American history in Virginia goes back over 400 years, and when exploring the Old Dominion, the rich layers of that experience naturally seep into one another.
So, when soaking in the majesty of the Shenandoah Mountains, you will bump into the Civil War legacies of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson for the Confederacy and Philip Sheridan for the Union Army. When exploring the Great Dismal Swamp National Refuge, you will learn that George Washington was there long before you, surveying on one his first jobs. The Natural Bridge that was one of early America’s “Seven Natural Wonders” is on land once owned by Thomas Jefferson.
Another of Virginia’s natural marvels, the Great Falls of the Potomac and Mather Gorge, is accessed by the historic towpath of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal that was one of the country’s first great public works projects.
When you want to meander through Virginia’s quaint small towns, the names of Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Lee will be ever-present. In Charlottesville, it was Jefferson who laid out the classical University of Virginia. In Lexington, Robert E. Lee went to teach and retire. In Winchester, Washington won his first election 250 years ago – and the town is still just as proud. It’s the oldest city west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you go to enjoy the celebrated Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
Fredericksburg was home to Washington’s mother, James Monroe’s law practice, naval hero John Paul Jones’ only home, and Civil War clashes. Alexandria hosts a lively arts and nightlife scene and is the nation’s third oldest historic district. As you can see, there is layer upon layer of history and culture in Virginia.
Even the history of Virginia piles upon itself. Yorktown may have been where the American Revolution was finally won, but it is also the site of an important Civil War battle. One of best state parks in Virginia, First Landing, is not just a hiking paradise with cypress lagoons and sandy beaches, but it is also the spot where the Jamestown colonists first made land in 1607 after crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
So, yes, you can chart out an RV itinerary to explore Virginia. Maybe it is a safari of historic homes: Mount Vernon (George Washington), Monticello (Thomas Jefferson), Montpelier (James Madison), Stratford Hall (Robert E. Lee). Or, maybe it is a tour of hallowed Civil War grounds: Manassas, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Appomattox, Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond and Arlington National Cemetery.
But, any Virginia exploration plan is merely a framework. You will be constantly peeling away layers of heritage as you go.