GETTING THERE: Charles Town, W.Va., is 70 minutes from Washington. Take Route 270 north to Frederick, then Route 340 west 24 miles to Charles Town. Route 340 becomes Route 51, which also is East Washington Street. You'll see the sprawling betting wonderland on your right. Park in the free parking garage, and don't forget all those quarters in the ashtray. You're gonna need 'em to take the house.

BETTING THERE: At Charles Town Races & Slots (800-795-7001,, all three casino areas -- the Silver Screen Gaming Room, the OK Corral and the fantastic new Slot City -- are open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 a.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Sunday 10 3:30 a.m. Post time for thoroughbred racing is 7:15 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Post time on Sunday is 1 p.m. Simulcasting from various racetracks across the country is available all week.

EATING: If Lady Luck has roughed you up, keep it cheap at the Charles Town Fare in Slot City, where you can get reasonably priced pizza, burgers and Tex-Mex, plus sinfully gooey desserts from the Creamery. Big winners should try the fabulous Skyline Terrace, where they serve a dynamite lobster tail and filet mignon in a refurbished part of the grandstand. (You can even risk your money at on-site betting windows.) The Sundance Cafe in the OK Corral serves late-night comfort food until 2 a.m.

STAYING: Nobody knows the area better than Nina Vogel, innkeeper of the extravagantly decorated Washington House Inn (800-297-6957,, just a mile from the racetrack in the historic downtown. Rooms at this charming Victorian B&B start at $99 a night. If you must stay even closer to the racetrack, directly across the street is the no-frills Town House Motel (800-227-2339).

INFO: Jefferson County Visitors Center, 800-848-TOUR,