THE INSIDERS VIRGINIA, US
GO: The birthplace of America and the first established colony of the British Empire in 1607, Virginia (officially a commonwealth) is an essential addition to any trip to Washington DC or the US east coast, with Washington Dulles International Airport located in Chantilly. Home to eight presidents, Virginia offers fascinating heritage destinations such as Historic Jamestowne, must-see sites such as Arlington National Cemetery, and abundant natural beauty. virginia.org.
LEARN: Go back in time and learn what life was like for early settlers at Colonial Williamsburg, the nation’s largest living history museum, or see how some of the first presidents lived at Monticello, the primary plantation home of Thomas Jefferson with its neo-classical design and beautiful gardens, or the iconic Mount Vernon, George Washington’s riverside estate; colonialwilliamsburg.org; monticello.org; mountvernon.org.
TASTE: Virginia is a rising star in the culinary world, increasingly acknowledged for its talented chefs and remarkable cuisine. The Inn at Little Washington is a destination in itself; located in a tiny town on the edge of Shenandoah National Park, it is the only regional restaurant included in the new Michelin guide to Washington DC, earning two stars. Virginia is recognised as the oyster capital of the east coast; try the Rappahannock Oyster Company in Richmond, the up-and-coming hip capital; theinnatlittlewashington.com; rroysters.com.
ENJOY: The state is home to more than 280 wineries, over 150 craft breweries and 30-plus craft distilleries and cideries. Check out RdV Vineyards, open by appointment only, which makes just two wines; its 2010 Rendezvous was poured at a White House state dinner; rdvvineyards.com.
EXPLORE: Virginia’s many attractions are connected by about 5000km of scenic byways, featuring plentiful opportunities for hiking, biking and stunning drives, such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. One lovely place to stay, the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, is a beautiful colonial-style building, complete with a croquet lawn, a lake and hiking trails on 40ha; nps.gov/shen; clifton-inn.com.
Dorothy McAuliffe is the wife of the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and has dedicated her efforts to eliminating childhood hunger. The McAuliffes visited Sydney and Melbourne late last month on a trade and tourism mission.
Graham Erbacher Graham.Erbacher@news.com.au