History buffs should retreat to Fredericksburg, Virginia, about one hour south of Tysons Corner. With battlefields and stately, beautifully restored homes, the quaint town on the Rappahannock River brims with Colonial and Civil War history. But you’ll also find a contemporary element, thanks to a fresh crop of restaurants, an award-winning distillery and an artisanal doughnut shop.
- A Sweet Start.
If you can hold off on breakfast until arriving in town, the reward will be worth your patience. Sugar Shack’s doughnuts come in traditional flavors, but opt instead for something a little more offbeat, like the fresh ginger peach, cucumber melon or chocolate caramel with sea salt.
- Civil War History.
The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park commemorates four major battles of the civil war. Begin at the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center and choose from a guide-lead or self-guided walking tour of the grounds.
- Tour Colonial-Era Mansions.
Tour some of the town’s most meticulously maintained examples of Georgian architecture. Chatham Manor and Kenmore are positioned on opposite sides of the Rappahannock River, and are each steeped in Revolutionary-era history. (The latter was owned by Betty Washington Lewis, George Washington’s sister.)
- Bourbon Break.
Situated just a few miles down the river, A. Smith Bowman Distillery offers daily tours of its cavernous facility, filled with oak barrels and the heady scent of the complex spirits. Afterward, stay for a taste of the distillery’s award-winning small-batch bourbon.
- Caroline Street Stroll.
Soak up this charming, historic town with a walk down Caroline Street. Peruse boutiques and antique shops like Blue Shark, which stocks items from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.
- Modern American Fare.
Across the street from the historic Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg, Foode serves farm-to-table, modern American cuisine with a Southern flair. Try the pimento cheese toasts and the popular Fredericksburger.
Less than a one-hour drive from Tysons Corner, Maryland’s charming capital city of Annapolis delivers nautical history, romantic views of Chesapeake Bay and fresh seafood, including blue crabs, the quintessential taste of this mid-Atlantic state.
- Elevated Eggs Benedict.
There are five varieties of eggs Benedict on the menu at this all-day café near City Dock but opt for the one topped with a pan-seared lump crab cake for a true taste of Maryland.
- Tour the Naval Academy.
A short walk from breakfast, find the entrance to the U.S. Naval Academy. Tour the grounds for a look at the organization’s history dating back to the Revolutionary War, as well as the largest collection of 17th- and 18th-century model ships exhibited in North America.
- Main Street.
Start at the beautiful, domed Maryland State House, the oldest state capital still used legislatively in the country, and then head down Main Street toward the waterfront. Stop at the locally beloved Annapolis Ice Cream Company for a scoop or two, made on the premises, and enjoy it while taking in the yachts at City Dock, also known as Ego Alley for its beautiful, sometimes-staggering yachts.
- Set Sail.
Book an afternoon cruise with Schooner Woodwind for a breezy sail around the bay, taking in views of the harbor, Naval Academy, Annapolis skyline and more.
- Bayside Dinner.
Locals love to debate which of the many seafood-centric spots in town serve the best crab cakes with the least filler, and many agree the winner is Boatyard Bar & Grill, just across the harbor. The interior of this relaxed restaurant resembles the inside of a ship.
Only about a dozen miles from Tysons Corner, guests can opt to ride the Metro into downtown D.C. to avoid the city’s notoriously intense traffic. Once there,
find a staggering collection of monuments, museums and green spaces to rival any in the world. Focus on a few in the same vicinity to make the most of one amazing day in the nation’s capital.
- Art Start.
Stop into the Pavilion Café for a coffee and pastry, and enjoy a light breakfast in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art before heading inside. In the interest of saving time, arrange for a tour guide to illuminate some of the highlights of the expansive institution filled with over 120,000 works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s only painting on display in the Americas.
- The Market Lunch.
Dating back to 1873, the Eastern Market features a lively mix of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to pickles. For a quick and delicious meal, pull up a seat next to tourists and locals at the communal table of The Market Lunch and dine on anything from buckwheat pancakes to the crab cake platter served with fresh, house-made bread.
- The Capitol.
Less than a mile away is the U.S. Capitol. Monday through Saturday, tours are available of the iconic, domed government building that houses Congress.
- Walk the Mall.
Take a leisurely walk west to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and other famed landmarks.
- Dinner Near the Mall.
Before heading back to Tysons Corner, enjoy an early dinner in the nation’s capital. Awarded a Michelin Star in the guide’s first-ever foray into Washington, D.C., Blue Duck Tavern features a menu filled with locally sourced meats and produce in a rustic, inviting space. Don’t miss the hand-cut, duck fat fries.