DC/Virginia Vacation

Old Mar 27th, 1997, 07:37 PM
  #1  
PJ Merrill
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DC/Virginia Vacation

My husband, 13-year-old, and myself are planning a camping trip to DC and Williamsburg, VA from June 28 to July 10 of this year. We would appreciate any tips, suggestions that would make our trip enjoyable. Thank to all that answer this. pj
 
Old Mar 28th, 1997, 06:25 AM
  #2  
Neal Sanders
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First, I hope you like humidity, because the two choices of weather in Washington and Virginia at the end of June and first half of July are 1) hot and humid and 2) rainy and humid.

That said, let me offer a few suggestions:

1) The Fourth of July fireworks on the Mall in Washington are not to be missed. It's just you and half a million close friends watching what has to be the best fireworks display in the country, paid for by the grateful taxpayers of Wisconsin, Idaho, etc. There's also day-long festivities on the Mall, usually featuring slightly over-the-hill rock groups. It's a wonderful thing to do once.

2) Five miles down the Potomac River from Washington is Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. While technically "inside the beltway," it is a place apart; a genuine, living and breathing 18th and 19th century village. Unlike Williamsburg, people live in the houses. Yes, there are quaint shops along King Street, and there's the arts-centric Torpedo Factory at the foot of Cameron St. (on the waterfront). But to see the essence of Old Town, park your car and just start walking; especially the quadrant south of King Street and east of Washington. It is a walk back a more than a century, with gracious town houses and some free-standing homes. It is the character of this area the diversity of architecture and pedestrian-scale detail that planners attempt to capture in "retro" developments like Seaside, Florida.

3) Smith Island, Maryland. Yes, I know you're vacationing in Virginia, but this flyspeck of an islandin the Chesapeake is accessible only via ferry from a town at the foot of Route 3 in Virginia. The attraction is the people and the food. This is a crabbing village and you're in the area as the soft-shelled crab season is getting in full swing. The men and women tending the tanks watching for "peelers" can talk all day about crabs. The three restaurants on the island will make you a crab roll or soft-shell crab sandwich that will make every other crab you will ever eat taste mediocre by comparison.

There are other places I could recommend; e-mail me if you want a list. Have a great trip!
 
Old Apr 14th, 1997, 06:11 AM
  #3  
shelley
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Hi It all depends where you want to go. I live
near the Blue ridge MTs. , Peaks of Otter, 3 1/2-
4 hours from DC. Good facilities. NIce Hiking trails in this area. Not too far from Appomattox,
where Civil War ended. I also think town of Lexington, VA is neat in summer. Artsy /crafty with
Lime Kiln outdoor theatre. Good luck
 
Old Apr 14th, 1997, 09:37 AM
  #4  
Shawn
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If you are planning on going to the Smithsonian/the Mall, the best place to take a 13 year old by far is the National Air and Space Museum. Others that teenagers may enjoy are the Natural History and American History museums. The Art museums are good too, but may be a bit boring for a 13 year old. If you go early, before the lines form, try the tour at the FBI, which can be pretty interesting. Try not to eat at the museums, however - the food is both fair at best and very expensive. Instead, walk a few blocks to Planet Hollywood or the Hard Rock Cafe (I prefer Planet Hollywood for both atmospshere and food). If you happen to get lucky, and are out on a day that isn't 100 degrees and 99%25 humidity (remember, Washingotn was originally built on a swamp), be sure to check out the monuments , which no matter how many times you've seen pictures, are always impressive up close.
If you want to do some shopping, both Georgetown (in DC) and Old Town (Alexandria, VA) are great places for shops, restaurants of all types, and views of the river and boats. Georgetown has a newly renovated waterfront area, with many good restaurants without outside seating overlooking the river. Plan on about 4 to 5 hours to get to Williamsburg from DC, depending on traffic on I-95. If you are spending a few days there, you may want to spend one exploring Williamsburg, including Colonial Williamsburg, and one at nearby Busch Gardens, a fairly good amusement park. (Paramount's King's Dominion is also off I-95, about 2 hours south of DC, on your way to Williamsburg.
No matter, it should be hard not to have a good time whatever you plan on doing. Take it from a "local" in a city of transients.
 
Old Apr 14th, 1997, 04:59 PM
  #5  
PJ Merrill
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Thank you very much for your suggestions. Maybe you can answer another question. On the day we leave DC for Williamsburg we plan on going to Mt. Vernon. We can't check in at the campground in Williamsburg until 3 PM. We would prefer not to take the highway and instead try something a little more scenic. Any suggestions?.
 
Old Apr 15th, 1997, 09:04 AM
  #6  
Shawn
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I'm not really sure...The most direct way is to take I-95 from Washington to Richmond, than go East (on 60 or 64, I believe) to Williamsburg. This may not be too scenic (at least while on I-95) unless you want to stop in Richmond for lunch. Otherwise, it may be possible to take Route 17 (off of I-95, south of Washington around Frederick), which will also take you to Colonial Williamsburg. I have never gone this way and you may want to check it out. This route should take you closer to some of the rivers and points on the bay. You may want to pick up one of the computer atlas/driving packages, which give you details/sites about certain routes as well as directions.
 
Old Apr 15th, 1997, 10:25 AM
  #7  
Neal Sanders
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First, Mt. Vernon is roughly half an hour from the middle of Washington DC down the Mt. Vernon Parkway which follows the Potomac River. From Mt. Vernon, you could be in Williamburg in about four hours, including stops, if you follow I-95 south from Woodbridge (where you join I-95 if you left Mt. Vernon directly), to the I-295 loop around Richmond and Petersburg, then east on I-64 to Williamsburg. No offense to anyone who lives along that route, but it is ugly. As it takes about two hours to see Mt. Vernon, you may want to travel that route. If you wish to allow more time, however, I can offer two suggestions: 1) exit I-95 at Route 3 in Fredericksburg and head east, stopping at George Washington's Birthplace Nat'l Monument, near Oak Grove. It's a beautiful spot; educational as well as scenic. Then backtrack to US 301 and US17 across Virginia's "Northern Neck" and wend your way down to Williamburg. (Virginia publishes a state map, available at the rest area south of Dale City on I-95, which should be very useful). 2) Head for Richmond on I-95, exiting jusat south of downtown on SR 5. This is a "Virginia Byway," a designated scenic route that follows the northern side of the James River for 70 miles right into Williamburg. Along the way, you can stop at the James River plantations, half a dozen early 19th century river plantations. Berkeley, Evelynton, and Sherwood Forest are three of the best known.
 
Old Apr 15th, 1997, 07:51 PM
  #8  
troy jones
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Forget Smith Island. Just go to Annapolis. 30 minutes from DC. Stroll downtown by the harbor and the shops. Visit the State House, Naval Academy, Wm. Paca House, St. Johns College. Eat lunch outside at Middleton's Tavern while people watching. Take a short boat cruise around Annapolis and the Bay Bridge. See www.covesoft.com/annapolis/
 

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