The wonderful state of Virginia was where English settlers established the first permanent colony in the New World. Today it makes a gorgeous place to explore and is steeped in tradition, history, and blessed with beautiful scenery. Some areas present a taste of Colonial and Revolutionary-era life and others offer endless scenic mountains, farmland, valleys, hills, and forests. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Virginia…
Shenandoah National Park – one of the most stunning places to explore in Virginia
The very beautiful Shenandoah National Park extends along the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. This park covers nearly 200,000 acres and gets well over one million visitors each and every year. It offers a variety of activities including hiking, waterfalls, camping, bicycling, and a beautiful skyline drive that is 105 miles long. Because of the mountains, the park offers serene, natural views for its visitors.
Campers have to abide by a “leave no trace” policy before they are allowed to camp there. This is one of the reasons why the park is so appealing to people, and why it continues to be a popular spot for both tourists and locals alike.
Richmond – the capital of Virginia and one of America’s oldest major cities
With a population of around 230,000 people, Richmond is the capital of Virginia and has one of the most extraordinary skylines in the country.
Filled with majestic churches, government buildings, museums, and statues, it’s a great place to be if you love history or the Old South. Patrick Henry’s “give me liberty or give me death” speech was given in the city in 1775 and it sits right on the James River, which gives it a beauty and ambiance that you don’t see in every city. Richmond is both historic and beautiful, and it is certainly a city you will never forget.
Virginia Beach – one of the most loved and best places to visit in Virginia
Virginia Beach is on the southeastern coast of Virginia and is an independent city of roughly 450,000 people. Located on the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, it is a resort city that consists of lots of hotels, restaurants, universities, businesses, military bases, and, of course, beach areas.
The beach sets the record as the longest pleasure beach in the world, so it is not only beautiful but very large as well. For people who love water, sand, and historic places, or who are looking for the perfect city to locate the headquarters for their business, Virginia Beach is definitely a city to consider.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon – one of Virginia’s most well known historic attractions
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Virginia, this former home of George and Martha Washington sits on the banks of the Potomac River and offers extraordinary views of the water and surrounding land.
The home itself was George Washington’s home until his death in 1799 and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1960. Located in Fairfax County, the home sits on 500 acres and gives people a glimpse into how the Washingtons lived while they resided there. Best of all, it has been kept up very well and therefore looks as exquisite as it did in the 18th century.
Charlottesville – an important historic city in Virginia
Located in Albemarle County, Charlottesville is a city of around 47,000 people and is the former home of two U.S. presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.
It is the home of the University of Virginia and several regal-looking attractions, including the historic First United Methodist Church, theaters, museums, pavilions, and more, which are the sites of hundreds of activities for people to enjoy in any given year. There is also a commercial area called The Corner, which houses numerous university buildings, including eateries, bars, and stores that sell university-related merchandise.
Skyline Drive – a scenic byway that stretches along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile-long drive that is part of Shenandoah National Park. It consists mostly of a two-lane highway and has a total of 75 beautiful overlooks, providing people with a gorgeous and relaxing way to get out of the car and stretch their legs for a minute.
It runs through a total of eight different counties; along the way, you’ll see bicyclists and pedestrians as well as black bears, deer, turkey, and numerous other wildlife. In fact, it’s recommended that you pay close attention to your surroundings as you visit this drive because there is certainly a lot to see.
Williamsburg – a significant that played an important role in the American Revolution
Located near William and Mary College, Williamsburg is a gorgeous city that is the perfect place to be if you love American history. The historic area of the city, known as Colonial Williamsburg, has shops and stores that look and operate much as they did hundreds of years ago, giving people a glimpse into 17th and 18th-century life.
The town itself only has around 15,000 people, but the area gets four million visitors every year. Colonial Williamsburg is so authentic that it’s easy to feel as if you’re back in that time period, making it a city that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge – a popular Virginia beauty spot
Located mostly in Virginia and partly in Maryland, this wildlife reserve covers more than 14,000 acres and is home to numerous plants and wildlife. The Chincoteague pony is one of these animals, and these ponies are some of the most popular animals for tourists and locals alike.
It has been the location of numerous shipwrecks, and there is even an old lighthouse for those who love these types of structures. While you cannot go camping or skateboarding there, you are allowed activities such as bicycling, swimming, and riding mopeds and motorized scooters.
Sandbridge Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in Virginia
Sandbridge Beach is part of Virginia Beach and encompasses nearly five miles of the oceanfront area. Because it is a remote location, the beach is usually not as crowded as many other beaches but it still offers visitors a beautiful area to swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the great outdoors.
There are houses and condos that can be rented but no commercial hotels, which is one of the things that people love about it. At the north end of the beach, there is a popular market, and there is also a city park and pier to give people a chance to enjoy the area even more.
Old Town Alexandria – one of the best places to visit in Virginia
Alexandria is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and the section known as Old Town consists of restaurants, fancy boutiques, antique shops, nice theaters, and so much more.
The town itself has around 150,000 people and things to do there include festivals, parades, national landmarks such as the Masonic Temple named after George Washington, parks, and a whole lot more. The area attracts both young people and professionals, and once you visit it, it will become clear that this town is so much more than just an extension of the Capitol city.
Great Falls Park – a small and pretty National Park Service site in Virginia
Great Falls Park is a National Park Service (NPS) facility in Great Falls, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. It is situated on 800 acres of land along the banks of the Potomac River and is open only during daytime hours, in part because the waters tend to be pretty rough and they want people to be safe.
The waterfalls are nothing short of spectacular, and if you want to kayak over them, you need to be an experienced kayaker. There is a picnic area there but no camping sites, and there is no alcohol allowed.
Monticello – the former home of Thomas Jefferson
Monticello is the former home and plantation of President Thomas Jefferson. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1966 and was originally 5000 acres. The grounds include ponds, gardens, former slave facilities, and lots of other outbuildings.
Both lovers of history and people who love architecture will enjoy Monticello, especially the famous dome room, which is now painted yellow and looks a lot like it did when Jefferson lived there. Jefferson was actually buried on the site, and interestingly enough, the plaque near his grave doesn’t mention that he was once the U.S. president.
Luray Caverns – the largest caverns in the eastern United States
Discovered in 1878, Luray Caverns consists of stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone, columns, mudflows, and mirrored pools. Its main attraction is the Great Stalacpipe Organ. It is a lithophone made out of strikers that tap various stalactites and produce delightful sounds similar to bells or the xylophone.
The caverns truly are a work of nature, and you’ll get to view some amazing sites while you’re underground. Today, it is easier to see everything that is a part of the caverns, thanks to the lighting. Nearby are the hedge maze, rope course, a walking trail, and a total of three museums.
Smith Mountain Lake – a popular Virginia vacation spot
Located near Roanoke, Smith Mountain Lake is a large reservoir that has been there since 1963. The lake is extremely popular these days, especially for people who love to go boating, swimming, wakeboarding, sailing, and water skiing. The nearby state park opened in 1983, making this area a great place for families to spend the day and enjoy themselves.
There is also a total of four golf courses nearby for people who enjoy golfing. If you love the outdoors and wish to enjoy a variety of fun activities, this is the place to be.
Jamestown – an important historic site in east Virginia
This is an important historic must-see attraction to visit in Virginia. It was actually where the first settlers came from England in the 1610s and built the first permanent homes.
The site is open to the public and is home to the remains of 18th-century Ambler Mansion, historic artifacts from the region’s settlers, and an Archaearium archaeology museum. Also, make sure you visit the Jamestown Settlement living-history museum which has replicas of a 1610s fort and a Powhatan Indian village.
Natural Bridge State Park – the newest state park in Virginia
As the only state park housed on privately owned land, Natural Bridge State Park has only been in this location since 2016 but is gaining in popularity with each passing year.
While the natural bridge is what most people come to see, there are other attractions as well, including waterfalls, a replica of a Native American home, and a light show that plays nightly. Herman Melville even alluded to the bridge in his book Moby Dick. The bridge itself is 215 feet high and has a span of 90 feet.