A quaint Shenandoah Valley town
Staunton, Va., “is not cute or fancy, chic or hip,” said Moira E. McLaughlin in The Washington Post. This quaint village in the Shenandoah Valley, just three hours from Washington, D.C., shuts down early, wakes up late, and does not contain a single Starbucks. Many of the Victorian homes on Beverley Street bear plaques attesting to “their historical importance,” and history buffs can tour the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. Staunton (pronounced Stanton) is also home to the former Western State Lunatic Asylum, which later became a prison and is now a condominium development. The American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse claims to be “the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater.” The Staunton Grocery serves up meals that are “fresh and inventive,” and there’s an outdoor farmers’ market on Saturdays. Skyline Drive is “a great place for picnickers, hikers, and cyclists,” and nearby wineries offer tours.
Contact: Stauntonweb.com

America’s sailing capital
Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, was briefly the U.S. capital, as well, said Steve Bailey in The New York Times. In 1783 and 1784, immediately after the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress settled here. Many red-brick buildings date back to the Colonial era, and “all of downtown is a lively National Historic District.” Small row houses set off with tiny gardens crowd into “oddly angled streets,” and mansions once inhabited by the country’s elite are open to visitors. Annapolis “is perhaps best reached by water.” Often called “the sailing capital of the country,” the city is home to the United States Naval Academy and attracts as many as 10,000 boats a year. Yachtsmen show off their boats as they approach via a finger of water nicknamed “Ego Alley,” which ends at City Dock downtown. Those pulling into Chesapeake Bay have views of the Naval Academy Chapel, where American naval hero John Paul Jones is buried in a crypt “resembling Napoleon’s tomb in Paris.”
Contact: Annapolis.gov