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By Car

Traveling in your own vehicle is by far the best way to see Virginia. Interstate highways link all the major cities and many towns, but the prime advantage of driving is that you can explore on your own and drive our scenic routes.

Maximum speed limits are 65 mph on the Interstate highways, 55 mph on state highways, and 35 mph or less in towns and cities.

Accidents are common on both I-95 and I-81, which are heavy-duty truck routes, so be especially careful while driving on them. (So many trucks slow down as they creep side-by-side uphill and then race down the other side that I seldom get to use my cruise control on I-81!)

The Virginia Tourism Corporation distributes a detailed state road map as well as one that highlights the scenic drives.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23219 (tel. 804/786-5731; www.virginiadot.org), publishes a free list of road construction projects, and it maintains a 24-hour-a-day Highway Helpline (tel. 800/367-7623) for information about road conditions and to report emergencies. It has live webcams of key northern Virginia and Hampton Roads highways and posts road condition maps online.

Dial your car radio to AM 610 or call tel. 800/792-2800 to check on conditions in Hampton Roads' often-congested tunnels.

Dial tel. #77 on your cellphone to report an accident or other emergency to the state highway patrol.

All major rental car companies have agencies at the state's airports. Enterprise (www.enterprise.com) also is present in many small towns.

Visitors from abroad who plan to rent a car in the United States should keep in mind that insurance and taxes are almost never included in quoted rental car rates in the U.S. Be sure to ask your rental agency about additional fees for these. They can add a significant cost to your car rental.

Foreign driver's licenses are usually recognized in the U.S., but you may want to consider obtaining an international driver's license, especially if your home license is not written in English.

Get Out of Your Vehicle & Look Around -- I don't have enough room in this guide to cover all of Virginia's picturesque hamlets, villages, and towns. Don't hesitate to park your vehicle and have a look around when a charmer catches your attention. My fellow Virginians will ensure that you are richly rewarded.

Driving the Civil War Trails -- One benefit of touring by car is that you can follow the state's Civil War Trails. These sign-posted driving tours follow the Shenandoah battles, the Peninsula campaign of 1862, the battles from Manassas to Fredericksburg, Lee versus Grant as the Union drove south to Richmond in 1864, and Lee's retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox in 1865. Check outwww.civilwartrails.org.

By Plane

You can get around Virginia by flying from one of its airports to another, but you are likely to change planes along the way. For example, you may have to fly through Washington Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, or Charlotte, North Carolina, to get from Roanoke to Richmond. As a result, flying around the state can be more time-consuming than driving, and more expensive, too. Check with the airlines or your travel agent for the most efficient, cost-effective routing.

Some large airlines offer transatlantic or transpacific passengers special discount tickets under the name Visit USA, which allows mostly one-way travel from one U.S. destination to another at very low prices. Unavailable in the U.S., these discount tickets must be purchased abroad in conjunction with your international fare. This system is the easiest, fastest, cheapest way to see the country.

By Train

Amtrak trains (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) are better for getting to and from Virginia than for getting around the state. All Amtrak trains between New York and Florida stop at Washington, D.C., and Richmond; some stop at Alexandria and Fredericksburg. Another train follows this route from New York to Richmond, and then heads east to Newport News via Williamsburg. From Newport News, Amtrak's Thruway bus service connects to Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Some east- and westbound trains to and from D.C. stop at Charlottesville, Staunton, and Clifton Forge. From Clifton Forge, a Thruway bus connects to Roanoke.

By Bus

Greyhound (tel. 800/231-2222; www.greyhound.com) is the sole nationwide bus line. While you can travel from one major Virginia city to another by bus, service is not available to many small towns, and that includes all of them in the Shenandoah Valley. Taking the bus may be the least expensive way to travel around Virginia, but it also is the least convenient and the least comfortable.

International visitors who insist on traveling by bus can obtain information about the Greyhound North American Discovery Pass. The pass, which offers unlimited travel and stopovers in the U.S. and Canada, can be obtained from foreign travel agents or through www.discoverypass.com.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.