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Day One: Arrival; Williamsburg
Today we will fly into Richmond, VA and travel down to Virginia Beach. Depending on our flight schedule today and on departure, we will spend time exploring Colonial Williamsburg. For much of the 18th century, Williamsburg served as the political and cultural center of the American British Colonies. There is no better place than Williamsburg to connect with the historical roots of this country! Colonial Williamsburg is a historic district restored to much as it was during the height of its influence. We will be amazed how completely we are transported back to the years prior to America’s independence. A visit to Governor’s Mansion is a must. It played host to the royal governor during the colonial era. It is one of the finest examples of period homes of its kind. We never know who we will meet strolling the streets of this influential town, we may come face to face with Martha Washington, Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson. What would you ask? Give it some thought because you never know! We can learn a lot in this town about our country’s history. We will visit the first English permanent settlement in America – Historic Jamestown. Here we will experience the Jamestown story of survival and encounters with the native peoples. Following this we will visit Yorktown, where the revolutionary war officially ended, where General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. We will tour the Yorktown battlefield and visitors center getting a very clear picture of those days. Then we arrive at our hotel for the next 4 nights. Relax and unpack knowing you don't have to pack up again until we head home on Tuesday. Dinner is on our own this evening.
Day Two: Norfolk (B, D, E)
We will enjoy another full day today following a great breakfast at the hotel. Just half an hour away from Virginia Beach is Norfolk, VA home to the the world’s biggest Naval base. We will be gone all day from our hotel today, as the we will be having dinner in Norfolk and then enjoying the Virginia International Tattoo performance of the largest spectacle of music and might in the United States celebrating the traditional calling together of the clans during times of war. Our day will begin with tours by land and sea as we visit the Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin. Nauticus is the science center and museum known as the National Maritime Center, which features one of the largest battleships in the US - Wisconsin. We will have a tour of the museum and the battleship. Following the Nauticus visit we will have a special treat as we have reserved seating for the Parade of Nations as the performers, we will be seeing later at the Tattoo will be marching in the parade along the streets of Norfolk. Following the parade, we will enjoy a cruise around Norfolk and see these magnificent Naval ships with a narrated tour by sea. This afternoon, we will visit The MacArthur Memorial. This is a museum and research center dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of the life of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. The Memorial also pays tribute to the millions of men and women who served with General MacArthur in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.
Situated in downtown Norfolk, VA the Memorial consists of a museum, archive and research center, education center, theater, welcome center, and a gift shop. A visit to the Memorial will allow us to explore the life of one of America’s greatest and most complex leaders.
We will have an early dinner in Norfolk. Then we are going to be treated to “the largest spectacle of Music and Might in the United States of America.” This is an astounding display of inspirational military music, majestic massed pipes and drums, show stopping drill team maneuvers, colorful and elegant dancers, and much more at the Virginia International Tattoo. Following the performance, we will make the short drive back to our hotel for the night.
Day Three: Virginia Beach (B, D)
Live The Life! Yesterday was a very busy day, so we can sleep in a little bit, have breakfast and then begin our tour of Virginia Beach. We explore the place where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, the vibrant coastal city of Virginia Beach is home to a flourishing local culinary scene, rich history, a variety of arts and entertainment and family-friendly attractions that keeps locals and visitors entertained year-round. Located in the Coastal Virginia region, their unique districts are open and thriving year-round with residents ready to show us how they happily live the life. From the lively oceanfront area to remote Sandbridge, the calming Chesapeake Bay to bustling Town Center, or the eclectic ViBe creative district our well-earned Virginia Beach visit awaits. It’s true. Virginia Beach is more than just a beach. In fact, there are multiple beautiful beaches and eclectic districts, each with its own distinct personality. Every corner of the coastal city offers unique ways to live the life, whether on the ocean or on the bay, or somewhere in between.
We will visit the Surf and Rescue Museum, which preserves history of the historic 1903 Life Saving Station including the rescuers who worked there and how they helped create modern Virginia Beach. The Military Aviation Museum is home to one of the largest private collections of WWI and WWII era military aircraft in the world. Each plane beautifully restored using original pars whenever possible. We will see the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Built in 1792 commissioned by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton. It sits next to the site of the "First Landing" where the English arrived in 1607 prior to settling Jamestowne. And, of course, we will visit Town Center and drive the Atlantic Avenue Oceanfront drive. Tonight, we will have dinner included before settling in for the night.
Day Four: Outer Banks, NC (B, D)
Following another complete breakfast this morning we will drive south out of Virginia Beach and even out of Virginia to the incredible Outer Banks of North Carolina just one hour away. The Outer Banks has a way of connecting with people, staying with them long after their visit is over. Uncrowded beaches that stretch for miles and the endless possibilities that come with them. This is America’s First Beach. The site of our country’s first National Seashore and the place where the English first tried to settle in the New World. National and state parks share those stories and more. We’ll find hospitable people in the towns and villages of the Outer Banks and not many big box stores or chain restaurants out here.In Manteo, we will stroll through the majestic Elizabethan Gardens, which were designed in 1960 as a living memorial to Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh and the members of the Lost Colony.A highlight of the gardens is an outstanding collection of antique statuary. Then it is on to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Located on Roanoke Island.We will visit the newly renovated visitor center; the historic site features the restoration of an earthen fort believed to have been built by Ralph Lane’s colonists in 1585. Here the story of the “Lost Colony” and their plight to set up the first attempt of English civilization in the New World.
We will walk around downtown Historic Manteo and explore Roanoke Marshes Light and the George Washington Creef (working) Boat shop: The replica of the 1850s screw-pile light that once stood guard over nearby Croatan Sound, will offer us a unique glimpse into the maritime history of the island, as well as the lightkeepers who once lived at the station. The working boat shop gives us a glance of the Ella View, an authentic shad fishing boat made from native Outer Banks trees. This fishing boat is an example of the historical boat developed over a century ago at Roanoke Island. The Downtown area is also full of locally owned shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
Bodie Island Lighthouse was completed in 1872. This Lighthouse sits on the north side of Oregon Inlet near the northern border of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Standing 156 feet tall and equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens, it flashes its 160,000-candlepower beacon 19 miles over the ocean. Jockey’s Ridge State Park is where the tallest natural sand dunes on the East Coast are located. We will learn how these sand dunes shift and move with the wind.Take a nature walk to the top of the dunes to view the Roanoke Sound. We will hear stories of Andy Griffith and drive by his property (not open to the public) as he considered Manteo and the Outer Banks his home. He once performed in the long running "Lost Colony" production that has been on the summer stage in Manteo since 1937!
We will visit the Wright Brother National Memorial, where Orville and Wilbur Wright broke our bond with the earth in 1903. Listen to an interpretive talk about the first flight from a park ranger, see the reconstructed campsites, view the markers that indicate where the Flyer landed, and walk up the monument itself. Dinner is included this evening.
Day Five: Home (B)
Today, depending on our flight schedules on the first day and today we will visit the attractions we could not include on the arrival day - Williamsburg, Jamestowne and Yorktown and then back to Richmond for our flight home. What a week at the beach! Who would have thought there was so much so close to Atlantic Ocean in one of America's great playgrounds!