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Sitting at the northernmost corner of Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester offers visitors the chance to explore historical sites, museums, vineyards, farmers' markets, and tree-lined Old Town streets once wandered by the likes of George Washington and Stonewall Jackson. The fruitful fields of the surrounding Frederick County have earned the area the title "apple capital of the world," with the city hosting the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival annually for almost a century.
The former home of three of America's founding fathers, and the current home of the University of Virginia, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia is suffused with an appreciation of history and intellectual vigor. Take a tour of the university campus and walk through grassy malls and grand buildings designed by Thomas Jefferson, or peak into the dorm room once occupied by Edgar Allen Poe. The great homes of America's early presidents, Monroe, Jefferson and Madison, are also open to the public.
The city planners in Staunton, Virginia, were very careful to preserve the town's heritage, keeping power lines and cell towers out of view in the historic districts, allowing nothing to interrupt the charm of local restaurants and shops operating out of original Victorian storefronts. Staunton is also the home to the Frontier Culture Museum, The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the American Shakespeare Center, staging plays at the world's only replica of the Blackfriars Playhouse.
Join the local ghosts in a walk through the historic district of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a city that claims to be one of the most haunted locales in the United States. With a long history dating back to pre-Colonial times, and a legacy of slavery and war, it is no wonder that so many unhappy phantoms wander the streets. Visit the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, marking the spot of four bloody Civil War battles or Ferry Farm, the boyhood home of George Washington.
Wilmington is a vibrant riverfront city and the most accessible coastal area in the state. The pedestrian-friendly Riverwalk winds along the Cape Fear River, connecting many of the city’s shops, cafés, and nightlife with waterfront hotels, parks and the Port City Marina. Annual festivals, such as Riverfest, Wilmington Beer Week and the world-famous North Carolina Azalea Festival, attract crowds year-round. Three nearby island beaches offer even more dining, attractions and water sports.
A short ride away from New York City on the Metro North commuter rail, Poughkeepsie sits on the banks of the Hudson River. The close proximity of Vassar College and the Culinary Institute of America guarantees the presence of fun boutiques and fine dining. Main Mall Row, a group of 1870s Renaissance Revival storefronts along Poughkeepsie's Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. The twenty-two surrounding parks provide the opportunity to take a relaxing break from city life.
The comforts of a friendly, small-town atmosphere combined with the pleasures of big-city life make Grand Rapids an ideal choice for a fun getaway with a host of indoor and outdoor activities. Once known as the furniture capital of the world, the city has a reinvigorated downtown area and a thriving arts and cultural community. Its most popular attraction is the museum dedicated to native son Gerald R. Ford, 38th US President, where interactive exhibits take you to the White House and the 1976 Republican National Convention. Wander through the state's largest tropical conservatory at the Frederik Meijer Gardens, a magical wonderland of gardens, woodlands and over 100 bronze statues by famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci's 24-foot bronze horse. More outdoor fun is half an hour away at the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan. Golf lovers have plenty of places to hit the greens since Grand Rapids has more privately owned, daily-fee, public courses than any other US city. Wind up your busy weekend with a cold beer at the Hair of the Frog Brewery or the Grand Rapids Brewing Company.
Cheltenham was just your average, sleepy town until the discovery of a spring in 1716, after which it became Britain's most popular spa town. (Like Palm Springs without the casinos.) Local Cheltonians have a reputation for being wealthy and respectable, and a walk along the Promenade will give you a first-class view of their wonderful houses, shops and gardens. After taking in the waters at the Pittville Pump Room (great name for a spa), check out the Art Gallery and Museum to learn about the social history of Cheltenham.