This 13-day, self-drive tour is ideal for history buffs, as well as nature-lovers and fans of outdoor adventures. Starting and finishing in Philadelphia, you’ll tour dozens of historic sites in and around Washington, DC, including Colonial Williamsburg and Gettysburg. You’ll also have the chance to visit an Amish farm and learn more about their way of life, unchanged for centuries, as well as to explore the picturesque Maryland coast and the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Along the way, the relaxed pace of the tour means that you’ll always have plenty of time to explore and soak up the sights.
Arrive in Philadelphia
Your tour begins as you arrive at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and proceed to your hotel. Known as “The City of Brotherly Love”, Philadelphia was the original capital of the USA, laid out by William Penn Jr in 1682 on a grid system that was to provide the pattern for most American cities.
You have a full day today to explore Philadelphia. You’ll want to take in the Liberty Bell Pavilion, set within the National Historical Park, and Independence Hall, where Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was adopted on 4 July 1776. Other historic sites include the house of Betsy Ross, said to have sewn the first United States flag, while more modern attractions include Philadelphia Zoo and the Please Touch Museum, where children will love the hands-on exhibits.
Philadelphia, Bucks County, Lancaster PA
This morning you’ll make the hour’s drive to the picturesque town of Bucks County, where you’ll visit the Washington Crossing Historical Park and have the chance to go tubing, kayaking, canoeing or rafting on the Delaware River. You’ll then continue toward Lancaster County, home to Amish villages which give the impression that time has stood still. You may like to take a guided tour through an authentically furnished 1840s Old Order Amish farmhouse, go on a buggy ride, or shop for pottery and other arts and crafts at Kitchen Kettle Village.
Lancaster, Gettysburg PA
This morning you may like to take time to watch the Amish children as they run across the fields to their one-room schoolhouse, before setting off for Gettysburg, near the Maryland border. Here you’ll visit the Gettysburg National Military Park, a memorial to the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, which formed the backdrop for President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. As the sun sets, you can take a candlelit guided tour of the streets the soldiers once walked, before dinner in Gettysburg’s oldest house, Dobbin House Tavern, built in 1776.
Gettysburg, Baltimore, Annapolis MD
Today’s first destination is Baltimore, where can explore the World War II submarine Torsk, or perhaps take the elevator to the Top of the World Observation Level to enjoy the unforgettable panoramic views of the city’s skyline and harbour. You may also like to tour the USS Constellation, the last all-sail warship built by the US Navy, before continuing toward Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland, a beautiful historical seaport along the Chesapeake Bay. Here you can visit the Maryland State House, the oldest state house still in legislative use, or perhaps take a tour of the US Naval Academy.
Annapolis, Chesapeke Bay Area, Virginia Beach VA
Today begins with a scenic coastal drive through the Chesapeake Bay area, where you may like to enjoy a narrated lighthouse cruise or a tour of the bay, before continuing to Virginia Beach, renowned as “the least stressful city in America”. Here you can stroll or cycle along the world’s longest pleasure beach – be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins.
Virginia Beach VA
Today you may like to kayak among the dolphins, try jet-skiing, go on a sport-fishing adventure or hike through a wildlife refuge – or if all that sounds a bit too energetic, you could just soak up some rays on the beach. Other local attractions include the Ocean Breeze Water Park, the Virginia Aquarium, First Landing State Park and the Heritage by The Sea landmark.
Virginia Beach, Williamsburg VA
This morning you’ll continue on to Colonial Williamsburg, the nation’s largest living-history museum, where you’ll step back in time more than 220 years to the eve of the American Revolution. Here you’ll find more than 500 homes, stores and taverns, all restored to their 18th-century appearance, including the Governor’s Palace, the Capitol, the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and Bassett Hall. Don’t miss the chance to visit Jamestown, America’s birthplace, and Yorktown.
Williamsburg, Charlottesville VA
Today you’ll continue to Charlottesville, where you’ll take a tour of Thomas Jefferson’s retirement home, The Monticello Plantation, with its beautiful botanical gardens and vineyards, and his beloved University of Virginia. Other local attractions include Ash Lawn-Highland, home of James Monroe, fifth president of the USA, Historic Court Square, and Michie Tavern, which dates back to the 18th century, as well as numerous excellent museums, galleries, wineries, shops and parks.
Charlottesville, Shenandoah Valley VA
Today’s destination is Shenandoah Valley, where you can explore the Luray Caverns, including the “Giant Hall”, an enormous subterranean chamber filled with incredible stone formations. You’ll also visit Shenandoah National Park, known for its stunning views along Skyline Drive. Here you can hike some of the 500 miles of trails, or go horseback riding, cycling, fishing or canoeing.
Shenandoah Valley, Washington D.C
Today you’ll continue to the US capital, Washington, DC. As the sun sets, you may like to take a night-time trolley tour of 100 of the city’s most popular points of interest, including the Capitol Building, the White House, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument, allowing you to see these impressive monuments flooded in lights.
A day of historical sight-seeing awaits, as you visit the National Mall, which runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court. Along the Mall you’ll find the Smithsonian Institution, the War Memorials, and the Washington Monument. You may like to take an optional tour of the area by Segway. You can also visit the Arlington National Cemetery, the Library of Congress, the National Cathedral and the National Zoo. Later, make the most of Washington’s vibrant nightlife, with world-class restaurants, theatre shows and live music.
Washington D.C - Philadelphia International Airpor
Your tour comes to an end today as you leave Washington at your leisure and head for Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) for your onward flight.