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Day 1: Washington, D.C.
Arrive in Washington, DC, capital of the United States, whose public buildings were inspired by the ancient democracies of Greece and Rome. Get settled into your hotel and rest up after your trip, or take a first look at the city lit-up at night.
Day 2: Washington, D.C.
Get oriented on a guided tour of the city’s highlights this morning, or on your own at the National Mall, the grassy open area surrounded by the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and the museums of the Smithsonian Institution.
Day 3: Washington, D.C.
There’s more to see at the National Mall, like the National Air and Space Museum, before making a trip to fashionable Georgetown, home to politicians, journalists, and diplomats. Stay for dinner and the nightlife, or freshen-up at the hotel before heading out to the colorful, edgier Adams-Morgan District this evening.
Day 4: Washington, D.C. - Charlottesville (130 m / 210 km)
Depart Washington DC for a scenic morning’s drive through the rolling farmlands and small towns of Old Virginia. Arrive at Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president and author of the Declaration of Independence. Tour the house and gardens, designed by Jefferson himself and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to the university town of Charlottesville, and relax this evening in the historic downtown’s pedestrian zone, lined with boutiques, cafes, and al-fresco dining options
Day 5: Charlottesville - Shenandoah N.P. (125 m / 200 km)
Depart Charlottesville this morning for a glimpse at pioneer life at the Frontier Culture Museum. Costumed interpreters bring the homes and working farms to life, with a focus on the skills and traditions they brought with them from Europe and Africa. This afternoon, enjoy the mountain views from the scenic Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, with stops for hikes along mountain streams and picturesque waterfalls.
Day 6: Shenandoah N.P. - Morgantown (250 m / 400 km)
Depart this morning for the rustic stone village of Harpers Ferry, scenically tucked in the West Virginia mountains where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac. It was here, in 1859, that a dramatic attempt to start a slave rebellion failed, setting off a chain of events that brought on the Civil War. Then, make a stop at Antietam Battlefield, where Abraham Lincoln ended 250 years of slavery. Continue on the Washington Heritage Trail to the attractive spa town of Berkeley Springs, before continuing to Morgantown, a National Trust ‘distinctive destination’, with a typical “Main Street USA”.
Day 7: Morgantown - White Sulphur Springs (300 m / 480 km)
Depart this morning for Charleston, the state capital, and take a driving tour of the East End Historic District, the Governor’s Mansion and the gold leaf domed State Capitol building on your way to the Midland Trail Scenic Byway and the New River Gorge. Here, you can hike, bike, rock climb or try the best white water rafting in the Eastern United States (reservations recommended). Continue for your overnight in charming Lewisburg, or the world-class Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.
Day 8: White Sulphur Springs - Boone (270 m / 435 km)
Get on Virginia’s Crooked Road this morning, a scenic mountain drive highlighting Virginia’s musical heritage. Stop in the little town of Floyd, a center of the region’s music, and stop at the Floyd Country Store for local crafts and a bite to eat. Continue to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Blue Ridge Music Center for live music in the early afternoon (on offer almost daily May-October) and an exhibit called The Roots of American Music. Continue along the Blue Ridge Parkway for the afternoon drive to Boone, the area’s outdoor recreation center.
Day 9: Boone - Winston-Salem (165 m / 265 km)
Stop at Melanie’s Food Fantasy for the best breakfast in the Blue Ridge, and you’ll have plenty of energy to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Highlights: the twin peaks of Grandfather Mountain, connected by a suspension bridge, and Linville Falls, an easy to moderate hike past multiple waterfalls. Depart the Blue Ridge Mountains and head to Winston-Salem for your overnight.
Day 10: Winston-Salem - Atlantic Beach (270 m / 435 km)
Begin the morning in Old Salem, settled in the mid-18th century by the Moravians, German settlers valued for their skills and craftsmanship. Visit the Old Salem Toy Museum, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, and the historic homes and workshops open to the public. This afternoon, depart for Atlantic Beach and Beaufort, home of Blackbeard, history’s most notorious pirate.
Day 11: Atlantic Beach
A day to take a break from the road and relax on the shores of Atlantic Beach. Dig into pirate history at Blackbeard’s House and the Maritime Museum in Beaufort, or take the ferry to Shackleford Banks, a deserted island on Cape Lookout, where you can swim, shell, and see wild horses. Enjoy fresh local seafood for lunch and a real North Carolina-style barbecue this evening for dinner.
Day 12: Atlantic Beach - Outer Banks (150 m / 240 km)
Today, you can take the inland route, or go island-hopping by ferry along the coastal barrier islands of the Outer Banks. A 2.5 hour ferry ride takes you to remote Ocracoke Island, whose beaches are consistently rated among America’s best. Here you’ll begin the Outer Banks Scenic Byway and take another short ferry ride to Cape Hatteras. Make a photo stop and climb Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, then try parasailing or kiteboarding on your way back to civilization in the resort towns of Nags Head and Kitty Hawk.
Day 13: Outer Banks - Virginia Beach (100 m / 160 km)
Another day to relax and enjoy the beaches, with time to visit the giant sand dunes at the Wright Brothers Memorial, where the first airplanes flew. Exhibits and a full-size outdoor sculpture of the first plane, complete with pilot and excited onlookers, bring the event to life. Depart at your leisure for Virginia Beach, your next ocean holiday destination.
Day 14: Virginia Beach - Williamsburg (75 m / 120 km)
Divide your time today between the sands of Virginia Beach and nearby Colonial Williamsburg, the well-preserved capital of Old Virginia, where costumed guides turn the clock back to 1775 and the eve of the American Revolution. Here, in America’s best preserved historic district, you can watch skilled artisans demonstrate traditional crafts, and enjoy dinner in a colonial tavern.
Day 15: Williamsburg - Washington DC (175 m / 280 km)
Depart Williamsburg this morning for a drive past the James River Plantations to Richmond, the capital of Virginia and the Civil War South. Tour the Confederate monuments, then continue to Mount Vernon, the plantation home of George Washington. Tour the house and working farm, and enjoy the impressive views of the Potomac River before departing on the short drive to Washington DC, passing through Old Town Alexandria along the way.
Day 16: Departure
A final day to shop for souvenirs and see more of Washington DC before your return flight home, or stay an additional night or two to relax and take in a few more sights at your leisure.
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