Explore > Virginia > Welcome to Virginia
welcome header

Places Welcoming You

gs logo Lake Gaston Americamps
Bracey, Virginia

Welcome to Virginia

There are few better places to discover nation’s history than Virginia. The first English-speaking colony was established here in 1607, making the Old Dominion State ground zero for British settlement. Four of the first five presidents were born here, and more Civil War battles raged here than anywhere else.

Fortunately, the locals have preserved that past with an endless array of historic sights and living-history museums, putting the action-packed past in motion for all to experience. However, history isn’t the only thing drawing travelers here. Packed with sun-kissed beaches, majestic mountains, lively neighborhoods and hundreds of wineries, Virginia is ready to pamper you with adventure, relaxation and modern amenities.

Life is Better Outdoors

Before delving into history, sit back and enjoy the great outdoors in Virginia Beach, located on the Atlantic coast near the North Carolina border. Draped in dense forest and carpeted with golden sand, Virginia Beach is a scenic wonderland just waiting to be explored. Journey into lush marshlands via hiking trails, kayak through serene waterways, sail the seas by charter boat or stroll the three-mile boardwalk lined with delectable eats and live music.

Not far away is the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Spanning over 9,000 acres of coastline, this protected area supports an abundance of wildlife that can be viewed from several trails, platforms and viewing scopes. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, raccoons, river otters, muskrats and a variety of birds.

To get even closer to nature, head north to Assateague Island National Seashore. Half in Maryland and half in Virginia, this 37-mile long barrier island is a wildlife sanctuary teeming with shorebirds, waterfowl, dolphins, whales and its famous wild ponies. While you’re on the lookout for wildlife, take in the gorgeous beaches, forests and coastal bays that surround you from every direction. Other popular activities here include horseback riding, hunting, camping, fishing, crabbing, hiking, kayaking and seashell scavenging.

Sarah Hauser, Virginia Tourism Corporation

When it’s time to bid the ocean goodbye, make your way to Shenandoah National Park. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this park is home to over 60 peaks, 100 varieties of trees and several animal species, making it the sparkling gem of the Appalachian range. It draws millions of visitors year-round with its sweeping vistas, alluring waterfalls and tranquil wilderness. You can experience the park in all its glory by trekking over 500 miles of trails or driving along Skyline Drive. West of Skyline Drive on U.S. Route 211 are the Luray Caverns. Here, you can take a guided tour deep beneath the Earth’s surface to explore cathedral-sized rooms filled with towering stalactites and stalagmites.

Cities Made for History Buffs

Perched on the Potomac River directly across the water from Washington, D.C., Arlington boasts a multitude of famous landmarks that rival the nation’s capital. Take a tour of the Pentagon or stroll through Arlington National Cemetery to visit the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial and the iconic Iwo Jima monument in the Marine Corps War Memorial are also located on the cemetery grounds. When you’re done sightseeing, lose yourself in Arlington’s urban villages. From chic boutiques and theaters to hip pubs and farmer’s markets, the city buzzes with fantastic dining, shopping and nightlife options.

Enjoy an eclectic range of cultural attractions in the state capital of Richmond. History buffs will want to meander along Liberty Trail, a self-guided walking path weaving through 15 historic sites. Other historic attractions include St. John’s Episcopal Church, the oldest church in town, the Virginia State Capitol building, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum — with exhibits dedicated to the innovative pioneer of horror fiction — and the Hollywood Cemetery. Before you leave, stop and smell the fragrant flowers at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and gaze at 22,000 works of art inside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Wine drinkers will also strike gold here. With loads of wine trails and almost 300 wineries, vino enthusiasts can sip their way across the state and sample a variety of grapes, including Albariño and Viognier.

See History Come Alive

In Virginia, you’ll not only learn about the nation’s beginnings, but you’ll also get to live it, too. Step inside George Washington’s Mount Vernon, home of the first president, to see personal belongings and family portraits. Or journey into Thomas Jefferson’s lavish Monticello mansion. On the grounds, you’ll find historic gardens, a family cemetery and the Monticello Visitors Center, featuring hundreds of items on exhibit dedicated to the third U.S. president.

Check out Colonial Williamsburg to tour original 18th-century buildings, shops and homes. Here, costumed interpreters, authentic gardens and livestock all help create an authentic colonial experience.

No trip to Virginia is complete without a stop at Colonial National Historical Park, home to two of the most important sites in America: Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Battlefield.

Located on the James River near the Atlantic, Jamestown is the site on which English explorer John Smith made landfall in 1607. About 20 miles to the east, the 1781 Battle of Yorktown was a key victory for the Colonial army, who defeated besieged British forces. Learn about the event at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center.