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Celebrating 70 Years of RVing - In the Mid-Atlantic
It’s easy to come up with seven reasons to tour America’s Mid-Atlantic states. Versatile Maryland is a traveler’s treasure, while experiencing the capital wonders of Washington, D.C. are absolutely required for tourists. Antique trains and ferryboats help Delaware attract tourists. Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s vintage amusement parks captivate crowds with nostalgia and thrills. For Virginia and West Virginia, memorable mountain magic invites visitors to return year after year. You see? Seven super states equal seven super reasons for one terrific Mid-Atlantic RV vacation!
Maryland can be explored by railway and canal boat ride. She has legendary airports and plantations, general stores, taverns, artist colonies, and antique markets. Harbor towns, ocean boardwalks, offshore islands, and a military academy are waiting for you to see for yourself. You’ll find symphonies to hear, visit forts, aquariums and lighthouses and, of course, there is seafood to savor. Adventures are everywhere for the taking in Maryland.
Start in the westernmost part of the state. The town of Oakland, on Hwy. 219, is the site of the Historic B & O Train Station and Visitors Center in the western portion of the state. With its circular tower and unique bell-shaped roof topped with “fish-scale” shingles, this circa 1884 Queen Anne-style depot is one of the most celebrated train stations in the U.S.A. Also in Oakland, Steyer Brothers Maple Syrup has been made on a family-run farm for over a century. In late winter and early spring, you can take tours to learn about the steps involved in maple syrup production, and you can buy the Steyer’s tasty golden-brown syrup all year long.
Spruce Forest Artisan Village is in Grantsville, off historic Hwy. 40. Potters, woodcarvers, and other artists work and display their crafts in late-1700’s log cabins, schoolhouses, and a church that were moved to the area and converted to studios and museums in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s even a restored 1797 gristmill that processes grains today, just as it did back in the 1800’s.
Northeast of Oakland, Hwy. 219 merges with U.S. 40 and meanders to Cumberland. Canal Place Heritage Area at the Maryland Railway Station offers boat tours of the famed C&O Canal as well as scenic train rides. There are plenty of good restaurants and shopping venues, including Arts at Canal Place, a co-op gallery featuring the work of more than 40 area artists such as jewelers, painters, and photographers. It’s a good place to park your RV and set out on foot since the Heritage Area is within easy walking distance of Victorian Cumberland. The historic district there treats visitors to a mix of eclectic shops, galleries, and cafes. It’s also the site of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad & the Old Frostburg Depot, where you can board a restored 1916 steam engine train for a 32-mile ride through Maryland’s picturesque mountains.
Continue east to Clear Spring, which lies just north of Hwy. 40. Wilson’s circa 1840 General Store and One-Room Schoolhouse will carry you far back in time. Enter the store with a healthy appetite, since you’ll probably be enticed by the old-fashioned candy counter, home-baked goodies, and fresh-fried potato chips.
Hwy. 40 crosses into Hagerstown. The town has a unique trio of not-to-be-missed attractions, each interesting in its own right. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra has showcased the talents of musical professionals since 1982 and the two-decades-old Beaver Creek Antiques Market houses 150 vendors selling antiques and collectibles at friendly prices. Another Hagerstown draw is the self-guided tour of the prolific fish ponds at Albert Powell Trout Hatchery, a 1949 establishment where as many as 200,000 rainbow trout are raised to be used as stock fish in “Old Line State” waters.
In central Maryland, at Emmitsburg Antique Mall north of State Highway 77, you’ll find all sorts of old treasures to help you experience that nostalgic feeling again.
Hwy. 40 descends into central Maryland and merges briefly with Interstate 70. Historic downtown Frederick is the home of Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, a regional arts and crafts facility located in a circa 1800’s Mountain City Flour Mill. Artistic specialties like photography, ceramics, printmaking, and painting are highlighted in Delaplaine’s classes, studios, and gallery exhibits. Emporium Antiques, another downtown Frederick attraction, is housed in an authentic 1918 warehouse. The Emporium contains 130 individual antique dealerships that handle books, china, silver, linens, and countless other vintage items.
On State Highway 191 in Potomac, the C&O Canal National Historical Park offers something way out of the ordinary– mule-drawn barge rides on the canal.
Off Interstate 495 in College Park, the circa 1909 College Park Airport qualifies as the world’s oldest continuously operated airfield. It’s also the nostalgic site where high-flying brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright taught aviation lessons to America’s earliest military flight crews.
Attention, shoppers! The late 1800’s railroading town of Bowie, off Hwy. 391, has an Old Town district with more than two dozen antique shops beckoning you. History buffs should take a walking tour of Bowie’s Belair Mansion, the plantation house and gardens of Colonial Governor Samuel Ogle. His landmark home was built more than two-and-a-half centuries ago and was revitalized in the early 1900’s.
The city of Baltimore is brimming with outstanding museums highlighting lots of different locales, entities, and events. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, Maryland’s streetcars, slugger Babe Ruth’s birthplace, the Civil War, U.S.S. Constellation battleship, and Underground Railroad each commands its own museum. In Baltimore, historic points of interest are also well represented. One local favorite is at Fort McHenry, the site where Francis Scott Key penned the “Star Spangled Banner” during the War of 1812. Today’s Fort McHenry is a National Monument & Historic Shrine.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor offers much to see and do. Start with a sight-seeing cruise on one of many available vessels. And be sure to budget enough time to see the fabulous National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, and the Top of the World Observation Level. The oldest continuously running fresh food marketplace in America is at Baltimore’s Lexington Market, founded in 1782. And if running horses are your passion, plan to visit Baltimore’s famed Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness.
On Maryland’s renowned eastern shore, Perryville, just south of U.S. 40, is the home of Rodgers Historic Tavern. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and friends frequented the 1700’s tavern back in their day and you can follow in their footsteps when you visit the restored Perryville tavern, one mug of ale at a time.
If you hanker for more waterfront adventures hop onto Interstate 97 to Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland. If the opportunity arises, cruise out onto the Chesapeake Bay to see the National Landmark Thomas Point Lighthouse, an 1875 screwpile offshore light currently operated by the Coast Guard. The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis has been educating Naval officers since 1845. At the visitor center, you can browse through exhibits and join a walking tour of the campus, chapel, and final resting place of John Paul Jones.
In southern Maryland off Colton’s Point at the end of State Highway 238, St. Clement’s Island-Potomac River Museum is accessible via seasonal water taxi. The island marks the 1634 setting of Maryland’s very first colonial landing.
At historic St. Mary’s City on State Highway 5, guides in period costumes talk about the reconstructed 1676 State House of Maryland’s colonial capital. You’ll gain a firsthand view of an early tobacco plantation, step aboard a replica of a 17th century tall ship, and see a re-created Woodland Indian Hamlet, where Native Marylanders met incoming colonists.
In the old shipbuilding and trading town of Chestertown on State Highway 213, there are plenty of places to check out– a number of revitalized 1700’s homes, shops, galleries, as well as a bustling downtown farmer’s market.
The city of Salisbury is found where Hwys. 50 and 13 intersect. Shop and sightsee at the historic Downtown Plaza and reserve time to watch skillful artists make hand-crafted metallic pieces at Salisbury Pewter.
Maryland’s most fun city is also within short striking distance. Located at the Atlantic end of Hwy. 50, Ocean City’s old-fashioned boardwalk is in the vicinity of numerous tourist attractions, including restaurants, specialty shops, souvenir spots, and family-oriented amusement parks. Trimper’s Rides of Ocean City features more than 100 boardwalk-based rides, including a 100-year-old, hand-hewn carousel. Another waterfront mainstay is Ocean City Pier Rides and Amusements, home of the town’s tallest Ferris wheel, a looping rollercoaster, Boog’s Barbecue, and world-famous Thrasher’s French Fries. Frontier Town’s Western Theme Park has rootin’ tootin’ Wild West shows, stagecoach, ceremonial American Indian dancing, and a highly-rated full-service campground right next door. Jolly Roger Amusement Park presents a whole host of thrills and games plus go-kart track, water park, and mini-golf.
On your way out of the “Old Line State,” schedule a dinner break in Crisfield on State Highway 413. You won’t regret setting your sights on a Maryland-style blue crab feast in the “Crab Capital of the World.”
From the long green lawn at the National Mall to the imposing memorials, monuments and museums that dominate the surrounding landscape, Washington, D.C., America’s capital city, is a grand and welcoming destination. In addition to D.C.’s wealth of historical and cultural features, the city’s abundant shopping, entertainment, and dining choices will keep you occupied from sunup ‘til sundown. And in case you do your best sightseeing by moonlight, D.C.’s nightlife is exceptional, too.
The two-mile-long National Mall, readily accessible from Hwy. 1, serves as an outdoor oasis at the heart of the District of Columbia. The Mall’s pleasing green space stretches all the way from the white-domed U.S. Capitol Building to the towering presence of the Washington Monument.
The Jefferson Memorial includes an impressive 19-foot-tall statue of the third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson. Excerpts from his legendary writings, including the Declaration of Independence, are engraved on the walls of the marble tribute.
From the magnificent Lincoln Memorial, you’ll gain great views of the Reflecting Pool, U.S. Capitol Building and Washington Monument. President Abraham Lincoln’s grand and noble statue is complemented by words from his eloquent addresses at Gettysburg and his second inauguration.
The FDR Memorial features ten bronze sculptures of President Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, and it illustrates significant events from the Great Depression to World War II. The outdoor gallery setting of the memorial is fully accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.
One effective way to honor all American armed forces personnel, past and present, is to visit Washington D.C.’s four military memorials. Veterans from World Wars I and II, the wars in Korea and Vietnam each have their own tributes, stationed around the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
The Smithsonian Institution is undoubtedly America’s “museum central,” with the best of the best exhibited within its walls. Some top picks at the Smithsonian include its National Museums of Air and Space, American History, Natural History, the American Indian, National Portrait Gallery and Zoological Park. If possible, allow a few days for leisurely sweeps of these and other fascinating Smithsonian offerings.
The highly praised and emotionally charged Holocaust Museum utilizes photographs, films, and survivors’ oral histories to tell its compelling story. Some Holocaust exhibits require passes, which may be obtained free of charge (first come, first served) on the day of arrival or purchased online in advance.
The National Gallery of Art presents permanent and temporary exhibitions of fine paintings, sculpture, and multi-media works of art from America and all regions of the world.
At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, you can take a guided tour to see 8,000 sheets of paper money being produced per hour. It seems like the folks there have figured out how to make a quick buck! After you watch money literally rolling off the presses, the National Archives is the place to go for close visual encounters with the original Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
Over in Georgetown, you can hop aboard a mule-powered boat on the famed C&O Canal to ride just like local citizens did back in the late 1800’s.
In an ultimate recycling project, D.C.’s old Post Office Pavilion was transformed into a shopper’s getaway, complete with specialty stores and plenty of restaurants with international flair. Take the ascending tour to the Post Office’s sky-high clock tower for panoramic views of Washington, D.C.
Historically speaking, the 90-year-old Union Station (just a few blocks south of Hwy. 50), is a major transportation center for the nation’s capital. And it’s also tops for shopping venues, entertainment and tasty cuisine from every corner of the planet. Eateries such as Smith’s, Dubliner Pub and America Restaurant add to the fun of a trip to (or through) Union Station. Meals out and about in metro D.C. take on a 1940’s flavor at District ChopHouse & Brewery. There’s a decidedly local twist at Martins’ Tavern, which opened back in 1933, the day after Prohibition ended. And there’s a hint of cool in the air at Blues Alley Jazz, America’s 32-year-old (and longest-running) jazz supper club.
In the realm of theatrical entertainment, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts encompasses six superb theaters that present the cream of the crop in music, drama, and dance. Be sure to inquire about the center’s complimentary 6 p.m. daily performances. Washington’s Ford’s Theatre serves two important roles. It’s an historical monument to Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated here, but also a working theater hosting dramatic and musical productions that embody family values, underscore multiculturalism, and present the unique character of American life.
The state of Delaware might be small in size, but it’s big on providing visitors with a full spectrum of old-fashioned fun. If sedate scenes like historic tall ships, operas, cobblestone streets, vintage trains, and ferryboats pique your interest, Delaware is prepared to please you. And if rousing Broadway tunes, bustling beachfront boardwalks, and rollicking amusement parks are more your speed, Delaware has what it takes to delight you, too.
Streaming into Delaware from Maryland on Hwy. 40, Wilmington, founded in 1638, is your first major stop in the northern part of the state. The city’s colonial-style Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard is home port of Delaware’s like-named Tall Ship ambassador–the Kalmar Nyckel. The original boat was built and launched at today’s shipyard site. These days the replica is available for tours, commemorating the vessel that carried the first wave of adventurous European settlers into Delaware Valley more than three centuries ago. Early boat-building methods and colonial occupations such as blacksmithing are demonstrated at the shipyard.
If a night at the opera is your cup of tea, add OperaDelaware to your “First State” itinerary. Founded in 1945, the company has provided greater Wilmington with an impressive 58 seasons of operatic entertainment. Should you prefer a Broadway beat performed by top-name musical celebrities, check out the Playhouse Theatre. Acknowledged as America’s oldest, continuously-running stage company, the Playhouse currently produces several professional Broadway shows each year.
Are you ready for an authentic antique train escape? The Wilmington & Western Railroad offers steam locomotive tours of the picturesque Red Clay Valley. Dinner rides and holiday excursions are part of the railway’s schedule if you’d like to try something extra special.
The city of New Castle, off Hwy. 40, has quaint cobblestone streets and a rich political heritage to its credit. The circa 1732 New Castle Court House hosted colonial representatives and early Delaware assemblymen. And the state’s eventual signers of the Declaration of Independence first convened at New Castle’s Court House. For today’s visitors, museum exhibits tell the detailed story of the courthouse’s memorable beginnings.
In 1683, William Penn plotted the original design for what would later become the state capital city of Dover. Included in the heart of the town, a market and meeting place for the inhabitants of Kent County, Dover Green, was eventually constructed in 1717. As time marched on, the momentous vote to ratify the U.S. Constitution and the ceremonial 1776 recitation of America’s Declaration of Independence both took place on here. Dover Green is still a popular place to visit today, featuring Delaware’s Old State House and surrounded by a number of 18th-century residences.
Seaford is located in southern Delaware off Hwy. 13 on State Highway 20. The town’s claim to fame is Burton Brothers Hardware, established back in 1893, and still going strong today. The original tin ceilings, cash register, and main counter remain, as well as an old wringer-washer standing side-by-side with modern electrical appliances, tools, and painting supplies. Although the store’s present-day stock reflects the passage of time, one thing that hasn’t changed at Burton Brothers is a steadfast policy that the customer always comes first.
For another boost of nostalgia, drive on over to Woodland (just southwest of Seaford) for a visit to the Days Gone By Museum. You’ll see antique versions of carpenter’s tools and tractors and learn about the 1793 Woodland Ferry that still carries folks across the Nanticoke River today.
Lewes is the home port of yet another commuter boat, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Cars, RV’s, and pedestrians are all permitted on the vessel, which first started transporting passengers and vehicles across Delaware Bay between Lewes and Cape May, New Jersey in 1964. The pleasant 80-minute, one-way cruise covers 17 miles on scenic Delaware Bay.
Take State Highway 1A to Rehoboth Beach for more adventure. Funland is a family-owned amusement park that’s been entertaining summer patrons here since 1962. It’s conveniently located on the boardwalk in the center of all the Rehoboth Beach action. Each ride is reasonably priced on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, meaning old-timey amusements like bumper cars, “Gravitron” and “Sea Dragon” rides are affordable, even for thrifty families. In addition to 18 popular rides, Funland has a shooting gallery, arcade, and a baker’s dozen of midway games. If Funland doesn’t tickle your nostalgia bone, maybe nothing can.
The state of Pennsylvania captivates travelers with mansions, museums, battlefields, and much, much more. You can tour gardens, farms, markets, lumber mill, a world-famous chocolate factory, and a real coal mine. Ride in style on a rollercoaster, flagship, or horse-drawn buggy. With great vacation options at every turn, you can’t go wrong in Pennsylvania.
Start your nostalgic tour of northwestern Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes region in Erie, which is located north of Interstate 90 and old U.S. 20. You’ll be simply amazed by the stained glass, stonework, and marble details of the elegant Victorian estate at Erie’s 1890’s Watson-Curtze Mansion. The nearby Maritime Museum is the home port of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s reconstructed U.S. Brig Niagara, Pennsylvania’s official state flagship. Be sure to board the Niagara for a tour and a memorable day cruise on the scenic waters of Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes. The Art Deco-style Warner Theatre, also in Erie, first opened its doors in the early 1930’s and currently hosts the local philharmonic orchestra, ballet company, and stage playhouse.
North of Hwy. 6 in the town of Conneaut Lake, the amusements at Conneaut Lake Park take you back to the halcyon days of the late 1800’s when the site first opened. Stroll the midway, enjoy a picnic at Blue Streak Grove, kick up your heels in the Dreamland Ballroom, or take a ride to remember on Conneaut’s wooden rollercoaster.
In the classic American town of Meadville (near the intersection of Hwys. 6, 19 and 322), the Meadville Market House has been selling local fruits and veggies, maple syrup, and homespun crafts for more than 100 years. The site of John Brown Farm, Tannery & Museum, also in the Meadville area, played a major role in the Underground Railroad from 1825 to 1835. Learn about abolitionist John Brown who is credited with helping more than 2,000 slaves achieve freedom.
Southeast of Titusville, off Hwy. 8, Drake Well Museum marks the 1859 scene of America’s first oil well drilling. The subsequent “Black Gold” rush and history of the “Keystone State’s” oil industry are brought to life at the museum.
In north central Pennsylvania’s wilderness, stop by the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, east of Coudersport off Hwy. 6. You’ll experience a view of life in a replica of an 1800’s lumber camp, complete with working sawmill demonstrations.
Follow Hwy. 6 further towards the eastern mountains at Hazleton, off Interstate 81, be sure to tour Eckley’s Miners’ Village, circa 1854, an old coal-dependent community that contains authentic miners’ family homes, churches, and a restored general store.
The city of Scranton, off Interstate 476, was founded in 1849 and served as the center of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Also a coal-mining hub in its day and known as the “Anthracite Coal Capital of the World,” Scranton continues to display its heritage via the fascinating Lackawanna County Coal Mine Tour. How does heading 300 feet underground into a real, once-active coal mine strike ya? Your tour guide, a former miner, provides a first-hand account of what it was really like “cracking” coal for a living.
Italian-American cuisine rules just south of Scranton in Old Forge. Whatever you do, don’t miss the opportunity to sample the area’s revered “white pizza,” a unique double-crust delight stuffed with seasoned cheeses. Order it at Revello’s or Arcaro & Genell, two favorite restaurants on Old Forge’s Main Street.
The Pocono Mountains are a winter playground famous for their snow trails, but during the rest of the year you can enjoy the winding roads and interesting towns of the Lehigh Valley. The town of Jim Thorpe, with its delightful Victorian character, was founded in 1953. Jim Thorpe, one of America’s greatest athletes, had no connection to the town until after his death, when he was buried here. The towns of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk had just merged and decide to change the name of the new town to honor his memory. A mausoleum bearing his name stands along route 903, on the east side of town.
Southeastern Pennsylvania is the home of “Center City” Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were composed at Independence Hall. Nearby, the Liberty Bell Center tells remarkable tales of the early American quest to “let freedom ring.” The area delivers the kind of history lesson that would make any social studies teacher proud.
Ben Franklin’s 300th birthday (January, 2006) will be celebrated in a big way by the city of Philadelphia. A special exhibition, “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World,” will run through April 30, 2006, at the National Constitution Center.
South Philadelphia’s Italian Market has all the good stuff– fresh cheeses and meats, pastries, and home-cooked pasta sauces that might elevate your galley dinner ratings to new heights. For ready-made meals to go, pop into legendary Pat’s or Geno’s for primo Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
Are you fond of “old things?” Philadelphia’s Antique Row on Pine Street is a long-standing favorite stop for browsing or buying quality furnishings, stained glass and vintage books.
Industrialist Pierre DuPont developed Longwood Gardens in the early 1900’s. Today, this Kennett Square attraction, located on Hwy. 1, contains more than 1,000 acres of blossoming plants and fabulous lighted fountains. Year-round concerts, theatrical presentations, and onsite dining options round out the Longwood experience. If you’d like to see the summertime musical fireworks show, reserve tickets in advance so you won’t be disappointed.
The south central part of the “Keystone State” is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Many traditional Amish and Mennonite families live in the area, providing a distinctively nostalgic old-world influence. From city folks zipping around in hybrid cars to Amish residents traveling measured miles in horse-drawn buggies, the character of the region is a fluid balance of yesterday and today.
From railroads, coal mine tours, America’s oldest brewery to amusement parks and old battlegrounds, this south central part of the state has much nostalgia to offer as you travel between Chambersburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Hershey and Gettysburg.
We’re not fibbing when we say that the city of Hershey, between Interstates 78 and 76, really does smell like chocolate. As such, why not bask in the stuff from a complimentary tour of Hershey’s Chocolate World, the true source of the energizing chocolate scent? The sweet-smelling factory qualifies as the biggest chocolate-making operation on the face of the earth. After the factory tour and a 3-D show, you’ll be on your way with a tasty candy sample in hand. Next, explore the non-stop amusements at Hersheypark, where ten thrilling roller coasters, refreshing water rides, live entertainment, and appetizing food options convince you that you’re really on vacation.
Pause for patriotic inspiration at Gettysburg National Military Park, in Gettysburg on Hwy. 30 (Lincoln Highway). This Civil War battlefield was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war but is also well-known as the place where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous address in 1863.
Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh area is where you’ll find the site of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s acclaimed modernist masterwork, “Fallingwater.” It’s the only house designed by Wright that currently retains the location, all the interior furnishings and original artwork from its inception.
If you’d like to experience an evening of music or dance while you’re traveling in the area, Pittsburgh’s own Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Theatre are both widely recognized as performance companies of exceptional caliber.
From the Atlantic Ocean to the Delaware River and back again, New Jersey keeps visitors occupied with an appealing array of attractions. Experience the easy-going delights of antique shops, historic villages, and restored schooners or revel in the heart-thumping thrills of horse races, casino games, and amusement park rides. No matter how quickly you want to move through your vacation, the “Garden State” accommodates every pace, every interest, and every visitor.
Always in the shadow of the Big Apple, the Garden State was the playground of the East Coast during the early 20th-century. Since then it has quietly, over the years, contributed greatly to American culture. Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra were born here, this is where Thomas Edison created his marvelous inventions, and the first American victory of the Revolutionary War all took place right within New Jersey’s borders.
Oh, and who can forget the aliens who landed here, too. Well, supposedly. It was the night before Halloween, 1938, when Orson Wells and his band of pranksters went on the air for an all-too-real retelling of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” Leave it to a few paranoid New Jerseyites to take Wells’ stunt a little too seriously. After hearing Wells’ fake newscast, several residents in the town of Grover Mill, near Princeton, were convinced Martians were landing in their town. The paranoia led to some citizens strangely opening fire, quickly riddling a water tower full of holes. The tower still stands today, and the town has even established a “Martian Landing Site” monument to commemorate one of the wackiest episodes in the history of radio.
Another Jersey city experienced a tragedy that the world has never forgotten. On the morning of May 6, 1937, the German Hindenburg, a hydrogen-filled zeppelin, was about to finish its historic trans-oceanic journey by landing at Lakehurst Naval Station. During its descent, the dirigible clipped a power line and burst into flames, killing 36 people. Today, Lakehurst is a small town, itself a victim of that infamous moment in history that put it on the map. Interested parties can visit the Hindenburg crash site at the naval station, but little other evidence exists here of the incident. Not all nostalgia reminds us of a happier time. Some events remind us how fallible humans can be.
Just west of New York City, in the town of Weehawken, history-buffs will discover a memorial to Alexander Hamilton, the statesman who came up on the losing end of the most famous duel in American History. Along these shores overlooking the Hudson River is where Aaron Burr delivered a fatal shot that for all intents and purposes ended a feud between these two politicians. Today Hamilton’s “Rock of Death” commemorates where the duel took place.
In northeastern New Jersey, south of Hwy. 46, the town of West Orange is home of the Thomas Edison Historic Site, the very laboratory in which the “Wizard of Menlo Park” changed the world. This is an ideal spot to learn more about one of Jersey’s most storied residents and how Edison lived and worked to become America’s most prolific inventor. West Orange is also the site of the Eagle Rock September 11th Memorial. From Eagle Rock, most of the lower Manhattan area is visible. A life-size bronze eagle called “Freedom” is at the heart of the sobering memorial which pays tribute to all victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City’s World Trade Center.
This region is also home of Liberty State Park in Jersey City, and the Ellis Island entryway for the millions of immigrants who have arrived on our shores.
Lambertville, off State Highway 29 in northwestern New Jersey, is the home of Gold Nugget Antique Market, an indoor-outdoor collectors’ shopping adventure. Established in 1967 and still going strong, the Gold Nugget stands out in the crowd as one of the biggest and best markets of its kind. The area around Lambertville also has many romantic historic villages dating back to the Revolutionary War period.
Serious “Garden State” shoppers shouldn’t miss the Englishtown Auction and Giant Flea Market, off Interstate 95. Since 1929 when the Sobechko family first established it as a farmers’ livestock auction, three generations of Sobechkos have continued the market tradition. Today’s weekend sales event pulls in plenty of vendors and customers with reasonable prices and a wide variety of goods–from arts, crafts, and antique treasures to flea market fare and farm-fresh produce. And here’s a nice bonus for RVers: Englishtown shoppers can count on complimentary admission and parking.
On the legendary Jersey eastern shore, Red Bank’s RiverCenter is located off State Highway 35. You’ll find 150 antique dealers on Front Street, plus a terrific variety of interesting eateries, galleries, and hundreds of shops in Red Bank’s redeveloped Victorian downtown.
One of America’s most distinguished thoroughbred racing venues is at Monmouth Park Racetrack, the “Resort of Racing,” in Oceanport off State Highway 35. Monmouth’s legendary track has entertained the likes of Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, James A. Garfield, and Grover Cleveland. America’s finest jockeys and horses still compete there and the beautifully landscaped oceanside setting, great food, and quality entertainment are worth the trip, as well.
Six Flags Great Adventure, Wild Safari, and Hurricane Harbor have all the amusement angles covered, in Jackson. We’re talking dozens of rides, dazzling shows, wild animals roaming in a drive-through safari, and a state-of-the-art water park. With 13 roller coasters to its credit, including Kingda Ka, the world’s fastest, New Jersey’s Six Flags is America’s biggest seasonal theme park.
If you prefer a quieter, slower pace, check out Tuckerton Seaport on Hwy. 9. Tuckerton’s 19th century Maritime Village has several authentically restored structures, including a charming lighthouse.
The Delaware River region is found on New Jersey’s west coast and it was at the town of Trenton that General George Washington led a group of battle-weary patriots across the icy Delaware River on Christmas morning, 1776. The event is significant both military and symbolically, given that the Battle of Trenton, which saw Washington’s Continental Army capture a small Hessian force, was the colonial’s first real victory of the Revolutionary War. The daring raid also signaled a reversal of fortunes that gave the young nation-to-be hope that it could soon become independent from its homeland. Today, Washington’s Crossing State Park, located just north of Trenton, commemorates this historic event.
On Camden’s riverfront, near Interstates 76 and 676, climb aboard the highly decorated WWII Naval Battleship New Jersey, which now serves as a floating museum on the Delaware River. Allow time for the guided two-hour tour of one of U.S Navy’s largest, most prestigious battleships.
Head “down the shore” for a bit of Americana that is equal parts kitsch and homage to modern America. The New Jersey shore has been a favorite vacation destination for Philadelphians and New Yorkers for the better part of a century, and RVers more recently. We think your Jersey shore tour should start in Atlantic City.
Atlantic City, at the end of Hwy. 322, has beaches, boardwalk, and casino resorts with every imaginable amenity, top-notch entertainment, and world-class restaurants. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only motorhome in the place. The city has embraced the RVing crowd since Woodall’s helped put the lifestyle on the map 70 years ago. The beach alone is a major attraction, the original backdrop for the first Miss America pageant, held in 1921, which then became synonymous with the city for the next 85 years. Campers and travelers originally came for the pristine beaches, but stayed for the fun.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk has captured the sights and sounds of the Great American Summer since 1870 and today still exudes plenty of charm. For decades, this was the place for Easterners to be seen. The Boardwalk qualified as America’s first such structure when it was opened in 1870. The grand, old Steel Pier got its start in 1898, and was once the “Nation’s Showplace,” with featured entertainment legends like Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Hope, and the Three Stooges.
For a while, it looked as though Atlantic City would become one of America’s great destination cities. But following World War II, for one reason or another, it lost much of its luster and fell into deep disrepair. Today, a reborn Atlantic City is dominated by the lights and sounds of casinos that have revitalized the city. Best of all, the venerable Boardwalk still remains.
Boardwalk Hall, added in 1929, still hosts concerts and sporting events. The beach alone is a major attraction, serving as the backdrop for the first Miss America Pageant in 1921. The Pageant moved indoors, and became synonymous with Atlantic City, where it remained until late in 2005. The Pier, after having its share of ups and downs over the years, was recently renovated and now offers family-friendly rides, games, and an international food court. Atlantic City nostalgia is alive and well at the Pier. Get into the swing of things by riding on the custom-crafted, double-decker carousel, decorated with hand-painted scenes of the city’s glorious bygone days. And please don’t wander off the Boardwalk without a bagful of sweet tradition in the form of James Saltwater Taffy (circa 1880) or yummy Steel’s Fudge.
Once you’re ready to explore a less traveled path, the historic Towne of Smithville on U.S. 9 will be waiting. This pleasantly restored colonial Village Greene offers a full complement of specialty shops, crafts, and unique restaurants.
On New Jersey’s southern shore, seaside Cape May is off Hwy. 9. Take in the old town’s appealing Victorian ambiance on a carriage ride or trolley tour, shop ‘til you drop, and retreat to one of Cape May’s many excellent restaurants. Across the canal in Cold Spring Village, you’ll learn what it was like in Cape May during the 1700’s in an outdoor living history setting with costumed guides performing typical 18th century occupations. And in the town of Bivalve, go for a sail over the blue Atlantic on the A.J. Meerwald. The 1928 oyster dredging schooner was pressed into military service during World War II and later restored to become New Jersey’s official state tall ship.
The state of Virginia has historical parks, presidential estates, vintage train depots, old-fashioned farmers markets, and U-pick orchards. There’s also a famous space museum, amusement parks with high-tech thrill rides, and beachfront boardwalks with all the latest and greatest amenities. If you like the idea of blending the benefits of old world ways with the best and brightest aspects of modern times, Virginia’s the perfect place for you.
While in western Virginia, consider a visit to the Historic Crab Orchard Museum and Pioneer Park, off Hwy. 460 in Tazewell. Recognized as the Middle Appalachian Mountains’ most complete cultural heritage center this 23-year old attraction was established in 1982 at the Witten Family’s 1770 farm site. Living heritage programs, archaeological finds, and historically significant objects donated by early local families give visitors a look into the struggles of native Indian tribes and European settlers as they worked to develop Virginia’s early American frontier.
The distinctive Depot Lodge is in Paint Bank, an Allegheny Mountain village on State Highway 311. The original Potts Valley Branch train depot was constructed in 1909 during Paint Bank’s iron mining heyday and was later restored and renovated as a small specialty lodge. If you’re a diehard railroading enthusiast, consider spending a night in an authentic Norfolk and Southern Railway caboose that now serves as one of Depot Lodge’s seven guest rooms. Nestled in your red caboose, you’ll have a private waterfront view of Potts Creek.
Historic Roanoke City Market, near Interstate 81 and Hwy. 11, is the state’s oldest continuously running marketplace, and open six days a week. Vendors at Roanoke’s downtown Market Square sell a little bit of everything–fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, flowers, handicrafts, custom-designed jewelry, and assorted works of art.
If you’d rather pick your own produce, the Blue Ridge area’s Levering Orchard, founded in 1908, is the state’s largest u-pick spot for cherries. Found on State Road 691 in Ararat, the namesake market also sells seasonal delights such as apricots, peaches, plums, and pears, so you’ll be able to stock your RV galley with plenty of tree-ripened treats.
In north central Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, the town of Luray on U.S. 211 West is where you’ll find Luray Caverns. It’s the biggest and most visited cavern system in eastern America, and no wonder! At Luray, you’ll see eye-popping natural displays of colorful underground columns, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and dripstone in cathedral-sized chambers. You’ll also hear imposing tunes played on the largest musical instrument (and only Stalacpipe organ) in the entire world.
In Appomattox, more than 65 classic and antique cars, some extremely rare, made from 1906 to 1980 can be seen at Fred’s Car Museum. The museum is located on Hwy. 24 East.
Chantilly, on Hwy. 50 and State Route 28 is the site of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum. The companion complex to the original Washington, D.C.- based museum displays 80 aircraft, many suspended from above and viewable by elevated skywalks. Exhibits include the restored Space Shuttle Enterprise, an SR-71 Blackbird jet, Gemini VII space capsule, Redstone rocket, and Chipmunk aerobatic plane. Don’t miss the center’s IMAX movie, flight simulators and Observation Tower where Dulles Airport’s flight traffic may be monitored.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens is sixteen miles south of Hwy. 1 in the town of Mount Vernon, Virginia. Washington’s private home, gardens, slave quarters, farm, and gristmill are all included in the insider’s tour of the life and times of America’s first president.
In Vienna, north of Interstate 66, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts offers a grand variety of stellar performances in music and dance in a wonderful outdoor setting. Are you a fan of opera, folk music, Irish step-dancing, Broadway musicals, symphonies, ballet, jazz or rock n’ roll? Wolftrap’s extensive schedule of events caters to every artistic preference.
Our third commander-in-chief, President Thomas Jefferson made his home at Monticello. It’s in Charlottesville, off Interstate 64, in the central part of the state. Jefferson’s multiple talents are presented on the tour of his mountaintop estate. You’ll hear interesting details about his home renovation projects, extraordinary fruit orchards, and the hundreds of varieties of vegetables cultivated on his 5,000-acre plantation.
While traveling through Charlottesville, be sure to visit Main Street’s pedestrian mall. More than 100 eye-catching galleries, cafés, and boutiques are housed in the old town’s vintage brick buildings.
Richmond, on Interstate 64, is the home of Paramount’s Kings Dominion, the area’s premier amusement park where a dozen incredible roller coasters, impressive stage shows, and WaterWorks park will keep your entire family in vacation mode.
The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford honors this community that lost more sons per capita during the D-Day invasion of Europe at Normandy, than any other town.
In eastern Virginia on Hwy. 17, Lowery’s Seafood Restaurant in Tappahannock is a great bet for a terrific meal. The folks at Lowery’s have been dishing up fresh-caught seafood entrees, mouth-watering fried chicken, and yummy rice pudding since 1938. Lowery’s even boasts their own “fishing well,” which should keep the kids amused after dinner.
Colonial Williamsburg, west of Hwy. 60, brings the time-honored traditions of Virginia’s 1700’s into focus for today’s families. At the reconstructed site of Britain’s most productive 18th century New World settlement, costumed interpreters show and tell what daily life was like for Williamsburg’s founding inhabitants.
You’ll find another kind of family-friendly diversion at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Amusements at the nicely landscaped Euro-themed park include a gaggle of scream-provoking roller coasters, great stage performances, and an inviting assortment of restaurants and shops.
The Jamestown Settlement, located south of Williamsburg, is the site of the first English colony in the Americas. Together with Yorktown and Williamsburg, the area has been one of America’s favorite tourist destinations for over 50 years.
The Virginia Beach Boardwalk, south of Hwy. 44, provides two bustling miles of Atlantic oceanside entertainment. With one lane for walking and one for bike-riding, the boardwalk spans amusement parks, outdoor theaters, maritime museums, open-air restaurants, and a handy fishing spot at the 14th Street Pier. Don’t miss the nightly boardwalk entertainers who perform by starlight during summer months.
There are lots of wonderful ways to get a sense of West Virginia’s bygone days. You can visit the state’s revitalized theatres, nostalgic shops, restored railway depots, and old-fashioned luxury resorts. Why not learn a traditional country craft or ride a scenic railway into the “Mountain State’s” colorful past? It’s often said that history repeats itself, and fortunately, that’s a trend that happens every day in West Virginia.
The western part of the state contains the capital city of Charleston, off Interstate 64/77 on the banks of the Kanawha River. Charleston’s downtown area features the Capitol Market, a renovated 1905 railroad depot currently housing booths with fresh veggies, flowers, fruit, interesting gourmet shops, and an ethnic restaurant.
The city of Parkersburg, located at the busy intersection of Hwy. 50 and State Highways 2, 47, 14, and 68, is recognized for its inviting arts and crafts galleries, antique shops, and museums. The town’s own Smoot Theatre, a revitalized 1926 vaudeville house, has been transformed into a performing arts center that hosts everything from jazz, bluegrass, and rock concerts to dance productions and comedy routines.
The nearby town of Cairo, south of Hwy. 50, offers old-fashioned fun at places like R.C. Marshall Hardware & General Mercantile Company, a tried-and-true store filled with 1900’s antiques. A second Cairo favorite is The Scoop, a 50’s-style ice cream parlor and soda fountain that transports patrons back to the days of nickel juke boxes and hand-packed triple-dip cones.
If you want to experience a vacation in every sense of the word, spend some time at the 100-year-old Oglebay Resort in northern West Virginia, near Interstate 70 in Wheeling. Oglebay features the best of everything, a lovely lodge, deluxe cottages, 72 rounds of golf, gardens, tennis, and fishing. There are museums, shops, fine restaurants, and even an onsite zoo to keep guests happy and entertained.
In the southern section of the state, The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs is another superb retreat that has been enticing West Virginia’s vacationers since 1778. With its luxury accommodations, attentive staff, wooded locale, and fabulous amenities, the elegant Greenbrier pampers its guests in every way possible. You can count on fine dining and a broad range of activities including first-class golf and tennis. And there’s an in-house shopping mall with all the options, from chic clothes, jewelry, and photography studio to art galleries, Christmas shop, and ongoing demonstrations by artists in residence.
The eastern region of West Virginia is where the century-old Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad continues to roll. Three-hour round-trip rides on Potomac’s vintage trains will take you on unforgettable excursions through Allegheny Mountain forests and along the Potomac River’s scenic South Branch.