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Where to Go, What to Know

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Writer Melanie D.G. Kaplan traveled the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Here's her reporter's notebook.

DRIVE TIME

About three hours

COST

$12 toll $102 bunk house in park

GETTING THERE

The southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is about three hours from the Capital Beltway. Take Interstate 95 south 100 miles to I-64 east. Follow signs for the bridge. The CBBT Commission accepts E-ZPass, and it provides drivers for travelers who have fears associated with making the journey.

WHAT TO DO

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (757-331-2960, http://www.cbbt.com) charges a $12 toll. It has a free fishing pier, where travelers can cast for bluefish, trout, rockfish and flounder. It's 3 1/2 miles into the ocean and open 24 hours a day, with restrooms, fish-cleaning stations and a certified weighing station. On Nov. 29, fish there for striped bass (and cash prizes) at the Rock Around the Clock Pier Fishing Tournament. SouthEast Expeditions (32218 Lankford Hwy., Cape Charles, 757-331-2680, http://www.sekayak.com) offers kayaking trips year-round such as a Kayak Winery Tour to Chatham Vineyards that includes a bottle of wine per couple. Two hours $45; half-day $85; full day $125. Bay Creek Railway (weekend trips depart from Mason Avenue in Cape Charles, 757-331-8770, http://www.baycreekrailway.com) is a restored 1913 Interurban Dining and Excursion car that began its round-trip runs in May. Through December, there's a four-course dinner Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. ($65 per person) and all-you-can-eat pizza Saturdays at noon (adults $18, children $14, plus tax and 18 percent tip). Saturday "Fun Runs" will start again next May. The Barrier Islands Center (Route 13, Machipongo, 20 miles north of the bridge, 757-678-5550, http://www.barrierislandscenter.com) is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and has relics and artifacts from the area.

STAYING THERE

Kiptopeke State Park (3540 Kiptopeke Dr., Cape Charles, 757-331-2267, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov) has camping facilities and rents RVs, new lodges and beautiful yurts (yurts available peak season only). Check online for reduced offseason rates. Pets allowed. The pet-friendly Rittenhouse Motor Lodge (23054 Lankford Hwy., Cape Charles, 757-331-2768, http://www.rittenhousemotorlodge.com), 10 miles north of the bridge, is a homey throwback to a '50s motel. Rooms are $75-$85. The Charlotte Hotel (7 North St., Onancock, 757-787-7400, http://www.thecharlottehotel.com) is a boutique hotel with one of the area's best restaurants. Rooms $110-$180.

EATING THERE

Sea Gull Pier Restaurant (on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, 757-464-4641, http://www.cbbt.com) offers nearly every fried fish platter you can imagine -- and a killer view of the bay. It's worth stopping for dinner at Sting-Ray's Restaurant (26507 Lankford Hwy., at the Exxon station, Cape Charles, 757-331-1541, http://www.cape-center.com) just so you can order a glass of wine at a gas station. Aqua (Bay Creek Marina Village, Cape Charles, 757-331-8660, http://www.baycreek.net) is one of the few fine-dining options in the area, with an international wine list and one of the best sunset-watching perches in town. Kelly's Gingernut Pub (133 Mason Ave., Cape Charles, 757-331-3222, http://www.freewebs.com/kellysgingernutpub) is the Cheers of Cape Charles, housed in a century-old bank building. (You can even dine in the vault.)

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism, 757-787-8268, http://www.esvatourism.org, or Northhampton County Chamber of Commerce, 757-678-0010, http://www.northamptoncountychamber.com.

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