11 Very Best Places In Virginia To Visit – Hand Luggage Only
Virginia is a stunning state to visit! Perched on the eastern seaboard, it’s a state that has a little something for everyone. From its cities like Richmond to its national forests near the borders of West Virginia, it’s a perfect place for a road trip or city break when on the east coast. That being said, it can be tricky to whittle down the very best places in Virginia to visit when planning your trip.
So, to make things easier for your visit, we’re sharing some of our top places in Virginia to explore once you arrive. I promise you, it’s got loads to offer and is perfect as a stopping point if you’re venturing on a wider road trip around the east coast.
Take a look, below, at the very best places in Virginia to visit when you arrive. Have the best trip!
Most famous for family trips, Williamsburg is also frequented by history buffs and people who love the past. Williamsburg is known for its historic homes which date back to the 18th century together with the place’s culture and antiques to see all over town.
Historically, and to this day, the people in Williamsburg also made a living out of this town’s beauty by crafting and portraying historical figures not only to preserve the town’s culture but to attract tourists as well.
This all being said, if you want something with a bit more thrills, you’ll want to visit a few of the epic theme parks close by. If You see, there are two epic theme parks in the area Water Country USA and Busch Gardens. Both are epic for a day out, with the former being the largest water park in all of Virginia.
Best of all, you can buy this joint park ticket to get you into both parks. We love it, especially with the new Riptide Race slide!
Read more: Best things to do in Virginia
2.) Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is another totally gorgeous and top place in Virginia you have to visit. Here, you can have a good view of fall foliage and it is also a great place where you can hike and do some picnics.
The almost 200,000 acres to discover, are filled with trails, overlooks and the most gorgeous vistas.
Fancy a drive through one of the best places in Virginia to visit? Skyline Drive is a famous way of seeing Shenandoah National Park that you can’t miss.
You see, the drive snakes through the valleys and hills, giving you an epic vantage point like the gorgeous Franklin Cliffs Overlook. It’s so beautiful and easily one of the best places in Virginia to visit if you love the great outdoors.
Oh yeah, and for more adventure, you can even take part in ranger programs which vary from meadows to birds and everything in between.
3.) Virginia Beach
Yes, it can get a little busy at Virginia Beach, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting this gorgeous stretch of seafront in Virginia. It’s so stunning and totally accessible without any arduous hiking or lack of facilities, too.
Trust me, Virginia Beach is a really gorgeous place for everyone to enjoy. Well, if you like beaches that is! This huge stretch of golden sand has heaps of room and lots of hotels to stay for a few days on the coast.
Heading over with the family? Pop to the Ocean Breeze Water Park with epic waterslides, wave pools and a water playground. It’s fun for all ages.
If that’s not your thing, you can visit in the area are the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the Marine Science Museum, all before filling up at Beach Bully BBQ. It’s nothing fancy but the food is so good here! Their beef brisket sandwich is so tasty.
If you want a quieter beach experience, hop over to Sandbridge Beach that’s totally stunning, with far fewer people.
Read more: Best things to do in Virginia
4.) Mount Vernon
One of the most historic places in Virginia, Mount Vernon is most known as the home of George Washington from 1754 until his death. It’s one of the best places in Virginia to visit if you want to learn more about US history.
To give you a bit of background, under Washington’s supervision, Mount Vernon was a work in progress which mirrored Washington’s liking and personality in its design, décor and construction. It’s totally worth a visit.
Today, Mount Vernon is painted in its own unique way (which was all the rage back in the 18th Century). It was also noted that the “New Room’s” bright green walls are the favourite of Washington. You’ll get to see so much once inside, including George and Martha Washington’s belongings and family portraits.
Also, when it comes to the grounds and gardens, Washington took a less formal and natural plan compared to his predecessors. Which, to be honest, is pretty gorgeous.
You can also book a Mount Vernon bike tours which is so good. You’ll get to follow a self-guided tour with a full-day rental all around Mount Vernon. It’s so lovely.
Another top place in Virginia is Roanoke. Also known as the Star City of the South, Roanoke is a treat to stroll where you’ll also find the Mill Mountain Star which you can spot, too.
In the past, Roanoke was an important transport hub in the past. Nowadays, Roanoke has developed a flourishing scene of arts and culture that’s well worth visiting.
You can visit cultural centres, music venues, theatres, and museums today. Some popular ones you may want to check out include the Taubman Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Transportation.
Oh, and for a bite to eat, head to Billy’s. Their lamb shank is delicious.
When talking about the best places in Virginia to visit, Charlottesville will almost certainly be on the list. This beautiful college city is beaming with amazing historic sights and is also home to the excellent University of Virginia.
Once you arrive in Charlottesville, you can pop into two historic homes of James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson, two of the US’ former presidents. Jefferson was the one who founded the University of Virginia; he also designed many of its buildings.
Oh, and one standout sight of the city is Rotunda, so make sure you look at this structure when you’re visiting Charlottesville. And be sure to hop over to the Tip Top Restaurant to grab their hot oven subs. You’ll leave stuffed.
You might think that Virginia is mostly about history and city life, but that is not all these gorgeous state offers. When you visit Sterling, you will find another aspect of Virginia – it is agriculturally rich and totally gorgeous. The farmlands in Sterling are somewhat still considered a hidden gem in Virginia. However, more tourists discover this treasure as time goes by.
The Heritage Farm Museum is a must-see because this is where you’ll have the chance to learn about early farmers’ lives and you can even “milk” a life-like cow -it’s an experience. Ha!
Visiting with the family? The museum offers kids classes that are hands-on to give them a full experience, too.
Oh, and don’t forget to explore the area Downpour Algonkian, which is known for its water slides and nature scene, and Claude Moore Park and Recreation Sportsplex where you can fish and have a picnic.
Afterwards, head over to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is a short drive away. It’s an aviation museum that is part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and is well worth visiting in Virginia.
Throughout the year, there are different exhibitions that share the US aviation legacy. You’ll get to see the likes of the Gemini 7 space capsule, the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Air France Concorde. It’s epic!
Now, you might not spend more than a few hours in Sterling but it’s a great stopping point before heading over the state line to visit Washington DC. It’s so close.
Read more: Best things to do in Washington DC
Being Virginia’s capital, Richmond truly deserves to be visited, especially for it’s history.
Once here, you’ll learn about Richmond’s important role in the history of America and Virginia. Colonists from England settled in the city in the early 1600s, and Richmond is considered a Powhatan Confederacy village.
It’s got a pretty long history as far as cities go, when (in 1737), the present Richmond was established.
But enough about centuries gone by!
Today, Richmond is frequented and known for its art scene and is a place where you can learn about history through its sites like the American Civil War Museum, the Poe Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Sculpture Garden.
All of them are worth a visit if you’re spending a few days exploring Richmond.
You can also check out the galleries, festivals, and different venues in the area to maximize your trip. In addition, do not miss out on the local ham biscuits, sailor sandwiches and pimento cheese Richmond is popularly known for.
Oh, and be sure to pop into Shyndigz for their peanut butter mousse pie. It’s so tasty.
9.) Luray Caverns
Probably the most popular cave system in the state is Luray Caverns. Trust me, it’s not just geologists that’ll think that it’s one of the best places in Virginia to visit.
Now considered a National Natural Landmark, Luray Caverns is Virginia’s biggest cave. Several columns and magnificent cave formations can be found in this place.
Most visitors explore Luray Caverns through hour-long tours which are led by expert guides. The guides point out different points of interest and the several cavern rooms and it’s so interesting to hear about how it all formed.
One notable feature of the trip is the Great Stalacpipe Organ which plays musical notes when you tap different stalactites. Other things you must see include Saracen’s Tent and Dream Lake.
10.) Chincoteague and Assateague Islands
Chincoteague and Assateague Islands are found off Virginia’s coast and are one top place in Virginia to explore when on the fringes of the state.
Best of all, both islands are so different to visit . You see, it’s best to think of Chincoteague as the fun and lively sister, whereas Assateague is the more mellow and relaxed sister – if you catch my drift? Both are so different but incredible in their own ways.
In Chincoteague, you can find the Museum of Chincoteague Island, Maui Jack’s Waterpark, and foodie spots like the Ropewalk Restaurant which is great to visit at sunset. Their Bayou steam pot is delicious.
Whilst, on the unspoilt island of Assateague, you will get to experience the gorgeous coastline (at Assateague Beach), where you can kayak, spot the horses and camp, too.
Now, most visitors explore both islands and we’d definitely recommend this. Trust me, it’s one of the best places in Virginia to visit when travelling across the coast. You’ll love it.
Read more: Best things to do in Virginia
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