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ESCAPE KEYS

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

ESCAPE KEYS

Getting There

From the Beltway, travel south on Interstate 95, then I-295 around Richmond to Exit 22A. Go east on scenic Route 5, following signs to the Jamestown Ferry. The free ferry (800-823-3779) runs 24 hours a day.

Where to Stay

Chippokes Plantation State Park has three furnished cabins built in 1850, 1930 and 1947; $77-$151 (see listing below). The historic port town of Smithfield is 18 miles southeast of Surry. Options here include the charming Church Street Inn (1607 S. Church St., 757-357-3176, http://www.smithfieldchurchstreetinn.com), where the 12 rooms run $89-$179. The Smithfield Inn (112 Main St., 757-357-1752, http://www.smithfieldinn.com) has eight suites, $155-$175, including breakfast. Smithfield Station (415 S. Church St., 757-357-7700, http://www.smithfieldstation.com) offers 44 boutique rooms, many waterfront, for $99-$299.

Where to Eat

Surrey House Restaurant (11865 Rolfe Hwy., Surry, 757-294-3389, http://www.surreyhouserestaurant.com) has been an institution for more than 50 years, with fried flounder, peanut soup, fried chicken, crab cakes and fritters, $8-$17.

What to Do

Bacon's Castle (Route 617 north of Route 10, 757-357-5976; http://www.apva.org/baconscastle) offers one-hour guided tours Wednesday-Sunday noon-5 p.m. April-October; Saturday-Sunday noon-5 p.m. March and November (adults $8).

Chippokes Plantation State Park (Route 634 [Alliance Road], 1 1/2 miles east of Surry, 757-294-3625, http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/chi.stml) has mansion tours Friday to Monday 1-5 p.m. in summer, weekends April-May and September-October (park $3; tour $4).

Smith's Fort Plantation (two miles from the ferry on the west side of Route 31, 757-294-3872; http://www.apva.org/smithsfort) offers half-hour guided tours, same hours and fees as Bacon's Castle (combination tickets available).

Brandon Plantation (5 1/2 miles north of Burrowsville on Route 611/Brandon Road, 757-866-8486) offers tours by appointment; grounds and gardens open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ($8, house $2).

-- J.M.T.

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