View Full Version : Help needed from Virginia DVC members for Northern Ireland DVC members

03-08-2001, 04:31 AM
Hi my wife and i, are visting Virginia for two weeks at the start of september on a flydrive.The route i have plan so far is arriving Dulles-Alexandria-Skyland[or]Charlottesville-Ricmond-Williamsburg-Norfolk,then catching a flight back too Dulles.If anyone has any ideas on places to stay or visit or see we would be most grateful. We are both interest in the civil war,nice wines,shopping,plantations,boats[ships]and a quiet beach.



03-08-2001, 05:57 AM
The Washington DC area around the Washington Mall is a great area to visit. The Smithsonian Museums line the entire Mall area at the Capitol and can provide more information than any history enthusiast could want. Admission is all free as well. If you are interested in Civil War History take in Ford's Theater where Lincoln was assasinated. It has a great Lincoln Exhibit (although small) in the basement. There is a charge for this however. Manassas is about 30 minutes west of DC. It is the location of the first Civil War Battle. National Park Guides offer great informational tours. Colonial Williamsburg and nearby Jamestown are also sites not to miss. You probably already are aware of them. Don't know what you have budgeted for time but you could easily spend 3 to 4 days in the Washington DC area and another 3 to 4 days at Williamsburg. Check the area WEB sites there is too much to list here. Hope this helps.

03-08-2001, 07:13 AM
It sounds like you've allowed for 2-3 days in each city, which will be nice. I live midway between Richmond and Charlottesville, and would be glad to offer some suggestions. In Charlottesville, definitely visit Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello. Also, James Monroe's home, Ashlawn-Highland is close by. For a nice meal, try Michie Tavern. If you're interested in wines, there are quite a few wineries within 30 miles of Charlottesville. Richmond and Petersburg are great for War Between the States (Civil War) history. The White House of the Confederacy (where Jefferson Davis resided)is located in downtown Richmond, and is a good place to start. Between Richmond and Williamsburg, is Route 5. This road is where quite a few plantations are located. They are open on a daily basis. I recommend Berkeley Plantation, and John Tyler's home. Route 5 is a beautiful way to get to Williamsburg. You may want to allow 3-4 days in Williamsburg. It really is the home of Virginia history. There are so many historic homes, like Carter's Grove, the re-created Williamsburg itself, multiple wineries, and good restaurants.

Finally, as far as beaches go, they will all be quiet after the first weekend in September. I recommend Virginia Beach over the beaches in Norfolk. It is prettier, and cleaner. I wouldn't skip Norfolk---there are some neat tours available of the naval bases, but for the beach itself, go to Va. Beach. Hope this helps.

03-08-2001, 07:37 AM
Hi ,Kirsten and Bob thanks for the help,Kirsten i notice you said the beaches should be quiet, is this because the kids and college students are at school [schools holidays].We have notice some of the places that both of you have mention on the internet,we also have receive a copy of the Virginia tourist travel guide which is helping,but its nice to be pointed in the right direction.

thanks again.


03-08-2001, 07:49 AM
If you plan to visit DC, try to stay on the weekend. The hotel room prices are much lower on Friday and Sat. Embassy suites offer a nice family pkge weekend rate for Fri, Sat and Sun which includes free breakfast and free cocktail hour each day. Many hotels are a few blocks from the Metro(subway). The Embassy Suites in Chevy Chase actually is on top of a shopping mall and the lowest level is the Metro entrance.

03-08-2001, 08:07 AM
Hi,Maureen thanks, we were think of staying outside DC at Alexandria old town Embassy suites these look quite good as the king street Metro was just across the street. Is the Metro a SAFE form of transport[ie mugging-pick pockets].

Thanks Maureen.


03-08-2001, 08:41 AM
OOoooh! I have personal experience, albeit small. Last fall, we attended a ceremony for my brother at the navy yard. Afterwards, we planned to ride the metro to the mall to visit the museums. My brother (who lives in VA) was nervous for us as he dropped us at the station. Get in, get on, don't linger, he said. Well, we get in the station, and for the life of us, couldn't figure out how to purchase a ticket from the machines.

In trepidation, we approached the ticketmaster booth, fearing we would be treated with the scorn often heaped upon the non-city savy. The man inside came out, showed us how to use the machine, made sure we got our tickets, then told us very precisely which track to go to and where to get off, and which way to go out of the station once we got there. He was wonderfully friendly and his directions were spot on.

We felt very safe. The metro was clean, fast, and peopled with regular old people: families, business people, students. Great way to get around. I would do it again in a second. :D

03-08-2001, 08:52 AM
I tried to Email you but your email attachment did not work. please email me at pk.mingo@verizon.net and I will try to answer your questions.

03-08-2001, 09:21 AM
The Metro is very safe, but it does close down at midnight during the week and at 2 A.M. on weekends. If you want to travel to all the major sights in DC there is a shuttle bus. You can buy a ticket for the whole day and get on and off as many times as you wish at all the major tourist attractions. This was an excellent way to visit the sights and be able to stay for a short or long time wherever you wished. We stayed at the Vietnam Mem. for quiet a while, there were many names to find and show our sons. I don't remember the name of the shuttle company, but I am sure a little internet digging while find it. If you can, try to visit the Zoo. They have the Pandas there now. I saw the original pair they had and nothing can compare to seeing these magnificent animals. The zoo is at least a 1/2 a day visit. You can get there on the Metro. If the Pandas are the only reason, then less time would be needed..

03-08-2001, 10:17 AM
Has anyone stayed at Shenandoah National Park - specifically Big Meadows Lodge or Skyland? The park itself looks impressive but my wife[you know what they're like] had doubts about the accommodation available there. Big Meadows and Skyland seem to be the best of what's available - any suggestions or comments??

Failing that, we were thinking of staying close to Charlottesville ? What do you think?


03-08-2001, 12:05 PM
In response to your question about beaches, and if they would be quiet in September...this year September 3 is Labor Day. All schools are back in session the day after Labor Day. So if you save the beach for the end of your vacation, you'd be sure to hit that right. The reason I recommended Virginia Beach over Norfolk is that when we lived there, the Norfolk beach, which is called Ocean View could be a little rough. They may have cleaned it up since then.

In Charlottesville, there are many chichi places, like Boar's Head Inn, and the place owned by Nick Ashley (Laura Ashley's son, or something---sorry can't remember). I have never stayed overnight in Charlottesville, so I can't help much there. However, I would imagine there are a ton of bed-and-breakfast type inns that would be nice.

I almost forgot one more interesting historic house: Bacon's Castle. It's reputed to be the oldest brick dwelling in Virginia. It's rather quirky looking, and worth a look. It's located in Surry, which is not too far from Williamsburg. While in Williamsburg, try to go to Busch Gardens. It is one of the most incredibly beautifully landscaped theme parks in the country. (Sorry this post is rather disjointed---I keep remembering more things everytime I get ready to sign off).

03-08-2001, 12:22 PM
As a Civil War buff I would recommend Lexington, Va. The only home of Stonewall Jackson is located there and the museum at Virginia Military Institute has an area dedicated to Jackson and has his horse(Little Sorrel) and his rain cape(with the bullett hole) he wore the night he was shot in the shoulder by his own men. All of Jackson's family are buried in a cemetary in Lexington.Also at Washington & Lee University in Lexington is the Robert E. Lee Chapel.Most of the Lee's are buried in the basement area and even Lee's horse Traveler is buried outside. Also the Fredericksburg area is interesting.
You could spend days and days in Virginia doing the Civil War. And of course the best Civil War site of all is Gettysburg, Pa. Not to far from Alexandria.

03-08-2001, 12:41 PM
I'm from VA, near Virginia Beach, about an hour from Williamsburg. If you e-mail me with your address, I'll be glad to get some brochures from this area to send to you, if that would help.


03-08-2001, 12:48 PM
My parents make a trip to the Skyline Drive every year in September or October and always stay at either Big Meadow or Skyland. They really like both of them. I haven't actually stayed in either myself, but we visited Big Meadow in November (the hotel was closed then). The location is beautiful and the hotel looks like it would be very nice.


03-08-2001, 02:14 PM
Thanks everyone for all the information - we've lots to go on. Glad to see the beaches will be clear of kids Kirsten. Thanks KyBill - will check out Gettysburg - reckon it's one not to be missed. Cherry - its great to hear that someone has been at Big Meadow and now I can convince my wife to go... Glad to hear from Maureen that the Metro is safe - Maureen do you know if the tourist attractions in DC are generally open on a Sunday - we arrive on Sat afternoon and would plan to visit DC on Sunday or maybe Monday.


David in Manassas
03-09-2001, 03:32 AM
Living in Manassas VA since 1980...if you are interested in the Civil War...it is a must top in the area. Also very interesting is the battlefield in Fredericksburg VA.

Of course two exits down from Manassas is the site where (sigh)...Disney almost built its Disney America theme park.....

If you have any questions, please ask!

David in Manassas VA

03-09-2001, 09:49 AM
All the tourist attractions have different days and times. Your best bet is to search the web for the DC sights and try to find all the places you would like to see and check on the schedules for them. I think the White House is closed Sun and Mon and the FBI tour is not given on Sun. Most of the museums are open on Sun. Good luck, I know you will have a great trip.


03-09-2001, 12:05 PM

I believe this is the official web site. It has information and times of many places to visit.

03-10-2001, 04:14 AM

Me again - we were wondering what the weather will be like in September? We'll be arriving at the beginning of the month and heading to the Blue Ridge Mountains for a couple of days and then on over towards Richmond, Williamsburg and then on to the coast spending a few days at Virginia Beach, leaving on 14th. What will the weather be like at each of these places, specifically the beach and will it be warm enough to swim in the sea - is it ok to swim in the sea? Is the beach gently sloping or quite rough? What temperatures should we expect?

Is Virginia a shorts and t-shirt type of place?

Thanks again everyone - I really appreciate all your help and advise on this.


03-10-2001, 05:47 PM
we (husband and I) went on an extraordinary tour.It was called capital at night. All the mounuments were lit and no crowds.There was a quiet and majestic feeling to the tour which made DC history and dignity palpable.We stopped at many tourist destinations but it was so serene it didn't feel like a tour but rather a private experience.I remember standing on the observation deck at the performing arts building ,the view was of DC with all the lights twinkling. It was a grand way to see the sights.nothing compares to the Lincoln Memorial or the Veitnam Wall at night.

03-10-2001, 11:55 PM
If you do stop in Charlottesville,in addition to Monticello, be sure to visit the University of Virginia which was founded by Thomas Jefferson. It is beautiful and very historic. The University has free tours of the Grounds (they do not call it a campus), the Rotunda and the Lawn area, which are given by student guides. The guides are excellent--with extensive knowledge of Thomas Jefferson and the history of the University, its Honor System etc. You can also take a short drive to Historic Downtown Charlottesville--it is a very quaint area. If you go there, be sure and eat at The Hardware Store (yes, it is really a restaurant.)
We haven't been in Charlottesville in a few years, but we used to stay at a hotel called the Cavalier Inn which is within walking distance of the UVA (University of Virginia) Grounds (campus). Charlottesville is one of our favorite places to visit. Hope you have a wonderful trip!!!

Phil and Mary Jo
WDW--82,83,85,87,89,93,95,96, 97,98,99,00,01

[This message was edited by PKK/MJK on 03-11-01 at 03:00 AM.]

03-14-2001, 11:29 AM
Hi Everyone,

It's us again!! We have eventually worked out our itinerary for our 2 week vacation to Virginia.

Arriving Sept 1 staying 3 nights at the Embassy Suites, Old Town, Alexandria

Sept 4th and 5th - staying at Skyland, Shenandoah National Park

Sept 6th and 7th - staying at Linden Row Inn, Richmond

Sept 8th, 9th and 10th - staying at Williamsburg Woodlands, Colonial Williamsburg

Sept 11th, 12th and 13th - staying at Marriott Waterside, Norfolk

Thanks for all your help and suggestions - now we just have to plan what attractions, tours, sightseeing and shopping we're going to do when we get there !!!! (I had to add the shopping for my wife!! Need you ask!!)


ps - I'd asked before about the weather at this time of the year - can anyone help?

03-14-2001, 12:32 PM
I live in Va. Beach about 2 blocks from the beach, but on the Chesapeake Bay side as opposed to the Atlantic Ocean side. If you look at a map of southeastern VA, you'll notice that the shoreline curves around at Fort Story, where the Ocean meets the Bay.

The beach in September is glorious! Be prepared for high temperatures (80s F) and yes, we are a shorts and Tshirts sort of place. Most restaurants around here are very casual. If you want some GREAT seafood you can't go wrong down here!

I highly recommend the Va. Beach Resort and Conference Center for your stay in Va. Beach. It is also on the Bay side and is located in a very low key area. It is VERY safe with many restaurants within walking distance. If you would rather have the excitement of the oceanfront and the boardwalk then I would suggest the Cavalier hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Va. Beach. Very beautiful and lots of character. Oh, and yes, the beaches are safe for swimming. The ocean has somewhat rough waves (great for boogie boarding or body surfing) and the Bay is very calm.

Definitely don't leave Norfolk out of your tour, downtown has been revitalized and you can visit the bases and the Navy ships too.

One winery I would suggest is Barboursville, near Massanutten. They are my absolute favorite winery.

And here's another vote for you to include Manassas on your tour! I spent 5 years of my childhood there. Very educational and enjoyable.

Please feel free to email me with any specific questions about Va. Beach. If Cherry is unable to get anything you need (and I know she'll try her best, I know her well :D) I'll give it a shot from my end of town.

I just read your post with your itinerary and can give you peace of mind on the Marriott Waterside hotel. I've attended several functions there and never been disappointed. You can walk to MacArthur Mall from there - this mall has nearly every store you could possibly imagine, except a Disney Store! Your wife will enjoy shopping there, I can assure you. There may be some festivals or concerts taking place at Town Point Park, which is also within walking distance (right on the Elizabeth River) while you are there.

I would still recommend traveling to Va. Beach for seafood :) It's about 30 minutes from downtown Norfolk by car, and very easy to get to.


Offsite '77, '79, '85, '90, '96, '99, '00, '01 May 10-13 2001
Disneyland '77, '97
BW Inn June '98
DVC Hilton Head, All Star Sports March 2000
DVC BWV Sept and Oct '00 May 13-18 2001
Animal Kingdom Lodge May 18-20 2001
Disneyana Convention Sept. '01

[This message was edited by Sorcerer on 03-14-01 at 03:47 PM.]