Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Washington to Charlottesville

From DC to Charlottesville can be a 3hr drive, so if you are planning the trip in your RV, consider spending a night in Charlottesville before making your way back. The I95S and VA-20 will take you between the two cities, and there are some beautiful spots to stop at along the way.

On the way out of the city, have a stop at Mount Vernon, the Estate that was home to George and Martha Washington. It has been restored to become the most popular historic estate in the country.

Mount Vernon
by David Baron Flickr Creative Commons

The Prince William Forest Park, not far south of Washington, is an oasis of natural beauty. It has 37 miles of hiking trails and 21 miles of bicycle-accessible trails, so be prepared to stop for a while! You can park your RV here too if you'd like to spend a night outside the city.

Prince William Forest Park
by TrailVoice Flickr Creative Commons

Fredericksburg is a quaint place along the road, with a historic main street that boasts many shops and restaurants. Also popular in Fredericksburg is the National Museum of the Pacific War, telling the lesser-known history of the part of World War 2 that was played out on the Pacific Ocean- very fascinating if you're a WWII buff! It is also home to several top-rated golf courses, a great theatre company and more historic sites.

After Fredericksburg, get on to VA-3 and then VA-20 (aka Constitution Highway), US15 and VA-231S. Along here there are several charming towns like Orange and Gordonville. Adrenaline junkies take note: there is a skydiving centre in Orange!

Charlottesville, or C'ville as it is affectionately known, is situated at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Previously home to two U.S Presidents, it has a reputation as one of the most livable cities in the country, and has been listed as such in the past by several organisations. The University of Virginia is in C'ville and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site- it was founded by Thomas Jefferson (one of the resident presidents) in 1825.

Blue Ridge Mountains
by David Wilson Flickr Creative Commons

University Rotunda
by Patrick Morrisey Flickr Creative Commons

As a bit of a student city, it has a strong cultural and arts scene with book, photography, African-American culture and chamber music festivals- to name a few! Find out what's on before you go. There are many galleries for year-round art as well.

What to do during your visit depends on what interests you- if you enjoy the arts, there are the aforementioned festivals and galleries, as well as music venues. Take a look around the UVA campus and it's stunning architecture. If you love the outdoors, take the short and steep Humpback Rocks hike up to a beautiful viewpoint in the mountains. If history is your thing, the University is again the place to be, along with Thomas Jefferson's house and grave at Monticello, and numerous other historical sites -just ask at the visitor's bureau downtown. No matter what your interest is, Charlottesville is a gorgeous and friendly city to be in.

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