A Trip to Virginia
What comes to mind when you think of the state of Virginia? Maybe the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads”? But that song is actually about Virginia’s neighboring state – West Virginia – and not about the state we would like to recommend to you today. We’re sure you’ll be captivated by the charming and historic state of Virginia!
Virginia – the most historic and scenic state of the US – is located in the east on the Atlantic coast. It borders on Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia, among others. In addition, Washington, D.C. – the capital of the US – is also one of Virginia’s neighboring states.
You will be amazed about what awaits you here! Do you like mountains, but also the sea? Are you interested in big cities, but you also like smaller towns? Then Virginia is the perfect place for you! Here, you don’t have to pick and choose. The state will fulfill all your wishes with its combination of breathtaking nature and exciting history.
Did you know that Virginia was named after Elizabeth I – the Virgin Queen? The state was among the first of America’s 13 colonies and is full of historically relevant events and places. After all, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were all written here. By the way, Virginia is also the birthplace of eight American presidents!
Check out the places you should visit in Virginia!
Mountains, Beaches, Forests – a Little of Everything
As we’ve already told you, Virginia has a lot to offer in terms of scenery. Everywhere you go, you’ll find impressive national parks that are sure to be a highlight on your trip. Not interested in forests? Then visit Virginia’s impressive mountain ranges or relax on one of Virginia’s picturesque beaches.
National Parks in Virginia
You’ll find many different national parks throughout Virginia. The most famous ones are Shenandoah National Park, Great Falls Park and Assateague and Chincoteague Island. A visit to any of these is definitely worthwhile. Here, you will find untouched nature, peaceful waterfalls and small idyllic oases.
Shenandoah National Park
In the east of Virginia lies the picturesque Shenandoah National Park. It encompasses the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Southern Appalachians and is an incredible 800 km2 in size. Impressive, isn’t it? There are several hiking trails through the park, allowing you to relax surrounded by nature.
The Overall Run Falls hiking trail is quite unique, as it leads you to one of the many waterfalls. If you’re taking a road trip, the famous Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway will guide you through nature.
Skyline Drive is 168 kilometers long and takes you to about 70 lookout points that allow you to take in the scenery. Along the way, keep an eye out for the many different animals that call this park their home. You might spot deer, wild turkeys or even black bears. Blue Ridge Parkway is a 755-km-long panoramic route along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Unforgettable views await you here as well. And your hiking boots will come in handy here, too. We highly recommend the Mountain Farm Trail at milepost 5.9 or White Rock Falls at milepost 20.0.
Great Falls National Park
Great Falls National Park is located along the Potomac River in McLean – 25 minutes away from D.C. – and is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. This national park will blow your mind with its many gorgeous viewing platforms, offering views you’ll never forget.
And by the way, if you like climbing, you have come to the right place! Hiking, mountain biking and fishing are also activities you can do here – it is simply the perfect place for outdoor activities.
Beaches in Virginia
In addition to pristine parks and magnificent mountain ranges, Virginia also boasts some beautiful beaches. Many of them are located on the East Coast, but some of them can also be found in the interior of the state. Besides the well-known and popular Virginia Beach, beaches like Sandbridge Beach, Assateague Beach and Cape Charles Beach are also great places to relax.
The coastal city of Virginia Beach is the state’s beach paradise. Long white stretches of invite you to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. You are free to try all kinds of water and beach activities: snorkeling, kayaking, building sandcastles, playing volleyball and so much more. The city offers you a wonderful backdrop with long promenades to ride your bike or visit great stores and charming restaurants.
Sandbridge Beach is also located in Virginia Beach. The beach is less crowded than the more popular beaches and serves as a nice retreat for you to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean. Come here to watch beautiful sunsets amidst the cozy sand dunes. Of course, kayaking and fishing are also possible activities at Sandbridge Beach.
Assateague Island is a 60-km-long island off the east coast of the US. It belongs to both Maryland and Virginia. There is an incredible idyllic atmosphere in this place, with long white beaches where you can truly relax. But the beach – as beautiful as it is – is not the only attraction worth seeing on Assateague Island! The wild horses living on the island are a true marvel. You are guaranteed to see some of them during your trip – from a safe distance, of course. Keep in mind that these are wild animals, so keep a distance of at least one bus length. Do not feed them either and remain calm at all times. That way, you and the horses can enjoy this place together.
History of Virginia
No place brings history to life quite like Colonial Williamsburg. It is the largest open-air museum in the world! Here, you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled 200 years back in time. All the buildings are built in the historical style of that time period. The clothes and activities in the city are like the ones you would have seen hundreds of years ago. We can hardly think of a more interesting way to learn about the US history.
In the presidents’ footsteps
As we have already told you, Virginia is the birthplace of eight American presidents. Hence, its nickname – Mother of Presidents. Here, you can follow in the footsteps of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson by visiting their homes. These places are of incredible historical importance, which will surely leave a lasting impression.
Mount Vernon, located near the eponymous town, was George Washington’s country estate. Today, you can book tours of the estate and explore the colonial building. It is quite a sight to behold!
Inside the house, there are the original items that belonged to Washington. A 4D theater will take you back in time to the American Revolution, and your own leadership skills will be put to the test in the interactive game “Be Washington”. Do you have what it takes to be the President of the United States? In addition to the historic building, there are four different gardens and farm animals to admire. Thomas Jefferson’s country estate, Monticello, is located near the city of Charlottesville. The estate is steeped in history and not only tells the story of the third president, but also of the people Jefferson kept as slaves. It’s an incredibly educational place that allows you to gain insight into the early days of America.
Other Activities in Virginia
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The most famous (non-historical) museum in Virginia is in Richmond: the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The permanent exhibition features more than 35,000 artifacts from more than 5,000 years of world history. The museum showcases exhibits from different countries and eras, meaning you will surely find something interesting to see! You can explore the museum on your own or sign up for a guided tour.
Naval Station Norfolk
Did you know that Virginia is home to the largest naval base in the world? Naval Station Norfolk – the naval base of the US Navy – is located here.
They even offer tours through the naval base! During the two-hour boat tour, you’ll learn all sorts of exciting facts and information about the Naval Station from your tour guides. And you’ll even get to see the US Navy fleets. When do you ever get the chance to do that? This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Make sure to book your tour well in advance because they are very popular.
Virginia is not only home to the navy, but also the CIA. Its headquarters are in McLean. Unfortunately, you can’t take a tour of the CIA building for obvious reasons. Even the museum is only accessible to Secret Service employees. But you can at least have a look at the building from a distance.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington is home to one of the 139 national cemeteries in the US. The second-largest cemetery in the States is separated from Washington, D.C. by the Potomac River and is adjacent to the Pentagon. Two American presidents are buried in this cemetery – John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft.
It is a very emotional and imposing place that will surely mesmerize you. The white gravestones create an impressive scenery that you have to experience first-hand. In the cemetery, there are several memorials dedicated to the fallen soldiers, sailors and the fallen who are still unidentified to this day. One special memorial is the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater. Memorial ceremonies are held there annually on Memorial and Veterans Day.
Virginia is worth a visit, especially for history fans and nature lovers! Here, you can experience the history of the USA up close and personal. In hardly any other state will you be able to immerse yourself in the past of the US like in Virginia.
However, history is not the only compelling aspect of this state, but the present is as well. Simply relax and enjoy the moment – be it in the mountains, in the countryside or by the sea. You will find your place in Virginia, no doubt about it! So, what are you waiting for?