Sunday, March 1, 2009
Writer John Thompson recently visited Lexington, Va. Here is his reporter's notebook.
About three hours from the Beltway
$10 in museum fees and donations
Lexington is in Virginia's upper Shenandoah Valley. From the Beltway, travel west on Interstate 66, then south on I-81.
WHERE TO STAY
The Historic Country Inns of Lexington (11 N. Main St., 877-283-9680, http://www.lexingtonhistoricinns.com) have 23 rooms in two townhouses, the 1789 Alexander-Withrow House and the 1809 McCampbell Inn, and 21 units a few miles north in Maple Hall Country Inn (3111 N. Lee Hwy., Exit 195N on I-81), an 1850 Greek Revival plantation home. Rates are $70-$180, including breakfast. Several chain motels can be found along the interstate exits.
WHERE TO EAT
Downtown restaurants include the Southern Inn Restaurant (37 S. Main St., 540-463-3612, http://www.southerninn.com), which serves meatloaf, grilled yellowfin tuna and blackened chicken penne pasta ($15-$33). For tasty sandwiches, salads and Irish beer and music, stop by McCoy's Deli & Pub (167 S. Main St., 540-463-7221); $3.50-$7.50. On the north edge of town, Redwood Family Restaurant (898 N. Lee Hwy., 540-463-2168) dishes up traditional home cooking; fried chicken, rib-eye steak and Virginia ham run to $15.
WHAT TO DO
Lee Chapel & Museum (Washington and Lee University, 540-458-8768, http://www.leechapel.wlu.edu) offers self-guided tours Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m. April-October (until 4 p.m. November-March). Admission: donation.
Stonewall Jackson House (8 E. Washington St., 540-463-2552, http://www.stonewalljackson.org) gives tours on the hour and half-hour Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m. ($6, ages 6-17 $3).
VMI Museum (Virginia Military Institute, 540-464-7334, http://www.vmi.edu/museum) displays Jackson memorabilia and material on modern cadet life daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission: donation.
Chessie Nature Trail (Route 631, east of U.S. 11) runs seven miles along the curving Maury River, beneath towering cliffs; Robert E. Lee, who instituted rowing at W&L, watched boat races here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Lexington Visitor Center is at 106 E. Washington St. (540-463-3777), part of the Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism Development office (http://www.lexingtonvirginia.com).