Point the Car in a New Direction

COLONIAL BEACH, VA.: Choose from two views -- bay or Potomac by the pier.
COLONIAL BEACH, VA.: Choose from two views -- bay or Potomac by the pier. (By Larry Kobelka For The Washington Post)
Sunday, May 28, 2006

For many one-tank trips, you can set your car on autopilot and end up at such no-brainer destinations as Charlottesville, Hershey, Pa., and Baltimore. But why do that when this region offers so much more?

In addition to the destinations featured, here are 10 other less-frequented vacation spots. All are less than a 300-mile round trip, which means that -- with a little luck -- you won't have to fill 'er up until you're back inside the Beltway. (To determine the distances, we used The Washington Post's address on 15th Street NW as our starting point and plugged the coordinates into AAA's online mileage calculator at http://www.aaamaps.com.)

-- Andrea Sachs


WHERE: Colonial Beach


WHY GO: For nearly a century, Colonial Beach was like the DMZ of the Oyster Wars, as local dredgers and tongers skirmished over ocean turf and fishing practices. Things have since calmed, and the town has shifted from battleground to "Playground of the Potomac." With two bodies of water to choose from (the river and Monroe Bay), there's no escaping the call of the sea: You can go crabbing, boating, beaching and boardwalking. For nearby side trips, the other Washington monument (off Highway 3) recognizes the president's birthplace with a memorial mansion, gardens and tombs of three generations of Georges. There's also a bald eagle sanctuary and a farm where you can pick every color of berry.

INFO: Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce, 804-224-8145, http://www.colonialbeach.org/ .

Where: Orange County


WHY GO: Despite its fruity name, Orange County has little to do with citrus -- if you don't count the breakfasts at the Not the Same Old Grind coffeehouse. Its moniker comes from William IV, prince of Orange, but the 18th-century town is more American than English: Robert E. Lee prayed here, James and Dolley Madison's belongings are stashed here, and the Constitution Route runs through here. In the surrounding area, you can visit Civil War attractions, such as the grave site of Gen. Stonewall Jackson's arm, as well as James Madison's Montpelier estate. For recess, there's rafting and tubing on the Rapidan River; floating and fishing in Lake Orange; and free-fall sky diving near the Blue Ridge. And while you won't find orange trees, the county is the state's largest grape producer, and has the wineries to prove it.

INFO: Orange County Department of Tourism and Visitors Bureau, 877-222-8072, http://www.orangecova.com/ .


WHERE: Aberdeen

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