Prince William Forest Park
Located just outside Marine Corps Base Quantico, Prince William Forest Park is the largest protected natural area in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area at over 16,000 acres. Established in 1936 as the Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area, it now offers wildlife viewing, miles of hiking trails, miles of bicycle-accessible roads and trails, several tent camping options for families and groups, cabin camping and an RV campground. Entrance fees (valid for seven consecutive days) vary by single passenger vehicle, per person, bike or motorcycle. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Prince William Forest Park is at 18100 Park Headquarters Road, Triangle, VA 22172. For more information, call 703-221-4706, ext. 103 or visit www.nps.gov/prwi.
Quantico National Cemetery
Located on land that was part of the U.S. Marine Corps training base and adjacent to Quantico, the Quantico National Cemetery honors all of the nation’s veterans. More than 2,000 graves and seven memorials make up the cemetery, with monuments to Edson’s Raiders, a Purple Heart memorial and additional memorials honoring both individuals and group divisions. The office is open daily, and visitation is available from sunrise to sunset. The cemetery is at 18424 Joplin Road, Triangle, VA 22172. For more information, call 703-221-2183 or visit www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/quantico.asp.
National Museum of the Marine Corps
The National Museum of the Marine Corps is a tribute to Marines of today and yesterday. Situated on 135 acres, displays in the museum include galleries for the Vietnam War, Korean War, World War I and World War II. There is a theater that shows films on the Marine experience, a museum store and food services on the premises. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Christmas. Admission and parking are free. The museum is at 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway, Triangle, VA 22172. For more information, call 877-635-1775 or visit www.usmcmuseum.org.
Manassas National Battlefield Park
The site of two major American Civil War battles, the First and Second Battles of Bull Run. Explore the historic terrain where men fought and died more than a century ago. Ranger-led walking tours available daily. Open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. The park is at 12521 Lee Highway, Manassas, VA 20190. For more information, call 703-361-1339 or visit www.nps.gov/mana.
Ferry Farm – George Washington’s Boyhood Home
George Washington was 6 years old when his family moved to this farm across the Rappahannock River from Fredericksburg in 1738. The Visitor Center displays artifacts found on the farm and guests can tour the interpretive replica of George Washington’s boyhood home, an interactive and hands-on experience for all ages, an 18th-century garden and wildlife trails and see archaeologists at work in the lab. Ferry Farm is open March through October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. In November and December, the site closes at 4 p.m. The site is closed January and February. Admission varies for adults and students, and it’s free for ages 6 and under. The farm is at 268 Kings Highway, Fredericksburg, VA 22405. For more information, call 540-370-0732 or visit www.kenmore.org.
Aquia sandstone from Government Island was used in the construction of the White House, the U.S. Capitol and other historic buildings in Washington, D.C. Today, the 17-acre park is a historic scenic nature preserve ideal for observing aquatic and native plants, birds and other wildlife. There is a 1.5-mile walking and biking trail (the first two portions of which are handicap accessible). Admission is free. Open mid-March through the end of October from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., November 1 through mid-March 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Government Island is at 191 Coal Landing Road, Stafford, VA 22554. Call 540-658-4871 or visit www.tourstaffordva.com/things-to-do/details/government-island.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County National Military Park
The park encompasses four major Civil War battlefields: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Each of the four battlefields has a driving tour and numerous walking trails. Visitor centers at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville display artifacts from the battles and have introductory films describing the fighting. The park also has three historic buildings open to the public: Chatham (one of just three houses visited by President Washington and President Lincoln), Ellwood and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine. Admission is free, although there is a small fee to view the films. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is at 120 Chatham Lane, Fredericksburg, VA 22405. For more information, call 540-693-3200 or visit www.nps.gov/frsp.
Historic Downtown Fredericksburg
Boutique shops, farm-to-table restaurants and historic museums are clustered together in this vibrant downtown area. Historic sites include the James Monroe Museum, the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, the Rising Sun Tavern and the home of Mary, the mother of George Washington. Trolley tours, carriage rides, historic walking tours and ghost tours are available. Fredericksburg Visitor Center: 706 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 540-373-1776 or visit www.visitfred.com.
The Smithsonian Institution — the world’s largest museum and research complex — includes 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park. Most Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are free and open every day of the year except Christmas. Many are concentrated around the National Mall. The Natural History Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Freer Gallery, the American Indian Museum, the American History Museum and the African American History and Culture Museum are a few of the museums in the complex. Visit www.si.edu/Museums for information about individual museums.
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Nearly 2,000 animals from 400 different species are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo. See pandas, Asian elephants, big cats, apes, reptiles and ocean wildlife, all up close and personal on the 163-acre facility. The zoo hosts various special events throughout the year, as well as educational programs and tours. There are gift shops and food concessions, as well as wheelchairs and strollers available. Hours vary based on the season. Admission is free. The zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. Call 202-633-4888 or visit www.nationalzoo.si.edu.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Located on the banks of the Potomac River, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts showcases a wide variety of performances throughout the year. See ballet, jazz and vocal concerts or attend lectures and art discussions. The center offers free guided tours of the Hall of Statues, Hall of Nations and the main theaters, as well as dozens of paintings and art given to the center by different countries. There is a gift shop and a restaurant on the premises so guests can enjoy a meal before a performance. Visit the website for ticket information and hours. The Kennedy Center is at 2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20566. Call 202-416-8000 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Located south of the Capitol and adjacent to the Navy Yard, Nationals Park is the state-of-the-art home to Washington Nationals Major League Baseball and the cornerstone of the mixed-use Capitol Riverfront. The 41,546-seat venue opened in 2008, featuring an innovative design of steel, glass and precast concrete, providing fans with panoramic views of the surrounding city and landmarks, such as the Capitol and the Washington Monument. The park’s high-tech, 4,500-square-foot, high-definition scoreboard is just one part of the exciting game experience for Nats fans. Not only does the facility feature modern amenities, but it’s also green, as it was the first major stadium in the U.S. accredited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design structure. Visit the Nationals’ website for schedules, ticket prices and more. Nationals Park is at 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC 20003. Call 202-675-6287 or visit http://washington.nationals.mlb.com.
National Mall and Memorial Parks
Located in the core of the nation’s capital, National Mall and Memorial Parks (NAMA) administers, interprets, maintains and preserves the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, the National Mall, East and West Potomac Parks, Constitution Gardens, 60 statues and numerous other historic sites, memorials and parklands. The sites of NAMA are cherished symbols of our nation, known worldwide and depicted on everything from currency to the nightly news. Visitors can go on walking tours, bike tours and attend daily interpretive programs. Rangers are on duty 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily to answer questions, although the park is open to the public 24/7. Call 202-426-6841 or visit www.nps.gov/nama.
The White House
An amazing part of America’s history for more than 200 years, the White House is a widely recognized symbol of the United States. Self-guided tours are available, with requests submitted through one’s member of Congress up to six months in advance. The White House Visitor Center is a great place to stop before or after a tour for information about the White House, its history and architecture, first families and social events. The White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500. For more information, call 202-456-7041 or visit www.whitehouse.gov.
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art was privately established in 1937 for the American people by a joint resolution of the United States Congress. Andrew W. Mellon donated a substantial art collection and funds for construction. The campus includes the original neoclassical West Building designed by John Russell Pope, which is linked underground to the modern East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, and the 6.1-acre Sculpture Garden. The gallery’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, medals and decorative art traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas. The gallery often presents temporary special exhibitions spanning the world and the history of art. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The gallery is at Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington, DC. For more information, call 202-737-4215 or www.nga.gov.
Are you a long-time admirer of Virginia, or is this your first rendezvous? Either way, you’ll surely enjoy seeing first-hand all the ways love lives in Virginia. Wash the world away on pristine Eastern Shore beaches, or play hard with Virginia Beach’s nightlife. Liven things up at our theme parks, waterparks, wildlife adventures and hands-on historical fun every day of the week. Mile-high Mount Rogers induces paramount exhilaration, as does 540 miles of Appalachian Trail. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive offer some of the most spectacular views in the world. From world-class performers at Wolf Trap in Vienna to the famed Carter Family Fold in the Heart of Appalachia, Virginia crackles with live music. Find out what’s going on around Virginia. Visit www.virginia.org, the official tourism site of the commonwealth of Virginia, to subscribe to the Virginia eNewsletter and request your Virginia Travel Guide and state map.
Shenandoah National Park
Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah national Park is your escape to recreation and re-creation. Cascading waterfall, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows – take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, fish, dine, or camp with the family. 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, the night sky … and you. An active and hands-on experience for all ages. www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm
America’s Historic Triangle – Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Historic Jamestowne
Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum presenting part of a historic district in Williamsburg. The 301-acre Historic Area includes buildings from the 18th century (during part of which the city was the capital of colonial Virginia), as well as 17th century, 19th century, Colonial Revival structures and more recent reconstructions. Costumed employees work and dress as people did in the era, sometimes using colonial grammar and diction. Prominent buildings include the Raleigh Tavern, the Capitol, the Governor’s Palace (all reconstructed), as well as the Courthouse, the George Wythe House, the Peyton Randolph House, the Magazine and independently owned and functioning Bruton Parish Church (all originals). For more information, call 877-996-4940 or visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.
Historic Jamestowne - Visitor Center, Museum and Archeology Site
Jamestown Rediscovery is committed to supporting preservation, education and the archaeological investigation of Historic Jamestowne, the original site of the first permanent English settlement in America. See and hear about the latest archaeological discoveries on a tour on Jamestown Island, including the fort site. Several times a day a member of the Jamestown Rediscovery team spends an hour walking visitors through the active excavation sites and answering detailed questions. National Park Service Rangers also give tours that are rich in the historical sweep of the Jamestown story. You may witness the moment of discovery as an archaeologist pulls from the ground an artifact that has not been seen in 400 years. Continue to the Archaearium, a museum that houses some of the most spectacular finds of the 2 million artifacts uncovered since the Jamestown Rediscovery Project began in 1994. The Visitor’s Center is at 1368 Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, VA 23081. For more information, call 757-856-1250 or visit http://historicjamestowne.org.
History comes alive at the Jamestown Settlement, where the story of the original settlers of the area is displayed through exhibits, film and costumed historical interpreters. Visitors can step aboard replicas of the ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607, investigate life-size re-creations of the fort and Powhatan village, and tour the riverfront discovery area. There are vacation packages available through the website, with special rates for groups and schools. Open daily with varying seasonal hours, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. Visit the settlement at 2110 Jamestown Road, Route 31 South, Williamsburg, VA 23185. For more information, call 888-593-4682 or visit www.historyisfun.org.
See where American independence was won at the Yorktown Battlefield, administered by the National Park Service as part of the Colonial National Historical Park. Here on Oct. 19, 1781, British forces under Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered to the combined American and French armies led by Gen. George Washington, concluding the battle that signaled the beginning of the end of the fight for American independence. Start at the Visitor Center and see the orientation film and museum exhibits, including the field tents used by Gen. Washington during the battle. Join a park ranger for a guided walking tour of the battlefield and 18th-century town. Drive through the battlefield and see the numerous fortifications and cannons; the Moore House, scene of surrender negotiations; and Surrender Field, among other sites. Stroll through the historic town and view the many historic sites in the Yorktown, including the Nelson House, home to Gov. Thomas Nelson Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and the Yorktown Victory Monument. Visit www.nps.gov/york for more information.
The National Aquarium has more than 150,000 marine and freshwater animals, with exhibits that include daily shows at the 4-D Immersion Theater, the “Jellies Invasion” jellyfish exhibit and a dolphin show. Group and student rates are available, as well as special behind-the-scenes tours. Visit the website for hours and seasonal rates and discounts. The museum is at 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21202. For more information, call 410-576-3800 or visit www.aqua.org.
A perfect mix of resorts and laid-back seaside fun, Ocean City is the premier getaway for Maryland residents and visitors. Stroll the 3-mile boardwalk, feast at one of the many restaurants and cafes or hang out on the 10 miles of beaches. There are 17 golf courses in the area, outlet malls, fishing and regular free events on the beaches for the entire family. To find out more about Ocean City, call 800-626-2326 or visit www.ococean.com.