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Romantic Getaways in Virginia, Maryland & Washington DC

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A unique guide to getaways in the tri-state region, including the Baltimore-Washington corridor. Well researched and laid out in easy-to-use sections that profile one trip each, this book covers Virginia's Blue Ridge, the Tidewater, the Shenandoah Valley, Chincoteague, Charlottesville, Central Virginia and the Eastern Shore. Maryland's favorite spots on the coast, in Baltimore and Annapolis, and to the West are also covered. In addition to the best places to stay and the finest spots to dine, the book is packed with things to do that will rekindle a romance... or get one started in the first place. Local cultural festivals, winery visits, carriage tours, balloon rides, plantation tours and more. "... [a] unique perspective on traveling as a couple, pointing out places where privacy is paramount, lodgings offer special romance packages, and [places on] the Eastern seaboard to sneak a kiss." -- About.com. "Wraps up lodgings (including many inns), restaurants and attractions in appealing weekend getaway packages.... A nice attention to detail." -- Washington Post. "The authors introduce travelers to lesser known treasures of Maryland and Virginia." -- Library Journal. "This is the ultimate guide to romantic weekend getaways." -- San Antonio Express

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Central Virginia

ePub

 

Richmond

ePub

Where Southern Grace & Progress are Confederates

This is a city with attractions so diverse that it literally has something for everyone. Not the least of these charms is an especially delightful location on the falls of the James River.

So taken were early settlers with the beauty of this spot that they wasted no time starting a colony here. Its similarities to a particular Thameside village were so striking that they named it in that village's honor. Thanks to its strategic location, the settlement developed quickly into a political and economic power. The way you see the town today is, for the most part, the way it was laid out as far back as 1737. The natural gathering place of those in colonial power, it played an important role in the development of events leading up to the Revolutionary War. It was here, at St. John's Church a month before the hostilities, that Patrick Henry cried, "Give me liberty or give me death!" The following decades were prosperous ones for the city, with the coal, flour, furniture, textile and tobacco industries flourishing. However, the Civil War violently interrupted this growth, changing the face of Richmond forever.

 

Hanover County

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A Railroad Town Sets the Stage for Romance

Located about 15 miles north of Richmond and 85 miles south of Washington, DC is a county both rich in history and typically Virginian.

The history of this area's original inhabitants is recalled by the Pamunkey River on the county's northern boundary. It was named for the Indians who still maintain a reservation on the lower part of the river in neighboring King William County. In the late 17th century, English colonists patented this land and developed warehouses here to house the area's tobacco crop. During the 18th century, Hanover County was at the very center of Virginia's "Great Awakening," which was led by the Reverend Samuel Davies, founder of the Hanover Presbytery. During this period - in 1749, to be exact - Newcastle was incorporated as Hanover's first town. (It only narrowly missed becoming the state capital!) The county was also the birthplace of two great orators - Patrick Henry and William Clay - both of whom who helped shape this country's early history. Hanover's strategic location just north of Richmond made it the site of numerous battles and skirmishes during the Civil War. After that, the residents settled down to a quiet, rural life - until the coming of the railroad.

 

Scottsville

ePub

This Sleepy River Town is a Dream Come True

Let your imagination roam. Where do you want to take the love of your life for a peaceful and undisturbed romantic break?

How about an early 19th-century house that was once left to ruin, but has now been lovingly and painstakingly restored? Each of the rooms has been individually furnished with a tasteful combination of antiques and fabrics. The proprietor is an accomplished chef capable of whipping up distinctive European and Mediterranean cuisine. It has its own vineyards yielding delicious wines. Located on 50 acres dotted with gazebos, ponds and forests, it is high on a hill above the James River. It boasts both spectacular views of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains and proximity to a 250-year-old town of considerable historical interest.

High Meadows Vineyard & Mountain Sunset Inn is all of this - and more. Toward the end of his 30-year service in the Navy, Peter Sushka and his partner Mary Jae Abbitt were stationed in London, where he was the US/UK liaison naval officer. During this period they became interested in country inns and auberges - so much so, that they decided to open one in the US after his retirement. Planning ahead, they accumulated antiques and other unique pieces of furniture while still in Europe. During visits back home, they started searching for a suitable property. Finally, in 1984, they discovered and fell in love with High Meadows. The original Federalist-style building dated from 1832 and a Victorian addition was made in 1882. By 1984, it was merely an empty shell. But this did not discourage Peter and Mary Jae. They purchased the property in 1985 and began the arduous task of restoration. First came extensive hours of research and documentation. They wanted to capture the original character as authentically as possible, while adding the modern facilities expected by discriminating guests. A 1-acre vineyard was installed, and High Meadows' high quality Pinot Noir grapes now produce over 180,000 bottles of wine annually.

 

Charlottesville

ePub

It's Cavalier to Love... Jefferson-Style

There are many cities surrounded by beautiful countryside; still others have important historical connections. Some even have both. But few of these have been touched by the hands and mind of a genius. Charlottesville is most fortunate indeed; it's been blessed by nature, steeped in tradition and touched by Thomas Jefferson.

The county of Albemarle was named in 1745 for William Anne Keppel, the second Earl of Albemarle. By 1762, Charlottesville - which derived its name from King George III's wife, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz - was already well-established as the county seat. The court house was built the same year. It briefly housed the Virginia State Legislature when it was forced by advancing British troops to flee from Richmond during the Revolution. The advent of the railroad in the mid-19th century led to an increase in population and the town's subsequent charter in 1851. By 1888, it had grown sufficiently to warrant its incorporation as a city.

 

Smith Mountain Lake

ePub

If the Fish Aren't Biting, Take a Hike

It all started with a dam. In 1966, the Appalachian Power Company completed construction of a 235-foot-high, $85-million dam across the Roanoke River. As a fringe benefit of power production, one of the premier lakes in the eastern United States was created. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and contained by over 500 miles of shoreline, the 22,000 acres of clear, clean water have become a recreational paradise. Although people own condos or vacation homes there, it remains free from the negative effects of mass tourism. It is not that remote, either - just a half-hour or so from Roanoke and Lynchburg. So, before too many people catch on and commercialization takes hold, visit Smith Mountain Lake for a weekend.

The first thing you'll need to do is decide where to stay. Although there are not too many options, the ones that exist are good. The topography of the lake shore makes it a trifle inconvenient for those coming in from the south, but most facilities are on the northern side of the lake shore. Therefore, this is the area of choice when it comes to accommodation.

 

Charles City County

ePub

Plantation-Hopping in the Land of Tobacco

Everyone knows about the grandeur of the South's great plantation houses. Not many realize, however, that in one small corner of Virginia, you can not only visit a half-dozen such houses, but you can also stay in two. And the area has more to offer. Follow Route 5 - which runs between Richmond and Williamsburg - along the banks of the river that hosted the first American settlers.

The men who arrived here early in the 17th century were adventurers and loyal to their homeland; hence the names given to the river (the James) and the area (Virginia, for the virgin queen). Life here was not easy. The ravages of disease and the threat from Indians delayed the establishment of a permanent colony. Once tobacco was found to be a profitable crop, plantations were established. These boasted beautiful homes staffed by slaves. Many of these survive today, offering an intriguing glimpse into America's past.

Almost halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg you will find one of the most unusual and delightful bed and breakfasts anywhere. Edgewood Plantation,(804) 829-2962, (800) 296-3343 or wmbg.com/edgewood, is at 4800 John Tyler Memorial Highway (Route 5). The Gothic-style home was built in 1849 for Spencer Rowland, who had recently moved here from New Jersey. It was actually constructed on land that was originally part of Berkeley Plantation, just across the road. Much of the area's folklore centers around Edgewood's role in the Civil War. The third floor was used as a Confederate lookout; here, rebels spied on Union troops that were stationed at Berkeley. The ancient gristmill ground corn for both armies. Legend has it that Jeb Stuart once stopped here for a coffee break en route to Richmond; he carried information for Robert E. Lee regarding the strength of the Union forces. There is a sad story associated with Edgewood, too. Rowland's daughter Lizzie died of a broken heart when her lover failed to return from the war. Her name is inscribed on one of the bedroom windows, but you may see a more ephemeral presence. Don't worry; by all reports, she is a friendly ghost!

 

Virginia's Eastern Shore

ePub

 

Chincoteague

ePub

 

Chincoteague fishing boats

ePub

It was in 1671 that the first white settlers claimed this fascinating island, then known to the local Indians as Gingoteague or "Beautiful Land Across the Water." Although a patent was issued to a rich Maryland landowner, ownership disputes arose soon afterwards. Eventually, the land was divided in half between the states of Maryland and Virginia. During this period, it was used primarily as a livestock range. There is no question that early life was quite harsh on Chincoteague (pronouncedshin -co-teague); the 1800 census showed a population of only 60 living on the island, which is just seven miles long and 1 miles wide. Following further division of the land into smaller parcels, the number of inhabitants increased. People began taking advantage of the surrounding waters to earn their livelihood. As far back as 1830, the oysters for which the island is famous were being cultivated for sale. Then, as today, they were tended in much the same way as a gardener would tend a vegetable garden. These early islanders were not only industrious, they were very progressive. In 1845, after the Virginia State Assembly enacted a law allowing the creation of public schools, Chincoteague was one of the first communities to support a free school. A superintendent was promptly hired to oversee the project at a princely salary of $50 a year.

 

Northern Virginia

ePub

 

Fredericksburg

ePub

Where the Battles are Civil & Surrender is Sweet

Twenty-five years ago this town was the last place one would have considered for a romantic weekend. Although we came with low expectations, what we discovered was a delightful surprise. Sitting just to the east of Interstate 95 - almost halfway between Washington DC and Richmond - Fredericksburg has capitalized on its history, encouraging the spread of antique and specialty shops, restaurants and cafs, bed and breakfasts and inns. In the process, it has acquired a charming, low-key atmosphere.

There are a number of noteworthy hotels in and around Fredericksburg. Flexibility may be necessary, however, as most have a limited number of rooms. We would recommend one of the following:

In the very center of town, at 711 Caroline Street opposite the visitors' center, is an imposing brick building that fronts directly on the sidewalk.The Richard Johnston Inn was constructed toward the end of the 18th century and became home to Fredericksburg's mayor from March 1809 to March 1810. Susan Williams is the proprietor. She has ensured that the six bedrooms, two suites and public rooms - each decorated with antiques and reproductions - retain the character of that age, while providing all of the modern amenities. Each morning, guests are lured to the large Federal-style dining room by the appetizing aroma of freshly baked breads and muffins, served on tables laid with fine period china, silver and linens. Since the inn is actually a bed and breakfast, no other meals are available. Prices range from $95 to $145, according to the room. Included in the tariff is off-street parking, but neither pets nor smoking are permitted. Reservations may be made by calling(540) 899-7606.

 

Alexandria

ePub

George Washington Slept Near

There is a town within sight of the nation's capital that most everyone has heard of, yet only a few know about. Though located in the shadow of Washington DC, Alexandria is certainly not overshadowed by it.

This town gets its name from the Scotsman who purchased the land in 1669 for 6,000 pounds of tobacco. The Virginia Assembly established Alexandria in 1749 and, in July of that year, lots were auctioned off from the town square. The surveying was done by John West, Jr., a descendant of one of the original landowners. Legend has it that he was assisted by a 17-year-old George Washington. The streets - many of them named in honor of prominent people - were laid out in a north/south pattern. One, Oronoco, was named for the type of tobacco transported to the town's first warehouse, at the bottom of that street.

Alexandria's prime location accounted for its rapid growth into a major commercial center. Trade was mainly in tobacco which, under British rule, was the sole product the colonies were allowed to export to England. By the Revolutionary War, this was one of the main Colonial trading centers and ports, as well as an important social meeting place. In 1755, General Braddock made his headquarters here, occupying the Carlyle house while planning his campaigns against the French. George Washington - whose major residence was just nine miles away - maintained a town house here. He also served as a trustee of the town and as Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge No. 22.

 

Middleburg

ePub

Where the Wine is Fine & the Hunt is On

Middleburg was named entirely for its location, halfway between Alexandria and Winchester on the 18th-century Ashby Gap trading route (today's Route 50). While Middleburg got its name in a mundane manner, it is anything but.

Located in the very heart of the lush, rolling countryside - with the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains slowly rising to the west - this area retains the aura of the 1700s. Here you will not only feel you've traveled back in time, you'll also think you've been transported to a village in the English countryside. If you time it right, you'll even see fox hunters riding to hounds. This is horse country with a capital 'H.' All around the area, you will notice huge well-kept equestrian estates. You'll also note that many of the village's specialty shops are laden with horsey and hunting items. And everywhere, the fox motif! Make no mistake, this is an affluent area. However, don't expect people to show it in their dress. In Middleburg, dressing down has been elevated to a fine art.

 

Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

ePub

 

Bayse

ePub

Alpine Magic is Nearer Than You Think

Way up in the northwest corner of Virginia, nestled against the West Virginia border, is an area that resembles the foothills of the Alps in either Switzerland or France. Naturally, there is a ski resort here but, regardless of the season, there are activities galore. Even if you just want to relax, you'll find the scenery absolutely enchanting. There are several all-season resorts in Virginia. Although Bryce Resort Lodge is one of the oldest, it is probably also the least known - perhaps because of its remote location. Whatever the reason, this works in its favor. After all, one of the delights of coming here is getting away from the crowds.

Bryce Resort

The most direct route to Bryce Mountain is Interstate 81 to Exit 273, turning east off the ramp, south onto Route 1, and then west onto Route 263. Soon the road will begin to climb. After 10 miles of picturesque scenery, you will suddenly face a panoramic view looking down into a beautiful valley. This is home to the small town of Bayse, and to the resort still out of sight.

 

Roanoke

ePub

Star-Struck & Full of Sparkle

There is a mid-size town with unique origins deep in western Virginia and close to the mountains. Many people wouldn't consider it ideal for a romantic weekend, but they'd be wrong.

Roanoke at night

This town's history traces to the mid-18th century. It revolves around the salt marshes (salt licks) at the convergence of the Indian and natural animal trails. Originally named Gainsborough, this community - the first white settlement in the area - had grown considerably by 1834. Somewhere in this time frame, it became known as Big Lick. Shortly after this the railroad came by, but bypassed Big Lick. Not to miss an opportunity, the town moved to the railroad and in 1874 was chartered as the Town of Big Lick. The original settlement was renamed Old Lick. When the Shenandoah Valley Railroad arrived seven years later, Big Lick was renamed Roanoke, after the county in which it was located and the river nearby. "Roanoke" was derived from the Indian word "Rawrenock," their name for the shell beads both worn and used in trade. In 1882, Roanoke became a crossroads for what was later the Norfolk and Western Railway. The latter company was responsible for construction of the hugely impressive Queen Anne-style Hotel Roanoke. This hotel epitomized the era of economic and physical growth that led to the town's charter as the City of Roanoke in 1884. Also during this period, a farmer's market was organized and became the focal point of the downtown area. Continued growth made Roanoke the largest city in Virginia west of Richmond, with a population nearing 100,000.

 

The Homestead

ePub

A First Resort When Romance Springs to Mind

Few places in the world develop such wonderful reputations that they become institutions. Virginia is home to one of them. Usually such places are both grand and traditional, exuding an atmosphere of extreme formality. Make no mistake, this one is certainly grand and tradition-laden. After all, the first hotel was built here in 1766! What makes it so different from other places of its type is the atmosphere. This is truly a family-oriented hotel, with no excesses of formality. Impeccable service, definitely; yet you are encouraged to relax in this wonderful place as if it were your own. No unnecessarily restrictive rules apply; just treat it - and the other guests - with respect and courtesy. In return, you'll share in an ambiance that is quintessentially Southern - a curiously easy-going combination of both manners and informality. It's no wonder that guests return here time and time again. In fact, they incorporate it into their own traditions. The location, too, is incredible: 15,000 privately owned acres in the Allegheny Mountains. The name derives from the resort's proximity to natural hot water springs, just a few miles from the border with West Virginia.

 

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