We spent one night at the Hampton Inn North, just a quick drive from downtown. We really enjoyed walking the pedestrian area there, and walking around the nearby blocks looking at the old homes and buildings, like that amazing library. Even with the drizzle it was nice to see.
Then on to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley which was better than expected. A great little museum with a friendly and informative staff (or maybe mostly volunteers). The historic house is closed, but we spent about 2 hours just in the museum, including a delicious lunch. The gardens were wet and not much in bloom yet, so that didn't take long. But be sure to check in at the amazing model of the house that is over there.
All in all it was a fine brief vacation from the city. I just wish the weather had been a bit better. Next time we will go when the gardens are up and blooming.Edited: 10:45 am, March 29, 2012