If you’re completely over the winter season and long for spring like I do, you’ll love the notion of beautiful spring drives through Virginia. Beginning in Coastal Virginia, these drives include history and beauty, and leave you feeling a little more carefree.
This is the first of a four-part series which will lead you to some of the best destinations in Virginia by way of the slower route.
Colonial Parkway is a 23-mile run through America’s Historic Triangle, connecting Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Battlefield, and Yorktown Victory Center. The drive is maintained by the National Park Service and is free from commercial development. Dogwood, Redbud, and more bloom along the drive, and the James and York Rivers are additional highlights.
Cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to access Coastal Virginia’s Eastern Shore and then it’s Route 13 all the way to Maryland … with a stop-off or two as you go. Really take your time and enjoy what’s just out of sight:
~ Kiptopeke State Park
~ Cape Charles – the only public bayside beach on the Shore
~ Onancock – “The Coolest Town in the South,” per Budget Travel
~ Historic Railway Museum, Parksley
~ Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge - wild ponies!
~ Asssateague Island National Seashore and Assateague Lighthouse
Often romanticized (thank you, Gone With the Wind), and ever historic, plantations are plentiful along the James River and Route 5 from Williamsburg to Richmond. Not all are open to the public all the time, so call ahead if visiting one is part of your plan. Or, purchase the Civil War Trace ticket to visit the grounds and tour just a few of them.
Route 10 from Smithfield to Chippokes Plantation State Park runs on the south side of the James River. Enjoy a waterside meal at Smithfield Station and then explore the shops of this historic ham hamlet before heading northwest to Bacon’s Castle, the 1665 Jacobean mansion and oldest brick structure in British North America. Bacon’s Castle is so named for Nathaniel Bacon of “Bacon’s Rebellion” in 1676. Nearly 350 years of history are interpreted at the site by way of tours of the 9,600 square foot mansion and 40-acre plantation. Just down the road is Chippokes Plantation State Park, a working farm that dates to 1617. Tour the antebellum mansion and check out the antique farm and forestry equipment, too. If you have time to spend, stay overnight or take to the trails for hiking and biking.
Which coastal route is your favorite to drive at a leisurely pace and enjoy a day or weekend? Leave a comment to let everyone know.