Located just 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., Prince William & Manassas, VA are where the nation’s history unfolded more than 150 years ago. They are also home to pristine state and national parks, historic towns and a wealth of other attractions that offer groups unique experiences not available to individual travelers.
Civil War Buffs Have Plenty to See in Prince William & Manassas
Prince William and Manassas include 25 Civil War sites that are part of the Virginia Civil War Trails. Most notable is Manassas National Battlefield Park, where two major Civil War battles unfolded.
Other notable sites on the trail are Ben Lomond, Liberia Plantation and Bristoe Station Battlefield.
A plantation turned Civil War Hospital, Ben Lomond is now a hands-on museum where visitors can handle the tools doctors once used to treat the wounded and read the graffiti soldiers left behind. The site is also home to the nation’s oldest, public antique rose garden and one of the only remaining public slave quarters in Northern Virginia.
Liberia, another plantation home, was taken over during the Civil War and served as the headquarters for both Union and Confederate troops.
At Bristoe, walk hallowed ground and explore the rolling countryside the soldiers once occupied. Come in October to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bristoe Station with living history demonstrations, educational programs and tours.
Prince William & Manassas’ history spans well beyond the Civil War. It is also rich in military history and serves as the home of Quantico Marine Corps Base and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The stunning, interactive museum allows groups to do everything from experience boot camp to board a helicopter headed to Vietnam- all for free.
While in the area, also honor the nation’s heroes at Quantico National Cemetery. Groups can have a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to place flags on graves as part of the Missing in America Project. The MIA Project locates, identifies and inters the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans. In May 2012, the remains of 17 unknown veterans were buried at Quantico.
Prince William & Manassas Outdoor Exploration
From the Bull Run Mountains to the Occoquan and Potomac rivers, there are numerous opportunities to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast in Prince William and Manassas.
Leesylvania State Park offers breathtaking views of the Potomac River and was once home to Revolutionary War hero Henry Lee III. Take a group kayaking trip down the river then finish with a picnic on the beach or at the site of a Confederate gun battery.
With almost 40 miles of trails, Prince William Forest Park boasts the largest greenspace in the greater Washington, D.C. area and is the perfect place for a group to learn about WWII spies by touring the park’s 1930’s-era cabins that were used by the Office of Strategic Services during the war.
Or, enjoy a meal, a lively history lesson and a glimpse at the area’s wildlife while cruising down the Potomac River aboard a Miss Rivershore Charters boat.
Shopping and Dining in Prince William & Manassas
Take a stroll back in time with a walk through one of the area’s historic towns of Occoquan or Old Town Manassas. These towns offer the perfect atmosphere for groups looking to do a shopping excursion, progressive dinner or dine-around experience.
The charming town of Occoquan is nestled along the Occoquan River and one of Northern Virginia’s best hidden gems. Filled with unique shops and restaurants, visitors can celebrate the holidays year-round at The Golden Goose, participate in a wine tasting at Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe, find a quirky gift for a girlfriend at Polka Dot Divas or uncover a unique cookbook at Salt & Pepper Books. Indulge in some of the freshest seafood in the region at Madigan’s then finish with a presidential treat worthy of the first lady at Mom’s Apple Pie.
Situated along the railroad, Old Town Manassas played a crucial role in the Civil War. Discover the town’s rich history at the Manassas Museum then wander through an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Arrange a tea at The Things I Love, which also sells home accessories, or sip wine at the Opera House Gourmet store. Get a taste of Louisiana at Okra’s Cajun Creole or authentic Italian cuisine at Monza.
For groups looking to find today’s hottest brands for less, arrange a trip to Potomac Mills- Virginia’s largest outlet mall. Discover more than 200 shops and eateries including Bloomingdale’s The Outlet Store, Last Call by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH. Potomac Mills staff can also arrange scavenger hunts throughout the mall, special meal deals and coupon books for groups of 10 or more.
A Paranormal Experience
Looking to get spooked? Plan a group tour through Prince William and Manassas’ historic haunts. Ghosts have allegedly roamed the streets for years, making flames dance, doors close and stairs creek. Some visitors have seen Civil War soldiers haunting street corners or spirits peeking out of the windows of historic homes.
Plan a guided ghost tour of Historic Occoquan where an Indian appears in a bathroom mirror at Occoquan Inn and where merchants have stories about merchandise being strewn around their stores by ghosts.
Continue the ghost hunt by wandering the halls of Rippon Lodge. Prince William’s oldest home, Rippon is allegedly haunted by a child and someone who lost a dual and bled to death in the house’s parlor. After, travel farther south to Dumfries’ most haunted place, the Weems-Botts Museum. Once home to Parson Weems, author of the infamous George Washington and the cherry tree strory, the house is now said to be haunted by a child and Civil War soldiers. Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story” filmed here in the fall of 2012.
On the western side of Prince William, find the historic haunt of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre. Connect with Agnes who was one of 13 people executed at the centre’s jail and, allegedly never left. The television show “Ghost Hunters” also filmed here.
Other group friendly attractions and events in Prince William & Manassas
Tucked away at the foothills of the Bull Run Mountains is the stunning Winery at La Grange. Sip, swirl and savor Virginia wines in a circa 1790 manor house, relax by the fireplace or purchase bottles for a picnic overlooking the beautiful mountains.
Take a backstage tour of the new Hylton Performing Arts Center or plan a group trip around one of the dozens of shows offered there year-round. As the tour bus approaches George Mason University’s Prince William campus, visitors will see the architecturally stunning facility’s nine-story copper-covered exterior rising in the sky. The interior, where local, national and international groups perform, is just as striking to explore.
The attractions and historic towns in Prince William and Manassas also host dozens of events and festivals that groups can plan trips around year-round. Discover the nation’s rich railway history at the Manassas Railway Festival, watch planes zip and spin through the air at the annual Manassas Airshow or step aboard an old military tank at the Americans in Wartime Museum’s annual open house. For a complete list of events, visit www.discoverpwm.com
Planning your trip to Prince William & Manassas
Prince William and Manassas are great hubs for groups looking to make day trips to Washington, D.C., Williamsburg, Shenandoah and other places across the Commonwealth. The area is an affordable destination that is easily accessible by Interstates 95 and 66 or by Dulles International Airport. Most of the area’s attractions and 40-plus hotels can also accommodate motor coaches and large groups.
Make planning your trip a breeze by contacting the staff at Discover Prince William & Manassas, which offers group planners a variety of services.
The CVB staff can create personalized itineraries to align with the interests of any group, recommend dining options, connect visitors to local activities, arrange for step-on guides and assist with securing rates from local hotels and attractions. The staff can also coordinate with attractions to create unique experiences for groups that range from musket firing demonstrations to special culinary events, including farm to table meals and Civil War-era dinners.
Anyone planning a group tour should contact this one-stop shop and take advantage of the experienced tourism professionals. They are available to help year-round to ensure every group has a one-of-a kind experience when visiting and exploring Prince William and Manassas, VA.
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