Touch Your Roots and Free Your Soul
Four Richmond-based road trips to dazzle your visitors
Richmond, Virginia — located in the crux of American history and culture — is within the day trip to explore on your own, or with visitors and friends. From scenic parkways to historical landmarks and living museums, to sand and surf, to our nation’s capital, so many delightful sojourns await the curious. If I had company coming to Richmond for the first time, here’s are four very different day trips I’d plan to wow them:
Mix and Mall It Trek — Make this road trip an overnighter. Head out of Richmond on I-95 to Fredericksburg — you know, the town where George Washington grew up and slept — and book a B&B for the night. Park at the train station and switch travel modes to ride the rails to Union Station in Washington, D.C., which is a short hop, skip or jaunt over to the National Mall — America’s most-visited national park. In addition to the many national monuments, you’ll find the many museums along the sides of the greenway that comprise the Smithsonian complex. Research it as a couple or family first, pick a couple of the themed museums, and enjoy the mix of a day of heritage, culture, and reflection. Then head back to Fredericksburg, catch a late dinner and enjoy a night’s rest — your legs will thank you! Rise and shine to find the 75-minute trolley tour through and around the town’s 40-block National Historic District’s boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries, then round up your cast and drive back to Richmond, sated on patriotism and national pride.
Meander America’s Historic Triangle — Begin with a 23-mile slow-paced jaunt along the Colonial Parkway, which connects the historic sites of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown and spans more than 170 years of colonial history. The total travel time to drive the Colonial Parkway is about 50 minutes each way, which offers plenty of time to explore intriguing archeological sites, genuine James River plantations, historical attractions, monuments, and battlefields. Trace the path of freedom from the first lasting English settlement near Jamestown to the living museum in Colonial Williamsburg, to the final battleground in Yorktown that secured our nation’s liberty and independence from Britain. And make time for guided tours, hiking and biking trails, eateries and coffee shops galore, where you can contemplate your roots.
Libations & Hallowed Ground Tour — Did you know there are more than 200 wineries in Virginia? Start by heading up to “Cville” — the name that locals have for the quaint city of Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate, which is a must-see. It’s still too early for libations, so stroll the shops in the downtown core before mounting up and touring the countryside, which is full of historical landmarks, presidential homes, hundreds of battlefields, and yes, some wineries open for public tastings. And if it’s October — Virginia Wine Month — take your pick from many unique wine experiences, festivals, tours, travel packages and more planned each year. If time allows you, travel the full 175-mile length of the Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for an overnight stay, before returning through the many parks and historic villages along the way to Richmond. Mellowed out, you’ll be good-to-go for the next road trip.
Surf, Mirth and Turf Sojourn — Looking for a genuinely unique Virginia road trip experience? Then plan either a one-day or overnight excursion to explore the hidden side of Virginia. Drive 90 miles southeast to Norfolk, and enjoy an early morning 2-hour guided tour of the world's largest naval base — home of the Atlantic Fleet — and one of the world's busiest seaports. That’s where you leave urban-trekking behind. Head over to Virginia beach to dip your toes in the ocean, then cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, and slide back in time on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Enjoy the antique farmhouses, roadside markets and quaint, charming towns with tongue-twisting names like Nassawadox, Wachapreague, and Assateague. Visit the charming coastal villages and the famous wild horses of Chincoteague and Assateague Islands. And if you time to extend your trip and pre-booked a place to stay, head over to the Outer Banks to catch the many distinct lighthouses, walk the wind-crafted dunes, or enjoy a crab-pot cookout and glass of that fine Virginia wine on the beach, while watching the sunset melt into the Chesapeake. Why? Because sometimes, you have to let yourself drift away.
Speaking of which, care to sing, hum or dance along?
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