Virginia U.S. Route 1
As U.S. Route 1 exits D.C. it passes through Alexandria along the same route used by early colonists, perhaps the most noted, George Washington. The Virginia section of the route is lined with historic cities, battleground sites, and energizing state-of-the-art museums. We’ve selected some of the best for your trip-planning menu.
Stroll in Alexandria. On the Potomac just south of D.C., Alexandria is a city made for walking. With class – yet small-town friendly, it oozes with history, quaint shops and trendy restaurants. Tree-lined streets frame historic spots. One of the best is the Carlyle House, an impressive 18th century sandstone city-manor that provides a historic perspective to the thriving city. The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum features exhibits and on going programs for the public. Take a peak at the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop that showcases the practice of medicine in the colonies. Not-to-be missed the Torpedo Factory on the waterfront is a showcase for art and artists.
Visit Martha and George. About eight miles south of Alexandria just off U.S. Route 1 is Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. It was home to Martha and George Washington for more than 45 years. The results of his early efforts may be seen throughout the 8,000-acre estate. The park-like setting remains a first-class bucolic retreat. The home has been restored to its appearance in 1799, the last year of Washington’s life. Visitors may tour the mansion as well as the original outbuildings. Costumed interpreters convey impressions of the plantation life. From the visitor center explore the farm, cruise the Potomac, stroll the gardens. Discovery: The seasonal history immersion programs are exceptional. (Mount Vernon. 1(703)780-2000 or www.mountvernon.org)
Sign here please. Guston Hall, located along the Potomac about six miles south of Mount Vernon, is a 19th century manor house that was once the home of George Mason who was one of the drafters of the Declaration of Independence. Tours of the house and grounds are offered. The film at the visitor center explains Mason’s part in the Colonial beginnings of America. Discovery: Special tours of the plantation are offered on weekends from April through October. Tour themes include a look at slavery, women’s roles on the plantation, farm life, and discoveries in the garden. (Gunston Hall Plantation 10709 Gunston Road Mason Neck, 22079. 1(703) 550- 9220, just off Route 1 or https://gunstonhall.org)
General Lee’s greatest moment. Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center is the site of Lee’s greatest victory in the Civil War. An orientation slide program provides useful background information. Five different walking trails are located on the Chancellorsville battlefield each representing a different battle perspective. The museum displays aid visitors in understanding the great struggle that took place in May of 1863. Discovery: A 3-hour tape tour of the Chancellorsville battlefield is available at the Visitor Center (Chancellorsville 1(540) 786-2880, Fredericksburg 1(540) 371-0802 or www.nps.gov/frsp/index.htm)
Where was the cherry tree? Located across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg, Ferry Farm is the boyhood home of George Washington. It is the source of inspiration for Parson Weems’ fable, about George cutting down his father’s cherry tree. It is also the spot where George threw a stone (or was it a silver dollar?) across the river. Discovery: Nearby is historic Kenmore Plantation; the 1770s manor house built by patriot Fielding Lewis and his wife Betty, Washington’s only sister. (268 Kings Hwy, Fredericksburg, 22405. 1(540) 370-0732 or www.kenmore.org)
Hike the meadows and woodlands. The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is accessible only by foot. Trails weave through meadows and woodlands as well as loop to the tidal creeks at the river’s edge. The refuge contains one of the last undeveloped grasslands in Northern Virginia. More than 650 species of plants and 200 species of birds have been observed within its boundaries. (Open weekends. U.S. 1 South left onto Dawson Beach Road to the entrance gate. 1(703) 490-4979, 491-6255 or www.fws.gov/occoquanbay/index.html)
Playtime heaven for kids. Children’s Museum of Richmond (CMoR), located next to the Science Museum of Virginia, is among the top 12 children’s museums in the country. CMoR is a special place for creative play and active learning. This is a dynamic “hands-on” place of discovery that is fun for youngsters and their sometimes too serious adult companions. Robins Community Commons, the central hub of the museum, serves as a center point for the eight learning areas. Delight in the interactive CMoR Machine; view a visiting artist’s demonstration; relax beside a rolling stream; stroll across an inviting bridge or join in a festive parade. (2626 West Broad Street, 23220. 1(804) 474-CMOR, 1-877-295-CMOR (2607) or www.c-mor.org)
Remember the raven evermore. Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond contains one of the largest collections of Poe memorabilia in the world. Things like his walking stick, personal letters, and first editions of Poe’s including an 1845 copy of The Raven and other poems. The house itself is the oldest in the city. Guided tours are offered daily but the most intriguing month is October with its haunting tales. (1914-16 E. Main St., 23223. 1(804) 648-5523, 1-888-21E-APOE or www.poemuseum.org)
Please feed the animals. At Maymont, a rural valley setting that includes a Victorian estate, Children’s Farm and Nature Center, feeding farm animals is only part of the fun. A 100-acre new nature center focuses on James River Habitat with otters, turtles, deer, fox and more. The Children’s Farm features domestic animals including goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, donkeys, rabbits, peafowl, turkeys, cattle, horses, geese and ducks as well as rare breeds of livestock. Maymont’s wildlife residents include black bears, bison, deer, elk, fox, bobcats, birds of prey and an aviary for indigenous species. (2201 Shields Lake Drive, Byrd Park. 1(804) 358-7166 or www.maymont.org)
Way down South in Dixie. Museum and White House of the Confederacy in Richmond contains the world’s largest Confederate Civil War artifact collection, including the dramatic Victorian White House of the Confederacy. Since 1896 this location has been the primary national repository of Confederate artifacts. Today visitors will find three floors of unique exhibits as well as Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library loaded with history. (12th and Clay Streets, a few blocks east of U.S. Route 1, in the historic Court End neighborhood. 1(804) 649-1861 www.moc.org)
Enjoy the entertainment of science. The Science Museum of Virginia provide hours of entertainment for visitors. The daily schedule of entertaining science demonstrations is designed to make viewers think, laugh, question and learn while enjoying the moment. The facility contains hundreds of permanent hands-on exhibits designed to encourage visitors of all ages to experiment for themselves. Permanent exhibits focus on a wide variety of subjects including aerospace, chemistry, and computers as well as electricity, life sciences, telecommunications, crystals and physics. An added bonus, the Ethyl IMAX Dome shows the large-screen IMAX films and planetarium shows. (Mid-town at 2500 West Broad Street in the historic Broad Street Station, Richmond. 1(804) 864-1400, 1-800-659-1727 or www.smv.org)
Take a mini culture journey. At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts visitors will find magnificent Faberge eggs, Egyptian artifacts, and art from India, Nepal and Tibet. The permanent collection has more than twenty thousand works of art representing almost every major world culture. The museum is credited with having one of the finest collections of South Asian, Himalayan, and African art in the U.S. Discovery: Theatre Virginia. Located in the Virginia Museum of fine Arts, they produce a five-show season they includes both Broadway and Shakespeare. (200 N. Boulevard, Richmond, 23220. 1(804) 353-8799 or https://www.vmfa.museum/)
Pocahontas lived here. The community of Henricus, the second successful English colony in America, was established in 1611. Today costumed interpreters at the 32-acre Henricus Historical Park recreate the earliest days of the community. Visitors witness the reenactment of daily tasks like gardening, cooking, and domestic or carpentry crafts typical of an English wilderness outpost in the New World. Discovery: Records indicate that Pocahontas lived at Henricus for several years. FYI: This delightful living history experience is a work in progress with new additions planned to continue through 2007. (A five miles from intersection of Rt. 10 and U.S. Route 1 near Chesterfield. 1(804) 706-1340 or www.henricus.org)
Encounter the past. At Pamplin Historical Park, a 422-acre complex that includes the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, the faces of America’s conflict become real. An amazing state-of-the-art interpretive center relates the human aspect of the Civil War and its inherent complications. Within the complex is an 1812 plantation house that served as a Confederate brigade headquarters and a military encampment. In addition The Battlefield Center explains the Petersburg Campaign of 1864-1865. Dozens of costumed interpreters present living history demonstrations, both military and civilian. Discovery: Audiocassettes geared to specific ages enlighten visitors about daily life of a soldier in America’s bloodiest war. There are many special programs available for children, several of which are conducted by costumed interpreters. (6125 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, 23803. 1(804) 861-2408, 1-877-PAMPLIN or www.pamplinpark.org)
Go from the past to the present. Petersburg National Battlefield-City Point Unit provides another view of the challenges facing both sides during the Civil War. This location was General Grant’s headquarters in 1864-1865. In addition there is an audio guide that follows a 4-mile self-guided driving, biking or hiking route. The useful dialog explains why it was the longest siege of the Civil War. (Petersburg National Battlefield 1539 Hickory Hill Road, Petersburg. 23803-4721. 1(804) 732-3531 or www.nps.gov/pete/index.htm)
South of Petersburg U.S Route 1 moves along rural America trading the city chaos for rolling hills, modest farms, and abandoned homesteads draped with vines. Occasional pinewoods and oak forests break the horizon and the pace is easy all the way to North Carolina.
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