Road Trip! Destination: Winchester, Va.
History buffs who love the Civil War, early America and historic houses will find a feast to enjoy in Winchester, Va., about 188 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. And there's more: festivals, including the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival this month, arts attractions and plenty of restaurants. In a drive that will take about three and a half hours from Pittsburgh, you can explore the quaint town and not run out of things to do for several days. For information, visit www.visitwinchesterva.com
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824.
Apple Blossom Festival
The mid-spring Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is the Winchester region's signature festival, and draws some 300,000 people. The 10-day festival includes more than 30 individual events and activities, such as a wine festival, arts-and-crafts shows, dances, musical entertainment, parades, fireworks and carnivals. The 87th annual festival will run April 25 to May 4.
Civil War history
If you are a Civil War buff, there is plenty to see in Winchester and the surrounding area, including museums, Cedar Creek Battlefield and Kernstown Battlefield. Start with the Civil War Orientation Center, located in the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center. Here, you can check out an interactive touch screen for details of nearby Civil War attractions. Read up on the Shenandoah Valley's Civil War history before taking your trip, to get an overview.
Stonewall Jackson's headquarters
One must-see site for Civil War buffs is Stonewall Jackson's headquarters, which the larger-than-life Confederate leader Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson used during the winter of 1861-62. Displays in the house, built in 1854, include Jackson's prayer book and camp table. The house is open April through October.
Old Town Winchester
If you want to go shopping, eating and exploring in an area with historical charm, visit Old Town Winchester, a marketplace for more than 250 years. This area is within the heart of the 45-block National Register Historic District and includes a quaint pedestrian walking mall. You can choose from more than 20 restaurants, and maybe eat outside on a patio. Explore antique and art galleries and shop for clothes, jewelry or take a walking tour. Visitors can check out more than a dozen museums and historical sites, including the Old Court House Civil War Museum and George Washington's Office Museum.
Favorite daughter Patsy Cline
It's not just Civil War history you'll find in Winchester. Visitors can learn about a country-music legend at the Patsy Cline Historic House, a modest abode in a middle-class neighborhood. It tells the story of Cline's time here from ages 16 to 21, in 1948 through 1953. Cline's singing career began four years later, until her life was tragically cut short in a 1963 plane crash. Tours of Cline's house are offered throughout the day at various times, April through December.
Quaker meeting home
If you like touring old houses, you'll find the town's oldest house at Abram's Delight Museum. The house was built in 1754 by the Hollingsworth family and served as the area's first Quaker meeting house. The museum includes a collection of period art and antiques and a restored and furnished log cabin. Daily tours are offered April through October. Details: www.winchesterhistory.org
Winchester's historical sites go back much further than the Civil War. Similar to Western Pennsylvania's Fort Ligonier, Winchester's Historic Fort Loudoun was where George Washington made headquarters during the French and Indian War. Archaeologists have found part of the barracks' foundations and numerous artifacts. Tours can be self-guided or include a docent.