Virginia Circle Tour - NEED HELP

Old Mar 16th, 2009, 03:43 AM
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Virginia Circle Tour - NEED HELP

Older couple, first time to Virginia, staying 2 weeks and want to make a big circle,
we love museums, nature and anything interesting.
I know we need help, no one we know has been to Virginia.
Wanting to fly into Newport News and stay 5 nights seeing Yorktown, Williamsburg,
Norfolk and Virginia Beach. I am hoping we can swim in the ocean the second week of September.Then drive through Petersburg, and stay 3 nights in Richmond.
Then drive up to Charlottesville for 2 nights, Then to Luray one night.
Then to New Market for the day as we make a right turn up Hwy 81 to the top of
Skyline drive. Then start South through Skyline and Blue Ridge Parkway, stoping
near the Southern end of Virginia border and driving back toward Newport News to fly out.
Questions: We have 5 more nights to spend. Could you suggest somewhere
along the Skyline or Blue Ridge that is special. Or is there another town
we need to see. Been to DC already.
Where would you stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway to head east,
and is there anything scenic along the way to Newport News,
even if we have to venture into North Carolina.
Lastly we could use ANY suggestions on improving this itinerary
from anyone who knows Virginia.

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:21 AM
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Welcome in advance to Virginia. You've picked a good time to come here, and yes, you'll be able to swim in the ocean at that time of year. I live in Williamsburg, so hopefully I can help you with some details. First of all, while you're in this area be sure to include Jamestown. It is definitely worth a day. There is plenty to keep you busy here for 5 days. When you go to Charlottesville, try to get out in the countryside for a few hours. A good way to see some pretty country is to follow the winery trail, even if you don't visit the wineries. You don't mention Leesburg or Manassas. Both of these are worth a look, especially if you're into Civil War history.

http://www.nps.gov/mana/
http://www.leesburgva.com/visitors/

Weekends in particular are full of farmers markets and festivals in the Fall, so that is another bonus for the time of year you will be here.

I'll be glad to answer any more questions you may have.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:24 AM
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When you are in the Yorktown area, be sure to go to Jamestown. If you check the National park service site (www.nps.gov) and click on Virginia you will find information on plenty of sites to visit on your route. If any of you are interested in America's Civil War, there are many battle fields, and routes of retreat throughout Virginia, many of which are run by the park service. If you get to northern VA, the road along the C&O canal up to and past the great falls of the Potomac is a nice ride. If you are going to visit areas that are run by the park service, get a park pass at your first one. It lets you and everyone in your car into all parks for free for a year and gives some discounts on special programs within the parks. Some of the parks do not have any charge but others do. There is a neat maritime museum in Newport News and lots of little gems all along your route.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:47 AM
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Thank you for your help!!!!!
There seems to be so MANY battlefields, are there a few
we really shouldn't miss. Or a concentrated area where
we can learn the most?
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:49 AM
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First, do a search here for Williamsburg to give you a good overview and then come back and we can help you with restaurants and details.

Newport News has not been covered as extensively here as Williamsburg has. emalloy suggested the Maritime Museum which is excellent. Nearby are also a very good art museum and the Virginia Living Museum which covers our native flora, fauna, etc. If you time it right you can have dinner nearby and attend a performance at the beautiful Ferguson Center at CNU.

Hampton has a good air and space museum.

Norfolk has Nauticus, a marine and naval science museum, and the Chrysler Museum. Also boat tours past the naval shipyard and ferries to Portsmouth. Virginia Beach has a great aquarium.

Let us know if any of this interests you. We can provide details. (I didn't have time to get links. Sorry.)
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:57 AM
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That's hard to say. I wouldn't want to spend my whole trip doing battlefields. Our area, of course, is primarily Revolutionary War. There are few Civil War sites here. I would not concentrate on battlefields here in the Tidewater area. There is too much else to do. The Yorktown battlefields can be seen in half a day. My recommendation would be to do the battlefields in Manassas and do something else around here. Williamsburg will take at least a full day, and Jamestown will take another. Neither of those involves battlefields.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 04:58 AM
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Thank you so much Birdie, I did have most of these museums, gardens and the aquarium on my list to see. You mentioning them reassures me that our choices are good. What I struggle with the most is the route from the southern end of the Blue Ridge back to Newport News, and where to stay and for how long along the Blue Ridge. Also I appreciate any advise as I could use a lot.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:31 AM
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If you're traveling in the area of Skyline Drive, Luray Caverns is something you could check out.

As others mentioned, there are a lot of museums, etc. in Norfolk related to the military.

Go see Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home) in Charlottesville - it's worth the visit. You can also see Thomas Jefferson's garden. You could also go to the Chiles Peach Orchard and pick up some fruit to eat for the remainder of your trip (search google).

I would only stay 1 maybe 2 nights in Richmond - definitely not 3. I'd stay for longer in the Charlottesville, Newport News, or Norfolk area instead. Petersburg and areas around Richmond are great for seeing Civil War sites, but I would avoid any other areas and not waste your time here - there are better things to see in Virginia. Petersburg especially isn't very safe outside of a few historic sites.

I prefer the mountainous areas of the state by far (Skyline Drive, etc.) if you like scenic/nature areas. The eastern part is better for historic sites IMHO.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:40 AM
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Unless you are campers, I can't think of any places to stay that are actually on Blue Ridge Parkway. There are roads that cross it and there are accommodations at many of the places along the way. The appalachain trail crosses it in some areas so you can take hikes from some of the parking areas along the way. Do be aware that it is not a high speed road, one lane each way, with curves, very scenic with pull offs at pretty places and depending on the time of year, they close it at night. When you leave the Williamsburg area, take route 5 north along the river, it is quite scenic and there are plantations along the route which have tours that are quite interesting. For a taste of the Civil War, the battlefields at Petersburg would give you an introduction and they are fairly close to the major roads and quite well marked. Look for brown signs for park service sites. Pamplin park, near Petersburg has an very nice museum but I had heard that they were having financial trouble and may have reduced their hours so check before you go there. DH is a Civil War fanatic, so we've crossed the state several times, but there are some sites that looked like nice fields to me which he had soldiers lined up and attacking one another in his mind. If that's not your thing, stick to the areas with visitor's centers, like Petersburg. Manassas, Appamatox Courthouse, Fredericksburg, and/or Richmond. DS went to college in North Carolina so we stopped on trips south to visit him and it gave us a nice break in the trip, but I personally wouldn't try to do all or even most of them. While you are in Charlotsville area, do visit Monticello.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:48 AM
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I was wondering BobbySue, since you are familiar with the Southeast area, where would you stay for 5-7 nights so as to be able to go to Jamestown and Williamsburg, Va. Beach, Yorktown, Norfork, and Newport News and see the best of the museums and points of interest in those cities. I'm not so much asking for places to stay as much as what area to stay in, should I break it into a couple places, and if so what would you recommend. We like to stay away from big city
areas, and prefer the country, historic or lodge type atmospheres. Thank you again for your time and expertise.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:58 AM
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If you come up as far as Luray, I would also put in a plug for areas in Northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Leesburg is a nice historic town with wineries nearby and Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown, and Antietam Battlefield are less than an hour away from Leesburg with lots of historic activities and small town atmosphere. The 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry will be celebrated starting in the spring and the actual anniversary is in October.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 06:23 AM
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I think Newport News is a good pick as a central location. It's approximately 25 miles in either direction for Williamsburg or Norfolk. If you do stay there, I would make sure it is in the City Center area. There is a nice Marriott there. Another option would be to start by staying in Virginia Beach and then work your way up. If you like a smaller-town atmosphere, you would probably enjoy staying in Williamsburg for a night or two. There are several bed and breakfasts here and of course hotels out the wazoo.

I would definitely second what emalloy said about taking Route 5 out of Williamsburg to Richmond. There is nothing to see on 64, and the plantations are very nice.

Regarding your return trip, my suggestion would be to only come as far as Roanoke and then cut across 460 to Lynchburg

http://www.discoverlynchburg.org/

and then on to Richmond and into Newport News. There just isn't anything that I can think of to see if you come farther down, and I think you will have had enough "scenery" by that time.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:42 AM
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>>We like to stay away from big city
areas, and prefer the country, historic or lodge type atmospheres.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:43 AM
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By now you probably have "information overload" on Virginia, but I'm going to add to it.
1. Newport News--In addition to the Mariners' Museum and the Virginia Living Museum, I can highly recommend the Army Transporation Museum at Ft. Eustis and the Virginia War Museum. My son, a student of military history, and I spent almost a full day just visiting these last two museums.
http://www.transchool.eustis.army.mi...um/museum.html
http://www.warmuseum.org/
2. In addition to Monticello in Charlottesville, you might enjoy lunch and a tour of the Michie Tavern. Also, a tour of the campus of the University of Virginia is worthwhile. And I'm including an article from the Washington Post travel section about Charlottesville's pedestrian-friendly Downtown Mall.
http://www.michietavern.com/
http://www.virginia.edu/uvatours/rotunda/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...122302261.html
3. From Charlottesville, you might like to continue on I-64 west to Staunton. I have been dying to go there for a couple of years, mainly to see a play at the American Shakespeare Theatre's Blackfriar Playhouse. This recent article from the Washington Post travel section only whetted my interest in Staunton: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...103101528.html
4. As you travel south along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you might want to exit onto Route 60 west towards Lexington. In Lexington, you can visit the Virginia Military Institute, the tomb of Robert E. Lee (and the gravesite of his horse, Traveler) and the home of Stonewall Jackson. We found this to be a very interesting little town.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...112502112.html
5. Finally on your return to Newport News for your flight home, I'd recommend a stop at Appomattox Court House Nat. Historic Park. You might also enjoy some hiking at Holiday Lake State Park.
http://www.nps.gov/apco/
http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/hol.shtml
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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It's hard to top the advice above but I would recommend driving at least 2 "segments" of Skyline Drive, Charlottesville and then Williamsburg. I would go with 1 nite in Richmond. I like on-site lodging in Colonial Williamsburg for up to 4 nites - for longer consider nearby condo rentals that you'll find on this site.While not fancy, the lodging on Skyline Drive is very unique and scenic.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:58 AM
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YOU GUYS ARE GREAT. NO information overload here.
I'm looking into everyone of your suggestions
and find I'm getting some awesome advise from each of you.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
Would you suggest doing the Skyline and Blue Ridge in
one day, or stopping for a night taking one of the exits
to a nearby town. We decided to stop at Roanoke and
heading back to the East coast by HWY 460.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 08:58 AM
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>>I've scored some great deals on flights there (esp. AirTran and US Air) but mostly generally find fares in/out of Norfolk and Richmond to be better deals. If you haven't, check there too.

I would also recommend checking prices at Richmond and Norfolk. I prefer Norfolk, although I live near Richmond. Newport News always seems a bit pricier to me. Either way (Norfolk or Richmond) it's only a 45 minutes - 1 hour drive to the Williamsburg area.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 09:08 AM
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That's funny, adam, I live in Wmbg and prefer Richmond if I can get a better fare there over Norfolk. It eliminates the HRBT variable!
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 10:13 AM
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I forgot to add two more Washington Post articles that I found.
1. Here's one about the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond. (Did you know he lived there for many years?) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...123002776.html
2. Here's one about visiting the Battle of Petersburg and Appomattox Courthouse. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...010901944.html

I hope you enjoy our state!
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 12:58 PM
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OK Here is my 2 week goal to see in Virginia.

Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge
Virginia Aquarium
Chrysler Museum
Gen Douglas MacArthur Memorial
Nauticus Maritime Museum
Norfolk Botanical Gardens
Ghent neighborhood
Mainer Museum in Newport
Virginia Living museum
Yorktown Victory Center
Historic Jamestown
Busch Gardens Europe
Colonial Williamsburg
Federal Reserve Money Museum
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Maymont Estate
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Michie Tavern
Monticello
Montpelier
Lurray Caverns or Shenandoah caverns or Skyline caverns
Appomottox Court House
Holiday Lake State Park
Petersburg National Battlefield
Pamplin Historical park

I'm thinking of
3 nights in Cape Charles
2 nights in Norfolk
3 nights in Williamsburg
1 night in Richmond
1 night in Charlottesville
2 nights in Luray or New Market
1 night along Blue Ridge Parkway
1 night in Roanoke
Last night in Newport News before flying out.

Need help with the caves, picking the best.
Also need any opinions on if I'm leaving anything out,
Or am I seeing too many estates and homes, and if so,
which ones should I eliminate, or include that I haven't.
wish I could have included more of the Northwest part of
the state, but couldn't this trip.

I can't thank you enough, hope I can help you guys
with advise sometime, because I couldn't have come up
with this without you!!!!!
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