GETTING THERE: The National Road begins in Cumberland, Md., about 135 miles from downtown D.C. Take I-270 north to I-70 west to I-68 west. Get off at Exit 43C in downtown Cumberland. Follow Queen City Drive and take a right onto North Centre Street, which will hit Route 40. Following signs for Route 40 west will keep you on the road. On the occasions when it briefly diverges, it is usually marked.
STAYING THERE: Three historic inns from the heyday of the road still operate on this stretch. The Casselman Inn (113 E. Main St., 301-895-5055, www.thecasselman.com) in Grantsville, Md., has rooms for $48 to $75 a weeknight, $10 more on weekends. The Stone House (3023 National Pike, Farmington, Pa., 800-274-7138, www.stonehouseinn.com) offers period rooms (read: shared baths) for $89, with breakfast. Antique-filled rooms at the Century Inn (2175 National Rd. E., 724-945-6600, www.centuryinn.com) in Scenery Hill, Pa., are $80 to $160, with breakfast.
EATING THERE: All three above inns have restaurants, with prices increasing as you head west, from $7 entrees at the Casselman to up to $35 at the Century. If you want real luxe, Nemacolin Woodlands and Spa in Farmington, Pa. (1001 LaFayette Dr., 800-422-2736, www.nemacolin.com) offers Lautrec, a bistro with tasting menus for up to $84 a person. But Nemacolin's Tavern has pizzas and sandwiches at around $10, with entrees up to $30.
INFO: Each of the six states on the National Road has its own Web site as part of the National Scenic Byways program (www.byways.org/browse/byways/2278). Also, Pennsylvania's National Road Heritage Corridor, 724-437-9877, www.nationalroadpa.org.