Four Drivable Summer Vacation Destinations

Within easy driving distance, these four getaways offer activities for everyone in the family: Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Eagle Rock Resort, Frederick County, Md., and Richmond, Va.

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Richmond, Va.

Maymont House’s Italian garden in Richmond, Va. (See more photos below.)

Drive Time: Four hours, 30 minutes.

You don’t have to be a history buff to love Richmond. Much of its appeal is its rejuvenated downtown, rebuilt from the ashes of war, natural disasters and the Great Depression. For miles stretching along the James River from European-chic Shockoe Slip to bohemian-cool Shockoe Bottom, and from the wild-water-bounded Belle Isle to the cultural treasures on just about every block, you’ll find a compelling combination of low-key Southern comfort and contemporary urban vitality. And be sure to check out the unbelievable array of major attractions that won’t cost you a dime.

Stay Here

Linden Row Inn. Actually seven mid-18th-century rowhouses connected by balconies, this 70-room boutique hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Included in the room rate are complimentary continental breakfast and a shuttle to downtown. Rooms are $109-$159 (double occupancy), grand parlor suites $239-$269. 100 E. Franklin St., (804) 783-7000,

Eat Here

Comfort. Reliable locals say this place makes a mean mac ’n’ cheese and banana crème brûlée. Dinner runs $16-$22, lunch $9-$12. Portions are LARGE. 200 W. Broad St., (804) 780-0004,

Julep’s. Excellent shrimp and grits with a kick of andouille. Entrées cost $18-$32. 1719 E. Franklin St., (804) 377-3968,

Bistro Bobette. Entrée prices range from the low to high $20s, or get a $20 three-course, prix-fixe meal between 3 and 5 p.m. The menu changes regularly, but the risotto with seafood and chorizo is outstanding. Imaginative bar food starts at $6. 1209 E. Cary St., (804) 225-9116,

Can Can Brasserie. Lunch crêpes and sandwiches are 10.50-$13.50; a dinner-size midday meal is $15 prix fixe; specials at the bar cost $6-$8. Dinner entrées are in the mid-$20s. Evening absinthe. 3120 W. Cary St.,, (804) 358-7274.

To-Do List

Henricus Historical Park. Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of the second successful English settlement in the New World, this outdoor living history museum offers a nitty-gritty perspective on the lives of newcomers, natives, indentured servants and Africans between 1611 and 1622. $8/adults, $6/kids. 251 Henricus Park Road, Chester; (804) 748-1613,

Adventure Challenge. Kayak the Class IV rapids on the James River right through the city of Richmond. The two-day beginner course is $210. (804) 276-7600,

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar & James River. Artifacts and multimedia displays explore varying perspectives on the causes and effects of the Civil War. $8/adults, $6/kids. 500 Tredegar St., (804) 780-1865,

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Each of the more than 50 gardens has a distinctive personality. Children even have one of their own. $10/adults, $6/kids. 1800 Lakeside Ave., (804) 262-9887,

Set aside an afternoon to check out the 50 upscale boutiques “On the Avenues” of Libbie & Grove (

For Thrifty Types

Maymont House and Grounds. Take a guided tour of this magnificent 33-room Gilded Age mansion and see how the other half (and their domestic staff) lived. Donations welcome. 2201 Shields Lake Drive, (804) 358-7166,

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Give yourself at least half a day to peruse this permanent collection of 22,000 works spanning centuries, genres and world cultures. Thursdays and Fridays after dark, the museum offers free music, dancing and other special programs—many free. 200 North Blvd., (804) 340-1400,

Belle Isle. Walk or bike across the pedestrian bridge that connects the city to this 540-acre island in the middle of the James River. Free., (800) 370-9004.

Perly’s is famous for its buttery biscuits and cheap breakfast (two eggs, biscuit and coffee for $3.75). 111 E. Grace St., (804) 649-2779.

Browse the fun and funky shops in the nine-block district known as the Carytown “Mile of Style” (
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