$585: Lodging: $320, Meals: $225, Gas: $40
From the Beltway, take Interstate 66 west, then Route 29 south to Lynchburg. There, take the Route 210 exit toward downtown, turn right onto 210, then left onto local 29 south. One mile later, Exit 1A toward downtown Lynchburg will put you on Main Street.
WHERE TO STAY
The Craddock Terry Hotel (1312 Commerce St., 434-455-1500, http://www.craddockterryhotel.com; $159-$189) is downtown's hip new hotel, converted from an old shoe factory and in easy walking distance of all shops and restaurants. More-ordinary digs on the other end of the downtown walking area can be found at the Holiday Inn Select (601 Main St., 877-863-4780, http://www.holidayinn.com; $129-$145). Twenty minutes north of Lynchburg, you can stay at the Florence Elston Inn on the campus of Sweet Briar College, on local Route 29 near Amherst, and swim in the college's pastoral lake (866-388-6207, http://www.elstoninn.com; $125-$176).
WHERE TO EAT
Breakfast, lunch, coffee and snacks can be had at the Lynchburg Community Market (12th and Main streets, 434-455-4485, http://www.lynchburgcommunitymarket.com) and also at Inklings Bookshop and the White Hart Cafe (1206 Main St., 434-455-1659, http://www.inklingswhitehart.com). Find the best dinner in town at Bull Branch (109 11th St., 434- 847-8477). Dish (1120 Main St., 434-528-0070, http://www.dishsmallplates.com) specializes in tapas and wine. My favorite barbecue place, and the one generally acknowledged to be the best in town, is the Silver Pig (4835 S. Amherst Hwy., 434-846-5676, closed Sundays), an unprepossessing roadside place about 10 minutes north of downtown.
WHAT TO DO
The 139 steps of Monument Terrace, which climbs majestically from Church Street to Court Street, commemorates Lynchburg residents who died in several wars. The James River Heritage Trail begins downtown on Jefferson Street and proceeds for 3 1/2 miles along the waterfront, where you can walk, bike, fish or just take in the river and cliff views. For antiquing, there's my favorite, Estate Specialists (1300 Main St., 434-845-0555). And for books, try Inklings (see address above). Farmers Seed & Supply is at 1306 Main St. (434-845-2522). The Legacy Museum is at 403 Monroe St. (434-845-3455, http://www.legacymuseum.org), and the Academy of Fine Arts, which features performances as well as art, is at 600 Main St. (434-528-3256, http://www.academyfinearts.org). Nearby, the Lynchburg Hillcats, the farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates, play at Calvin Falwell Field at Lynchburg City Stadium, not far from downtown (3180 Fort Ave., 434-528-1144, http://www.lynchburg-hillcats.com).