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 was actually the English Crown's former dominion and the birthplace of multiple presidents.
That means that history buffs will find no shortage of tourist sites to transport them back in time. At the same time, beach lovers will find sandy shores and clear ocean water, shoppers will notice plenty of great stores, couples can find the chance for romance, and families can enjoy the outdoors or adventure parks.
You don't want to miss any of the top sites in Virginia so be sure to plan ahead to catch all of the historic, fun, or relaxing attractions.
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Virginia Beach is the biggest city in the US state of Virginia. The place attracts millions of tourists every year and is a favorite vacation spot. The city offers a host of attractions to the visitors.
There are historic places, zoos and aquariums, and restaurants offering delicious haute cuisine, not to mention the sprawling beach on the South Atlantic and endless opportunities to indulge in all kinds of delightful and fun water activities.
The place also boasts of a thriving night life and there are special Virginia Beach Events which range from watersports and marathons and surfing competitions to live music and special evening concerts, etc.
Address: Virginia Beach, VA
Also Read: Virginia Beach, Virginia Top 10 Attractions
A unique and exciting living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia 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.
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 through 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.
Address: 1 Memorial Drive, Arlington, Virginia, VA 22211
Located just 3 miles east of Williamsburg, Busch Gardens is the ideal place to turn to if you are looking to indulge in some entertainment and adventure activities. This European themed park offers ample opportunities to enjoy fun rides, including simulators, water rides and roller coasters.
One can also choose from a varied range of dining and shopping experiences here. Additionally, you can also get to enjoy live stage shows at this place.
Address: 1 Busch Gardens Boulevard, Williamsburg, VA 23185
The Natural Bridge can be found in Rockbridge County, Virginia and this is 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.
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.
Address: 6511 Sudley Rd, Manassas, VA 20109
Also Read: Top 10 American Civil War Sites To Visit
For a unique and historic experience in Virginia, you should make sure you pay a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The third President of the United States started work on its design and construction at the age of just twenty six.
Today, this has become a very popular visitor attraction with many people heading here to explore the estate, which includes the gardens, the plantation and the house itself.
When you visit this attraction you can enjoy spending a whole day exploring Monticello as well as enjoying the chance to learn more about Jefferson himself.
There are some great exhibitions and guided tours that form part of the visit so you can look forward to a fascinating experience.
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 beautiful 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.
Address: 3200 Mount Vernon Hwy, Mt Vernon, VA 22121
Also Read: Top 10 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 areas of wilderness.
Around 40 percent of the land here has been designated as wilderness and is therefore protected. One of the things that draws many people to this park is the Skyline Drive, which runs through the whole length of the park and is now known as a National Scenic Byway.
This is a wonderful scenic drive that enables you to enjoy breathtaking surroundings. Millions of people head here each year, particularly in the fall when the scenery is particularly beautiful.
Address: Shenandoah National Park, VA
Those who enjoy history, walking, and scenery will find that the Richmond Canal Walk in Virginia is a great way to combine all of these interests. When you take this walk, which runs for 1 ¼ miles through the downtown area, you will be able to look forward to exploring four hundred years of local history.
You can enjoy taking in the various monuments and exhibits that line the walk while also enjoying the natural beauty of the waterways that you pass by as part of the walk including the Haxall Canal.
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. 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-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, maze, and three museums.
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 when 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, which 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 to represent 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
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.
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 the 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.
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
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.
Address: 1341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457
Take a tour of the Virginia State Capitol, a National Historic Landmark, and 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, 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.
Address: 9th & Grace Sts, Richmond, VA 23219