Va. Plantations Open Doors for Tours

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WILLIAMSBURG, Va.--The owners of four antebellum plantations created a house and grounds tour package for groups and motorcoach operators that can provide their own transportation to the sites.

The guided tour, which operates year-round, features four National Register landmark plantations, all within 25 to 30 miles of Colonial Williamsburg along Route 5 West.

The plantations' gardens are open daily, at a price of $9 for all four sites, and the house tours are available to group and motorcoach tours of 20 people or more. The cost of the house and grounds tour is $36 per person. Suggested departure time is 8:30 a.m. from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg; return is at 5 p.m.

PlantationThe highlight of the tour is a visit to the Westover Plantation, according to Brian Gordineer, a founder of the James River Plantation Civil War Trace consortium and the owner of one of the plantations. "Its Georgian architecture makes it one of the most important colonial houses with a Civil War association," he said.

Westover Plantation, built in 1730, was a Union headquarters during the war. Gordineer's house, Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation, circa 1790, is an example of early Virginia log architecture. The North Bend Plantation, built in 1819 for the sister of President William Henry Harrison, was the headquarters for Gen. Philip Sheridan. The Edgewood Plantation is a gothic revival home constructed in 1847.

The tour passes a number of historical markers along the route, including Fort Pocahontas, Wilcox Landing, the Confederate Monument and the Charles City Courthouse. Lunch is available at two area taverns or at the Edgewood Plantation.

According to the Newport Hospitality Group, nearly all Williamsburg-area hotels accommodate groups. Among the seven it handles are the Quality Inn Historic and Quality Suites.

Summer net tour rates for the Quality Inn Historic are $65, single or double; $71, triple, and $77 quad. Rates are $5 higher on weekends. Quality Suites charges $109, single or double; $115, triple, and $121, quad, with an extra $10 on weekend rates. Although the hotels pay no commissions to agents for groups, the net tour rates are lower than regular room rates and can be marked up, according to a spokeswoman for Newport Hospitality Group.

Newport Hospitality Group. Phone: (757) 221-0100

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