Hot Springs: 220 miles SW of Washington, D.C., 160 miles W of Richmond; Warm Springs: 5 miles N of Hot Springs
At temperatures from 94° to 104°F (35°-40°C), thermal springs rise in appropriately named Bath County. This little valley has been a retreat since the 18th century, when Thomas Jefferson and other notables stopped at Warm Springs to "take the waters." The Homestead was founded in 1766 and is still one of the nation's premier spas and golf resorts (it has the nation's oldest tee). After you've soaked in the waters, played the links, and had your pedicure, you can hear small ensembles making music at the Garth Newel Music Center.
Warm Springs today is a charming little hamlet that serves as the Bath County seat. The even smaller village of Hot Springs, 5 miles to the south, is virtually a company town: It lives to serve The Homestead. Hot Springs' Main Street begins where U.S. 220 circles around the resort and runs for 2 blocks south; here you'll find a deli and several upscale art and clothing dealers, some in the old train depot.
Granted, there is a whole lot of money visiting and living in this valley, including the Rev. Pat Robertson, who has a mansion up on the mountaintop. Fortunately we of the tax-paying classes don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy it for a day or two; there are relatively inexpensive places to stay and eat here.