Cleveland and Columbus, OH; Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA; Morgantown, WV
We’re combining a number of starting points in this group. The routes converge at Frederick, Maryland, although there is an alternate route from Harrisburg to the Outer Banks that goes through Baltimore.
The first stop is really for Cleveland, Columbus , and Pittsburgh and is not along the way for anyone else.
Flight 93 Memorial
6424 Lincoln Hwy
September 11, 2001 was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. Flight 93 was supposed to attack the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Because of the actions of the crew and passengers, the aircraft did not reach its intended target, crashing instead in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. There were no survivors.
Unless there is a good reason to go to our nation’s capital, it’s a good idea to try to avoid it. The traffic is horrific, the streets are confusing and there is very limited parking.
That being said, it is our nation’s capital, after all, and it should be visited when possible.
The problem is, there is so much to see and explore that people can and do spend days touring its museums, visiting the halls of power, and immersing themselves in one of the great capital cities of the world.
However, since the family is on the way to the Outer Banks, a visit to the Smithsonian Museum or Museums—there’s more than one—doesn’t make sense. Nor does stopping by the Holocaust Museum—one of the finest museums imaginable. Reservations are required though, the experience is a three to four-hour journey into the nightmare of Hitler’s Final Solution and there is a good possibility that you and your family will walk out in tears. Better for the experience, but in tears.
There are some things in the city that are perfect for a quick glimpse of our history and will keep things moving on the trip to your vacation.
The Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial and Jefferson Memorial are in close proximity to one another and there is some parking available around the sites.
If you want to stretch your legs a bit, the Martin Luther King and Jefferson Memorials are about a 15-minute walk apart along a connecting path.
2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW
Martin Luther King Memorial
1964 Independence Ave SW
16 E Basin Dr SW
For history buffs, after leaving Washington, DC, I-95 roughly parallels a series of Civil War battles beginning with Bull Run at Manassas, Virginia a little to the west of the highway.
There are two other sites that also tell a great story about the war and may be better suited for the trip.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
120 Chatham Ln
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
The Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862 was an unmitigated disaster for Union forces. General Lee was quicker and better able to adapt to changing circumstances than his Union opponent General Burnside.
Two year later, forces led by Lee and General Grant clashed at Spotslyvania, about three miles to the south of Fredericksburg. It was a bloody but indecisive battle, but it also showed that Grant had tenacity and ability to adapt to changes on the battlefield that Lee had not encountered before.
American Civil War Museum
480 Tredegar St
Offering an overview of one of the darkest chapters in the history of the United States, the American Civil War Museum contains rare artifacts and documents.
The museum offers a far more nuanced story of what the Civil War was like than is often encountered. There is, as an example, an examination of what was experienced on the home front in the South.
This will probably be an hour-and-a-half to two hour stop. It is in the heart of Richmond, so getting back to the road may take some extra time.
The Richmond Museum is one of three Civil War museums.
For the Adults
Leaving Richmond most travelers take I-64. If that is the route that is being taken, there are two wineries very close to the road that may be worth checking out.
Jolene Family Winery
2750 Pocahontas Trail
New Kent Winery
8400 Old Church Rd
New Kent, VA
Back on the road, for families with kids, either of these two museums are great.
Virginia Air and Space Center
600 Settlers Landing Rd
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
717 General Booth Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA
This is an either-or choice. Both museums are worth a good hour-and-a-half to two-hour visit, so pick one. The Air and Space Center is about 35 minutes off the route to the Outer Banks. The Aquarium is a little closer—figure about 25 minutes to get there.
The Aquarium’s animals include harbor seals, sea turtles, a Komodo dragon and sharks. It’s fascinating and kids love it.
The Air and Space Center is at NASA’s Langley Space Center, which is where much of the computational work for space flights is done.
Exhibits include aircraft from throughout history and a flight simulator.
When you’re back on the road, it’s only another hour and a half to two hours to your vacation destination.