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Virginia See And Do

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington , Virginia
Tel: 703 607 8000

The most honored burial ground in the country spans over 600 acres in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial. It is the final resting place for more than 300,000 citizens who have served with distinction, among them General John J. Pershing and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Among the scores of graves of fallen servicemen and women is the Tomb of the Unknowns, watched over by an honor guard and containing the remains of three unidentified soldiers representing the unknown dead from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. (The changing of the guard occurs every hour on the hour between October and March, and on the half hour the rest of the year.) By far the site most visited, however, is the grave of John F. Kennedy, marked by the Eternal Flame; Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was later buried next to him, and his brother Robert Kennedy lies nearby.

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon , Virginia
Tel: 703 780 2000

At one stage of George Washington's life, his enormous estate, 16 miles south of the city that bears his name, was 8,000 acres and composed of five farms. Today, 500 acres remain, 50 of which are open to the public. Washington lived here from the age of three. As an adult, he expanded his home; filled it with exquisite pieces, many of which are on view today (such as 18th-century silver and books from his private library); and built a successful whiskey distillery down the road. Plan to spend several hours, if not a whole day, touring the mansion, working farm, gardens, and George and Martha Washington's tomb. Expect to wait about half an hour in line for the mansion tour in the summer, and even longer in April and May and on weekends. The wait tends to be shorter in the afternoon.

Hotel Photo
Time Travel
Williamsburg , Virginia

Welcome to EighteenthCenturyWorld, the only town run by a not-for-profit educational institution. If you haven't been and you're tempted to dismiss Colonial Williamsburg as hokey and inauthentic, think again. This is one of the most amazing museums in America—and one of the country's most fascinating experiences. True, the dining options sound terribly twee, but even those are extraordinarily well executed.

What makes this town unique is its 88 original 18th-century buildings, augmented by hundreds more reproduced so faithfully it's hard to tell which ones they are. The main road is Duke of Gloucester Street, which, like all roads in the 301-acre Historic Area, is dirt—and emphatically car-free, except overnight. Instead of traffic, scores of 18th-century people roam the streets, many industriously engaged in their crafts (merchants, milliners, blacksmiths, innkeepers, printers, bakers) and all wanting to engage you in conversation, always staying strictly in character. Thomas Jefferson himself is around somewhere, too, plus a large number of slaves. Events are constantly erupting. Depending on which of the four most crucial years (1773–1776) of the early history of America is being reenacted that day, there may be battles, witch trials, or fife and drum parades.

Completed for the 2005 season (and 52 years in the making), Peyton Randolph's plantation is the site for new scenes from the life of this president of the First and Second Continental Congress, along with that of his wife and 27 slaves. Among the other important structures are the 1722 Governor's Palace, one of British North America's finest buildings; the Capitol, reconstructed in the 1930s during the original restoration period of park founder John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and based on the first 1701 capitol; and Thomas Jefferson mentor George Wythe's 1755 Georgian-style house. At the far west end of Duke of Gloucester Street, outside the Historic Area on the campus of William & Mary, is another major building, the 1695 Wren Building—the oldest academic building in continuous use in America. In addition to all this, there's sort-of-authentic shopping to be done in the nine historic shops, as well as in the stores of Merchants Square, where you can find Williamsburg Products—Colonial reproductions of all kinds. All in all, Colonial Williamsburg is so stirring, it will thoroughly reinvigorate your patriotic spirit.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.