With its location along the East Coast, it is no surprise that Virginia hosts multiple great beaches.
This state is also rich in history, and there are attractions in Virginia of tremendous historical significance, such as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and the Frontier Culture Museum.
The original colonists opened a few wineries, which today have grown to a total of 300 vineyards, making Virginia one of the largest wine-producing states.
Whatever the interest, there are things to do in Virginia that beckon visitors.
Bush Gardens embraces family entertainment and thrilling rides for adults and children, and it even provides personal guides and tours.
If you don't want to miss any of the top sites in Virginia, be sure to plan ahead to catch all of the historic, fun, or relaxing attractions.
Virginia is for everyone!
|Table of Contents [Show]|
Affiliate links may be used in this post. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you use my affiliate link.
One of the prime places to visit in Virginia is the beautiful Virginia Beach, which is lined with restaurants, hotels, live performers, and vendors.
People come here for all kinds of reasons. Surfers enjoy the great surf. It's a haven for those searching for retail therapy or those simply interested in a relaxing beach stroll.
There is nightly live entertainment during the summer. Visitors should not miss the bronze statue of Neptune on 31st Street. Neptune rules over the ocean here, and it's a great photo opportunity.
The three-mile boardwalk is made for jogging or rollerblading. It spans 2nd to 40th Street and has a bike path for safe biking. There are also many outdoor restaurants for dining with a view.
The Sandler Center provides visitors with impressive art displays. The building is enhanced by a large outdoor sculpture, Wings, which fits in beautifully with its natural surroundings as it suggests motion through wind and water.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Virginia Beach
Address: Virginia Beach, VA
Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Virginia Beach
A unique and exciting living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg is a place where the whole family can enjoy a combination of education, excitement, adventure and fun. This is a wonderful experience and a great place to visit and explore for all ages.
You can step back in time as you explore the Revolutionary City, where you can also enjoy a guided or self-guided tour.
If you love the arts, you will be thrilled with the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, where you will be able to feast your eyes on some excellent displays and exhibits.
You will find plenty of shopping facilities as well as restaurants here too, as well as relaxing spas and plenty of entertainment.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Williamsburg
Address: 310 S England St, Williamsburg, VA 23185
An important and historical military cemetery located in Virginia, Arlington National Cemetery spans more than 600 acres. You will find a huge number of notable graves located at this cemetery, from those of war veterans to those of presidents and their families.
You will also find the graves of literary and artistic figures, important scientific figures, explorers and medical pioneers, amongst others, when you visit Arlington Cemetery.
This is a cemetery with a long and rich history, so it is well worth taking a guided tour when you visit. Make sure you also pay a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial Amphitheater to make your visit all the more memorable.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Arlington
Address: 1 Memorial Drive, Arlington, Virginia, VA 22211
One of the exciting Virginia attractions is the Busch Gardens Theme Park, named the world's most beautiful theme park for the 29th consecutive year.
From thrill rides to kid rides to great entertainment, Busch Gardens delights one and all.
Brave adults love the Griffon, the tallest dive roller coaster in the world that drops 75 miles an hour, or the gravity-defying Tempesto.
The fierce Alpengeist has been named one of the top coasters in the world. Kids have their Sesame Street Forest of Fun.
All in all, there are over 100 attractions. A VIP tour can be purchased for $379. This includes a personal guide, reserved seating for shows, priority access, preferred parking, and meals and snacks.
Bush Gardens is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. Tickets for adults can be as low as $35, but there is a great deal of variance. An all-day ticket with dining can cost $159.98.
Address: 1 Busch Gardens Boulevard, Williamsburg, VA 23185
The Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County is one of the hot spot Virginia attractions and a fascinating natural sight to behold.
The bridge, which resembles something you might see in a fairytale or fantasy film, is the result of a geological formation and was carved out in the limestone mountain by Cedar Creek, which is part of the James River.
This natural arch towers at 215 feet in height and is 90 feet across. The bridge is both a Virginia Historical Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.
Home to caverns and the Natural Bridge State Park, the natural bridge is even included in the "Seven Natural Wonders of the World" recordings.
Rockbridge County is filled with boutiques for antique shopping and great dining at the Colonial Dining Room and the Red Fox Tavern. Much is happening here.
From March to December, the Natural Bride has a petting zoo with tours that include feeding baby furries.
Tickets to enter the Natural Bridge are $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children under the age of 12. The Bridge is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Natural Bridge
Address: 15 Appledore Ln, Natural Bridge, VA 24578
Follow the footsteps of the battles that helped define one of the most divisive moments in American History. The Manassas National Battlefield Park is the location of two major Civil War battles.
The first and second battle of Manassas in 1861 and 1862 respectively were both fought on this historic ground. There is so much history that occurred on this stretch of land that it only seems fitting we need tours to understand it all.
Ranger tours are available from landmark to landmark to explain and answer questions about a battle that shaped our history.
The entire park is open daily from sun up to sun down. However, there are a few important buildings and landmarks that follow slightly different schedules.
The Henry Hill Visitor Center where maps and guides are available, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. The Brawner Farm Interpretive Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. Stone House is only open to the public on weekends, and follows the hours of 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
All of this and more is available for the low low cost of free! That’s right, entrance into the Manassas National Battlefield Park is a $0 fee for all this fun.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Manassas
Address: 6511 Sudley Rd, Manassas, VA 20109
Also Read: Top 10 American Civil War Sites To Visit
One of the historical things to do in Virginia is to visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, America's third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence.
It can be difficult to appreciate his true genius while at the same time dealing with some of the contradictions in his life.
The main building at Monticello, with its Renaissance design, sits on top of a hill and is surrounded by gardens and slave quarters that were connected by underground tunnels. His grave is also on the property.
Thomas Jefferson was one of the men responsible for the free country of America. He was brilliant, but he was not perfect. He was a man of his time, and a stroll through Monticello may help clarify that.
It certainly points to his love of liberty – even if it should have been more strongly directed at slavery. The historical importance makes Monticello a must-see in Virginia.
Montecillo offers several tours at varying prices.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Charlottesville
Address: 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Also Read: Top 10 Most Famous Historic Homes in America
The Mount Vernon Estate is located by the Potomac River in Virginia and was once home to the first president of the United States, George Washington, and his wife Martha.
Today, the estate attracts huge numbers of tourists and visitors who head here to explore the mansion and surroundings as well as to learn more about its history and about the late, great Washington.
You will find plenty to explore when you visit Mount Vernon, including the iconic and stunning mansion, the beautifully landscaped gardens, and the tombs of the former president and his wife.
Visitors can also step back in time with a visit to the museum, where you can learn more about Washington and explore a wide variety of Mount Vernon artifacts and exhibits.
Accommodation: Where to stay near Mount Vernon
Address: 3200 Mount Vernon Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121
Also Read: Most Famous Historic Homes in America
Forming part of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Shenandoah National Park provides some wonderful views and scenery, including views of the Shenandoah River, the valley, lush greenery, and wilderness areas.
Driving through Shenandoah National Park's scenic Skyline Drive is one of the incredible things to do in Virginia. It runs through the whole length of the park and is now known as a National Scenic Byway.
There are 75 overlooks, wildlife, and a full vista of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The beauty of the drive lies in its springtime display of azaleas, black-eyed susans, and goldenrods, which bloom into the fall, at which time the fall foliage emerges in brilliant colors. It's an incredible show.
The speed limit is 35 miles per hour, allowing drivers and passengers to genuinely take in the entire view throughout the 105 miles. People also love to camp along Skyline Drive.
The drive should not be confused with the Blue Ridge Parkway – they are not the same.
Enjoying this fabulous drive is not free. It costs $30 per vehicle and $25 per motorcycle, and the ticket is good for six days from the date of purchase. Bike riders need to pay $15.
Accommodation: Where to stay near Shenandoah National Park
Address: Shenandoah National Park, VA
Everyone enjoys a lovely nature hike, but there are fewer opportunities for an enjoyable urban walk in our cities.
The Richmond Canal Walk is a delightful exception. One of the best things to do in Virginia is to take this walk along the James River as well as the Kanawha Canal and Haxall Canal.
The trail can be accessed between 5th Street and 17th Street. The entire walk is almost three miles and will take up to three hours.
At Tredegar Street, near the Robert E. Lee Bridge, hikers can see Black Bird Island and Belle Isle across the James River.
Here, kayaks and canoes can be launched during the summer. Continue to the Manchester Bridge to put you on the Canal Walk.
By 11th Street, hikers will encounter murals painted and re-painted over a former power plant as several dozen huge murals are turned into popular street art.
Simply continue a bit to reach the walk's viewing platform, which has a long-range view.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Richmond
Address: Canal Walk, Richmond, VA 23219
Virginia has many cave systems, but Luray Caverns is by far the most popular to visit.
Located in the Shenandoah Valley region of Luray, Virginia, VA explores discovered the caverns in 1878, and now it’s recognized as a National Natural Landmark.
Luray Caverns is the largest cave in the region. It hosts an abundance of columns and other interesting cave formations.
Visitors can explore the cave via hour-long tours from expert guides – the trail extends for 1.5 miles long, taking visitors through the various cavern rooms and points of interest in the cave.
The great Stalacpipe Organ is a unique feature that plays musical notes by tapping different stalactites. Other must-see features include Dream Lake and the Saracen’s Tent.
Over half a million visitors come to the cave attractions every year. It’s a developed site with a lighting system and accessibility for all guests. The site also has activities such as a rope course, a maze, and three museums.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Luray
Address: 101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA 22835
Chincoteague and Assateague Islands are a pair of islands off the coast of Virginia – Chincoteague is an island town with several attractions; Assateague is a barrier island best for outdoor recreation.
Explore the town of Chincoteague to find local restaurants, scenic beaches, golf courses, campgrounds, and other accommodations.
Assateague Island offers more of an island experience with beaches, kayaking, horseback riding, and backcountry areas for camping.
The island duo is a popular visitor destination, with many people opting to explore both. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a shared experience between the islands for seeing some of the local wildlife.
It’s famous for the wild horses that roam freely on the island. The islands host an annual Pony Swim, where you can watch the ponies swim between them.
The islands have excellent water conditions in the bay. Boating is a fun way to explore the marine area, and fishing is also permitted.
Address: Assateague Island, VA
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is the best place to visit in Virginia to learn about local marine life and see some exotic creatures from around the world.
The attraction first opened in 1986 in Virginia Beach and offers a variety of exhibitions and experiences for the entire family.
Virginia Aquarium is home to over 12,000 animals, with approximately 700 different species.
The freshwater and saltwater exhibitions showcase local marine life and themed exhibits representing ecosystems from the Red Sea, Coastal Sahara Desert, the Malaysian Swamp, and more.
Some of the favorite marine creatures to see at the aquarium are multiple shark species, sea turtles, stingrays, seahorses, and Komodo Dragons. Visitors can also take an outdoor boating tour to see dolphins.
The Marine Science Center provides interactive exhibitions for all ages, an aviary with lots of bird species, and a chance to see the behind-the-scenes feeding process for the animals.
Address: 717 General Booth Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the United States
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is an aviation museum near the Washington Dulles International Airport. It’s part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, with several exhibitions established at the location from previously stored exhibits.
Visit the museum to immerse into the aviation legacy of the US. Exhibits highlight some of the most iconic aircraft and spacecraft in the nation’s history. Some of the popular exhibits are the Space Shuttle Discovery, Gemini 7 space capsule, and Air France Concorde.
Hundreds of aircraft are housed in the large hangars as part of the exhibition space, ranging from military planes to space exploration to racing planes. The museum also includes various artifacts and documents.
Join over 1.5-million visitors every year who come to see the museum. You’ll get a chance to see the aircraft up close and even sit inside some of the exhibits with interactive features. The museum provides free guided or audio tours.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Chantilly
Address: 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly, VA 20151
Jamestown is the first permanent English settlement in the New World, preserved as part of the Jamestown National Historic Site – it’s recognized for its cultural and historical significance.
The entire Jamestown is included as part of the historic site, initially established in the early 1600s. It’s also an archeological site to rediscover the history of America.
Historic Jamestown is a popular attraction for visitors to get a glimpse into America’s past. You can walk amongst the former site of the James Fort and Old Jamestown, with many of the original buildings preserved. The attraction hopes to maintain its heritage and educate visitors.
Some of the must-see sights at the attraction include the Jamestown Church, the Governor Harvey House, Tercentory Monument, and the Pocahontas statue. You will also find a replica of the original settlement and ship models.
In addition to the sights, be sure to catch one of the colony re-enactment performances.
Address: 1368 Colonial Pkwy, Jamestown, VA 23081
For a glimpse of how the wealthy lived, visit Maymont Park, a former private residence, but now a public park. The park centers around the Maymont Mansion, the former home of a governor who turned the house over to the public after passing – it’s been developed with several other visitor attractions.
Maymont Park features the Maymont Mansion, a nature center, various gardens, wildlife exhibits, a Children’s farm, and arboretum.
The Maymont Mansion is a house museum, exhibiting various collections and preserved furnishings. Visitors can tour the inside of the house.
The rest of the attraction covers about 100-acres, filled with lush landscape and wildlife. Walkthrough the beautiful Japanese and Italian gardens for great views, unique flora, and to see the terrace waterfall.
The nature center is home to several animals, including black bears, bobcat, and American bison.
More than half-million visitors come every year to experience the attraction located in Richmond, Virginia.
Address: 1700 Hampton St, Richmond, VA 23220
Nauticus, or the National Maritime Center, is a science center and museum dedicated to displaying maritime exhibitions. It’s located in Norfolk, Virginia, along the Norfolk Harbor – it opened in 1994.
Nauticus is an entire campus to discover a variety of maritime attractions.
Climb aboard the USS Wisconsin to experience life on one of the Navy’s largest battleships ever built. You’ll get a chance to tour the main deck and learn about the legacy of the ship’s role in WWII.
The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center provides visitors with a great view of Elizabeth River or a cruise experience out on the water. There is also a newly built sailing center.
The museum features interactive exhibits for kids and adults. One of the favorite exhibits is the Shark Lab, where you can see three different shark species. It also includes a theater playing 3D maritime-themed films.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Norfolk
Address: 1 Waterside Dr, Norfolk, VA 23510
The centerpiece of Richmond’s museum district is the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or VMFA. The museum is one of North America’s largest art museums, opened in 1936. The best part is having free admission to the public, so add it to your itinerary when you visit Virginia.
VMFA had humble beginnings of just 50 paintings, but now holds a collection of tens of thousands of artworks – art includes paintings, sculptures, jewelry, artifacts, and more.
There are a variety of permanent exhibits showcased in the museum. Explore American art, African art, European art, Eat Asian art, or check out the famous Fabergé Eggs exhibit. The museum also has special exhibitions and temporary showcases.
VMFA has several facilities within it, and the most notable is the Leslie Creek Theatre. The theater hosts cultural performances where you can see live theater arts, dance showcases, and music concerts.
Guided tours are available or explore the museum on your own – you can easily spend a couple of hours inside it.
Address: 200 N Arthur Ashe Blvd, Richmond, VA 23220
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
The Military Aviation Museum is one of the top attractions in Virginia Beach. If you’re a lover of historical aircraft, it’s the perfect place to spend some time exploring the rare exhibits. It holds the most extensive collection of vintage military aircraft in the world.
You can see more than 70 aircraft from around the world, namely during the era of the World Wars. The museum’s unique aspect is that nearly all the planes are restored to a flying condition – it’s one of the museum’s primary goals.
Take a guided tour through the hangars to see the numerous planes on exhibit before they’re taken out for a flight.
Military Aviation Museum hosts airshows with the exhibited aircraft, taking them into the air to showcase them in action. Visitors can also take a ride in one of the open cockpit biplanes for an adrenaline-filled flight.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Virginia Beach
Address: 1341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457
Take a tour of the Virginia State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark, and the office building of the Virginia state government.
Located in Richmond, the state capitol building lets visitors explore inside the building and walk the Capitol Square grounds.
Virginia State Capitol was first built in 1788 and designed by Thomas Jefferson – it was rebuilt multiple times throughout its history.
Some of the building’s notable uses are the home of the Virginia General Assembly, the oldest elected legislative body in the country, and serving as the former Capitol of the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The capital offers free tours for all visitors – guided tours walk through the various building rooms, and experts tell stories about some of the things that occurred within its walls.
Be sure to check out the surrounding campus to see monuments and statues of notable figures in American history.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Richmond
Address: 9th & Grace Sts, Richmond, VA 23219
Frontier Culture Museum is the largest living history museum and a family favorite in Shenandoah Valley.
Virginia's history is about the thousands of immigrants who came to colonial America with the burning desire for a new and better life. Others were forced here by slavery.
They started to come in the 17th -century, and each in his or her way contributed to making the U.S. an unprecedented success.
This living museum has costumed lecturers who demonstrate the life of local indigenous tribes and of the Europeans who came and forced the Africans into slavery.
Visitors can interact with 17th-century workers and learn about their skills, habits, and what it took to survive in a harsh, new land.
The story of Virginia's settlement isn't always rosy, but its people all became responsible for creating the greatest country on earth.
Address: 1290 Richmond Ave, Staunton, VA
One of the Virginia attractions that exhibits a rare horticultural distinction is the 155-acre Norfolk Botanical Garden.
It features seasonal and year-round flora and specializes in roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias. Thousands of blooms in all create a colorful work of art.
With a focus on aesthetics and education, the garden has adult classes on gardening, floral design, arts and crafts, and even cooking.
The garden also offers a large variety of children's programs.
The Butterfly House is open during the summer and has butterflies flying freely. It is Virginia's largest butterfly house, and it is marvelous to watch them and observe their habits as they fly by the nectar-filled flower collection.
You can observe the entire life cycle of a butterfly, from eggs laid on plants to the growth of caterpillars into winged, flying beauties. Guides help visitors understand the entire experience.
Norfolk Botanical Garden also hosts an annual Butterfly Festival that includes gardening workshops.
Address: 6700 Azalea Garden Rd, Norfolk, VA
Also Read: Best Botanical Gardens in the US
One of the great things to do in Virginia is to visit the Mariners' Museum and Park. The park is a 550-acre stretch along five miles of shoreline.
The museum has 90,000 square feet of exhibits, including the International Small Craft Center. This center has small crafts and boats from 42 countries explaining how each craft is used.
You can learn the differences and similarities between an African and an Alaskan fishing vessel and how each country developed its technology.
The library and archives contain an incredible 110,000 books, 1 million archival artifacts, and 800,000 films and photographs, making the Mariners' Museum Library and Archives the largest nautical resource in the Western Hemisphere.
A critical part of the museum is the Explorers Theater, which uses film to transport its audience across the waterways of the world and thereby connect everyone with everyone else.
For example, the movie "Oceans" discusses how we have explored the oceans to new levels.
Address: 100 Museum Dr, Newport News, VA 23606
Great Falls Park stretches 800 acres along the Potomac River from Washington D.C. to Virginia.
Here nature is at its best as the Potomac flows over ragged rocks and tumbles sharply into a 20-foot fall, one of the steepest falls of any river on the Eastern Coast.
It narrows to around 100 feet in an attempt to squeeze its way through Mather Gorge.
One of the cool things to do in Virginia is to enjoy all the activities offered by Great Falls Park.
Visitors can picnic, ride a horse, hike and bike along the river, rock climb, and float down the Potomac in a kayak. There are several overlooks for the best views of the park.
The Visitor Center has exhibits, maps, and a short video. It is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The entrance fee is $15.00 per vehicle and $7.00 for each pedestrian or cyclist.
Address: 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102
The renowned Chrysler Museum of Art, with its 50 galleries, collection of 30,000 objects and an interactive family area, is one of the fascinating Virginia attractions that should not be missed.
Its glass studio is one of a kind in the Mid-Atlantic area. And all of this is free.
This wonderful museum includes photographs, paintings, decorative items, glass, and sculptures. It also provides a research library.
The Perry Glass Studio has an exceptional glass collection and free glassmaking demonstrations to show how the collection was made.
The Moses Myers House, located in downtown Norfolk, is a part of the museum as it guides visitors through what is the oldest 19th-century house of a well-to-do Jewish family in the U.S.
It is open on weekends from noon to 5:00 p.m. The glass studio is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Address: 1 Memorial Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510
Virginia is generally recognized as the "birthplace of a nation." It is not only home to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, but seven other luminaries born in Virginia made it to the White House.
Virginia's outdoors turns into vibrant autumn foliage in September and October when the weather is warm, and nature is at its most beautiful. For beach lovers, the hot months are July and August.
Undoubtedly, Virginia Beach is Virginia's best attraction, as it attracts millions of visitors annually. The beach, restaurants, and entertainment provide fun for everyone.
The Natural Bridge is one of the "Seven Natural Wonders of the World." It is a national landmark and a part of Indian folklore. It's a great place to visit for historical significance as well as for shopping and great restaurants.
The state's motto is "Virginia is for Lovers," and it's hard to argue with the truth. Virginia attractions are perfect for nature, history, wine, fun, and art lovers.
Things to do in Virginia are geared for the entire family who arrive anticipating enjoyment both at the beach and at the state's many museums, many of which have special children's programs. They invariably end up loving it here and returning for more.