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Lively Up Yourself: Weekend Worthy Destinations to Lift Your Spirits

Mar 24, 2015 09:00AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

By Lisa A. Lewis

Winter be gone, Spring’s a’ coming! With tulips poking through the ground and warmer climes on the way, our annual awakening is staged. And is there a better way to set it than to wake up, pack the car, and high tail to regional locales where you can take in stimulating experiences? We present a bevy of enticing towns, perfect for a day trip or weekend getaway; each itching to show you a good time.

History Meets Adventure in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Steeped in history, Harpers Ferry is probably best known for its role in the Civil War. However, this quaint town, located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia meet—a little more than one hour from the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro areas—also includes Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. A popular tourist destination, the park features a variety of activities, including hiking. So whether you want to relax and take in the sights or explore the great outdoors, Harpers Ferry offers the perfect spring or summer getaway.

Spend the day exploring this scenic park, and discover its rich history. Civil War battles took place in Harpers Ferry, so visiting its historic sites feels almost as if you’re stepping back in time. Perhaps Harpers Ferry is best known for John Brown’s Raid in 1859—an unsuccessful attempt to start an armed slave revolt by seizing the weapons at the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Visit the structure now called John Brown’s Fort and the arsenal ruins, an enduring symbol of our nation’s struggle with slavery.

Learn about Harpers Ferry’s African-American history. In addition to John Brown’s Raid, the town was home to Storer College, an integrated school established in 1867 to educate not only former slaves but all students, regardless of race or gender. Although the college closed in 1955, the National Park Service still uses part of the campus as a training facility.

Visit the museums, take a ranger-guided tour, register for a living history workshop, or browse in the shops. And don’t forget to explore the hiking trails. With 20 miles of trails that include portions of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Trail, and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is considered one of the best walking parks in America. If you’re in the mood for a really exciting adventure, head to River Riders, which offers white water rafting, tubing, zip lining, and other fun recreational activities.

With its rich history and recreational opportunities, Harpers Ferry is an ideal destination. Explore this quaint town, and see for yourself why it’s such a popular tourist attraction. For more information and to plan your trip, visit GoToWV.com.

Special thanks to the GoToWV Team.

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Strolling and Shopping in Alexandria, Virginia

If you’re feeling restless while waiting for spring to arrive in full, a getaway may be exactly what you need, and you can’t go wrong with a trip to Alexandria, Virginia. Located on the Potomac River, about six miles south of Washington, D.C., Alexandria is an ideal destination that offers a vast array of memorable experiences.

Spend the day sightseeing in Old Town Alexandria, the heart of the city. With its cobblestone streets, this picturesque historic district features several unique sites and landmarks. Take a self-guided tour of King Street, Old Town’s main street, where a variety of interesting experiences await you. Admire the architecture of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria’s most famous landmark. Or visit Carlyle House Historic Park and take a guided tour. The house, which was built in the early 1750s by John Carlyle, one of Alexandria’s founders and first landowners, is the only stone 18th-century Palladian-style house in Alexandria. And if you love art, you’ll definitely want to visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Formerly a torpedo factory, the center includes 82 artists’ studios, six galleries, two workshops, and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. Take an art class, or observe the artists at work. (You can also purchase artwork.)

After sightseeing, spend some time exploring the shops. The Old Town Boutique District offers more than 30 unique shops, where you’ll find everything you can possibly imagine, including clothing, jewelry, home décor, antiques, pet novelty items, wine, and more.

When it comes to dining, you certainly won’t be disappointed. A foodie’s paradise, Old Town features a wide range of restaurants that offer something for everyone. A few unique dining experiences include Society Fair, which includes a bakery, butchery, market, wine bar, and demo kitchen under one roof, and Gadsby’s Tavern, which has been specializing in fine dining since 1770. (Famous visitors have included George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.) PX, a social lounge designed in the fashion of the 1920s speakeasy that serves handcrafted cocktails, is also a must-see. (Reservations are required.)

With its magnificent historic sites, thriving art scene, unique shops, and luxurious restaurants, Old Town Alexandria offers an amazing getaway. Explore this quaint historic district, and see for yourself why it’s such a popular tourist destination.

For more information about Old Town Alexandria (as well as other attractions in Alexandria) and to plan your trip, visit VisitAlexandriaVa.com.

Special thanks to the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association and BCF—Boom Your Brand.

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Rediscover Salisbury, Maryland

If you’re planning a relaxing getaway this spring or summer, you definitely can’t go wrong with a trip to Salisbury. Located in Wicomico County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore—less than three hours from major metro areas, including Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—Salisbury offers something for everyone.

Spend the day taking in the sights and participating in fun activities in this beautiful city, which is the largest city on the Eastern Shore. Visit the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, and admire the world’s largest public collection of decorative and antique decoys. Get in touch with nature at Pemberton Historical Park. The park, which is comprised of 262 acres, offers 4.5 miles of hiking trails to explore. And if you’re a history buff, visit Pemberton Hall, the only original 18th-century house open to the public on the lower Eastern Shore. Built in 1741 by Isaac Handy, one of the city’s founders, the house was restored to reflect life during pre-Revolutionary times and features exhibits and historic displays. Tours are conducted on Sundays from 2–4 p.m. from May 1st through October 1st and by appointment.

Stop by The Country House, the largest country store in the East. A veritable shoppers’ paradise, the store offers a variety of unique items, so you’re sure to find everything you can possibly imagine. Stroll through the Salisbury Zoo, or enjoy a Delmarva Shorebirds baseball game. (The season opens in April.)

When it comes to dining, Salisbury certainly doesn’t disappoint. Savor the delicious crabs at The Red Roost, the Eastern Shore’s original all-you-can-eat crab house. (The season opens in mid-March.) Enjoy a meal at Evolution Craft Brewing Company & Public House, which combines the best of both worlds: craft brews and great food. Make sure you also check out the Tasting Room and take a tour of the brewery. Stop by Tall Tales Brewing Company, a unique brewery that offers beers based on themes from folklore. Or if you prefer wine, visit Bordeleau Vineyards & Winery, and sip world-class wines while relaxing on this beautiful estate.

Whether you’re planning a couple’s getaway or a trip for your whole family, Salisbury is an ideal destination that offers memorable experiences. For more information and to plan your trip, visit WicomicoTourism.org.

Special thanks to Kristen Goller, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism.

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Seaside Escape in Cape May, New Jersey

If you’re seeking the perfect beachside getaway, look no further than Cape May. Located at the southern tip of New Jersey, approximately 2.5 hours from Annapolis, the nation’s oldest seaside resort is an ideal destination that combines the beauty of the beach with a variety of relaxing experiences.

Take in the sights as you leisurely stroll—or even ride your bike—through this beautiful city, which is a National Historic Landmark, and admire the Victorian architecture that is part of Cape May’s charm. Or if you prefer, take a trolley tour or carriage ride, and relax as you inhale the soothing, salt air.

After sightseeing, spend some time browsing in the shops. Visit the Washington Street Mall, which consists of small, independent shops—many of which are family-owned. Explore the quaint beachfront shops that offer a wide variety of unique items. With such a large selection of merchandise, you’re sure to find something that truly delights you.

If you enjoy wine, you’re in luck: Cape May is home to several award-winning wineries. Visit Cape May Winery & Vineyard, which offers tastings and tours. You can even sample a soon-to-be-released wine right from the barrel. Stop by Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery, and enjoy tastings, wine by the glass, and gourmet cheese plates. If wine isn’t your beverage of choice and you prefer beer, check out Cape May Brewing Company where you can sample various beers and tour the brewery.

When it comes to dining, Cape May is a foodies’ paradise. From fine dining to more casual fare, the restaurants offer something to please every palate. Enjoy an upscale dining experience at The Washington Inn Restaurant, which offers unique dining rooms—from summer patio dining to a cozy fireside table. For a more casual experience, visit Cabanas Beach Bar and Grill, known for its open-air oceanfront dining and live music. And since you can’t possibly visit a seaside resort without indulging in fresh seafood, head to The Lobster House, and enjoy a delicious meal at this waterfront restaurant.

With its variety of relaxing experiences, Cape May offers the perfect getaway. In fact, you may find this seaside resort so enchanting that you won’t want to leave. For more information and to plan your trip, visit Capemaychamber.com.

Special thanks to Doreen Talley, Marketing Director, Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May.
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