Robert M. Warner, archivist of the United States, has the historian's strong interest in the past and a city dweller's need for quiet, unspoiled natural beauty. Both are revealed in his vacation choices.

Warner says he, his wife, Jane, and their two children "are reasonably new to the Washington area and we enjoy one- or two-day trips. We have a ball. This area is very rich in history . . .it gives an added kick." Nearby favorites include:

* Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown for their association with the American past.

* Bethany Beach, Chincoteague and Assateague. "Just to walk the beach is a refreshing experience."

* Skyline Drive. "We always take regular trips spring and fall and get enormous pleasure from them."

In the rest of the country, Warner has two particular favorites, one in Michigan and the other in Colorado, where he was born.

* Harbor Springs. "It's a little town on Lake Michigan . . . we have a cottage. It's very restful and woodsy, with a beautiful lake and a grand beach, and there are hills for hiking. We go swimming, fishing--there are some nice trout streams in the area. In the spring we go mushroom hunting; in the fall, wild blackberrying. Wintertime is a delight, too--it's great for cross-country skiing."

* Lake City, near Lake San Cristobal, is an authentic old mining town, where the Warners own property. "It's a pretty remote area of western Colorado. It hasn't been discovered by scads of tourists like some other Colorado towns. I like fishing . . .it's great trout fishing country."

Warner's favorite overseas vacations, which have been less frequent since he left academic life for the government and also are "limited by economics", follow the same pattern:"

English Cotswolds. "Quiet beauty close to nature. A nice contrast to the urban environment where you're dealing with people all the time."

Finland. "Extremely friendly . . . lots of lakes and trees. Looks a lot like Michigan."