A thrilling fusion of inspirational scenery and fascinating history, Virginia packs in sweeping beaches, forested mountains, exceptional wine and stories aplenty. As one of the founding grounds of the USA – and one of the original 13 British colonies that made up the fledgling country – Virginia is closely tied to America’s past.
From tales of swashbuckling pirates to fierce Civil War battles, history is everywhere in Virginia. The state claims the most Civil War battlefields of any state and the places where both the Revolution and the Civil War ended. It boasts the USA’s birthplace at Jamestown, where the first English colony set up shop in 1607. Then there’s colonial Williamsburg where the quest for independence from Britain kicked off and where you can dive head-on into the revolutionary life with uncannily authentic townspeople. Don’t forget Yorktown, where the American Revolutionary War ended.
History and romance go hand in hand in Virginia, where rolling hills and sunny beaches give way to charming towns and boardwalks along with the polished manors of presidents and memorial sites. What’s more romantic than enjoying a glass of wine and noshing on some of the state’s excellent oysters from the Virginia Oyster Trail while watching the sunset on a picnic in Shenandoah National Park? Home to more than 280 wineries, making it the fifth largest wine-producing state, Virginia’s wine heritage is well-earned: The colonists were the first to make it here. Not surprisingly, farmers markets and a vibrant farm-to-table scene also have sprung up everywhere, making for unbeatable dining and nightlife.
Virginia also offers 28 miles of glorious sandy beaches. At Norfolk, you can dive into maritime history, tour the world’s largest naval base and sample fresh-from-the-Chesapeake oysters.
Take a road trip on the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway, which curls 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountains from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Scenic hiking trails, cascading waterfalls and stellar views will lure you out off the car at every turn.
Must See Places in Virginia
Few places can recreate a setting for the period of the American Revolution as well as Williamsburg, where the original 18th-century buildings are either still standing or have been faithfully reproduced on their original foundations. Here, you can stand where Patrick Henry gave his stirring speech, walk the same streets as Thomas Jefferson, and savor crab cakes where George Washington enjoyed seafood dinners.
Named for the wide expanse of golden sand that stretches from just east of Norfolk, Virginia Beach is a very popular and often crowded resort town with the expected hotels, amusements, and a long boardwalk.
Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive
In the centre of Virginia, Shenandoah National Park protects portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which range in height between 2,000 and 4,000 feet. Along their crest and running the length of the park is the Skyline Drive, the northern continuation of the Blue Ridge Parkway, with stopping points to enjoy the views and attractions, including President Hoover’s summer residence and the old Cave Cemetery below Dark Hollow Falls.
Arlington National Cemetery
Spread across 600 acres overlooking Washington, D.C., Arlington National Cemetery is where some of the most famous people in the United States are buried. The most visited are the grave of President John F. Kennedy and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Chincoteague and Assateague Islands
Assateague is a 38-mile-long barrier island to the east of Chincoteague Island, which it protects from the Atlantic Ocean. The entire island of Assateague, which is part in Maryland and part in Virginia, is protected as a wildlife sanctuary. The southern end of Chincoteague is protected by a National Wildlife Refuge with 14,000 acres of shoreline, fresh and saltwater marshes, wetlands, and forest habitat for more than 320 species of shorebirds and waterfowl. But the two islands’ most famous residents are the wild ponies. Partly because of these ponies and partly because Assateague Island is lined by one of the most beautiful beaches on the entire Atlantic Coast, these islands get about one-and-a-half million visitors each year. Along with watching the wild ponies, you can swim, walk nature trails, take wildlife tours by boat or bus, watch birds, visit the famous lighthouse, kayak, go fishing or crabbing, and collect seashells.