17 Things to do in Virginia: A Local’s Guide

Virginia, famously known as the “Old Dominion,” has a rich historical legacy and natural beauty that never fails to amaze its visitors.

From the hallowed grounds of Jamestown and Williamsburg to the majestic Appalachian Mountains, Virginia offers a myriad of attractions for history buffs, nature lovers, and everyone in between.

If you’re planning a trip to this historic state, here are the top 17 things you simply must do. Let’s dive in!

1. Explore Colonial Williamsburg Colonial Williamsburg

is a living-history museum presenting part of a historic district in the city of Williamsburg.

Here, you can step back in time to the 18th century and explore the colonial lifestyle.

Traveller’s Tip: Plan a full day for your visit and wear comfortable shoes – there’s a lot of walking.

2. Walk the Historic Jamestowne

Historic Jamestowne is the site of the first permanent English settlement in America.

The area is filled with historical buildings and monuments to explore.

Traveller’s Tip: Be sure to visit the on-site Archaearium museum to see artifacts unearthed from the original Jamestown settlement.

3. Visit Mount Vernon

Once the home of George Washington, Mount Vernon offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of America’s first president.

Traveller’s Tip: The mansion tour can get busy, so it’s recommended to arrive early to avoid crowds.

4. Hike in Shenandoah National Park

This national park is famous for its hiking trails, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.

The scenic Skyline Drive is also a must-do.

Traveller’s Tip: Always pack plenty of water and a map. Check the weather before setting out as conditions can change rapidly.

5. Roam the Virginia Beach Boardwalk

This three-mile boardwalk has a separate bike path for cycling and rollerblading.

Along the boardwalk, there are several eateries, shops, and live entertainment.

Traveller’s Tip: The boardwalk can get crowded during the summer months, so consider visiting during off-peak times if you prefer a quieter experience.

6. Tour the Luray Caverns

These caverns feature spectacular formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and mirrored pools.

The Great Stalacpipe Organ, a lithophone made from solenoid-fired strikers, is a must-see.

Traveller’s Tip: The caverns maintain a cool temperature year-round, so you may want to bring a jacket.

7. Immerse in Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Located in Richmond, this museum houses more than 33,000 works of art from almost every major world culture.

Traveller’s Tip: The museum is free to enter, but some special exhibitions may have an entrance fee.

8. Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway

Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” this scenic road offers spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and ample opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting.

Traveller’s Tip: Plan your trip for the fall to enjoy the spectacular display of fall colors.

9. Visit the Arlington National Cemetery:

This military cemetery is the final resting place for many U.S. service members.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard ceremony are must-sees.

Traveller’s Tip: Wear respectful clothing and maintain a quiet demeanor to honor those who rest here.

10. Enjoy a Show at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

This is the only national park dedicated to presenting the performing arts.

From concert bands to opera and dance, Wolf Trap offers a diverse line-up.

Traveller’s Tip: You can bring your own food and drinks for a picnic during performances.

11. Visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Monticello was the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.

The plantation includes buildings, gardens, and a museum documenting Jefferson’s life.

Traveller’s Tip: Be sure to take the guided tour to fully appreciate the history and architecture.

12. Discover the Maritime History at the Mariners’ Museum and Park

Located in Newport News, this maritime museum is one of the largest in the world.

Its’ home to the USS Monitor Center, where you can see artifacts from the Civil War ironclad ship.

Traveller’s Tip: Don’t miss the 3D films showcasing the underwater exploration of the Monitor.

13. Wander Around Old Town Alexandria

This historic district is filled with boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and theaters.

The cobblestone streets and colonial buildings add to its charm.

Traveller’s Tip: Consider taking a walking tour to learn more about the history of the area.

14. Experience the Frontier Culture Museum

This living-history museum in Staunton tells the story of the people who migrated to colonial America and the life they created here.

Traveller’s Tip: The outdoor exhibits can be quite a walk, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

15. Enjoy Wine Tasting in the Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley is known for its local wineries.

Spend a day wine tasting and enjoying the beautiful vineyard views.

Traveller’s Tip: Remember to designate a driver or arrange transportation if you plan to sample the wines.

16. Visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Located in Virginia Beach, this aquarium offers a variety of exhibits, including a Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center.

Traveller’s Tip: Check the feeding times for the different exhibits to get the most out of your visit.

17. Tour the Virginia State Capitol

Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia State Capitol houses the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere.

A guided tour is a great way to learn about the building’s architecture and history.

Traveller’s Tip: Entrance is free, but a small donation is suggested for guided tours.

Key Takeaways

Virginia is a state rich in history and natural beauty.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, a foodie, or a culture seeker, you’ll find something to enjoy in the Old Dominion.

So, pack your bags and get ready to explore all that Virginia has to offer.

David Kingston

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