sandy beach-Virginia has a place to indulge your passion.

This chapter describes some of the best experiences Virginia has to offer. Bear in mind that it's just an overview,and you'll surely come up with your own "bests" as you travel through the state. Be sure to see the destination chapters later in this book for full details on the places mentioned below.

1 The Best of Colonial Virginia

Old Town Alexandria: Although Alexandria is very much part of metropolitan Washington, D.C., the historic district known as "Old Town" evokes the time when the nation's early leaders strolled its streets and partook of grog at Gadsby's Tavern. See "Alexandria," in chapter 4.

Mount Vernon: When he wasn't off surveying, fighting in the French and Indian Wars, leading the American Revolution, or serving as our first president, George Washington made his home at a plantation 8 miles south of Alexandria. Restored to look as it was in Washington's day, Mount Vernon is America's second most visited historic home. See "Mount Vernon & the Potomac Plantations," in chapter 4.

Fredericksburg & the Northern Neck: Not only did the Fredericksburg area play a role in the birth of a nation, it was the birthplace of George Washington, father of the new nation. Also born here was James Monroe, who as president kept European powers out of the Americas by promulgating the Monroe Doctrine. The great Confederate leader Robert E. Lee was born here a generation later. Fredericksburg still retains much of the charm it possessed in those early days, and the birthplaces of Washington and Lee stand not far from town on the Northern Neck. See chapter 5.

Charlottesville: If Washington was the father of the United States, then Thomas Jefferson was its intellectual genius. This scholar, lawyer, writer, and architect built two monuments-his lovely hilltop home, Monticello, and the University of Virginia that still evoke memories of this great thinker and patriot. See chapter 6.

Williamsburg, Jamestown & Yorktown: Known as the Historic Triangle, these three towns are the finest examples of colonial America to be found. Thanks to the Rockefeller family, Colonial Williamsburg has been restored and rebuilt as it appeared when it was the capital of Virginia in the 18th century. The site of the original Jamestown settlement is now a national historical park, as is Yorktown, where George Washington bottled up Lord Cornwallis and won the American Revolution. See chapter 10.

James River Plantations: Colonists fanning out from Jamestown hacked huge tobacco plantations out of Virginia's forests creating America's first great wealth. Today, you can visit some of their great manses on the James River between Williamsburg and Richmond. Descendants of the colonial planters still occupy some of these mansions. See "James River Plantations" in chapter 10.

2 The Best of Civil War Virginia

When the Civil War broke out in 1861 and the Confederacy moved its capital to Richmond, the state became the prime target of the Union armies. Virginia saw more battles than any other state, as Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia turned back one assault after another. Today's visitor can visit the sites of many key battles, all of them national historical parks.

Manassas: The first battle of the war occurred along Bull Run near Manassas in northern Virginia, and it was a shock to the Union (and thousands of spectators who came from Washington to watch), when the rebels engineered a victory over a disorganized Union force. They won again at the Second Battle of Manassas. See "The Hunt Country," in chapter 4. Fredericksburg: No other town in Virginia has as many significant battlefields as Fredericksburg. Lee used the Rappahannock River as a natural line of defense, and he fought several battles against Union armies trying to cross it and advance on Richmond. Today, you can visit the battlefields in town, at Chancellorsville, and the Wilderness in a day. See chapter 5.

Appomattox Court House: After the fall of Petersburg in 1865, Lee fled for little more than a week until realizing that continuing the war was fruitless. On April 9, he met Grant at Wilbur McLean's farmhouse and surrendered his sword. America's bloodiest conflict was over. The farmhouse is preserved as part of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. See "What to See & Do," in Charlottesville, chapter 6.

New Market: While Lee was fending off the Union near Fredericksburg, the war flowed up and down the Shenandoah Valley, the Confederacy's breadbasket. The town of Winchester changed hands 72 times. Perhaps the war's most poignant battlefield is at New Market, where the corps of cadets from Virginia Military Institute helped stop a larger Union force. Ten of the teenagers were killed, and 47 wounded. See "New Market: A Civil War Battlefield," in chapter 7.

Richmond: The capital of the Confederacy, Richmond is loaded with reminders of the conflict, including the magnificent Museum of the Confederacy and its adjacent White House of the Confederacy, home of Pres. Jefferson Davis. The city's Monument Avenue is lined with statues of the rebel leaders. Now suburbs, the city's eastern outskirts are ringed with battle sites, part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. See chapter 9.

Petersburg: After nearly 4 years of frustration trying to capture Richmond, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant bypassed the southern capital in 1864 and headed for the railroad junction of Petersburg, the lifeline of the Confederate capital. Even there he was forced into a siege situation, but finally, in April of 1865, Grant broke through and forced Lee into retreat westward. See "An Easy Excursion to Petersburg," in chapter 9.

3 The Best of the Great Outdoors

Virginia has hundreds of thousands of acres of natural beauty preserved in national and state parks, national forests, and recreation areas. Especially in the mountains, you can find more than 1,000 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The Chesapeake Bay offers boating and fishing, and the Atlantic beaches are among the best on the East Coast.

Shenandoah National Park: Nearly two million visitors a year venture into the Shenandoah National Park, which straddles the Blue Ridge Mountains from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap between Charlottesville and Waynesboro. Many visitors merely drive along the 105-mile Skyline Drive, one of America's most scenic routes. Others come to walk some of the more than 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Many trails start at the Skyline Drive and drop down into hollows and canyons, some of them with waterfalls. Even on the Skyline Drive, you are likely to encounter deer, and you might even see bear, bobcat, and wild turkey. See "Shenandoah National Park & the Skyline Drive," in chapter 7.

Running the Rivers (Front Royal, Luray, Lexington, Richmond): The South Fork of the Shenandoah River twists and turns its way between the valley towns of Front Royal and Luray, making it a perfect place for river rafting, canoeing, and kayaking-or just floating along in an inner tube. The James River can be swift and turbulent as it crosses the Shenandoah Valley, cuts through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and courses its way across the Piedmont to Hampton Roads. Depending on the amount of rain, you can even raft down the James through metropolitan Richmond. See chapters 7 and 8.

Mount Rogers National Recreation Area: While you won't be alone in Shenandoah National Park, you could have a hiking, biking, horseback-riding, or cross-country skiing trail all to yourself in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. This wild land in the Southwest Highlands occupies some 117,000 acres of forest, and includes its namesake, Virginia's highest peak. Two of Virginia's finest rails-to-trails hiking, biking, and riding paths serve as bookends to the 60-mile-long recreation area: the New River Trail near Wytheville, and the Virginia Creeper Trail, from Abingdon to White Top Mountain. See "Mount Rogers National Recreation Area," in chapter 8.

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge/False Cape State Park (Virginia Beach): You can't sunbathe or swim on the beach of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, but you can hike through the dunes or take a canoe into the marshes, which are on the Atlantic Flyway for migrating birds. You can sunbathe and swim at the adjoining False Cape State Park, but it's so out of the way that you'll have to bring your own drinking water. See "Parks & Wildlife Refuges" in chapter 11.

Assateague Island: Of all the natural areas in Virginia, none surpasses Assateague, which keeps the Atlantic Ocean from the back bays of Chincoteague. Here you will find the famous wild ponies in Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and relatively tame humans strolling along some 37 miles of pristine beach. Assateague Island is also situated directly on the Atlantic Flyway, making it one of the best bird-watching sites in the country. See "Chincoteague & Assateague Islands," in chapter 11.

4 The Best Scenic Drives

One of the best ways to see Virginia is by car: the Old Dominion has some of America's most beautiful scenic drives.

George Washington Memorial Parkway (Northern Virginia): Stay away during rush hour, when it becomes a major commuter artery into and out of Washington, D.C., But any other time, the "G.W. Parkway" is a great drive along the Potomac River from I-495 at the Maryland line to Mount Vernon. The river views of Washington's monuments are unparalleled. See "A Scenic Drive Along the Potomac River," in chapter 4.

Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park): Few roads anywhere can top the Skyline Drive, which twists and turns 105 miles along the Blue Ridge crest in Shenandoah National Park. The views over the rolling Piedmont to the east and Shenandoah Valley to the west are spectacular, especially during spring, when the wildflowers are in bloom, and in fall, when the leaves change from green to brilliant hues of rust, orange, and yellow. See "Shenandoah National Park & the Skyline Drive," in chapter 7.

Lexington to Hot Springs: While I-81 runs down the floor of Virginia's great valleys, other roads offer a different scenic treat by cutting across the mountains. One of these is Va. 39, which runs from Lexington to Hot Springs via the Goshen Pass, a picturesque gorge cut by the Maury River. You can make a loop by continuing north from Hot Springs via U.S. 220 to the beautiful village of Monterey in "Virginia's Switzerland." From Monterey, you can cross the mountains via U.S. 250 to Staunton and I-81. See chapter 7.

Blue Ridge Parkway: A continuation of the Skyline Drive, this road continues along the Blue Ridge crest south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Of the 218 miles in Virginia, the most scenic are north of Roanoke. You'll find it difficult to keep your eyes on the road, as the parkway often runs right along the ridgeline, with views down both sides of the mountain at once. See "The Blue Ridge Parkway," in chapter 8.

Colonial Parkway: It's not long, but the Colonial Parkway between Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown has its scenic merits, especially the views of the James River near Jamestown and of the York River near Yorktown. The parkway goes through a tunnel under the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. See chapter 10.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: A man-made wonder, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel runs for 17 miles over-and under-the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay between Norfolk and the Eastern Shore. You can barely see land when you're in the middle. See chapter 11.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Frommer's Virginia by Bill Goodwin Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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