From the wide, clean boardwalk and nightlife at Virginia Beach to the gentle Chesapeake shores and the remote, pristine beaches of Chincoteague, Tangier and the barrier islands, Virginia has ocean and bay water fun for everyone. Swim, boat, fish, explore or just set up the beach chairs along one of wide beaches and experience relaxation at its best.
Mile high Mount Rogers is the king, but all along the western side of the state are dozens of peaks reaching up more than 4.000 feet. The Appalachian Trail climbs many of them along its 540 miles through Virginia, far more than in any other state. And those more inclined to discover the heights by automobile, Virginia’s 217 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive ride along the ridgeline with countless beautiful views.
The fun at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Paramount’s Kings Dominion simply doesn’t let up. Thrilling rides, great food, unique experiences and full amenities add up to fun you’ll remember forever. And when the sun goes down, Virginia lights up with night-time fun all over its pretty geography.
From the world-class performers in the magical setting at Wolf Trap in Vienna to the tiny venue in the Blue Ridge Highlands where the famed Carter family still gathers to perform their acoustic mountain magic, Virginia crackles with live blues, folk, country, pop, jazz and classical music, at performance venues that bring out the best in performers.
With her America-in-miniature bounty and her vast array of world-class accommodations, Virginia is the perfect spot for your family reunion. Pick your backdrop from among major cities, tall mountains, clean beaches or rustic getaway spots. Virginia is rich in every category and ready with the warmest welcome you’ll find anywhere.
From world-class malls in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to specialty shops and trinket-rich flea markets in the Heart of Appalachia, Virginia is a shopper’s paradise. In a state so full of history, antiques are bountiful in every region, as are charming, one-of-a-kind shops for everything from books and furniture to peanuts and Virginia wines.
The Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay and several historic rivers meet here in the birthplace of a nation, in a region alive with culture, nightlife and great family fun.
In Hampton Roads, the scent of salt air is as crab cakes, peanuts and Smithfield Ham. White sand and the blue-green ocean meet on beaches with sea gulls circling overhead.
Huge ocean-going tankers and container vessels share the Chesapeake Bay with submarines, sleek sailboats, river ferries, commercial fishing ships and pleasure craft.
Hampton Roads is the ultimate destination for history, shopping, sunbathing, boating, golfing, museums, great food, theater and nightlife… or simply to read a book, relaxing by the water.
See 18th century grandeur, restored in Colonial Williamsburg and Revolutionary War battlefields in Yorktown. John Smith met Pocahontas in Jamestown, where a stockade recreates the start of a New World. Visit the site of a Civil War encampment in Newport News, or trace America’s race into space in Hampton. The Navy’s mighty Atlantic Fleet anchors in Norfolk. Walk cobblestone streets in Old Towne Portsmouth. Hike the Great Dismal Swamp in Suffolk, or see it by canoe in nearby Chesapeake. Miles of sand covered with beach towels and umbrellas front the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. Beach music, shag dancing, R&B, jazz and show tunes; professional opera and ballet, live theater, it’s all there. Pick your pleasures.
Feel the tug of a taut fishing line. Taste the warm sweetness of sun-ripened fruit. Listen to the call of a heron or the neighing of a wild pony. As you inhale the sea air and marvel at the expanse of undeveloped coastline, you are instantly aware that a trip to the Eastern Shore touches all the senses. Harvesting land and sea remains the mainstay of small communities on this 70 mile long peninsula. Several museums tell the nearly 400 year saga of those who prospered and those who eked out survival in a harsh environment. Until the construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in 1964, residents were isolated from mainland Virginia by a 20 mile ferry ride. Still remote is Tangier Island, in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, where people still depend on fishing and crabbing for their living.
Jump ahead to the space age at the NASA Visitor Center on Wallops Island. Tourism has arrived in towns like Onancock, Cape Charles and Chincoteague, where eclectic eateries, boutiques and galleries line the main streets. Two wildlife refuges, one at Chincoteague and the other near Kiptopeke, harbor the famed Chincoteague ponies and literally millions of birds traveling on the Atlantic Flyway. Shops selling antiques, collectibles and folk art line U.S. 13. Be sure to take time to drive off the main road to explore quiet fishing villages, sample local seafood, then rest your tired head on a pillow at a fine old inn.
The rivers that empty into the bay define the western shore of the Chesapeake, the largest estuary in the U.S. Some call it “river Country”, as much a state of mind as a geographic description. The mighty York, Rappahannock and Potomac rivers define the boundaries of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. The Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers are named for the Indian tribes that today inhabit Virginia’s only two reservations. Browse curio and antique shops, stop in at a farm stand, lick an ice cream cone from an old-time pharmacy, or settle in for a fresh seafood dinner. A slow drive off the main highway leads past fields of corn and wild daffodils, brick-walked courthouse towns and quiet fishing villages like Urbana, Gloucester, Irvington, Mathews and Reedville. Bike or drive the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail. Nightlife brings stock car racing at Virginia Motor Speedway, and country music at Donk’s Theater in Mathews. Visit the monument of George Washington’s birthplace or Stratford Hall, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, to glimpse 18th century life. You may choose to join the boats on these ancient water routes. Launch a power boat on the bay, or silently explore the smaller creeks and tributaries by kayak or canoe. Whether exploring the Chesapeake Bay region by water or land, your discoveries are sure to relax and improve your state of mind.
There aren’t many places in the world where the past and the future combine with intensity and beauty as in Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia is multifaceted – a region that stands alone, characterized by a rich history, urban diversity and rural beauty. Civil War tours and battle locations are popular here. But the timeline extends further, dipping back into the founding of our country. Visit our first president’s estate at Mount Vernon. With the area’s concentration of nearly 30 wineries, there’s bound to be a local wine for everyone. And don’t forget that the urban beauty of Northern Virginia is an extension of our nation’s capital. You’ll find Memorial, the Pentagon and Fort Meyer in Arlington. Northern Virginia is the destination to discover the perfect conversation piece for the coffee table or outfit to explore the nightlife. Antique shops shadow the streets of giant towns, and outlet shopping is surprisingly close by. At the Torpedo Factory Art Center, in Old Town Alexandria, you can watch an artist at work and buy the finished product. Take a jog at one of Northern Virginia’s many state parks. Hike on trails, boat on the Potomac River or just sit back and enjoy the setting. Enjoy all Northern Virginia has to offer.
From the undulating splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the rolling, wide river-laden Piedmont, Central Virginia offers an endless list of things to see and do. Visit the homes of the nation’s third, fourth and fifth presidents at Monticello, Montpelier and Ash Lawn-Highland, all within minutes of gracious downtown Charlottesville. Explore Civil War history on the National Battlefield at Richmond and Petersburg as well as at the site of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Central Virginia is home to dozens of wineries open for tours and tastings. Fishermen and quiet-seekers alike will enjoy the serenity of the region’s placid reservoirs at Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake and Smith Mountain Lake. Those looking for a little adrenaline rush can rev up the excitement at Martinsville Speedway and the Richmond International Raceway or take a roller coaster ride at Paramount’s Kings Dominion. For family fun with loads of learning, check out the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond and see an IMAX film that will leave you clinging to the edge of your seat. The kid in everyone will enjoy a trip to the Model Railroad Museum and the Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum, both in South Hill. If you want to go for a leisurely stroll, try Millionaires Row in Danville, where streets are lined with Victorian and Edwardian mansions or the lovely Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond. Whatever your pleasure, you’re likely to find it here.
Flanked by the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway on the east and the rugged Allegheny Mountains on the west, Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is a playground of mountain majesty, pastoral landscapes, carefully preserved historic cities, villages and battle sites. Culture and history? Outdoors and food? All these and more abound in the Shenandoah Valley. The Star City of Roanoke offers museums to suit any interest including the cultural complex at Center in the Square. You can find first-rate drama and music in these rolling hills at Black-friar’s Playhouse where Shakespeare is performed throughout the year. Be sure to tour the valley’s well-preserved Civil War battlefields at New Market and McDowell. Or delve further into the past at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, where costumed interpreters replicate farm-life, or take a walking tour of historic Lexington. Explore thousands of acres of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests or witness the valley’s most famed natural wonder – the arching rock formation at Natural Bridge. Many of the valley’s caverns are open to the public. Load up on food, games, crafts, music and fun at the valley’s many annual festivals including the Highland Maple Festival in Monterey, or the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester and Harrisonburg’s bevy of cultural events, including the JMU Contemporary Music Festival and the Furious Flower Poetry Conference.
Blue Ridge Highlands
Here, the great watersheds come together, forming the springs and creeks that feed the Mississippi and the Atlantic. They begin their flows as mountain springs, small and pure, deep in the Virginia highlands. Here, the highest mountains in the state look down and out upon the land, where tumbling creeks line roadsides in rocky branches teeming with trout. The natural wonder of Mountain Lake also waits in Giles County, with shiny waters overlooked by a first-class hotel. For more natural wonders you can hike to the top of Buffalo Mountain, ride for miles along the Virginia Creeper Trail and the new River Trail, or float a canoe on the rapids of the New River. History buffs can discover the 18th century charm of the Smithfield Plantation in Blacksburg, research how the Civil War touched Saltville at the Museum of the Middle Appalachians, or explore exhibits at Radford’s Glencoe Museum and Newbern’s Wilderness Road Regional Museum. In Abingdon, eat gourmet sandwiches at the Starving Artist Café, spend a night at the Martha Washington Inn, or catch a musical at the famous Barter Theatre. Look for covered bridges near Mount Rogers Woolwine, meet the wild ponies of the Mount Rogers National Recreational Area, or race into the Birthplace of Country Music at Bristol. The Blue Ridge Highlands serves up delightful lodges and restaurants, set among inviting valleys and pristine peaks. It’s great getaway.
Heart of Appalachia
This wild and wonderful corner of the commonwealth is home to tall mountains and deep gorges, to signature sites of history both natural and man-made. Virginia’s wildest wonders lie at the Heart of Appalachia. Rugged and beautiful, this section is marked by marvels like the Breaks Canyon and the Natural Tunnel. And stretching as far west as Detroit, a hiking trail leads to where Virginia meets Kentucky and Tennessee at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park – home to overlooks, historic sites and a cave with the world’s largest stalagmite. Pockets of the Jefferson National Forest are around every mountain – from the Cave Springs Recreation Area at Pennington Gap to the Appalachian Trail at Burkes Garden. You can trek atop Stone Mountain. Hang out at High Knob. Gander at the Guest River Gorge. Peer into the Powell Valley near Big Stone Gap. And enjoy an evening under the stars at “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” outdoor drama. Misty mountains line lakes a Pound, Haysi and Keokee, and water rolls in scenic splendor at the Falls of Little Stony, between Dungannon and Coeburn. Musical venues such as Country Cabin in Norton or The Carter Fold in Hiltons carry on the traditions of homegrown pioneers like Ralph Stanley and The Carter Family – with musical legacies of old-time country and bluegrass.