Journey Through Hallowed Ground Tours & Trips

Journey Through Most Hallowed Ground

National History Academy President Bill Sellers, Ken Burns and Tauck President Jennifer Tombaugh

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area has built a well-founded partnership with Tauck over the years.  For adults seeking an expertly guided experience similar to National History Academy, please visit Tauck’s In Freedom’s Footsteps: Philadelphia to Washington, DC, designed in partnership with Ken Burns.

For those who would prefer a self-directed tour, one of Tauck’s longtime favorite journeys is through the rich cultural and historical landscape of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground corridor.  As part of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial, Tauck and Ken Burns crafted a journey to explore the places, people and stories of this conflict that continues to shape and influence our nation today.  The 670 mile, week-long itinerary which follows is based upon that and offers the independent traveler a guide to discover this remarkable area.

Day 1: Arrive Washington, DC (3 night stay)

A magical and inspiring way to get acquainted with our nation’s capital is taking an hour-long “DC by Night” illumination motor coach tour of city monuments with a local guide.

There are a wealth of hotels at many price points and styles near The Mall which offer a centralized base from which to explore the many museums, restaurants and sights which Washington, DC offers.

Day 2:  Washington DC – Ford’s Theater – African American–Civil War Museum and Monument                  

Put on some comfortable walking shoes, and start the morning and your orientation to Washington, DC with a two-hour guided city tour, which affords views, stories and a deeper understanding of The White House, the Mall, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Monument and the Lincoln Monument.

Mid-morning, visit Ford’s Theater Museum and inside Ford’s Theater.  Advanced tickets are for sale online and highly recommended.

Afterwards, there are many wonderful restaurants in the area to enjoy, or head over to O street to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl, a landmark restaurant that is beloved by locals and celebrities alike.

In the afternoon, visit the African American Civil War Museum and Monument to learn the regrettably lesser-known stories of real-life soldiers.

Explore the exciting dining scene and cuisines available in DC.

Day 3:  Washington DC–The National Archives

Begin your morning at the Rotunda of the National Archives to view our nation’s Founding Documents the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. Explore the wonderful exhibits on view, including the Magna Carta, generously donated by David Rubenstein.

Day 4:  Civil War Medicine – Antietam – Gettysburg (132 miles, 1-2 night stay in Gettysburg)                                                           

Rise early and travel to Frederick, MD to learn about Civil War battlefield medical techniques during a visit to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Field surgeon Dr. Jonathan Letterman, the “Father of Emergency Medicine,” developed a new system for treating battlefield casualties that is still in use today.

From there, take a 25-mile journey to Sharpsburg, MD to visit Antietam National Battlefield, including Burnside Bridge. The site of the first major battle on Northern soil, the Battle of Antietam (Sep 1862) was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000 casualties.

Continue from there to Gettysburg, PA (50 miles) for a late lunch, perhaps at the Dobbin House, a historic 19th-century inn, or you may wish to grab a bite en route.

In the afternoon, after you’ve checked in to your hotel, visit the acclaimed Gettysburg Visitor’s Center to gain an overview of this moving national park. The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863) is often described as the war’s turning point because Union troops halted Lee’s march northward.  Be sure to see the famous cyclorama and interpretive film.

Day 5:  Gettysburg – Harpers Ferry – Shenandoah (155 miles, 1 night in Shenandoah National Park)            

Spend the morning exploring Gettysburg most hallowed ground, including the field of Pickett’s Charge, Little Round Top and the Copse of Trees. Some travelers prefer a longer visit to the park, and you may wish to extend your stay for an additional night here.

If you wish to continue, travel from Gettysburg to Harpers Ferry, WV (55 mi.) to visit Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, enjoying lunch at nearby Charles Town, WV.

Weather permitting, the rest of your afternoon will be filled with stunning scenery as you travel the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, through Shenandoah National Park. (90 mi, scenic roads), where you can spend the night at one of the National Park lodges, such as Big Meadows Lodge or Skyland Resort.

Day 6:  Montpelier – University of Virginia (83 miles, 2 nights in Charlottesville)                                                           

This morning, continue your journey through Shenandoah National Park to James and Dolley Madison’s home Montpelier.  Madison was the fourth President of the U.S. and a close friend of Thomas Jefferson.  Discover the early history of the family’s home and way of life in the years between the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

After your visit, continue on to Charlottesville, your home for the next 2 nights, for lunch and an afternoon exploring the campus of the University of Virginia and its landmark Rotunda and grounds, purposefully and proudly designed by Thomas Jefferson as an “academical village.”

In the evening, enjoy discovering the many wonderful, varied restaurants that this university town offers. 

Day 7:  Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (5 miles)

Begin your day with a guided tour discovering Monticello, the Virginia plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the U.S.  The grounds and buildings here portray the orderly universe of Jefferson, but the realities of plantation life did not always fit comfortably with founding principles of equality and liberty.

Enjoy lunch and explore further Monticello’s impressive visitor center or return to Charlottesville and perhaps keep the era in mind by dining at Michie Tavern, an authentic 18th-century inn.  Spend the afternoon exploring Charlottesville and its lively pedestrian mall. 

Day 8:  Appomattox – Richmond (180 miles, 3 nights in Richmond) 

After breakfast, drive approximately 80 miles to Appomattox, site of the end of the end of the Civil War. Visit McLean Farm, where Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. U.S. Grant met in the parlor and agreed to terms which would make reunification of the country possible.

After lunch, continue on to Richmond, the one-time capital of the Confederacy (95 miles).  Along the way, you may wish to visit Sailor’s Creek historic site and its visitor center.

In the evening, explore this graceful city and its many fine restaurants.

Day 9: Virginia Capitol – Confederate White House – Tredegar (5 miles)           

Begin your day at the Virginia State Capitol, designed by Jefferson, where Robert E. Lee accepted command of the Army of Virginia.  The Virginia legislature shared this space with the government of the Confederacy.  Step through the White House of the Confederacy in a guided visit to the time when Jefferson Davis resided here with his family.  A self-guided journey through the adjacent Museum of the Confederacy is included.

After lunch, explore the grounds of historic Tredegar Iron Works—now the Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar—and the interpretive displays at the adjacent National Park Service visitors center, tracing the stories of Unionists, Confederates and African Americans.

In the evening, continue your exploration of the rich culinary and entertainment options, this city offers.

Day 10: Siege of Petersburg – Pamplin Historical Park (75 miles)

Travel 30 miles to Petersburg, VA to visit the Petersburg Battlefield, site of the bloodiest battle of the War, which features re-creations of Civil War battlefield, including troop bunkers and officers quarters. Relive the drama of battle and tactical reversals at Petersburg’s astounding Crater.

From there, continue another 8 miles to Pamplin Historical Park / Museum of the Civil War Soldier. After a casual lunch at the on-site café, visit the Museum of the Civil War Soldier and experience life during the Civil War.  Each guest receives the identity of one true-life soldier (Union or Confederate) and hears stories from that person’s actual writings, using headsets, over the course of an interactive visit, learning the real-life-or-death fate of that person at the end.  Civil War battlefield encampment, rifle and musket firings and other period demonstrations by Civil War period interpreters are included.

After this moving day, return to Richmond to reflect on your journey through this truly most hallowed ground and prepare for your return home.