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Virginia 400: Virginia on the Half Shell Itinerary


Thursday, November 1, 2018

7:30 PM. Check in at our headquarters hotel in Norfolk. Neil and Len will meet you in the lobby and distribute readings and other information about the program. We will break the ice with a pizza party and adult beverages before calling it a night. Hotel and reception included.

Friday, November 2, 2018

8:00 AM. You are in for a treat as we move rapidly through important and often overlooked aspects of Virginia and American history. We are en route to First Landing State Park, where the first settlers initially set foot on American soil. From this vantage point, we will also discuss the decisive 1781 Battle of the Capes, in which the French triumph sealed Lord Cornwallis’ fate at Yorktown. From here we will to Old Point Comfort, where the settlers moved inland; en route we will point out Lynnhaven Inlet, where the French fleet hid while awaiting the British, and Little Creek, where US Navy Seals learn the trade. At Old Point Comfort, we will visit historic Fort Monroe and the Casemate Museum, where Jefferson Davis was held prisoner after the Civil War.

Our afternoon takes us to the Mariner’s Museum, one of the world’s most important maritime museums, whose relics include the restored turret and a full-scale model of the USS Monitor. We will then skip over to the southside of the James River to visit Bacon’s Castle. Here, supporters of Nathaniel Bacon’s 17th-century rebellion holed up. We will overnight for two nights in Williamsburg.  Hotel, breakfast, and lunch are provided.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

8:30 AM. After leaving your bags, we will depart for Jamestown Festival Park, where we can see replicas of the vessels that brought the settlers to the New World. We will then pop over to Yorktown, where we will visit the new Revolutionary War Museum. Our return to Williamsburg will allow you several hours to explore the Colonial area on your own. We will finish the day with a brief look at the fortifications and discuss the 1862 Battle of Williamsburg. Hotel is included, but meals are at your pleasure. May we recommend you book a table at one of the Colonial taverns? We will provide information on that in due course.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

This morning we will start with a visit to the Wren Building on the campus of the College of William and Mary, the second oldest college in America (behind Harvard). We will then go to the original site of Jamestown for a short visit to see the archaeology done at that singular destination. A walking tour of the grounds of President John Tyler’s home, Sherwood Forest, concludes the morning. Tyler was the first vice president to ascend to the presidency of the United States after the death of a president, and he died a reviled man because of his service in the Confederate Congress during the Civil War.

After lunch at Charles City Court House, we will travel along the River Road (VA route 5) past other plantation homes to the battlefield of Malvern Hill, where Federal troops escaped the trap set for them by Robert E. Lee on July 1, 1862. We will finish the day touring the restored Confederate White House in Richmond. We will have a group dinner and then head to our hotel in Chester. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and your hotel are provided.

Monday, November 5, 2018

There is so much to see, and today is no different. We start by driving through the Petersburg National Battlefield. Here was conducted the longest siege in US military history. We will stop at the site of the July 1864 Battle of the Crater and will view some earthworks that Neil has a personal connection to. We will burst out of the park and follow Lee’s retreat to Appomattox, where we will see the reconstructed village where the country was reunited.

After lunch, we will drop down to Red Hill, Patrick Henry’s retirement home, located in a remote section of Virginia; this is one of those sites never visited by most heritage tourists. Our next stop is another overlooked but critical site: Booker T. Washington’s plantation, where was born a slave and went on after the war and emancipation to become a great leader. We then go over to Bedford to visit the National D-Day Memorial. This is an important site, made all the more special by the sacrifice made by the town during World War II. We will overnight on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and lodging are included.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

We don’t travel many miles today, but sites of abiding interest and importance on the agenda include Natural Bridge, one of the world’s natural wonders. Then it is on to the essential city, Lexington. Here is the center of Virginia and southern heritage, with sites including the educational institutions—Washington and Lee and the Virginia Military Institute—along with magnificent museums, Jackson’s home and burial site, and Lee’s burial site. We will have recommendations, but you are on your own. Breakfast, dinner, and the hotel are included.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Today we move down the Shenandoah Valley, stopping first in Staunton, where awaits Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential Library and Museum. The last Virginia president, Wilson was deeply affected by the Civil War, and his efforts with the League of Nations were an unrealized ambition. We also will visit the Frontier Museum, a very appropriate site, as much of the migration west from the original colonies passed through this region. We then head over to Charlottesville and the Michie Tavern for a colonial luncheon, before visiting James Madison’s palatial and restored country home, Montpelier. Here was drafted the American Constitution. Madison would be our fourth president. We will overnight in Quantico, Virginia. Breakfast, lunch, and the hotel are included.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Another shorter day mileage wise, but filled with important sites to see. We’ll start with the Museum of the United States Marine Corps. What could be more significant than to experience the Halls of the Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli? It is a short ride down to Fredericksburg and the Irish Brigade Restaurant, where we will have lunch after visiting “The Wall” on Marye’s Heights, site of the great and tragic attack by Federal forces in December 1862.

Our afternoon takes us over to George Washington’s childhood home at Ferry Farm. Archaeology there has helped us better appreciate the formative experience of our great founding father. Perhaps you will bring a silver dollar and see if you can toss it across the Rappahannock River? We cannot permit you to cut down any cherry trees no matter how honest you may be! We will overnight in Fredericksburg, where you can dine at your leisure. Breakfast and lunch are included, along with your hotel room.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Today we will add to our growing list of often overlooked sites with a trip over to Washington’s birthplace, followed by a trip to Stratford Hall, where Robert E. Lee was born and raised. This middle neck trip on the peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers is really special, and we know you will enjoy it.

Another really nice stop will be at Lowrey’s, where we will have lunch in Tappahannock. Virginia. You will love the atmosphere. Their oysters are a nice treat. Afterward, we will drive past the home of the most decorated marine of all time—General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller. It is a simple site, and at the last check was for sale in Saluda. It should be a museum—there is a retirement opportunity for you! We will then move back to our overnight in Yorktown, stopping at the Revolutionary War and Civil War fortifications on that important land overlooking the York River. You will perhaps want to walk the Yorktown battlefield later this afternoon and have dinner overlooking the river. Breakfast, lunch, and the hotel are included.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Our last day is full, starting off with a drive through the Yorktown battlefield, where we will discuss the two great military encampments there. We then will head over to Langley Air Force Base, home of Air Combat Command, for a drive-through and to point out some historical sites related to aviation and space exploration. A visit to the Virginia Air and Space Museum will complete the morning; you can catch a bite of lunch there. We will then head back into Norfolk, where we will drive through the US Naval Base, the world’s largest, before heading downtown to Waterside to tour the battleship USS Wisconsin. We will return to our originating hotel and dismiss by 4:30 PM. Flights after 6 PM should get you home this evening, or if you wish to stay a night, you will be able to return refreshed on Sunday the 11th. Thanks for coming!


Your registration fee includes nine nights, single or double occupancy lodging.

Ten percent of your registration fee is a tax-deductible contribution to the BGES 25th Anniversary Capital Reserve Campaign.

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

Travel Details


Your registration fee includes includes nine nights single or double occupancy lodging. Hotels will be announced and contact information provided before the event.


Our servicing airport is Norfolk International (ORF). Our headquarters hotel will provide transportation to and from the airport. If you drive to Norfolk, we will make arrangements for you to leave your car parked there; an additional charge may apply, or you may want to park in long-term parking at the airport and take the hotel shuttle back to the hotel. Amtrak services Norfolk.

Key Publications and Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. We recommend the following books to enhance your preparation for this tour. has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

  • Ronald Heinemann and John Kolp: Old Dominion, New Commonwealth, A History of Virginia 1607-2007. Available on AmazonSmile.
  • Virginius Dabney: Virginia, The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to Present. Available on AmazonSmile.
  • Virginia Department of Historical Resources: A Guidebook to America’s Historical Markers. Available on AmazonSmile.
  • Thomas Jefferson: Notes on the State of Virginia. Available on AmazonSmile.
  • Alex Kershaw: The Bedford Boys, One American Town’s Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice. Available on AmazonSmile.


Contact BGES about this program.