Looking for the best things to do in Virginia? Virginia is a magnet for history buffs and explorers. It’s a place filled with old-time settlements, battlegrounds from the Civil War, and homes of former presidents (since eight of them hailed from here!). In the cities, you’ll be taken by the charming architecture and old-fashioned cobblestone streets.
If you’re more into modern stuff, you won’t be disappointed – there are plenty of great eats, stylish museums, and lots of shopping. Virginia, often called the Old Dominion, is famous for being the birthplace of many presidents. If you’re thinking of visiting this “Mother of Presidents” and one of the most stunning spots in the US, you’ll probably want to know the best vacation spots.
Figuring out what to see and do can be a bit much, so we’ve compiled a list of many fun things to do and places to visit in Virginia. From its historical sites to its artsy attractions, there’s a lot to adore about Virginia. Whether you’re coming to relax on the sandy Virginia Beach or go on an awesome road trip, you’ll definitely have a blast in this unique state!
With amazing places like Shenandoah National Park, the Great Dismal Swamp, and Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s clear why outdoor enthusiasts love Virginia. And if history is your thing, you’ll have a blast wandering through the charming streets of Colonial Williamsburg and Old Town Alexandria. Don’t forget to check out Virginia’s many spots related to the Civil War and Revolutionary War.
With top-notch museums, family-friendly theme parks, and lively yearly festivals, there’s something for every kind of traveler. And when hunger strikes, Virginia’s got you covered with its fantastic seafood joints and fresh-from-the-farm meals. Add in local wineries, craft breweries, and cider places, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a carefree escape!
With so much to see, do, and eat, it might be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Virginia. Stick to these cool and unique recommendations, and you’re guaranteed to have an awesome time exploring this fantastic East Coast state!
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Here are the 30 best things to do in Virginia:
1. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
One of the best and top things to do in Virginia is to explore the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VFMA), renowned for its exceptional quality and status as one of the state’s premier museums. Dating back to the early 1900s, the state acquired numerous art-related gifts, including contributions from notable figures like Judge John Barton Payne, all of which were made accessible to the public upon the VFMA’s opening in 1936.
Initially a substantial structure, the museum gained further acclaim for housing renowned masterpieces by artists like Picasso and a diverse array of global artworks. In 2010, a significant expansion project propelled the VFMA’s size to an impressive 545,000 square feet. Inside the museum’s various galleries, visitors can explore diverse collections spanning genres such as American art, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco from Lewis.
Additionally, you can explore the Lora Robins Sculpture Garden, or pay a visit to the Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library. For dining options, the VFMA offers two establishments, and there are relaxing outdoor spaces to unwind as well.
Address: 200 N Arthur Ashe Blvd, Richmond, VA 23220, United States
2. Virginia Beach
No visit to Virginia would be complete without a trip to Virginia Beach. Spanning 14 miles, this destination boasts three distinct beaches that offer an abundance of sand, surf, and a bustling boardwalk. Whether you prefer quieter spots or being amidst the lively crowd, you’ll find your place. Even if sandy shores aren’t your preference, the expansive boardwalk caters to fun activities such as cycling, skating, and leisurely walks.
It’s adorned with numerous shops, statues, and dining options to explore. However, Virginia Beach encompasses more than just its shoreline. As a coastal resort city, it presents a wealth of exciting attractions, including boat tours, water sports, amusement rides, golf courses, and a vibrant nightlife. While a visit to the beach is undoubtedly one of the top experiences in Virginia, remember to also immerse yourself in the city’s other offerings during your stay!
Address: Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States
3. The Natural Bridge of Virginia
One of the best things to do in Virginia is to explore the Natural Bridge of Virginia, an immense limestone arch formed through millennia of Cedar Creek’s flow. This awe-inspiring natural wonder ranks among the state’s most captivating tourist attractions. Its inherent natural beauty enhances its global significance, holding the title of North America’s largest land-based natural bridge, stretching 215 feet in length.
In 1750, a young George Washington visited the site and left his initials carved into the bridge. Later, in 1774, Thomas Jefferson acquired a substantial portion of land, which included the Natural Bridge, from King George III. Before falling under colonial control, the bridge held sacred value to the Monocans, a local tribe.
Since 2016, the Natural Bridge operates as its own State Park. On select evenings, visitors can enjoy “The Drama of Creation,” a long-standing light show that began in 1920 and stands as America’s oldest continuous light show. Themed around biblical events, it might be unconventional but certainly adds a unique experience to your itinerary when seeking the best sights in Virginia!
Address: 6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA 24578, United States
4. Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
Exploring the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center presents a unique opportunity to journey around the world without leaving the state. With an astonishing variety of over 700 distinct animal species, this expansive facility houses a remarkable total of more than 12,000 individual creatures representing diverse categories. These captivating inhabitants thrive in various habitats within exhibits totaling a remarkable 800,000 gallons!
Among the notable attractions is the Bay and Ocean Pavilion, providing insights into the state’s bodies of water and their interconnected journeys. The venue offers an array of other enticing features including the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium, which highlights indigenous animals of that area, the Chesapeake Light Tower Aquarium, the Marsh Pavilion, the Red Sea, the Indonesian Flores Island, the immersive Restless Planet exhibit, and the Malaysian Peat Swamp, among others.
A visit to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center promises exciting family-friendly activities. Amidst this engaging locale, you’ll discover a sprawling half-acre aviary, an outdoor nature trail that unveils even more fascinating creatures, rare sea turtle feedings to observe, and for a small fee, the chance to swim alongside seals. Truly, this spot ranks among the most enjoyable experiences when seeking the best things to do in Virginia!
Address: 717 General Booth Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451, United States
5. Luray Caverns
Ranked among Virginia’s most breathtaking destinations, the Luray Caverns captivate with their stunning allure. Discovered by four Luray residents in 1878, these caverns have evolved into America’s largest commercial cave system. A designated National Natural Landmark, the Luray Caverns lie 164 feet beneath the surface, boasting immense proportions and captivating formations that deem it a must-see during any Virginia visit.
Nature’s wonders flourish within the Luray Caverns, adorned with mesmerizing features like flowstones, draperies, stalagmites, stalactites, and reflective pools. The cavern maintains a consistent temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Amidst the myriad experiences within the Luray Caverns, one standout feature beckons your attention: the Great Stalacpipe Organ.
As the world’s largest all-natural musical instrument, this stone-made lithophone produces xylophone-like tones when struck. Embarking on a tour through the extensive cave system entails a 1.5-mile journey lasting around 45 to 60 minutes. Among the notable stops is the expansive Great Cavern, so huge that it has even hosted weddings. Little wonder it remains a prime contender among the finest places to explore in Virginia!
Address: 101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA 22835, United States
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6. Frontier Culture Museum
One of the best things to do in Virginia is to visit the Frontier Culture Museum. This intriguing and historically rich spot offers an outdoor adventure where you can explore the early life of various continents and regions as you stroll around. The exhibits provide a captivating insight into the culture of the American frontier, highlighting contributions from indigenous peoples, as well as Africans and Europeans, including Germany and England.
Essentially, the museum is a living narrative that beautifully recounts the stories of those who came to America, their lives, and the ensuing events. To add to the experience, the staff, dressed in period attire, further enhance the ambiance.
Address: 1290 Richmond Ave, Staunton, VA 24401, United States
7. Blue Ridge Parkway
When it comes to Virginia attractions, the Blue Ridge Parkway stands out as a premier destination, particularly for sightseers. Spanning an impressive 469 miles, this iconic road is recognized as America’s longest linear park and serves as a link between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park.
Nestled within the Appalachian Mountain chain, the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases the captivating beauty of the Appalachians, making it a must-see during your time in Virginia. Enveloped by serene forests and verdant trees, the route treats you to breathtaking vistas and an abundance of flora. This place caters to all preferences, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Embark on the Humpback Ridge trail, where you’ll encounter authentic, historic Appalachian farm buildings. If hiking is your passion, the trails leading up Roanoke and Onion mountains offer visually rewarding experiences. For awe-inspiring views, an ascent of Raven’s Roost is a must. And if recreational activities are your focus, Sherando Lake provides opportunities for camping, swimming, picnicking, and unwinding.
Explore the best things to do in Virginia by including Yorktown as one of the key historical cities within the historical triangle of the state. This charming destination ranks among the top 10 places to visit in Virginia, offering a variety of enjoyable experiences for visitors. From cycling along the TransAmerica Trail to strolling and savoring delicious meals on the Riverwalk, there’s no shortage of exciting activities.
Immerse yourself in history by exploring museums, wandering through historic homes such as the Moore House and Nelson House, and delving into the rich history of the state. The town’s architecture, mostly dating back to the 18th century, sets the scene for its significance as the site of Lord Cornwallis’ surrender to French and American forces—a pivotal moment that propelled the nation closer to its aspirations of independence.
9. Historic Jamestowne
In the historical triangle of Virginia, Yorktown stands as one of three significant cities. Historic Jamestowne, another pivotal location, holds its own place in history. Unlike the original Jamestown founded centuries earlier, the Jamestown Settlement came to life in 1957, marking a gap of 350 years. This site has since blossomed into a hub of galleries and museums that skillfully depict the history of English colonization in the New World, offering an immersive experience.
Within the enchanting realm of Historic Jamestowne, notable attractions include the 1922 statue of Pocahontas, crafted by William O Partridge, a meticulously reconstructed triangular fort resembling its original form from the colonial era, and sites that proudly display cultural heritage.
The archaearium museum houses over 4,000 artifacts, the majority of which were uncovered from James Fort over a span of two decades. Some of these treasures lay buried for more than four centuries, lending an authentic sensation that transports visitors back to the 17th century.
Address: 1368 Colonial Pkwy, Jamestown, VA 23081, United States
10. South Boundary Stone
Discover one of the best things to do in Virginia by exploring its rich history. Did you know that Virginia is home to the first federal monument in America? Known as the South Boundary Stone, this historic monument was laid by Benjamin Banneker in 1791 as part of the project to plan and survey Washington, DC’s creation. The South Boundary Stone, situated at Jones Point Park, served to outline the newly formed District of Columbia. You can easily locate it by following the marked trail from Jones Point Lighthouses.
The stone, now protected under glass and bronze, rests near the Potomac River fence and the lighthouse steps. While the South Boundary Stone itself is a fascinating piece of history, the area also boasts other boundary stones, including a USGS marker. With 40 boundary stones originally used in the plotting of Washington, DC, the surviving ones provide a captivating glimpse into the past. Plan a visit to this intriguing piece of history and make the most of your weekend in Virginia!
Address: Jones Point Park, Alexandria, VA 22314, United States
From wandering through the charming streets of Annapolis and delving into the maritime heritage of Chesapeake Bay to discovering the artistic treasures of Baltimore’s museums and enjoying the serene beauty of Maryland’s parks and nature trails, there is an abundance of diverse and captivating experiences that encompass the best things to do in Maryland.
11. Busch Gardens
Experience the allure of Busch Gardens, one of Virginia’s renowned attractions, boasting a captivating southern German theme. The immersive European ambiance transports you to a distant realm, evoking a sense of being worlds away from the United States. This destination serves as a remarkable theme park suitable for all age groups.
From children’s activities to exhilarating roller coasters featuring 74-foot drops and numerous hills, there’s something for everyone. The rides are intricately designed around European stereotypes and iconic landmarks, encompassing names like the Loch Ness Monster and the Alps. Busch Gardens shines with its exceptional offerings, including live entertainment, Bavarian bands, and dancers adorned in traditional dirndls.
Notably, the park’s highlights encompass the end-of-summer Bier Fest, showcasing over 200 varieties of craft beer for sampling. As autumn sets in, the gardens transform with festive Halloween events catering to children, accompanied by eerie decorations that add to the ambiance.
Address: 1 Busch Gardens Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23185, United States
12. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
Exploring the best things to do in Virginia, a must-visit is Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville. This renowned site provides a unique insight into the life of the US’ 3rd President, featuring his personally designed Palladian-style mansion and sprawling plantation. Regarded as one of the most frequented residences in the entire country, not just within Virginia, the Monticello’s allure is well-founded.
Drawing inspiration from an Italian villa, the home boasts captivating architecture, Jefferson’s own inventions, a discovery room, an interactive media center, exhibitions, and the cherished historical gardens, all envisioned by the former President himself. Delve deeper into Monticello’s story by exploring the visitor’s center, where additional details about the site and its ongoing exhibits are available.
Enhance your experience with guided tours that reveal insights into the grounds, gardens, and the complex history of slavery associated with this place. Before you leave, make sure to visit the museum shop for souvenir shopping. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello undeniably stands as one of the paramount attractions in Virginia.
Address: 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902, United States
13. Military Aviation Museum
Among the numerous aviation-centric museums scattered across America, including Virginia, lies the Military Aviation Museum – a notable destination for enthusiasts. This establishment is dedicated to showcasing military aircraft from World Wars I and II, boasting one of the globe’s largest private collections of historical planes.
These aircraft hail from diverse corners of the world, spanning Russia, Japan, Germany, and the UK. Through meticulous restorations and attentive maintenance, these planes have been brought back to life using authentic components or remarkable replicas. The result is an awe-inspiring hangar filled with captivating exhibits that appear ready to take flight at any given moment – a few are even capable of doing so!
During fall and spring air shows, certain planes participate in a remarkable aerial spectacle, accompanied by other engaging activities. It’s worth noting that this museum’s collection is consistently expanding, ensuring that each year’s visit offers fresh discoveries for returning patrons.
Address: 1341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457, United States
14. Norfolk Botanical Garden
Discover one of the paramount experiences among the best things to do in Virginia – the Norfolk Botanical Garden. This year-round haven stands as a premier attraction, boasting a myriad of thematic gardens thoughtfully scattered across its grounds, catering to a diverse range of interests and ages. Whether you’re visiting with family, friends, or solo, the garden promises an engaging outing.
Within the Barker Hall Visitor Center, an indoor exhibit showcases rotating art, painting, and photography displays throughout the year. Outside, you have the option to meander through the gardens on foot, enjoy evening bike rides, or simply relax on the numerous benches provided. If walking isn’t your preference, tram rides and even boat trips on Lake Whitehurst are available.
The garden’s offerings encompass a variety of landscapes, such as the enchanting rose garden, the arid beauty of the desert garden, the captivating butterfly area, the serene Annette Kagan Healing Garden, the engaging children’s garden, and the tranquil Japanese garden. All these treasures are spread across an extensive 12-mile walking expanse. Moreover, a designated picnic area and convenient vending machines ensure a comfortable and delightful visit.
Address: 6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA 23518, United States
15. Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
Ranked among the finest attractions in Virginia, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum emerges as a must-visit destination. Nestled in Shenandoah Valley’s Harrisonburg, specifically on the James Madison University campus, it stands out as one of the scarce dog-friendly spots in Virginia. This unique locale seamlessly combines the qualities of a botanical garden and an arboretum.
Encompassing an impressive 125 acres, the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum captivates with its lush Oak-Hickory forest, vibrant flowers, and diverse plant life. Within this expansive realm, visitors are treated to a leisurely stroll along paved pathways, immersing themselves in a refreshing rustic ambience. The grounds feature statues that beckon admiration, meticulously crafted seating areas that offer respite, and the charming opportunity to feed ducks.
Noteworthy sections include Fern Valley, where the tranquil New York fern thrives, and the April Walk Daffodil Garden, a haven for enthusiasts of these delightful blooms. Furthermore, a dedicated experimentation planting area hosts hybrid azaleas, an inviting herb garden, and a captivating wetlands garden, all adding to the multifaceted appeal of the arboretum.
Address: 780 University Blvd, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, United States
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16. Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas National Battlefield Park, a site steeped in history, emerges as a must-visit for aficionados of the past exploring the best things to see in Virginia. This park witnessed two pivotal clashes during the American Civil War, known as the First and Second Battles of Bull Run or the First and Second Battles of Manassas, occurring on July 21, 1861, and from August 28 to 30, 1862, respectively.
In this very expanse, General Thomas J. Jackson famously earned the moniker “Stonewall.” Immaculately preserved, the park’s historical significance is meticulously documented for visitors. Information is presented in an easily digestible manner, and guided ranger tours offer engaging insights while traversing the Bull Run battleground. An informative video presentation further enhances your understanding.
Beyond the battlefield, this Virginia haven offers a wealth of experiences. Explore hiking trails, delve into the museum to view artifacts left behind from the clashes, indulge in souvenir shopping at the gift shop, or simply enjoy birdwatching. Remarkably, over 160 bird species flock to the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Notably, the enduring Stone Bridge stands as a testament to history and was integral to the Union Army’s retreat in both conflicts.
Address: 6511 Sudley Rd, Manassas, VA 20109, United States
17. The Mariner’s Museum and Park
Experience one of the best things to do in Virginia by visiting the Mariner’s Museum and Park, an impressive maritime museum offering a diverse range of attractions. With its breathtaking park for sightseeing and the largest library of a nautical theme in the western hemisphere, this destination caters to a variety of interests. Established in the 1930s by Homer L. Ferguson and Archer Milton Huntington, the Mariner’s Museum and Park boasts a rich history.
The museum houses an extensive collection of over 32,000 artifacts, including items dating from the European age of exploration to the accomplishments of the US Navy. Among the highlights, you’ll find the renowned USS Monitor Center, which showcases the world’s most extensive conservation facility for marine archaeological metals in the Batten Conservation Complex.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Explorers Theater, where you can enjoy high-definition 3D movies featuring the ocean and underwater world. Additionally, make sure to explore the International Small Craft Center, which hosts a captivating collection of watercraft. All in all, the Mariner’s Museum and Park offers an unforgettable experience that ranks among the best things to do in Virginia.
Address: 100 Museum Dr, Newport News, VA 23606, United States
18. Assateague Island
Assateague Island, spanning a mere 37 miles in length, provides an ideal destination for a quick getaway, perfect for a weekend excursion. Remarkably, this island falls under the ownership of three distinct conservation agencies, as well as two different states. What sets it apart even more are the two herds of feral ponies that are annually rounded up to swim to Virginia—a captivating sight to behold.
Positioned along the eastern coast of the Delmarva Peninsula, Assateague Island has earned recognition as a National Natural Landmark. While devoid of human inhabitants, the feral ponies have flourished here for centuries, demonstrating remarkable self-sufficiency by quenching their thirst from freshwater ponds and sustaining themselves on the island’s grasses.
Interestingly, some speculate that these ponies may have evolved from horses that adapted to the environment over an extensive period, resulting in their smaller stature. The origins of these ponies remain shrouded in mystery. Some theories propose they descended from equines that escaped a shipwreck, with the historical account of La Galga, a Spanish galleon that met its demise nearby in 1750, serving as a plausible reference.
Nevertheless, the precise location of the shipwreck remains elusive, and speculation continues whether its remains are concealed beneath the sands of Assateague Island. While the island offers limited activities, its allure remains undiminished, making a visit a delightful and captivating experience.
19. George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Explore the best things to do in Virginia by visiting the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. While not the former president’s actual home, this spot in Virginia replicates the style of his upper-class residence, complete with fascinating period furnishings. Within the grounds, you can immerse yourself in history at the Memorial House and the Kitchen House, where reenactors in period attire offer a glimpse of old Virginia.
Stroll through the Colonial Herb and Flower Garden to discover plants from that era, or venture to the Colonial Living Farm to experience traditional farming methods and meet Red Devon oxen directly descended from Washington’s own livestock. Another highlight at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument is the Visitor’s Center, housing artifacts from the original home and a 15-minute film that delves into the Washington family’s story. Don’t miss the cemetery outside, which contains 32 graves belonging to Washington’s family.
Address: 1732 Popes Creek Rd, Colonial Beach, VA 22443, United States
20. Shenandoah National Park
Discover some of the best things to do in Virginia by exploring Shenandoah National Park, which encompasses the renowned Blue Ridge Mountains and Piedmont region. Established in the 1920s, the park is a true gem. The Shenandoah River meanders through the valleys, while the Skyline Drive, a 105-mile route with 75 lookout points, provides unparalleled views of this beloved natural Virginia attraction.
Immerse yourself in the park’s offerings with its 500 miles of hiking trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. As you traverse these paths, you’ll encounter enchanting waterfalls, picturesque vistas, and a diverse array of wildlife such as cougars, coyotes, black bears, beavers, and deer. More than 200 bird species, including Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice, grace the skies above. For your convenience, the park features restaurants, camping areas, and lodges dispersed throughout.
Address: 17157 Skyline Dr, Front Royal, VA 22630, United States
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21. Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park, a site under the National Park Service, stands as one of Virginia’s more compact tourist destinations with such recognition. Encompassing 800 acres, it is situated in the northern region of Fairfax County, nestled alongside the banks of the Potomac River. It’s in proximity to the remnants of America’s early canals, the Patowmack Canal. While not directly linked to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, it is still regarded as a part of this parkway.
Address: 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102, United States
22. George Washington Masonic National Memorial
Situated in Alexandria, Virginia, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial stands as a tribute to the nation’s inaugural president, created by Freemasons. Perched atop a hill, it gazes upon Old Town Alexandria, offering homage to George Washington’s legacy and Freemasonry’s role in American history, while also serving as an elegant venue for events and lodgings.
For those seeking a destination steeped in history, this location beckons. The tower, mirroring the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria, soars to 333 feet, encompassing nine stories that delve into a wide spectrum of pertinent subjects. While plans for the endeavor trace back to 1852, it wasn’t until 1909 that financial support began to amass, and construction didn’t commence until 1922.
Completed and dedicated in 1932, the memorial’s inauguration was so grand that the House of Representatives adjourned for the day. Crafted from pure granite, its architectural grandeur is striking. The interior’s halls were only fully finished by 1972. While the first and second floors are open to the public, housing meeting spaces and halls, hourly tours allow exploration of other levels, promising an engaging experience.
Among these tours, you can ascend to the fourth floor, home to the George Washington Museum, proceed to the fifth floor featuring a replica of the Ark of the Covenant, explore the Memorial Library on the sixth floor, encounter the Temple of Solomon on the seventh floor, and marvel at a recreation of King Solomon’s throne room on the ninth floor.
Address: 101 Callahan Dr, Alexandria, VA 22301, United States
23. Edgar Allan Poe Museum
For those seeking the best things to do in Virginia, a visit to the Edgar Allan Poe Museum is an absolute necessity if you have a fondness for Edgar Allan Poe and his literary creations. Devotees of literature will find joy in the homage paid to the eerie and gothic writer, as well as his literary contributions and life story.
Despite his affinity for gambling and drinking, which cast a shadow on his reputation, this establishment stands as one of the few that honors him fully, since the city of Richmond held back from doing so. Within the museum, letters, artifacts, mementos, and manuscripts linked to Poe immerse visitors in his world. However, the treasures within its walls extend beyond literature; items such as Poe’s lock of hair, walking stick, and even his socks are on display.
Additionally, a meticulously crafted scale model of Poe’s era Richmond offers a glimpse into his historical surroundings. With the largest collection of Poe-related items worldwide, the museum’s offerings are captivating. And for an extra touch of delight, cat enthusiasts will be charmed by the presence of Edgar and Pluto, two resident black cats that grace the property, adding to the allure of this intriguing Virginia destination.
Address: 1914 E Main St, Richmond, VA 23223, United States
24. Mount Vernon
For those in search of historical gems, Mount Vernon is an essential destination in Virginia. It stands as a testament to George Washington’s significant role in history and offers a captivating glimpse into the past. Washington called this place home for an impressive 45 years, during which he led a revolutionary army and supervised the home’s construction. Every facet, from interior design to the grounds, bore his influence and oversight.
This beloved landmark provides a remarkable opportunity to step into the world of the Washington family and their era. Upon entering, you’ll encounter heirlooms, crests, portraits, furniture, and more, meticulously recreated to mirror their 18th-century Virginia origins. The lush and meticulously tended gardens that surround the estate harken back to the days of its plantation history. Make sure not to miss the engaging programs and exhibits that pay tribute to the legacy of the first U.S. president.
Address: 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 22121, United States
25. Chrysler Museum of Art
Explore some of the best things to do in Virginia by visiting the Chrysler Museum of Art. Originally established as the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences in 1933, this renowned institution underwent a transformation in 1971 thanks to a generous contribution from Walter P. Chrysler Jr. and his wife. Their private art collection enriched the museum, which was subsequently rebranded. Today, the Chrysler Museum of Art stands as a prominent cultural gem in the southeastern United States.
Venture into this Virginia museum to encounter over 30,000 diverse artifacts spanning a wide array of historical eras, some reaching back 5,000 years. With an impressive collection encompassing American and European masterpieces, sculptures, and more, the museum beckons art enthusiasts to indulge in its treasures.
Marvel at the works of celebrated artists such as Salvator Rosa, Henri Matisse, and even the iconic Andy Warhol. Beyond its impressive exhibits, the Chrysler Museum of Art’s Glass Studio is a hub of creativity and engagement. Visitors can enjoy daily demonstrations, workshops, and classes, all aimed at fostering a deeper connection with art. Don’t miss the monthly third Thursday event, featuring captivating live performance art that adds an extra layer of excitement to your museum experience.
Address: 1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510, United States
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26. U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
Discover the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, often recognized as the Iwo Jima Memorial, an esteemed national monument that holds a place of significance not only within Virginia but on a global scale. This iconic attraction pays tribute to the valiant service of Marines since 1775 who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.
Conceived by architect Horace W. Peaslee and brought to life by sculptor Felix de Weldon, this memorial draws inspiration from a poignant image captured by combat photographer Joe Rosenthal. The photograph depicts six Marines raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Iwo Jima battle. A visit to this Virginia landmark offers an opportunity to honor the memory of those who have fallen in service or simply to immerse oneself in its profound historical resonance.
Address: Arlington Blvd. and Meade St, Arlington, VA 22211, United States
27. National Museum of the Marine Corps
Explore some of the best things to do in Virginia by including a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a remarkable institution that shares a similar mission to the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. Since its inauguration in 2006, this museum has become a prominent attraction within Virginia, drawing in countless visitors. With an annual footfall of over 500,000, it ranks among the most cherished tourist destinations in the state.
At the National Museum of the Marine Corps, you can immerse yourself in a captivating array of both permanent and rotating exhibits. While certain displays change periodically, others remain a constant fixture, such as the Making Marines, Legacy Walk, Defending A New Nation, World War I, World War II, Vietnam War, and Korean War exhibitions. Nestled within the expansive 135-acre Marine Corps Heritage Center, this museum plays a vital role in narrating the storied history of the Marine Corps, celebrating their unwavering valor and invaluable contributions.
Address: 18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Triangle, VA 22172, United States
28. Maymont Park
Experience one of the best things to do in Virginia by exploring Maymont Park, a former private estate that has been transformed into a sprawling 100-acre public park, standing as Richmond’s most frequented attraction. Once the Victorian estate of Major James H. Dooley and his wife Sallie Dooley, Maymont Park’s history took a new direction when they generously donated both the estate and its expansive grounds to the public.
Within the Virginia property, a plethora of activities await, catering to various interests from leisure to entertainment. Meandering through the landscape, you’ll encounter picturesque Japanese gardens and charming Italian gardens. The park boasts a nature center, an arboretum, and a museum housed within the stately Maymont Mansion.
Adding to the allure, there’s even a petite zoo that captures visitors’ attention. Maymont Park’s treasures extend beyond its gardens and wildlife, encompassing a captivating carriage collection, a children’s farm, wildlife exhibits, and a wealth of exquisite antiques gracefully adorning the entire estate.
Address: 1700 Hampton St, Richmond, VA 23220, United States
29. American Shakespeare Center
Seeking engaging activities during your time in Virginia? The American Shakespeare Center stands out as a prime destination, particularly appealing to literature enthusiasts. Esteemed as one of the globe’s most revered theater companies, it’s a definite must-visit. However, its journey to prominence wasn’t an immediate achievement. In its early days, the center was a modest troupe hailing from the Shenandoah Valley, touring wherever opportunities arose.
As years passed, their reputation burgeoned, eventually leading them to establish their home in the Blackfriars Playhouse. This intimate theater accommodates an audience of 300 and hosts a myriad of Shakespearean productions alongside other plays throughout the year. The playhouse itself is a meticulous replica of London’s Blackfriars Monastery, a theater conceived with Shakespeare’s involvement. Every detail, down to historical accuracy, is impeccably executed, offering a captivating experience.
Address: 10 S Market St, Staunton, VA 24401, United States
30. Colonial Williamsburg
Explore some of the best things to do in Virginia by visiting Colonial Williamsburg, the cornerstone of the historic triangle. Among Virginia’s top destinations, it stands out as one of the greatest places to immerse yourself in the history of both the state and the nation. Spanning 301 acres, this site vividly recreates the 18th century British capital, boasting meticulously restored buildings and a captivating collection of artifacts.
A must-see is the Governor’s Palace, a stately edifice that once housed post-colonial and Royal governors. Inside, a tour reveals the opulence of pre-Revolution mansions, showcasing elegant furnishings, weapon displays, a maze, and tiered gardens. Notably, the Grand Ballroom remains intact, a gem that architects and the curious will appreciate exploring.
Address: 101 Visitor Center Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23185, United States
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Virginia offers an irresistible blend of history, culture, and modern allure that beckons to both history enthusiasts and contemporary explorers. From the captivating echoes of its presidential legacy to the charm of cobblestone streets and modern delights, the “Old Dominion” is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re drawn to its outdoor wonders like Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway or enchanted by the stories whispered by Colonial Williamsburg and the historic streets of Alexandria, Virginia caters to every curiosity.
The state’s rich ambiance is woven with family-friendly attractions, delectable dining options, and a flourishing craft scene that promises a fulfilling escape. So, when looking for the best things to do in Virginia, let this curated list guide you through an unforgettable journey, ensuring that every moment you spend in this captivating East Coast haven is nothing short of remarkable.