Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and The Eastern Shore
Ocean lovers will agree there are few things better than a beach. Start the road trip in Virginia Beach, one of the longest stretches of beach anywhere, with over 35 miles of coastline to enjoy. Once you’ve had your fill of the boardwalks and waterfront, drive east via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Here you can enjoy the pristine beach with undisturbed wildlife. Continue on north with a stop at the quaint town of Charles City, and then further to Onancock from where you can take a ferry for a day tour of Tangier Island. Tangier Island is a small oyster and fishing island that will take you back in time, along with the sounds of gulls and other bird life. Finally, go further north and stop near the Virginia-Maryland line, at Chincoteague and Assateague islands where you can see wild ponies!
This is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors. Skyline Drive, which you start at Front Royal (70 miles from DC), is a 105-mile stretch of road that goes through Shenandoah National Park. Make as many stops along the way to last for days, with hiking and camping all along the route. There are over 75 scenic overlooks, multiple hikes of varying levels, and waterfalls, making this one of the nicest mountain drives in the area. Fall is a great time to see the lovely foliage and colors, but summer and spring are equally wonderful with lush greenery and wildlife. Visit the National Park Service website to learn more about camping permits needed.
There are over 200 wineries across the state so for a winery road trip, it’s best to pick a region, have a designated driver, and start tasting your way through. The Loudoun Wine Trail is an easy getaway from Washington, DC and is home to a number of scenic wineries, little towns with fantastic dining, and plenty of bed and breakfasts for comfortable overnight stays. The Monticello Wine Trail in Central Virginia has over 30 wineries across North, South, East, West trails and is home to some fantastic stops, and conveniently located near Charlottesville.
Start the trip in Staunton and make your first stop the Natural Bridge, a must see site in Virginia. From here continue on to the towns of Lexington, Hot Springs and finish in Roanoke. Along the way there are history and culture stops with the Frontier Culture Museum, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, the American Shakespeare Center, Virginia Military Institute and Museum and Humpback Bridge, as well as battlefields and historical markers at every stop. You’ll also find interesting roadside eats along the way, plus good dining options in the towns. For a luxurious overnight, stay at the Homestead Resort. The Shenandoah Valley is really a beautiful part of Virginia and well worth the trip.
Road Trip to Presidential Homes
Virginia has been the home of eight US Presidents, and most of their homes can be visited. Start just south of DC at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George Washington with ground tours, museums, and a working farm. From here go south to Richmond and stop at Berkeley Plantation, the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, and also Sherwood Forest, estate of John Tyler, to see where the ninth and 10th Presidents respectively grew up. A few minutes outside Richmond, you can visit Thomas Jefferson’s childhood home, Tuckahoe Plantation. Continue west to visit Jefferson’s crown jewel, Monticello, and further on to James Madison’s Montpelier. The landscape in this part of the state is gorgeous with mountain vistas around, wineries, and more. End the trip at Staunton, the birth place of Woodrow Wilson with a tour of the Presidential Library and insight into his early life.