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Votes

Column: Vacation Time

Jane and I just returned last week from a wonderfully relaxing, ten-day vacation in Italy. It was our first visit to that country. We both love history, and Italy provides plenty of it. From exploring the ruins of the Coliseum and the Forum in Rome to the mercantile capital of its time in Venice and to the beauty of the arts in Florence we could not have had a better time. We discovered while driving along the mountain ridgeline in Tuscany why some call the vistas the most beautiful in the world.

For every big vacation we take we go on many mini-vacations, as we call them, for a day, a weekend, or for several days. All are driving trips, and many are right here in Virginia. They are good for couples, families, and grandparents. There is an endless list of places to go in Virginia.

Recently Trekaroo, an Internet-based travel blog, started listing its "top ten things for families to do" in each of the 50 states. I found its list for Virginia to be particularly interesting. Two of its top ten recommended attractions for Virginia are Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, both former Virginia state capitals, and the Frontier Culture Museum near Staunton. Colonial Williamsburg is peerless as a reconstructed town with re-enactors. On nearby Jamestown Island it is now possible to see the outlines of the original fort that for many years was thought to have been lost to erosion of the island. The Archaearium displays the many items the archaeological work has uncovered in the last decade. Nearby Jamestown Settlement has a beautiful museum and outdoor re-creation of the original fort and the three ships that brought the first settlers in 1607. Check www.historyisfun.org.

Another recommendation of Trekaroo is the Frontier Culture Museum (www.frontiermuseum.org) near Staunton. Four different historic farms were moved from their countries of origin including Wales, Germany, and Scotland and reconstructed at the museum. Most recently an Igbo village was constructed to authentically depict the lifestyle of African people who were captured, enslaved, and brought to this country. At all the sites, re-creators in appropriate costume tell the story of adaptation from the country of origin to America. I serve on the boards of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the Frontier Culture Museum and highly recommend both as impressive and enjoyable destinations for your next mini-vacation.

Trekaroo recommends Shenandoah Caverns near Woodstock (www.shenandoahcaverns.com), but my first choice would be Luray Caverns (www.luraycaverns.com) not because it is in my home county of Page but because it has the most color and stone formations. Certainly visit a Virginia limestone cavern whether it is one of these two or Endless, Skyline, or Natural Bridge Caverns. Speaking of Natural Bridge, Trekaroo recommends a stop there, an arching geological formation carved out of limestone (www.naturalbridgeva.com).

Lots to see and do in Virginia. I expect to take several mini-vacations this summer. Lots of opportunity to learn and to relax. Maybe I will see you at one of these stops.