My first multi-day, multi-destination road trip was a great experience and I am very glad that I am able to share it with all of you. The basis of the road trip was that we wanted to spend as little money as possible, but still go to some great places that we have never experienced. In this post you will be able to read about where I went, and also the places I ate at along the way. I tried to go to local restaurants that were well-known for their food, atmosphere and culture. My friends, and University of Dayton roommates, Tim and Matt joined me for the trip and enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Day 1: Thursday July 22 – Mcgaheysville
Knowing that we had a long eight hour drive to my dad’s house in Mcgaheysville, Va (the resort town in which my dad lives is called Massanutten), we started the drive from Dayton at around 10 a.m. and arrived in Virginia around 6 p.m. The scenery along the way is beautiful as you pass through the Appalachian Mountains.
After we arrived at my dad’s house, we drove to the nearby city of Harrisonburg, which is home to James Madison University, a public university which consistently ranks high in education value and for their business school. My dad is the project superintendent of construction on the additions to the James Madison football stadium, so we were able to take a look at that site. We also took a quick drive around the campus, which was very nice and had many new buildings. Later that night we rode go-karts, one of the many things there is to do in Massanutten, Va.
Day 2: Friday July 23 – Virginia Beach
On Friday we had planned to travel to Virginia Beach, Va, and stay the night at a hotel near the city. About a four hour
drive from my dad’s house, Virginia Beach is a clean and beautiful beach. Our check-in time for our hotel was 3 p.m., so we decided to hit the beach first. We arrived in Virginia Beach at around noon, so we decided to eat lunch first. We ate at Dough Boy’s California Pizza, which…you guessed it serves up a variety of classic California-style pizzas. We ordered the Cordon Bleu Pizza, which was very delicious and topped with four cheeses.
Parking is very easy to find, whether you want to use metered parking or park in a garage. But if you insist on meter parking, make sure to bring plenty of change, as no one gives out change and it can be very frustrating trying to find it. Initially we parked at a meter about a quarter of a mile from the beach, but quickly changed to a garage as we ran out of change. The hotel we stayed at was $120 for one night for three people, which is not bad for being 10 minutes away.
We also stopped at Bad Ass Coffee, which had some great kona! Virginia Beach is a typical tourist locale, as there is a bounty of “beachwear” stores to be found, and plenty of great restaurants. We parked in a garage near Neptune’s park on the beach and were glad we did, as we were able to sit and enjoy some live music that was playing.
Debating where we wanted to eat for dinner, we walked a long way down Atlantic Ave. to try and find something. It was then around 22nd St. that we found a great pick. The Abbey Road Pub, a Beatles themed restaurant. I figured we had to go in, mostly because I was wearing my Abbey Road Beatles shirt (which happens to be my favorite album). The atmosphere was great, as a ton of Beatles memorabilia hung on every wall, and Beatles music pumped out of the speakers. I had the fish tacos which were very good and among the best I’ve had. There are many Beatles-themed menu items, like the Sgt. Pepper (hamburger) and the Let It Be Brunch.
Day 3: Saturday July 24 – Lake Anna
After a great time and great weather in Virginia Beach, we decided to meet up with my
dad at Lake Anna, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Virginia. We set up at a small campground beach and were able to lay out on the small beach there. My dad had recently purchased a jet ski, so we were able to take that for a few runs, which was so much fun! The lake is very big and full of different ways to turn and explore, so it made for great jet skiing waters.
After driving back to Mcgaheysville, we decided to hike up one of the many mountains that litter the area near my dad’s house. The mountain we hiked up is used as a ski slope during the winter, so it was a very steep climb. It took about a half hour to climb to the top, and it was well worth it as we were able to enjoy an amazing view of the valley below. Massanutten also is great in the winter, as it is a very popular destination for skiers, snowboarders and even some tubers.
Later that night after quick Chipotle stop, we finally saw the movie Inception, which was very good! I had heard so many things about the movie and I think that it lived up to the expectations I had of it of having a deep plot and a ton of action-packed sequences thrown in.
Day 4: Sunday July 25 – Washington D.C.
On our last day we decided to go to Washington D.C., only a two hour drive from my dad’s house, and do some sight-seeing. Arriving just before noon, we stopped off at Ben’s Chili Bowl for lunch. Located at 1213 U St. N.W., Ben’s Chili Bowl has been featured on many TV shows and is very highly regarded. We all ordered standard chili dogs, as this is what they are best known for. Not only was it delicious, it was easily the best chili I’ve ever had. The hot dog was cooked perfectly and the chili had just enough zing in it to make it irresistible. If you are ever in D.C., I would say that it is a must to check it out!
After our awesome lunch, we decided to park in a garage near the Smithsonian Museum, which is basically in the heart of the national mall. It was a balmy 95 degrees outside, and without a cloud in sight it seemed that it would be a perfect day…
After parking, we went into the National Air & Space Museum, which is free to the public. The museum was very crowded, as it seemed like every boy scout in America was there, but the exhibits were very interesting and
informational. Near the museum was the Capital building, so we decided to check it out. We could only take pictures in front of the building, as the steps were fenced off for the day. Next we went into the National Gallery of Art, which features many modern art pieces along with many famous artists like Monet and van Gogh. This gallery is also free and is a great experience for art lovers or really anyone.
As we exited the art gallery, some dark menacing clouds approached. The wind whipped up and sand and trash were blowing everywhere. Soon after, a torrential downpour ensued and went on for a half hour. We took cover under a small information kiosk before deciding to make a run for it. We had to run about three blocks to my car in the garage and proceeded to get completely soaked. After changing into dry clothes, we unfortunately had to leave without seeing many monuments.
In the end this road trip was definitely a successful one, as we got to see many amazing things and eat a lot of amazing food. I will visit D.C. again in the future so I can check out some of the other monuments I missed because of the monsoon. I hope this inspires some of you to plan your own road trip, one that will fill your head with wonderful memories and great new experiences.
I also learned a few things that will help me on future road trips:
- ALWAYS bring an umbrella with you
- Make sure you have lots of change for metered parking
- No swearing allowed in Virginia Beach