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Budget Va.: How to Save in 5 Popular Summer Vacation Spots

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

CHARLOTTESVILLE

Check out free live music during the Fridays After Five concert series, held summer evenings at the Pavilion. Next show is Bob Jospe's Inner Rhythm with Heather Maxwell, a fusion of jazz and world beat. . . . Ride the free trolley between downtown, the Corner and the University of Virginia. Stops include the Virginia Discovery Museum, Scott Stadium and select hotels. . . . Tour three historic homes for less with the Presidents' Pass, a discounted combo ticket for Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland and Michie Tavern. From $29. Info: http://www.monticello.org/visit/pres_pass.html.

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For a $5 suggested donation, take an hour-long walking tour of Charlottesville with the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (434-296-1492, http://www.albemarlehistory.org). . . . Get to know President No. 3 with the Thomas Jefferson Family Summer Package. The deal includes one night at the English Inn, tickets to Monticello, Poplar Forest and Amazement Square, and an 18th-century lunch at Michie Tavern. From $140 per person. Book at 800-786-5400. Info: Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, 877-386-1103, http://www.pursuecharlottesville.com.

VIRGINIA BEACH

The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (800-VA-BEACH, http://www.vbfun.com) lists more than 20 Economic Stimulus Packages at area properties. The Breakaway Package at the Boardwalk Resort and Villas includes two nights' lodging, tickets to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and the Virginia Zoo, and an Italian dinner. From $399 for four guests. . . . The CVB also offers theme packages, such as whale watching (two nights at the Colonial Inn, whale-watching outing and admission/Imax at the aquarium from $102 per person). . . . Peruse the S unny Day Guide online ( http://www.sunnydayguide.com/virginia_beach/vb_events.php) or in print for free or discounted activities, such as free country or bluegrass music Friday nights at the Farmers Market. You can also download coupons for restaurants, attractions and more.

WILLIAMSBURG

The five-day Summer Saver Package costs $600 for a family of four (two kids younger than 18) and includes a room at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites, daily breakfast, week-long Historic Area admission passes and a $200 resort credit. Info: 800-447-8679, http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com. . . . A number of Williamsburg area properties are offering fifth-night free promotions. (Average room rate is $89.) In addition, purchase a ticket including Jamestown or Yorktown, and you can park your car at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center and ride the Historic Triangle shuttle buses for free. Info: 800-211-7165, http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/visit/planYourVisit/monthlySpecials/ . . . America's Historic Triangle Ticket includes admission to five attractions for up to seven consecutive days and parking at all attractions. Cost: $80.25 for adults, $33.25 for children ages 6 to 17. Purchase at http://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/deals--packages/index.aspx.

RICHMOND

The Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau (888-742-4666, http://www.visit.richmond.com) has a package for every fancy: history, spa, bowling, roller coasters. The Sheraton West's Civil War package, for one, includes one night's lodging, breakfast, admission to the Museum of the Confederacy, guided tour of the White House of the Confederacy and a copy of the "Guide to Civil War Richmond." From $129 per couple. . . . At Kings Dominion, save money by purchasing tickets in advance and online ( http://www.kingsdominion.com); a three-day advance adult ticket costs $39.95, for example. Also a good deal: the Pay Once, Visit Twice special for $51.95.

Sign up for My Richmond Region Rewards ( http://visit.richmond.com/visitors/rrr/about.aspx) and receive discounts and coupons at local restaurants, hotels, shops and more. . . . Soak up the culture during First Fridays Artwalk, a free open house for art galleries and other cultural institutions, plus specials at local establishments. Info: http://www.firstfridaysrichmond.com.

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK

Repeat visitors should invest in the Shenandoah Annual Pass (540-999-3500, http://www.nps.gov/shen/index.htm). The $30 pass (valid for up to two people) admits the pass holders and car passengers at vehicle-fee areas and pass holders plus three adults at per-person fee areas. . . . Tag along on a free ranger program, offered spring through fall. Events include an ancient-volcano hike and a talk about bears. . . . Take advantage of lodging specials at park properties (888-896-3833, http://www.visitshenandoah.com/specials/index.cfm). The Mid-Week Escape, for example, includes one night at Skyland Resort or Big Meadows Lodge, breakfast for two and two tickets to Luray Caverns for $129 double. Stay a second night and receive a $30 gas voucher at any Aramark gas station in the park.

-- Andrea Sachs


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