Stonewall Jackson Museum at Hupp's Hill

Museum
Please note: Stonewall Jackson Museum at Hupp's Hill is no longer a part of the Going Out Guide
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Editorial Review

For Kids:
Although this facility is farther away from the Washington area than most places in this book, it's so specifically tuned to children's needs that it's worth the haul. In fact, if battlefields bore you and you can stand only a single Civil War trip with small kids, make this the one. Half the building is given over to an intimate museum highlighting the back-and-forth Battle of Cedar Creek, whose resolution in favor of the Union kept the Shenandoah Valley under Northern control. It also celebrates the museum's namesake, who became a legend for his military maneuvering at Manassas and elsewhere in these parts.

More important, the back half of the museum is a kid zone, featuring boys' and girls' period costumes, tiny encampments with tents where the kids can hunker, and a pair of saddled wooden horses they can mount. There are all sorts of real and replica artifacts to play with, from soap dishes to scabbards. The kids easily can kill half an hour here, and the play-acting invites them to view the war from a participant's point of view. The artifacts on display under glass are also memorable – terrifying medical and dental tools, stamps and coins, pens and letters and, of course, weaponry. The kids can touch primitive artillery shells and even some rifles. The grounds outside are pitted with trenches and "lunettes," earthworks used as cannon mounts, which again invite kids to see the war as something that really happened right here and, as the landscape reveals, not all that long ago.

Words to the wise: The signage for the museum proper is insidery and nearly impenetrable. Unless your group includes a serious buff, don't expect to understand much about the Cedar Creek campaign.

Food: The Hotel Strasburg has an elegant dining room; if you're flush and the kids can be respectful, it's a special place for dinner. There are less expensive Strasburg choices as well.

Nearby: Many Civil War sites, including the Battle of Cedar Creek Battlefield and the Old Hupp Homestead (703-465-9197). The Museum of American Presidents (540-465-5999), with a modest collection (a lock of Washington's hair, James Madison's desk), also is close by.

Directions: From the Beltway, take I-66 west to I-81 south. The center is about a mile down on the right.