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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer Getaways

View toward the Blue Ridge Mountains in Greenville, VA
Summer is finally here! I kicked off my summer with a great little vacation at a bed & breakfast on a horse farm. It was the perfect place for relaxing and getting a big dose of Mother Nature. I was just outside of Staunton, VA which is a picturesque little town and perfect for a lazy day of browsing the shops, finding a fantastic milkshake and having dinner at one of the many good places to eat. What originally drew me to the area was the AmericanShakespeare Center, where I saw their production of Macbeth. (It was fantastic! I’m already plotting my return to see the other summer plays.) The Blackfriars Playhouse and the production itself are designed to recreate original staging conditions of Shakespeare’s time. You can even opt to sit on the Gallant’s Stools that line the edge of the stage…which definitely leads to a more interactive theater experience than what we generally know today. I also spent a day hiking in the beautiful St. Mary’s Wilderness area. Many travelers to this area visit the popular Crabtree Falls but my St. Mary’s hike wore me out too much to do both hikes on the same day. (When your last two miles out of six go back up a steep mountain trail to return to your car on a hot, muggy afternoon, any extra effort is definitely out of the question.)

Scenes from along my hike in St. Mary's Wilderness, VA
How did I discover such a great little place? Travel guidebooks! I started my planning knowing that I wanted to stay in the radius of a three to four hour drive and to avoid the crowded beaches. I browsed in the 917’s for travel guidebooks on the Mid-Atlantic region to get some ideas. I also glanced through issues of Washingtonian (your local branch should have a subscription) devoted to day trips. There are so many places that look interesting! We are lucky to live in an area so rich with things to do and see. I even started making a list so that I wouldn’t forget some of them when I need local travel inspiration in the future.

Some things can keep you pretty close to home. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall is a multi-day celebration of worldwide cultural heritage. There are free performances and exhibitions over the course of two weeks (with a break for July 4th celebrations). Brave the crowds to join the Independence Day celebrations happening along the mall and stay for the spectacular display of fireworks.

Happy exploring!
Tina R.

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