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Author Topic: Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022  (Read 547 times)

BlueOutback7

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Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« on: June 06, 2022, 01:47:36 PM »

So this has been in the planning stages for about a month now and weíve decided to do it. We will be leaving on a road trip from Massachusetts to Virginia for the ultimate road trip through the state. We will be leaving the second week of August. On Day 1, we will get to our halfway point and stay with relatives in Allentown, Pennsylvania and perhaps visit Jim Thorpe on the way. Day 2, on August 9 we will start making our way towards Virginia and visit the Shenandoah Valley. Iím not sure how long weíll be there for, but we are still figuring that out. Maybe travel down either Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway and make our way towards I-64 to Richmond. We may stop and visit Colonial Williamsburg for the day and then visit the Hampton Roads region. If thereís time, Iíve considered going down to the Outer Banks. We also want to visit Jamestown and see that. We will then start making our way back north towards the Northeast and arrive back in Massachusetts on August 15. Any suggestions on other areas that I may have missed that would be worth a visit? Iím really looking forward to this adventure.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2022, 10:16:55 AM by BlueOutback7 »
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1995hoo

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Re: Planned Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2022, 08:25:02 AM »

What specifically are you interested in when you ask for "other areas"? Interesting roads or interesting sights to see?

Regarding the places you've noted, one rather obvious suggestion is to combine Williamsburg and Jamestown into the same one or two days because they're located so close to each other. It doesn't make sense to see one, leave, and then come back to see the other, unless perhaps you were to have a compelling scheduling issue that required you to go somewhere else in between (which I assume you don't on what sounds like a vacation).

I assume you know that Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway generally have a much lower speed limit than parallel routes. They're roads you take for the scenery, not to make time. I mention this mainly because you only have a week for the trip and driving on those roads would eat up a decent chunk of one whole day. If you're coming from the north and you want to go to Richmond, I would not use the Blue Ridge Parkway because it goes too far southwest. Instead, I would exit Skyline Drive at either Thornton's Gap (US-211) or Swift Rung Gap (US-33) and head east from there. Or, if you're interested in caves, exit at Thornton's Gap and head a short distance west to Luray Caverns (a nice visit in August if the weather is hot, too, since it's nice and cool underground).

Avoid I-95 in the Fredericksburg area if possible due to significant road construction.
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Re: Planned Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2022, 09:48:44 AM »

I've stopped at a few places in Virginia on trips to/from Tennessee that might be worth a stop, but some of them may be too far south/west, especially Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield.

Natural Bridge State Park might be more feasible - it's only 150 miles from Richmond via I-81 and I-64, but it is south of I-64, so there would be a bit of backtracking. I'd certainly consider it worth a stop if you're in that area, though. The "bridge" is pretty cool, and it's a scenic area in general; I believe we walked most or all of the way to Lace Falls.

I would echo what 1995hoo said about Skyline Drive - scenic, but time-consuming, especially if you stop at all the overlooks since there are so many of them. I've also done a short segment of the Blue Ridge Pkwy - it's less touristy but even more remote and seemed to be a particularly long distance between exits. I would choose Skyline Drive if given the choice.


... Or, if you're interested in caves, exit at Thornton's Gap and head a short distance west to Luray Caverns (a nice visit in August if the weather is hot, too, since it's nice and cool underground).

I've never been to, or surprisingly even heard of, Luray Caverns - but certainly noted for if I'm ever in that area again! It looks kind of like a bigger, better, Howe Caverns.

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BlueOutback7

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Re: Planned Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2022, 01:33:15 PM »

What specifically are you interested in when you ask for "other areas"? Interesting roads or interesting sights to see?

Regarding the places you've noted, one rather obvious suggestion is to combine Williamsburg and Jamestown into the same one or two days because they're located so close to each other. It doesn't make sense to see one, leave, and then come back to see the other, unless perhaps you were to have a compelling scheduling issue that required you to go somewhere else in between (which I assume you don't on what sounds like a vacation).

I assume you know that Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway generally have a much lower speed limit than parallel routes. They're roads you take for the scenery, not to make time. I mention this mainly because you only have a week for the trip and driving on those roads would eat up a decent chunk of one whole day. If you're coming from the north and you want to go to Richmond, I would not use the Blue Ridge Parkway because it goes too far southwest. Instead, I would exit Skyline Drive at either Thornton's Gap (US-211) or Swift Rung Gap (US-33) and head east from there. Or, if you're interested in caves, exit at Thornton's Gap and head a short distance west to Luray Caverns (a nice visit in August if the weather is hot, too, since it's nice and cool underground).

Avoid I-95 in the Fredericksburg area if possible due to significant road construction.

Iím looking at interesting sites. I really like your suggestion about Jamestown and Williamsburg on the same day though. And yeah I agree with I-95 in Fredericksburg. I remember traffic being a mess on that highway.
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Re: Planned Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2022, 01:59:45 PM »

My recollection is faint about a family trip we took back in the early 1980s, but we overnighted in Harrisonburg, then accessed Skyline Drive via US 33. We then went south on Skyline Drive/BRP and although my dad was definitely not possessive of a lead foot, I think we reached Boone, N.C., for our overnight stay. So it is possible to do a significant chunk of the BRP in one day and still enjoy the scenery.
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Re: Planned Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2022, 04:43:53 PM »

Take VA 5 between Richmond and Williamsburg at least one way. It is by far the most scenic route between the two cities.
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Re: Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2022, 07:11:49 PM »

So we left Massachusetts today and made our way to Jim Thorpe, PA for night 1. Some notes for the first day.

We took I-90 down to I-84 and crossed Connecticut and New York. (Lots of police on the New York leg. Almost got pulled over twice). We then made our way down US 209 through the Delaware Water Gap. Itís a very scenic drive down through that way and a nice change from being on an Interstate highway. We didnít stop to hike or anything, but we were able to appreciate the nice scenery. We entered Stroudsburg and followed I-80 down to PA 115 to PA 903 in Jim Thorpe.
There was some traffic on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge due to construction being done, but other than that, traffic was very easy. I have to say that the Pocono Mountains are a very underrated area for tourists as far as Iím aware. It kind of reminded me of New Hampshire or Maine.

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BlueOutback7

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Re: Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2022, 09:26:39 PM »

With Day 2 done, we have made it to Virginia. Here are some notes for today's journey.

We left Jim Thorpe around 10AM and we took PA 248, PA 873, and PA 309 to shunpike the Turnpike and I have to say, it was a worthy detour. The route was very scenic and had amazing views of the Pocono Mountains. Anyways, we then took I-78 and I-81 down towards Harrisburg. There was some major construction happening on I-78 west of Allentown and probably more trucks than Iíve ever seen. It was kind of a stressful drive. We then took a detour off I-81 to visit Harrisburg and tour the state capitol building, which is one of the nicest in the country. Hereís a photo of it.


Overall thoughts of the city, the downtown was better than I thought it would be, but it is overall a rough city.

Leaving Harrisburg, we followed I-81 down through Maryland and pulled off in West Virginia in the city of Martinsburg. The downtown is kind of charming, but thereís not really much going on. It was overall okay. When we got to Virginia, we took I-66 and US 340 down to Luray, where we visited Luray Caverns. It was a very unique place to check out and I would definitely go back. There is a pipe organ inside the caverns that uses the stalactites as the pipes, which was very cool. I had no idea that was possible.



Anyways, we are now at the campsite and ready for the next day.


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BlueOutback7

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Re: Virginia Road Trip August 8-15, 2022
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2022, 11:11:55 PM »

Days 3 and 4 are complete, so hereís the latest.

Yesterday, we packed up and went into Luray for supplies and to get breakfast. After that, we made our way to the Thorntonís Gap entrance (US 211) onto Skyline Drive. We made sure to stop at every scenic overlook on the way. The first hike we took was up to the highest point of the park at Hawksbill Mountain. We hiked on part of the Appalachian Trail to get there. The view from the top was very breathtaking. We then hiked along the Dark Hollow Falls Trail. It was hot and humid that day, so the hike back to the parking lot took a lot of energy. We wouldíve done more hiking, but we got rained out later. We ended up staying at the Big Meadow Lodge that night.

Today, we left the park due to threats of thunderstorms and made our way south along Skyline Drive down to Swift Run Gap (US 33). We took that into Harrisonburg and checked out the campus of James Madison University. I overall liked the city and thought it was in a beautiful setting. We then went south on I-81 to Lexington and got lunch and walked around the city. I thought it was one of the nicest small cities Iíve been to and there are a lot of historic homes there. We walked through the campus of Washington and Lee University. We left and took US 11 down to Natural Bridge. It was a very beautiful place and you shouldnít pass it by. George Washington carved his initials somewhere in the rock. After that, we made our way east along I-64 through Charlottesville and Richmond and arrived at Williamsburg, where we will tour the museum tomorrow. Pictures can be found on my Flickr page.

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