Market Square and City Hall in Alexandria, Virginia

Things to do in  Virginia

Where the nation began

A trip around Virginia offers some of the most diverse experiences the United States has to offer. You can journey from the rugged mountain peaks of Shenandoah National Park to the glittering shores of Virginia Beach, then step back in time at the historic settlements of Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg before soaking up contemporary culture at Richmond’s forward-looking arts scene. This state is famously for lovers—but whether you’re a lover of history, nature, or wine, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Virginia.

Top 15 attractions in Virginia

Carytown

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Stretching nine blocks in the heart of Richmond, Carytown is a charming district for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Known as the “mile of style,” the area features more than 230 shops and restaurants, emphasizing independently owned boutiques, eclectic shops, and the historic Byrd Theater.More

Yorktown Battlefield

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Site of the American Revolutionary War’s decisive 1781 battle—where the British surrendered, leading to the war's conclusion—the Yorktown Battlefield is one of Virginia’s most important landmarks. Now part of the Colonial National Historical Park, the site features monuments, weaponry, and other historical and natural attractions.More

Governor's Palace

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One of the largest and grandest buildings in Colonial Williamsburg, the Governor’s Palace was the seat of royal authority in the colony. Between 1710 and 1776, the landmark housed seven royal governors and two elected governors (Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson). After burning down in 1781, it was restored to its former glory in 1934.More

First Landing State Park

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Located at the site where English settlers first landed in America, First Landing State Park is Virginia’s most-visited state park. A diverse ecosystem of beach, lagoon, marsh, maritime forest, and cypress swamp, it offers a wide range of activities for visitors, including hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating, and camping.More

Bruton Parish Episcopal Church

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Located in Colonial Williamsburg, Bruton Parish Episcopal Church is a National Historic Landmark. Visit to view the well-preserved example of colonial religious architecture and perhaps take in a concert at the active church. First built in 1674, the current structure dates back to 1715.More

USS Wisconsin

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Experience military and maritime history aboard the USS Wisconsin, one of the biggest battleships ever built. Having been through three wars, “Wisky” now serves as a floating museum docked next to the Nauticus Maritime Center in Norfolk.More

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

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Located in Yorktown, Virginia—the site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War—the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown dives into early US history. The two-part museum offers a sweeping, multimedia exhibition space with hundreds of artifacts, as well as an immersive living history area.More

Blenheim Vineyards

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Located along the Monticello Wine Trail in Virginia, Blenheim Vineyards is a family-owned operation dedicated to making high-quality wines that reflect the climate of the surrounding piedmont landscape. The winery’s two vineyard sites produce chardonnay, viognier, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and cabernet sauvignon varieties.More

Shenandoah National Park

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Nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is full of wildlife, natural beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The 105-mile (169-kilometer) scenic Skyline Drive cuts through the park, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails lead to stunning vistas, waterfalls, protected wilderness, and historic sites.More

Historic Jamestowne

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Explore the first English settlement in the United States at Historic Jamestowne, part of the Colonial National Historical Park. Located on Jamestown Island, the town was founded as James Fort in 1607. Learn about the ongoing excavation work and see the ruins and thousands of artifacts that have been unearthed so far.More

Alexandria Christ Church

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At Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, visitors can sit in the same pews that George Washington and Robert E. Lee once worshipped. Commenced in 1767, the church is a living testament to American history, as is the site's cemetery, which memorializes 34 Confederate prisoners of war who perished in prison camps during the Civil War.More

Public Hospital of 1773

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See the country’s first hospital devoted to the care of the mentally ill, and learn about the treatment of mental illness in early American history at the Public Hospital of 1773. The building is located in the Colonial Williamsburg living history area, and features exhibition cells, galleries, and artifacts.The hospital was first founded in 1773 and reopened as a museum in 1985. There are six exhibition cells on the first floor of the east wing, set up to show the types of treatments used over the years. Additional galleries and artifacts illustrate the history of the hospital and the practices of 18th and 19th century medicine. Guided tours offer additional insights.Entrance to the Public Hospital of 1773 is included as part of your Colonial Williamsburg ticket.Guided tours are held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9am and last for about an hour. The topics and displays of the museum may not be suitable for young children. The museum is wheelchair accessible.The museum is located south of Francis Street in Colonial Williamsburg. The shuttle bus stops just outside. There’s also an underground concourse that leads to the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.The Public Hospital Museum is open daily from morning until evening. Since it’s open later than many of the other attractions on the Colonial Williamsburg tour, it makes sense to save the museum for the end of the circuit.It's easy to visit the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, which includes the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, as it's located in the same building as the Public Hospital of 1773. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s holdings include more than 70,000 antiques and works of art, 15,000 architectural elements, and 20 million archaeological artifacts, including clothing, instruments, toys, furniture, and paintings.More
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Hunt Club Farm

Hunt Club Farm

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A family-friendly destination in Virginia Beach, the Hunt Club Farm offers agricultural-themed entertainment and activities, including pony rides and seasonal festivals. Take the kids to the petting zoo, then head to the farm market, where you can find handmade gifts, plants, and seasonal products.More
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University of Virginia

University of Virginia

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Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 to promote discussion, collaboration, and enlightenment through higher education. Today the UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered to be a “public Ivy,” on par with the Ivy League institutions, making it one of the top schools in the nation serving roughly 25,000 students.More

Water Country USA

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The largest waterpark in Virginia, Water Country USA is home to more than a dozen rides and attractions, from gravity-defying waterslides to wave pools and paddling areas for younger children. The Williamsburg-based park also offers a wide range of dining and shopping options and is a popular day-trip destination for families.More
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All about Virginia

When to visit

Virginia enjoys four distinct seasons, though the weather varies between the mountains and the coast. Generally, spring and fall are the best months to visit Virginia. Spring promises pleasant conditions before the humidity and crowds of summer arrive. Fall has similarly optimal climatic conditions with the bonus of gorgeous foliage in the western part of the state—be warned, however, that fall foliage attracts crowds, particularly around Shenandoah.

Getting around

Amtrak trains are handy for getting to and from Virginia—Richmond Staples Mill Road Station has connections to cities such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Savannah, and Miami—but traveling in your own vehicle is the best way to see the state. Except for the Amtrak Thruway shuttle bus service, which travels between Richmond, Charlottesville, and Virginia Beach, public transport is scarce outside of urban areas.

Traveler tips

Another reason to travel around Virginia by car is that you can explore thousands of miles of scenic byways. One of the most popular driving routes is Skyline Drive, which winds 105 miles (169 kilometers) through Shenandoah National Park to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which continues 469 miles (755 kilometers) through the Appalachian Mountains to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

Local Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EDT (UTC -5)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English
Attractions
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Tours
337
Reviews
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People Also Ask

Why do tourists go to Virginia?

Travelers flock to Virginia for its rich diversity of attractions, scenery, and experiences. The state offers a variety of outdoor adventures, from the mountains and rivers to the beaches; more than 300 wineries; great food, and some of the most important historical sites in the United States.

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What is Virginia best known for?

Virginia is best known for being “the birthplace of a nation,” as it’s home to the first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, which was established in 1607. Another nickname for the state is “Mother of Presidents” as eight Virginia-born men have been head of state, including four of the first five presidents.

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Which part of Virginia should I go to?

Where you decide to go in Virginia depends on what you want from your trip. To explore the outdoors, head for Natural Bridge and Shenandoah National Park. If you’re after history, make it Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, and Monticello. Families and sun seekers will enjoy the coastal attractions in Virginia Beach.

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What is a unique Virginia attraction?

The wild ponies of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are a top draw. Around 150 adult wild ponies live on the Virginia side of Assateague Island, which is split with Maryland. The best time to see them is during the summer roundup when saltwater cowboys swim them across a channel to neighboring Chincoteague Island: the first foal to reach the shore is named King or Queen Neptune.

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What types of food is Virginia known for?

Thanks to its long stretch of coastline, Virginia is known for its oysters and blue crabs. However, the cuisine is as diverse as the state itself and influenced by its long history. Southern–style barbecue is a typical dish, as is country ham and the hearty meat- and vegetable-based Brunswick stew.

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Why is Virginia known as “for lovers”?

Born more than 50 years ago, “Virginia is for lovers” is one of the world’s most enduring tourism slogans. The original concept was a series of ads, which included "Virginia is for beach lovers" or "Virginia is for mountain lovers.” However, the modifiers were dropped and the simple, catchy “Virginia is for lovers” stuck.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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