Wednesday, November 26, 2008
GETTING THERE: To reach the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park and the Hall of Valor Civil War Museum, go west on Interstate 66 for 75 miles, then turn south on I-81 for 36 miles to Exit 264. Follow the signs.
WHERE TO STAY: The Hampton Inn Col Alto (401 E. Nelson St., 540-463-2223, http://www.hamptoninn.com) has doubles from $124. Though most of the facilities are of recent vintage, the hotel incorporates Col Alto, a stately brick mansion built in 1827 by a former Virginia governor. Both Lee and Jackson were visitors there.
WHAT TO DO: The park (Route 305, 540-740-3101, http://www4.vmi.edu/museum/nm) consists of the battlefield, the Hall of Valor museum, the Bushong Farm and miles of walking trails. A Christmas on the Farm program on Dec. 6 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) will feature mid-19th-century traditions, including a visit from Belsnickel, a German figure similar to St. Nicholas, tree-ornament making and reenactors camped on the grounds. $9, seniors 65 and older $8, children 6-17 $5. The VMI museum is in Lexington (Jackson Memorial Hall, 415 Letcher Ave., Lexington, 540-464-7334, http://www.vmi.edu/museum) off I-81 at Exit 188. Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 3.
Lexington is a rich vein of Civil War history. You may also want to visit the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University (8 E. Washington St., Lexington, 540-458-8768, http://chapelapps.wlu.edu), which includes Robert E. Lee's tomb, and the Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (South Main Street), where Jackson is buried. There's also the Stonewall Jackson House (8 E. Washington St., 540-463-2552, http://www.stonewalljackson.org). Open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m. $6, children 6-17 $3. For more information, call the Lexington Tourism Office, 540-463-3777 or 877-453-9822).
WHERE TO EAT: Restaurants in Lexington include the Southern Inn (37 S. Main St., 540-463-3612, http://www.southerninn.com) and the Bistro on Main (8 N. Main St., 540-464-4888, http://www.bistro-lexington.com). Near the battlefield, consider the Spring House Tavern (325 S. Main St., Woodstock, 540-459-4755). From U.S. 11, turn left into historic Woodstock.
On the way back to Washington, consider stopping for dinner at the Rail Stop Restaurant in The Plains (6478 Main St., 540-253-5644, http://www.railstoprestaurant.com). It's at Exit 31 on I-66.