Where: Charlottesville, Va.

Why: Quilts, aboriginal art and a jaunt back in time.

How Far: About 115 miles, or 2 hours from the District.

If you've ever wanted to rub elbows with the likes of Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, now's your chance: This week, downtown Charlottesville turns back the clock to the days of the American Revolution at the 11th annual Jeffersonian Thanksgiving Festival. From now through Saturday, you'll find a plethora of authentic period activities. At various encampments, kids can participate in military drills with American, British and Hessian soldiers. Adults can ask Patrick Henry what "liberty" really means as he and the rest of the founding fathers duke it out in constitutional debates. And on Thanksgiving night, you can munch on turkey or sit down to a big-screen viewing of Mel Gibson's "The Patriot."

The trip there features plenty of history to get you in the mood. At the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, you'll find displays of weaponry used against the British during the revolution, as well as a lesson on how the Second Amendment came into being. Next, travel to Gainesville and fast-forward to the 1950s: The no-frills A&B Antiques of Buckland has just about everything, including mirrors, teapots, rocking chairs, vanities -- even the proverbial kitchen sink (stylishly vintage, naturally).

Don't sleep along the next stretch of Route 29 -- the foliage peppering the mountains may represent your last chance to see autumn leaves. Before settling into the Jeffersonian era, stop at a couple of favorite Charlottesville haunts. Hot Cakes, a gourmet shop in the Barrack's Row area, offers delectable sandwiches, salads and muffins for eating in or taking out. And at Shenanigans, filled floor to ceiling with brightly colored toys, you'll find board games, building blocks, dollhouses and more -- a must for anyone playing the role of Santa's little helper.

Kate Ghiloni

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