Continued from page 2

Even in Charlottesville, there are good buys to be had, said Ms. Magerfield, who has been in the real estate business for 25 years. Rutledge, inside the city limits, offers homes in the $300,000-to-$500,000 range. Just a bit farther out are places such as Northfields, with larger lots, where a three-bedroom, three-bath house on .87 acres is on the market for $229,900. Nearby Carrsbrook has a four-bedroom, three-bath home on 1.75 acres for $329,900. West Leigh, while more expensive, also offers fine properties on larger lots.

Crossing the line into West Virginia, Berkeley Springs provides a real small-town feel, with an active downtown filled with shops, galleries and a cultural center.

“Many small towns, especially in West Virginia, there is nothing there,” said Connie Perry, who started her one-woman real estate agency back in 1973. “We’ve become a real destination spot.”

Then there are the mineral springs, whose healing waters brought any number of notables to the town over the years, including George Washington, who camped there when he was 16 and working as a surveyor for Thomas, Lord Fairfax. Later, he built a cottage at the springs.

The state maintains the springs as a historic site, and you can book a bath and stroll the grounds.

The town is smaller now than it was during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and that’s part of the attraction. Now, when you go to one of the free Saturday concerts in the park, it is fairly likely you will see several people you know.

And thanks to the housing market, there are plenty of bargains to be had.

“You can get a cottage on the river for $150,000,” Ms. Perry said. “Before the slowdown, that would have gone for $230,000.

But Ms. Perry prefers to look on the bright side.

“We’ve been lucky in a lot of ways,” she said. “We haven’t had a lot of businesses closing, and that’s kind of a miracle.”

So forget about those long waits at the airport or the heavy traffic. You can have a great vacation getaway home just a short ride — but a world away — from Washington.