An Amtrak Train Itinerary -
“Experience Virginia History and Culture!”
More people than ever are choosing to take the train to travel around Virginia. With Amtrak, visitors to the Commonwealth can experience much of the state without relying solely on personal and rental cars. So, stow your luggage, settle into your seat, and prepare to embark on an extraordinary expedition that will take you from historic towns right outside our Nation’s Capital, to the beginnings of the United States in Historic Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, all while unveiling the hidden treasures of Virginia.
Day 1 & 2 – Alexandria
Begin your Virginia adventure either upon arrival via air at Dulles International Airport (IAD) or Reagan National Airport (DCA). Not flying into Virginia? Head direct to Alexandria, home of the northern-most Amtrak station in the state. For those flying into IAD, getting to Alexandria and the Amtrak station has never been easier with the opening of the Metrorail Silver Line extension. Now, travelers can simply take the Metro Silver Line from IAD to the transfer station in Rosslyn, then take the Blue Line to Alexandria. For DCA arrivals, you’re only a couple quick stops away from Alexandria via the Blue Line.
Once in Alexandria, grab a quick bite at a local spot such as Mason Social, a neighborhood restaurant focused on local, creative food and craft beer and libations. Spend some time exploring historic Old Town Alexandria, a bustling center of local boutiques and impressive arts and culture, all nestled within a landscape of colonial-era architecture and cobblestone streets. As you take a stroll along the waterfront enjoying the Potomac River views, consider a visit to the Torpedo Factory Art Center, a vibrant art venue showcasing local artists.
After exploring, treat yourself to a lovely dinner at Ada’s on the River. An upscale, colorful setting right on the waterfront, Ada’s is built around a wood-burning oven, the inspiration for most menu items.
Start your morning with breakfast at one of the fine establishments along King Street and the surrounding blocks such as Fontaine Bistro or Café du Soleil. Walk over to the Alexandria Visitor Center to pick up a Key to the City. With the attraction’s pass in hand you can now visit, among many other sites, three museums on Market Square—Carlyle House, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, all within one block of the visitor center.
Take some time out of the day to visit George Washington's Mount Vernon, the famous home of the United States’ Founding Father and First President, George Washington. Here you can tour the beautifully restored mansion, four distinctive gardens, and get a glimpse of Mount Vernon’s working farm. For a more scenic route, rent a bike from one of the many Capital Bikeshare stations and ride the Mount Vernon Trail along the river to the Mount Vernon Estate.
Back in Old Town Alexandria, exploring King Street is one of the most iconic things to do and a great place to continue your historical tour with your Key to the City pass. The free King Street Trolley, with stops every two to three blocks from Alexandria City Hall/Market Square to the King St – Old Town Metrorail station, provides easy on-off access to conveniently get around Old Town Alexandria.
Grab dinner and drinks along the waterfront at BARCA Pier & Wine Bar – the ultimate waterfront dining experience perched literally on the Potomac River, BARCA offers Spanish & Mediterranean influenced tapas, small plates, wine and cocktails as well as the best views around.
Day 3 & 4 – Alexandria to Fredericksburg (approx. 45 minutes by train)
Filled with iconic history, award-winning restaurants, and a quaint downtown area, Fredericksburg is a convenient stop along an historical and cultural journey through Virginia.
Begin your day by visiting the Fredericksburg Visitor Center to pick up a Fredericksburg XPass. The Fredericksburg XPass provides discounted admission tickets to several of the best historical sites the area has to offer.
A quick five-minute rideshare brings you to Historic Kenmore and George Washington’s Ferry Farm, the childhood home of our first president. Rediscovered after decades of research, the site is considered one of the biggest archaeological finds for American history. Just a little under two kilometers away is Chatham Manor, an historic home that also provides incredible views of the city over the Rappahannock River. Built in 1771, the estate played a key role in the Battle of Fredericksburg during the Civil War. Today it operates as the local headquarters for the National Park Service.
Grab lunch in downtown Fredericksburg at FoodE, a popular local restaurant that sources almost 90% of ingredients from nearby farms and purveyors. Chef Joy Crump is constantly inventing creative seasonal fare, but if you’re looking for a tried-and-true dish, you can’t go wrong with FoodE’s fried chicken.
Spend the afternoon taking part in a Trolley Tour of Fredericksburg. During your 75-minute guided tour of the downtown Historic District and the Fredericksburg Battlefield, you will experience the past, present, and future of a city rich in history and teeming with monuments, markers, and attractions. Enjoy the many unique shops and restaurants still operating in buildings hundreds of years old!
Once the tour is over, spend the afternoon browsing local boutiques and specialty shops. Stop by Monkees of Fredericksburg for upscale women’s clothing and accessories, or Ponshop Studio & Gallery for works from local artisans.
After working up an appetite, dine at Orofino Restaurant. This Italian bistro arranges the menu by the distinct regions of Italy with every pasta homemade.
Finish the night by checking in to the Kenmore Inn, a historic bed and breakfast offering all the comfort of a luxury hotel. If you’re in search of a nightcap after a long day exploring Fredericksburg, grab a drink in their pub, tucked away in the lower level of the inn.
In the morning, head downstairs to the inn’s highly rated restaurant for your complimentary breakfast, included in your overnight stay. After, embark on the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail that takes you through the downtown area on a self-guided walking tour offering insight into Black history in the area.
Head to the Sunken Well Tavern for lunch. While the décor creates a low-key atmosphere, the food stands out in a big way. About a five-minute rideshare or taxi from lunch is the A. Smith Bowman Distillery. Tour the working distillery that has been making spirits in Virginia since 1935, opening right after Prohibition ended in the Commonwealth.
Hitch a ride downtown to Caroline Street and link up at Old Towne Carriage where a leisurely ride through the streets of downtown Fredericksburg awaits you. Depending on the time of year, the horse-drawn carriage service provides several historic tour options as well.
An upscale meal at one of Fredericksburg’s most critically acclaimed spots, La Petite Auberge, famous for their European fare, will help wrap up the delightful day, followed by a nightcap at Castiglia’s rooftop bar, where you can enjoy beautiful views of downtown Fredericksburg while sipping on a specialty craft cocktail.
Day 5 & 6 – Fredericksburg to Richmond (approx. 1.5 hours by train)
Virginia’s capital city is your next destination where you will arrive at the Richmond Main Street Station, a local city landmark. Richmond, among America’s oldest major cities, is well known for its rich heritage, artistic expression, culinary delights, and natural resources that make it a captivating destination for both history buffs and modern-day adventurers.
From the Main Street Station in the heart of downtown, visitors have a plethora of options within walking distance or just a quick rideshare or cab ride. A variety of trendy neighborhoods beckon, each with their own unique character.
Spend your first day enjoying the culture and arts that permeate the city, including numerous galleries, theaters, and museums. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is renowned for its extensive collection, including works by prominent artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Warhol. The beautiful landscape surrounding the VMFA serves as a fantastic spot for a peaceful lunch or picnic as well. Then head to the walkable Scott’s Addition neighborhood to enjoy drinks, food, games, and amazing live music at venues such as River City Roll or Brambly Park. Just east of Scott’s Addition is Mainline Brewery, which also offers food, drink, and live music along with having the locally owned, distilled, and award-winning Cirrus Vodka as their on-site neighbor.
Once your day starts to wind down, there are two great hotel options right in the downtown area to settle in for the evening. The boutique and historic Linden Row Inn is featured on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a convenient ‘True Richmond’ experience. Not too far from the Inn, is the historic Jefferson Hotel, which offers Forbes Five-Star-rated accommodations, exquisite dining, and genuine southern hospitality making it a world-renowned destination since 1895.
Next morning head over to Carytown, called Richmond’s “mile of style” for good reason with its unique boutiques and thrift stores, most locally owned making it perfect for one-of-a-kind finds. After hours of shopping, grab lunch at Carytown’s Can Can Brasserie, an elegant Parisian-style bistro.
Head down to the James River for a visit to the American Civil War Museum, the preeminent center for the exploration of the American Civil War. There’s no better place to visit to understand the historic importance of Richmond’s place in America’s complicated and complex history.
Then embrace one of the hiking, biking, or watersport activities that help give Richmond its nickname, River City. The riverfront is encircled by scenic trails, with the city skyline as an appealing backdrop for your adventures. Getting around is even easier now that Adventures in RVA has checkout stations throughout the city where you can use a credit card to rent bikes by the hour.
Once off the water and trails, head to historic Church Hill, the oldest neighborhood in Richmond overflowing with history and character. Church Hill is notably home to St John’s Church where Patrick Henry gave his famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech.
After taking in the sights and sounds of this quiet, historical neighborhood, enjoy a lovely dinner nearby at The Roosevelt. Housed in a turn of the century building, this nationally recognized dinner spot whips up creative new-Southern dishes paired with an award-winning cocktail program and a perfect Virginia wine list.
An easy way to further explore the city while imbibing some of the city’s best breweries is to follow the Richmond Beer Trail. Richmond offers several tour companies so that you can leave the driving up to the professionals while you enjoy the sights, sounds, and sips of the local establishments.
Day 7 & 8 – Richmond to Williamsburg (approx. 1 hour by train)
Williamsburg beckons. A part of Virginia’s Historic Triangle, an important destination in American history, it is renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture, immersive living history museums, and its significant role in the establishment of the United States.
The heart of the city, Colonial Williamsburg, is your first stop and worth an entire day’s exploration. As the world’s largest living history museum, 18th-century life is meticulously recreated with authentic buildings, costumed interpreters, authentic inns, and interactive exhibits that allow visitors to step back in time and experience the daily life, politics, and struggles of the colonial era.
Merchants Square, located adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg, offers a charming shopping and dining experience to round out the day. Grab a meal at Aromas Café to fuel your tour. Don’t forget to stop at the Peanut Shop of Williamsburg to take home some of the world-famous hand-cooked Virginia peanuts for which the region is so well known.
Colonial Williamsburg offers grand lodging such as the Williamsburg Inn, a Forbes Five Star-rated resort fit for royalty. Other lodging options include the Williamsburg Lodge, and for unique stays, even some colonial houses are available to curious travelers.
Treat yourself to some serious comfort food with breakfast at Blue Talon Bistro. Afterwards, continue your historical expedition in Virginia’s Historic Triangle. The area includes five historic sites and attractions from the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, to the final battle of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown, and the founding of a new nation at Williamsburg.
For travelers looking to switch their day from historical to exhilarated, take a short 12-kilometer trip over to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, a world-class theme park. Busch Gardens is known for its thrilling rides, immersive themed areas, and beautiful landscaping.
Enjoy a lovely evening at Cochon on 2nd, an upscale restaurant serving hand-crafted artisan food that combines local ingredients with eclectic culinary inspiration from around the world. This fine eatery is in Williamsburg’s Edge District, a foodie destination featuring dozens of restaurants – ranging from casual to fine dining.
Day 9 – Williamsburg to Alexandria (approx. 3.5 hours by train)
After you’ve taken in some of Virginia’s amazing history culture from right outside DC to the Historic Triangle, a roughly three and a half-hour train ride will finish the loop, taking you back to Alexandria where you can continue your train journey out of state or take the Metro back to Dulles International Airport. Alternatively, you can catch a flight from either Richmond International Airport or Norfolk International Airport, both accessible from the Williamsburg area via Amtrak then a short cab or rideshare ride.