WNY Family Magazine July 2018 - Page 19

University of Virginia Downtown Mall Monitcello Slave Cabin Just down the road from Monticello is the 18th-century Michie Tavern that makes a perfect lunch break. Established in 1784 by Colonel William Michie, the rustic restaurant features hearty southern fare and servers in period attire. There is also an extensive gift shop and regular tours. Just 25 miles west of Charlottesville is the southern entrance of Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive runs 105 miles north and south, along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Shenan- doah National Park and is the only pub- lic road through the park. It takes about three hours to travel the entire length of the park on a clear day. It is a good spot to stop for lunch or din- ner. President Herbert Hoover and his wife built their Rapidan Camp as a re- treat from the stress of work and the heat of the nation’s capital. (The camp has been restored and can be toured.) The Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) ‘boys” came in the 1930s to build many rustic style park facilities. Some are still used today.  Highland, the plan- tation home of our fifth president, James Mon- roe, is just two and a half miles from Monticello. It is much less imposing than Jefferson’s home but there is a working farm with sheep and donkeys and regular house tours. Another nearby pres- idential property is James Madison’s Montpelier, the home of James and Dolly Madison. The 2,750-acre estate and mansion of our fourth president in- cludes historic buildings, exhibits, and active archeological dig sites.   Families with young children also enjoy the nearby Virginia Discovery Museum with many hands-on explora- tions and discovery exhibits designed for children eight and younger. There’s also a free trolley that offers rides around downtown and the University of Virginia. The Downtown Mall is considered one of the finest urban parks in the coun- try and is one of the country’s longest pedestrian malls. The eight block his- toric mall is home to an array of res- taurants, shops, offices, and art galler- ies. During the spring, summer, and fall there are regular concerts here as well as other special events. But save time for stopping and an overnight in a lodge, cabin, or campground if pos- sible. Skyline Drive is a nar- row mountain road with beau- tiful vistas and wildflowers along the shoulders. Pull off at some of the 75 marked scenic overlooks. Wild animals includ- ing bears frequent the drive’s shoul- ders and may dart across the road so be alert. Dogs on a leash are allowed in the park. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails. The park was estab- lished in 1935 and, capital- izing on the new popularity of cars, called for Shenan- doah’s “great single fea- ture” to be a skyline drive on which motorists could enjoy a leisurely drive through the Blue Ridge and could see the magnificent views. The road was designed to give urban residents from the East Coast the national park experi- ence that had become so popular in the great parks of the West such as Yosemite and Grand Canyon. People came here long before the park was established. Skyland Resort has hosted visitors since the late 1880s. There is a statue to a CCC worker outside the Henry Byrd Visitor Center. Be sure to stop at the center for infor- mation, movies, gift shop and schedules for park activities. During the spring, summer and fall there are many ranger- led programs including guided hikes, informative talks, and evening campfire pro- grams. The Junior Rang- er Activity Book is available in the visitor centers. It is a great way to learn about the plants, animals, and history of the park. Kids ages 5-13 are invited to become a Junior Park Ranger after completing some fun activities, sharing their answers with a park ranger and swearing an oath to “explore, learn and protect” nature and the parks.  They then receive a Junior Ranger patch and certificate. During our center visit, several young members of a fam- ily were excitedly answering questions and showing the ranger what they had learned before becoming Junior Rangers. continued on page 55 July 2018 WNY Family 19