>Many destinations are within easy driving distance of Hampton Roads. Pack a cooler, fill up the tank and hit the road.
1. Appomattox Court House, Appomattox
2. Ash Lawn-Highland and Montpelier, Charlottesville
The Charlottesville area boasts not one but three presidents. Go north from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello to check out James Madison's newly restored Montpelier (540-672-2728, montpelier.org). Or jaunt just south to see James Monroe's Ash Lawn-Highland (434-293-8000, ashlawnhighland.org).
3. Bacon's Castle, Surry
One of the oldest brick homes in America is the showpiece of a driving tour of plantation houses on the south side of the James River. The 1665 building was named for Nathaniel Bacon, the leader of a revolt against Royal Governor Berkeley in 1676. 357-5976. apva.org/baconscastle
4. Belle Grove Plantation, Frederick County
Here is a prototypical Virginia plantation, anchoring the farmland of the upper Shenandoah Valley. It was built in 1797 for Isaac Hite and his wife, Nelly, (sister of future president James Madison) and was the centerpiece of the Battle of Cedar Creek in the Civil War. 540-869-2028. bellegrove.org
5. Chippokes Plantation State Park
The kids will like the ride across the James River on the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry on your way to one of the best places to see eagles and ospreys The park also features an antebellum mansion, a collection of antique farm and forestry equipment, playgrounds, a sawmill exhibit and trails to bike, hike and ride your horse. 294-3625. dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/chi.shtml
6. Cape Charles, Eastern Shore
Eyre Hall and its beautiful gardens are the Eastern Shore's entry into the historic mansion registry. Nearby Cape Charles gives you a wonderful view of the Chesapeake. virginia.org/site/cities.asp?city=Cape%
7. MacArthur Memorial, Norfolk
If you're having trouble finding a history trip that interests the whole family, try the old City Hall in downtown Norfolk. It's the final resting place of Douglas MacArthur, the World War II and Korean War general — and right next to an upscale mall named for him. 441-2965. www.macarthurmemorial.org
8. Poe Museum, Richmond
This museum boasts manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings of Edgar Allan Poe, who lived and worked in early 19th-century Richmond. 804-648-5523 or 1-888-21E-APOE . poemuseum.org