It's a 7-mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Mill Mountain to this a 1,100-acre reserve astride the gorge cut by the Roanoke River on its way through the Blue Ridge. You can hike or mountain bike on 8 1/2 miles of trails and canoe or fish on the river. On-site bike rentals are available. Like the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, the historical areas of the park feature reconstructed settlements with costumed reenactors who explain what life was like in these parts around 1671, 1757, and 1850. This is more of an adventure, however, for these settlements are not farms but on the forested slopes of the steep gorge. If you and your small children are not up to the strenuous, 1.8-mile walk, staff-driven golf carts will take you. Begin at Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center and allow about 2 hours for a self-guided tour of the historic areas. You can take a break at the moderately priced Brugh Tavern (appropriately pronounced "Brew"), which serves lunch Wednesday through Sunday.

Note: Government officials have negotiated a lease-option agreement with a developer, who has until mid-2008 to decide if he will expand the park. Meanwhile, the park is operating normally, and guest comments have been favorable.