Washington, DC Arrival
Depart London Heathrow – 11:15
Arrive Washington Dulles – 14:30
Journey Time – 8 hours 15 minutes
After passing through immigration at Washington Dulles Airport, catch a cab into the city, drop your bags at the hotel and begin to explore the highlights of America’s capital! There are many great neighbourhoods in this very cosmopolitan city, yet the key museums and historic buildings are concentrated around the US Capitol Building and the National Mall, which is lined with Smithsonian museums.
You can’t help but be inspired and even awed on your first visit to Washington, DC. It’s like no other place in the world. Created in a swamp where frogs originally outnumbered residents, the city has gradually emerged as an impressive monument to America’s continuity. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and architect Pierre L’Enfant, Jefferson’s French friend, laid out the original city, which has kept pace with the fortunes of the country it governs. Buildings consciously designed to appear monumental have been preserved and renovated, and where applicable, integrated with new architecture. The massive fabric of monuments and museums peacefully coexists with a bustling, dynamic metropolitan area with world-class entertainment, unique restaurants, and a dynamic arts and cultural community. There’s always something blooming, adding a dash of colour. Even if you’ve visited before, new monuments are always being added and many museums have recently expanded.
Overnight – Washington, DC
If this is your first visit to Washington, we recommend you begin at the US Capitol Complex, which includes the Capitol Building, House and Senate Buildings and the US Botanical Gardens. Standing on the Capitol steps looking west, the expansive two-mile National Mall between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, stretches out before you, lined with monuments and museums. The Washington Monument stands in the centre, while the cross axis of the Mall is anchored by the White House on one end and the Jefferson Memorial on the other. You’ll find a number of the wonderful Smithsonian Museums along the Mall, as well as throughout the city.
The list of museums to choose from in Washington, DC, is extensive: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of African Art, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian and the United States Holoc
aust Memorial Museum are all on or near the Mall. Memorials on or near the Mall include the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National World War II Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, United States Navy Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Overnight – Washington, DC
Washington D.C. to Harpers Ferry
This morning, take a leisurely breakfast locally or in the hotel, make your way to collect your hire car and drive the short journey of just over an hour onto Harpers Ferry in the rural and scenic state of West Virginia along the 340 enjoying the many farmland landscapes along the way while maybe humming John Denver’s well-known ballad, Country Roads
A slight detour en-route from the 340 will take you to the small town of Charles Town West Virginia, a little town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The town has two major historical features. It is named after its founder, Charles Washington, the youngest full brother of George Washington. He moved to the area in 1780 and built his home, Happy Retreat. Parts of the original structure remain as part of the modern house. A number of other homes in the town date to the 18th and 19th centuries.
The second historical attraction of note in the town is that John Brown, the noted abolitionist who tried to spark a slave rebellion by seizing the federal arsenal in nearby Harpers Ferry, was tried, convicted and hung in Charles Town in 1859 alongside his surviving colleagues. The courthouse and the gallows site at the Gibson-Todd House are marked, and any Civil War buff should find these points of interest. Away from history, you can try your luck at the Hollywood Casino which offers slot machines and table games and live thoroughbred racing. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is a race track and casino just outside the city. It features a six furlong thoroughbred horse racing facility that is home to the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic.
In this area, you will certainly get a glimpse of the stately homes which include the estate of founder Charles Washington and several of George Washington family residences just outside of the town.
In neighbouring Harpers Ferry, the beauty of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers will certainly attract your attention. Harpers Ferry National Historic Park surrounds the town, providing restored 19th century streetscapes, living history programs, and ranger guided tours at the Park, which are open year round. A visit to the John Brown Wax Museum tells the story of the famous Harpers Ferry Raid of 1859. And if you are feeling energetic, its a popular destination for outdoor recreation. The water recreation companies such as River Riders offer outdoor activities such as tubing, ziplining and white-water rafting down the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. There’s also fishing, mountain biking, access to the Appalachian Trail as well as hiking and biking along the C&O Canal, part of which runs through this historic town. In the evening, relax in one of the taverns, pubs or bars in the town or you could join one of the Ghost tours!
Overnight – Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry to Shepherds Town
Shepherdstown is one of the oldest towns in West Virginia, and is located in Jefferson County about 30 minutes from Harpers Ferry on Route 9 and then the 480. Many of the buildings in the town were built before the Revolutionary War, making the town an amazing blend of history and modernity. The Historic Shepherdstown Museum allows you a peek into the history of the area. Additionally, there are plenty of historic Civil War sites to visit, including the area where the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown was fought. If you want to see the best Civil War sites in the area, take the “Walk the Civil War Discovery Trail “
Shepherdstown also boasts a downtown area full of locally-owned, independently operated shops with local and American-made arts and crafts. The town is a fine example of small town America, with its own historic movie theatre, concert hall, and local arts festivals. At night, you can go to Devonshire Arms Café & Pub and Private Quinn’s Pub for a traditional Irish pub; the Mecklenburg Inn for a bar atmosphere, the Yorkshire Old English Restaurant & Pub or The Opera House for live music performances.
Overnight – Shepherdstown
Shepherdstown to Berkeley Springs
En route to Berkeley Springs, take Route 45 to Martinsburg to envy the wealth of properties in this area, with 3,000 listed on the National Register. If you have a sweet tooth, pop into DeFluri’s Chocolates where you can watch them being made before treating yourself and if you have time, there are great theatres, the Apollo and the Roundhouse. Route 9 will lead you to Berkeley Springs, a popular resort area located in Morgan County, West Virginia, about an hour outside Shepherdstown. The area is home to mineral springs once visited by George Washington.
You can bathe in the Berkeley Springs State Park Roman Baths year-round or visit one of the five full-service spas in the town that use the mineral water from the springs. In the heart of the town you can also see the George Washington Bathtub, a reconstruction of where George Washington would have bathed in the springs .Its not just about springs, there’s a lively arts and culture scene, including a vintage movie theatre and history museum.
Additionally, Berkeley Springs is home to wooded mountains and ridges, two rivers, and several lakes perfect for outdoor activity after your drive. Take a trip to the golf course to practise your swing or explore the area on horseback. The area borders Cacapon State Park, perfect for clay shooting, swimming and a full-service lodge with accommodation available as an option when staying in the area.
Overnight – Berkeley Springs
Day 6 & 7
Berkley Springs to Blackwater Falls State Park
Just 2 hours away is Blackwater Falls State Park located in the Appalachian Mountains of Tucker County and well worth immersing yourself with its natural resources. From Berkeley Springs, take the 522N, I68W into Maryland and route 219 into the lush areas of Blackwater Falls State Park, close to Fairfax Stone State Monument state Park
The centrepiece of the park is Blackwater Falls, a 19-meter cascade that is one of the most photographed venues in the state. Surrounding the Falls are hiking trails, some of which are wheelchair-accessible.
Conveniently, The Park Lodge within the park features a restaurant, nature centre, mountain-biking rentals, cross-country ski rentals, hiking and fishing sites. Here you will also enjoy great views as well as a well earned rest. Overnight accommodation is available both in the Lodge and in log cabins deep in the park.
A short distance from the State Park is Spruce Knob, known as West Virginia’s highest point, where its observation tower 1,482 metres high gives great views of the state. Ad
ditionally, Dolly Sods is a 4,000-foot high plains plateau in the Monongahela National Forest, a short distance from Blackwater Falls State Park. Here you may find blueberries and huckleberries ripe for picking as well as mountain laurel and other flora bloom.
The nearby towns of Thomas and Davis, (bestowed the recognition as one of America’s coolest small towns), also offer a glimpse into historic, small-town American life. Here you can take walking tours that examine the history of the towns, as well as explore the nearby wildlife and nature trails.
In the evening, you can head to the Blackwater Brewing Company in Davis or the Mountain State Brewing Company in Thomas for a meal and a drink at a traditional brewery.
Overnight – Blackwater Falls State Park
Day 8 & 9
Blackwater Falls State Park to Cass
Enjoy a scenic drive to Cass from Blackwater Falls along route 32, past Dolly Sods providing a good opportunity to stretch your legs, then take the 55 past Seneca Rocks, with fantastic views along the way, Travel along 33 and 28 and 92, stopping at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank . Whether you’re a science buff or love to visit unique places, Green Bank, West Virginia’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a must-see stop. The observatory’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is the largest completely steerable radio telescope on Earth – and it defies description. You can take a tour of the complex, see the behemoth telescope and spend time in the Science Center, learning about radio astronomy. In the area, it’s worth visiting Snowshoe Mountain Resort which has skiable terrain across 244 acres (98.74 ha) and covers a total area of 11,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains, which are a part of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range. Its worth travelling to the village at the summit of the mountain to stroll around The Village at Snowshoe.
Continue onto 66 for the Cass Scenic Railroad, located in the heart of Pocahontas County, and the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. The Cass Scenic Railroad, (which in 2013 celebrates its 50th Anniversary), is an 18-kilometer heritage railroad. For a journey back in time, take one of the authentic scenic journeys which are available at certain times throughout the year. Cass is also home to Bald Knob which, with an altitude of 1,432 metres, is the second highest point in West Virginia and offers spectacular views of the area. Bald Knob is abundant with wildlife.
Do take a slight detour to visit Lewisburg, approximately 90 minutes outside of Cass Tucked away in the hills of the Greenbrier Valley, is this picture-perfect main street offering southern hospitality, unique shopping and, if you are lucky, one of its town festivals, all in a historic setting. Here you can find a selection of art galleries, award-winning restaurants, sidewalk cafes, antique shops and clothing boutiques. There are quaint bed and breakfasts and legendary historic inns. Lewisburg has been named one of a dozen distinctive destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and recognized as a Top Southern Mountain Town in America and most recently, voted America’s Coolest Small Town by Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine.
While in the area, take a trip to Smooth Ambler, an artisan, small batch distillery making vodka, gin, bourbon, and whiskey using local and regional ingredients. A working still is on display at all times and tours are available most days. There’s a tasting room, gift shop and retail area where spirits may be bought.
Take 66 and the 219 calling at the Pearl Buck Museum, showcasing the home where the Nobel Prize-winning author was born in 1892. The museum is dedicated to celebrating the influence that the home and West Virginia lifestyle had on Pearl and how it shaped some of her major work throughout her life. Continue onto the 64 to the Lost World Caverns , an underground natural series of caverns and take a 35 minute tour. In November 1973, these caverns were registered as a National Natural Landmark. Travel onto Beckley and visit Tamarack , the first statewide collection of handmade craft, art and cuisine showcasing The Best of West Virginia arts. Travel onto 77, then 64and you may spot the gold dome of the city shimmering in the distance, as you head to the state capital, Charleston.
The city boasts a river-front setting and a walkable downtown, which makes it a popular destination. The city offers many attractions and things to do. It is home to the Capitol building, the West Virginia State Museum, live music shows, (including Mountain Stage, celebrating in 2013, its 30th year anniversary) the Clay Centre for the Arts & Sciences, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and the child-friendly Avampato Discovery Museum.
Charleston has a very active nightlife, with various lounges, bars, restaurants, and live music venues. Head to Red Carpet Lounge, or, for a more traditional bar experience, go to Sam’s Uptown Café, Pies & Pints, or The Anchor. The Mountain Stage and The Empty Glass also offer live music.
Overnight – Charleston
Charleston to Fayetteville
From Charleston, take the Routes 64 and 19 to Fayetteville where the biggest attraction is the New River area, which features the 515-kilometer New River Gorge Bridge within 70,000 acres of National Park that allows you to hike, bike, white-water raft and horseback ride among many outdoor activities. The New River Gorge boasts some of the best white-water rafting in the country, especially during Gauley Season, from September to October, when excess water from Summerville Lake is released and increases the strength of rapids to thrilling levels. However, no matter when you go, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable time. Additionally, several companies offer the chance to go zip-lining through the Gorge. For those more daring, you can also walk on the catwalk, complete with harness, under the New River Gorge Bridge, which was the world’s largest single arch span bridge in the Western Hemisphere when it was built and, rising 267 meters over the New River.
At night, you can head to the Class VI – Smokey’s On the Gorge overlooking the New River Gorge for dinner or Pies and Pints!
Overnight – Fayetteville
Day 11, 12 & 13
Fayetteville to White Sulphur Springs
Take Route 19 to Hawks Nest State Park to enjoy the outdoor trails and visit the Canyon Rim Visitor Centre. If you cant get enough of the state parks, take a detour to visit Babcock State Park with its famous water mill. From the rural to rich, your journey on route 60 will direct you to The Greenbrier Resort at White Sulphur Springs
Here, you join previous Presidents and Statesmen as guests in this luxury Greenbrier resort, which offers a host of activities to keep you busy and active or simply relax in the spa and its acres of peaceful landscapes. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and a founding member of the Historic Hotels of America.
The Greenbrier’s exclusive services and amenities include championship golf, fine dining, designer boutiques, a 40,000 square foot world-class spa and a 103,000 square foot gaming and entertainment venue. Other facilities offered include the Greenbrier Movie Theatre, tennis courts, and an indoor and outdoor pool.
Because West Virginia is well known for outdoor recreation, activities such as white-water rafting, canopy tours, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, kayaking, off road driving adventures, and paintball are available at the Greenbrier Resort. For a fascinating experience and one not to miss, take the underground bunker tour located on its grounds. This 112,544 square foot bunker was built during the height of the Cold War by the US government as a relocation facility and emergency shelter for Congress.
Overnight – The Greenbrier Resort
White Sulphur Springs to Seneca Rocks
Relax as you take the 3.5 hour journey through the state from the Greenbrier to the Smoke Hole resort, in Seneca Rocks, West Virginia, for the last night of your holiday, taking I64E to 220 and then 33 to 55. The Smoke Hole resort offers rustic elegance and provides guided cavern tours, fishing adventures, shopping, and motorcycle tours for enthusiasts.
Walk the moderate Seneca Rocks Trail up to the summit for an amazing view at the top of the 900 foot rock formation overlooking the confluence of Seneca Creek and the North Fork South Branch Potomac River. For the adventurous, the Seneca Rocks national Recreation Area offers world-class climbing, mountain biking and hiking. Capture the views, colours and the natural surroundings as you savour your last day in rural West Virginia.
Overnight – Seneca Rocks
Seneca Rocks to Washington D.C.
Take 55 and then 66 to return to Washington DC
We are confident as you get ready to depart for home, you will be thoroughly relaxed from visiting the region’s timeless places.
When the time comes make your way to Washington Dulles Airport to return your rental car and check-in for your flight home to the U.K. with the opportunity to look back on an itinerary offering a really diverse range of memories from rich history to striking landscapes.
Depart Washington Dulles – 21:25
Arrive London Heathrow – 08:45 (Next Day)
Journey time – 6 hours 20 minutes