If you fancy a bit of relaxation or a paddle in the sea, only about an hours drive away is Virginia Beach. Miles of sand, dolphins swimming just offshire and lots to do. The boardwalk is lovely having been recently undergone reconstruction. Its where you will see people cycling, roller blading, or just strolling along.
Skates and bikes can be hired at a few places along the boardwalk.
There is a fun fair, golf courses, sailing canoeing, and also lots of evening entertainment.
Lots of cafes, restaurants to suit all pockets.
To get there, take the I-64 south, crossing the James River/Chesapeake Bat at Hampton, across to Norfolk. Then east on 264 (Virginia Beach Expressway).
The picture is of me sitting on the balcony of the hotel in Virginia Beach
Williamsburg (Colonial and otherwise)
I have visited Williamsburg two or three times in my life, but I've never been as impressed with the town as so many others seem to be. Maybe it's the partially restored, partially recreated area of town called Colonial Williamsburg or its neighbor Busch Gardens that throw me off. I love history, but Colonial Williamsburg has destroyed more history than it has restored, and a theme park in a historic town seems like a stretch. I think areas where tasteful new buildings live next to well-maintained old buildings have a much more compelling story to tell (think Rome)... no matter how hard we like to try, we can't freeze time.
Colonial Williamsburg got its start in the early 1900s when the Rockefeller family began buying up the historic town center. That was great because they preserved all of the significant buildings from the 1700s that were threatened; unfortunately, in an effort to return the town to its 18th century charm, they destroyed some 700 19th and 20th century buildings and replaced them with replica buildings that resembled those from the 1700s. Today colonial Williamsburg boasts some 80 original buildings, but they stand alongside about 500 modern reproductions. The end result is a theme-park like town full of actors and no citizens, with key historic structures next door to imitations, so a visitor can barely tell the authentic from the fake. To me, the real history of the area has been watered down and cheapened in exchange for the almighty dollar.
Williamsburg actually has real history that is not part of a theme park. It was established in 1632 and named Middle Plantation. The College of William and Mary was established in 1693, and the town became the permanent capitol of Virginia in 1699, now renamed as Williamsburg after King William III of England. In 1780, during the American Revolution, the state capitol was moved to a safer area in Richmond (of course, Richmond was attacked by British soldiers under the command of American traitor Benedict Arnold). During the American Civil War, Williamsburg saw limited action in the Battle of Williamsburg, where Confederate General Magruder executed a brilliant action in delaying overwhelming Union forces on their way to Richmond.
And most importantly, Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Tomlin is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, along with Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, and James Monroe; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Generals Winfield Scott and David McKiernan; and the Daily Show's Jon Stewart.
This plaque says that these are the original walls. The bell was made in London in 1725. The communion silver which is still in use today was made in London in 1649. The first confirmation service held in Virginia was in this church.
Thomas Nelson Jr is also buried in the churchyard.
George P. Coleman Bridge
This bridge is called the George P. Coleman Bridge and it crosses the River York, connecting the counties of York and Gloucester. It is route 17.It is the largest double swing span bridge in the United States. (See my Williamsburg page re: George Coleman's mother)
Yorktown: One of America's Most Historic Towns
During colonial days, Yorktown was a thriving port. By the time of the Revolution, it was declining. But tourism has made it into a smaller version of Williamsburg. It is a very pleasant place for a day trip, with an assortment of shopping, restaurants, a lovely beach, and fine views of the York River.
The last battle of the American Revolution occurred right here in 1781. The British had lost a major battle at Saratoga, New York, in 1777. Now, another army under Lord Cornwallis tried to put down the rebellion once and for all. But France had entered the war on the side of the rebels; together, US and French forces trapped Cornwallis' army and forced him to surrender.
Thus ended the War of Independence. It was the worst defeat that the British had suffered in centuries.