Is Virginia Worth Visiting in 2023?
Yes, Virginia is definitely worth visiting in 2023! The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to some of the most important historic sites in the country, including Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.
The state is also home to eight presidents and features the homes of many of the most prominent founding fathers, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and many others.
The state was pivotal in multiple major wars. During the Revolutionary War, it was the site of many major battles, with the battle of Yorktown being the most prominent.
During the Civil War, Virginia saw more battles by far than any other state, including the major battles of First and Second Manassas, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of Richmond. Appomattox Courthouse marked the end of the war.
Beyond history, Virginia has much more to offer! The state is home to some of the biggest national parks in the country, including Shenandoah National Park, Chincoteague Island, and the largest section of the Appalachian Trail! The state is also home to Luray Caverns, which are the largest caverns east of the Mississippi River!
Virginia boasts the best of all worlds: the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, stunning coastlines along the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, and major cities like Arlington, Alexandria, Richmond, Charlottesville, and Norfolk. And the state is just steps away from the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C.
No matter what your interests are, Virginia has something for everyone!
20 Best Things to Do in Virginia
Virginia has so much to offer! Below are my top 20 recommendations of the best things to do in Virginia.
1. Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is one of the top vacation destinations in Virginia. It also represents one of the most beautiful places to visit in Virginia.
The immense park covers 200,000 acres and includes over 500 miles of hiking trails. You can enter the park from multiple points along the famous Skyline Drive.
Along the way, there are many overlooks where you can pull over and take in the beautiful views of the Shenandoah Valley.
Some of the major hiking trails in the park include the Mill Prong Trail, Rose River Loop Trail, and Dark Hollow Falls Trail, which leads you to the incredible 70-foot-tall Dark Hollow Falls.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even tackle part of the famous Appalachian Trail, which travels through Virginia and Shenandoah National Park.
The park is also a great destination for a picnic or overnight camping.
Learn even more about Shenandoah National Park and the other best national parks in Virginia!
2. Colonial Williamsburg
No trip to Virginia would be complete without a trip to Colonial Williamsburg! Williamsburg is part of the “Historic Triangle” that also includes nearby Jamestown and Yorktown.
Here, you’ll step into a historic recreation of the 17th and 18th centuries, where some of the first European settlements in the New World took place. It’s like traveling back in time!
Colonial Williamsburg has over 40 buildings and attractions to explore, including the Governor’s Palace, Capitol House, and George Wythe House. You can wander both inside and outside these historic structures.
There are also carriage rides, musket demonstrations, shops, restaurants, gardens, and even sheep and horses. I also recommend booking a Ghost Tour at night. It was fascinating to hear all the colorful stories from Colonial Williamsburg’s past.
You can find additional Evening Programs to enhance your experience even further on the Williamsburg website.
Book a Ghost Tour at Williamsburg! You’ll hear fascinating stories and get a different look at Williamsburg and its rich history!
Jamestown is another major historic site that’s located near Williamsburg. One thing to note: Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestown are two different places. Historic Jamestown, located about 1.6 miles from Jamestown Settlement, focuses mainly on excavations at the original historic site.
Jamestown Settlement features a recreation of the original settlement from Europe in the early 17th century. Visiting the site is like stepping back in time. You can walk amidst a large wooden fort, complete with replica buildings, churches, homes, and a Native American village.
Inside these structures, you’ll get to witness demonstrations of how the early settlers made weapons, clothing, and tools.
Jamestown Settlement also includes a fabulous museum with artifacts, presentations, videos, and stories from the late 17th and early 18th-century settlement.
The museum exhibits cover everything from British and European history to Native American and African cultures, and the role of women and families in the early colonial days.
When you visit the museum, make sure you catch the short video about the founding of the Jamestown Colony.
Nearby, you can also visit replicas of the three original ships that sailed to Jamestown from England.
Yorktown is the third major historic site in the Williamsburg area. It is located about 12.8 miles to the east of Colonial Williamsburg, right in the middle of Williamsburg and Newport News, VA.
Yorktown is a charming town bursting with history. You can take a leisurely stroll down the brick sidewalks and you’ll find yourself surrounded by craft stores and restaurants.
At the Yorktown Battlefield site, you can join Ranger-led tours of the battlefield and the historic town, where you’ll get to immerse yourself in the stories of the past.
And don’t miss the American Revolution Museum of Yorktown. They have some fantastic exhibits all about the Revolutionary War, including recreations of a Continental Army Camp and a Revolution-era farm.
Yorktown also has a free trolley ride that runs daily and allows you to easily explore the town.
Learn about even more things to do in the Williamsburg area!
5. Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Virginia. The beach is located in southeast Virginia and it’s the longest beach in the state. You’ll find no shortage of water activities and boat trips to take.
I really recommend booking a dolphin site-seeing boat tour or kayak tour, especially during the summer!
Beyond the beach, some other highlights in Virginia Beach include the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, First Landing State Park, and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
And if you’re looking for a quieter alternative to busy Virginia Beach, you can check out nearby Sandbridge Beach.
Learn about even more of the best beaches in Virginia!
6. Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns is one of the most famous attractions in Virginia – and for good reason! The caverns are immense! They’re the largest caverns in Virginia and the largest east of the Mississippi River!
It takes about an hour to walk through them on a self-guided tour. The caves feature stunning sites around every turn. One of the most incredible sites is Dream Lake, which is the largest underwater lake in the cave. The water is only a few inches deep, but it is perfectly clear and still, and it creates a perfect mirror to the stalactites above.
Another noteworthy feature is the Pipe Organ, which actually plays musical notes through the rocks and cave formations!
Luray Caverns itself is part of a large complex that includes a number of excellent attractions.
When you buy a ticket to the caverns, you also get free admission to the Luray Museum, the Virginia Heritage Museum, the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, and Toy Town Junction. I highly recommend spending time at all of them.
The Car and Carriage Caravan Museum in particular is very cool. I’m not generally into cars, and yet I was enthralled. They have a huge collection of vintage cars, many from over 100 years ago. Some of the models include a 1925 Rolls Royce and an 1897 Mercedes-Benz.
The complex at Luray Caverns also features The Garden Maze and the Rope Adventure Park, all of which make Luray one of the best places to visit in Virginia with family, and one of the top fun places to go in Virginia!
7. Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is one of the most famous attractions in Virginia. It was the home of George Washington. It’s located in Alexandria in Northern Virginia, right along the Potomac River.
You can take a guided tour of the mansion, as well as a tour of the gardens, farm, outbuildings, and museum. Mount Vernon also hosts regular special events. I highly recommend coming during the Christmas holiday, when the home is specially decorated for the holidays.
You can also take a cruise around Mount Vernon on the Potomac. I also recommend the Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour. You can sample Virginia wines, plus have a picnic on the grounds, or purchase food.
8. Charlottesville, VA
When visiting Charlottesville in central Virginia, you’ll want to stop by its most famous attraction: Monticello. The home was designed by Thomas Jefferson.
You can take a guided tour of the home and learn about the life of Jefferson and the people who lived at Monticello. You can also tour the grounds and gardens, including the cemetery.
Beyond Monticello, I also recommend taking a stroll through the outside Downtown Mall, which features a number of excellent restaurants and shops.
The University of Virginia campus is right nearby too. The campus features beautiful historic colonial architecture. Make sure to stop at the elegant Rotunda.
9. Richmond, VA
Richmond is the capital city of Virginia, and there’s no shortage of things to do there! Some of the top attractions include Belle Isle, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia State Capitol, and The Poe Museum, which is located in the oldest house in the city.
You’ll also want to visit Maymont. You can tour the gilded age mansion, plus explore 100 acres of gardens and an arboretum.
Richmond is also a great brewery destination in Virginia. Some top breweries to check out include The Veil Brewing Company and The Answer Brewpub.
10. Chincoteague Island
Chincoteague Island is famously home to the wild Chincoteague ponies! You can take a boat tour around the island and neighboring Assateague Island to safely see these incredible animals in their natural environment.
Chincoteague is also a great place to see bald eagles, ospreys, dolphins, and whales.
11. Arlington, VA
Arlington is located just outside of Washington, D.C. in Northern Virginia. One of the most famous attractions is Arlington National Cemetery, which you can conveniently reach by metro.
Arlington has the best combination of green space, parks, and trails, plus lively, walkable neighborhoods with great restaurants, bars, and shops. Some of the most popular neighborhoods include Clarendon, Ballston, and Shirlington.
Pentagon City, located near the Pentagon, is your premier shopping destination in Arlington and includes a shopping mall and many shops nearby.
And if you love the outdoors, you’ll find a surprisingly large number of excellent walking and cycling trails in Arlington, including the 4.5-mile Custis Trail and Four Mile Run Trail.
Learn about many of the best hiking trails in Arlington and nearby Northern Virginia!
12. Virginia Wineries
Virginia’s geography and climate make it an ideal location for growing grapes, which explains why there are more than 300 wineries in the state!
The majority of the wineries are located in either the Northern Virginia region or around Charlottesville in central Virginia. In Northern Virginia, you can find dozens of wineries in Loudoun County, particularly around the historic town of Leesburg. Middleburg is also a popular wine destination in the region.
Some of my personal favorite wineries in Northern Virginia include Gray Ghost Vineyards, Greenhill Vineyards, Narmada Vineyards, and Bluemont Vineyards (which has incredible views high up on a hill!)
Around Charlottesville, you can find many wineries in nearby Afton, VA. Some of my favorites include Veritas Vineyards (which also features a farmhouse where you can stay the night), the large Barboursville Vineyards, Valley Road, and Jefferson Vineyards.
13. Virginia Breweries
Virginia is also a popular spot for breweries. Richmond and Charlottesville, in particular, have a large number of excellent breweries.
Richmond features The Veil Brewing Company, The Answer Brewpub, and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.
Charlottesville is home to Starr Hill Brewery. It also features the popular Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen and Brewery, Champion Brewing Company, and South Street Brewery.
14. Abingdon, VA
Abingdon is a historic hidden gem in southwestern Virginia that you don’t want to miss! The town is home to the oldest bar in Virginia, and the eighth-oldest bar in the country: The Tavern!
It’s also where you’ll find the important Barter Theatre.
There are great outdoor activities centered around town as well, including the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, which is one of the best rails to trails in the country!
Learn about even more of the best things to do in Abingdon, VA!
15. Manassas, VA
Manassas, VA is a major historic city in Northern Virginia. It is most famously the home of Manassas National Battlefield Park, which is the site of two of the most significant battles in the Civil War: First Manassas and Second Manassas.
The park itself includes artillery demonstrations with cannons and guns, a museum with artifacts from the war, and an excellent documentary about the battles.
The park also features over 40 miles of hiking trails, including loops around the two battlefield sites, and stops along the way at Stone House and Stone Bridge.
Beyond the park, Manassas has other attractions that you’ll want to check out, including the excellent Bull Run Regional Park (which also includes hiking, picnicking, camping, and even the Atlantis Water Park), the Ben Lomond Historic Site (which served as a hospital during the Civil War), and Splashdown Water Park, which is the largest water park in Northern Virginia.
16. Natural Bridge State Park
Natural Bridge State Park is one of the most interesting and unique places to visit in Virginia. The park is conveniently located right off of I-81 in central Virginia. It’s about 36 miles northwest of Lynchburg and 40 miles northeast of Roanoke.
Natural Bridge is a physical marvel. It is a natural limestone gorge arch structure that is in the shape of a bridge. It spans an immense 215 feet tall!
Natural Bridge State Park also includes lovely forests and meadows and 7 miles of hiking trails. The Cedar Creek Trail includes the Monacan Indian Village and the 30-foot-tall Lace Falls.
17. Great Falls National Park
Great Falls National Park is one of the must-visit parks in Northern Virginia. It’s conveniently situated on both the Virginia and Maryland sides of the Potomac River.
As you might have guessed from its name, the park boasts a series of stunning falls and rapids where the Potomac River crashes over rocks. Weekend hikes and sightseeing are popular activities at Great Falls.
You’ll find three fantastic overlooks where you can take in the striking falls. The overlooks are just a short 5 to 10-minute walk from the Visitor’s Center. You’ll also find picnic tables, grills, and even a snack bar nearby.
Learn about even more of the best waterfalls in Virginia!
18. Lynchburg, VA
Lynchburg is a college town that has a little bit of everything to offer. The town is situated in Central Virginia on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which makes it a great destination for outdoor activities.
If you love the snow, no matter what time of year it is, you’ll want to check out Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center, which actually has Snowflex-covered hills all year long!
Another top attraction is Poplar Forest, which was a private residence of Thomas Jefferson. Lynchburg also has many other historic sites, including the historic home Point of Honor, Historic Sandusky, and the Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum.
For nature lovers, there is no shortage of parks to explore, including Percival’s Island Natural Area, Ivy Creek Park, and Blackwater Creek Natural Area.
Learn about even more of the best things to do in Lynchburg, VA!
19. Cape Charles, VA
Cape Charles is a charming gem on the Eastern Shore. It’s located about an hour north of Virginia Beach and an hour south of Chincoteague. Cape Charles is a great destination for those who want a quieter beach escape.
The town is famous for its lovely Victorian homes and nature reserves. You can also find an abundance of water activities, including sunset and dolphin boat tours.
Other major attractions include the striking Cape Charles Lighthouse, Cape Charles Natural Area Preserve, and Kiptopeke State Park.
Learn about even more of the best things to do in Cape Charles, VA!
20. Bristol, VA
Bristol, VA has the unique distinction of being located in both Northeastern Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Bristol is a great destination for music lovers. In fact, the city was named the “Birthplace of Country Music” by Congress in 1998.
One of the main attractions is the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, which celebrates the Bristol Sessions that took place in 1927 and are considered the beginning of country music.
Another highlight is Downtown State Street, which also serves as the state line between Virginia and Tennessee! It includes The Session Hotel, Bristol Hotel, a number of artisan shops, and the famous “Bristol Sign,” which is a great spot for taking a picture!
Learn about even more of the best things to do in Bristol, VA!
Where to Stay in Virginia
Depending on where you’re going in Virginia, here are some of my top recommendations for where to stay.
📍Where to Stay in Shenandoah National Park
Waynesboro, VA is a great place to stay near Shenandoah National Park. In fact, it’s even called the “Gateway to Shenandoah National Park.”
I recommend the Residence Inn Marriott Waynesboro. The rooms come with a full kitchen. There is also a fitness center, pool, hot tub, and complimentary breakfast. Pets are also welcome.
📍Where to Stay in Arlington, VA
Arlington, VA has many excellent options if you’re looking to book a stay. One great option is the Residence Inn by Marriott Arlington Courthouse. It has a great location near the Courthouse Metro Stop, plus it has an indoor pool and hot tub. It’s also pet friendly.
📍Where to Stay in Charlottesville, VA
If you’re traveling to Charlottesville, I recommend the Graduate Charlottesville, which has an amazing rooftop bar and views.
The Omni Charlottesville is another great option. It’s located right next to the Downtown Mall.
📍Where to Stay in Virginia Beach, VA
Hyatt Place Virginia Beach Town Center has a perfect location near the boardwalk and beach, plus it has great amenities like a pool and fitness center. Breakfast is also included.
📍Where to Stay in Luray, VA
I recommend staying at Mimslyn Inn. It is a gorgeous historic building with lots of character. The restaurant also serves amazing food for dinner. The hotel is also centrally located just minutes from Luray Caverns.
📍Where to Stay in Abingdon, VA
The Hampton Inn Abingdon, VA is a great hotel option in Abingdon with amenities like an outdoor pool, fitness center, and business center. It’s also only 0.7 miles from the Barter Theatre and 0.9 miles from the Virginia Creeper Trail.
📍Where to Stay in Williamsburg, VA
Hilton Vacation Club is a great place to stay. It has all the amenities you could want, including an indoor and outdoor pool, two tennis courts, mini golf, and much more.
📍Where to Stay on Chincoteague Island, VA
Comfort Suites Chincoteague Island Bayfront Resort is a great choice with an indoor pool plus a perfect location right on the Bay.
FAQs About Virginia
If you’re planning a trip to Virginia, here are some extra things to know about the state.
What is Virginia known for?
Virginia is known for its rich history. It is home to some of the most important historic sites in the country, including Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Manassas Battlefield National Park, and Appomattox Courthouse.
Virginia is also home to many major natural wonders, including Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, and Great Falls National Park.
What part of Virginia is the best?
The best part of Virginia is really a matter of personal preference. If you’re interested in Colonial history, the Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown is a destination you won’t want to miss.
If you love the beach, you’ll want to check out Virginia Beach or nearby Sandbridge Beach.
If you love hiking and exploring the outdoors, Shenandoah National Park in the western part of the state is a great destination.
And if you love major cities, you’ll want to check out Arlington, Alexandria, and Richmond.
Where is the prettiest place in Virginia?
The Shenandoah Valley and Shenandoah National Park in the western part of the state are considered some of the prettiest places in Virginia. The park features lovely views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, waterfalls, and forests. In the fall, the park features beautiful foliage colors. The park also boasts lovely sunset views.
When is the best time to visit Virginia?
The fall and spring are probably the best times to visit Virginia.
The spring is mild and features beautiful flowers, while the fall is also generally mild and features the beautiful changing of the leaves.
Is Virginia good for tourists?
Virginia is a good place for tourists. It is very safe, and it features many diverse attractions, including historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown; Shenandoah National Park; Virginia Beach; Luray Caverns, and much more.
Why do tourists visit Virginia?
Tourists visit Virginia for a variety of different reasons, including seeing historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, going to the beach at Virginia Beach, or visiting Shenandoah National Park.
What is the number one attraction in Virginia?
Virginia Beach is the number one attraction in Virginia.
What is the number two attraction in Virginia?
Colonial Williamsburg is the number two attraction in Virginia.
Conclusion: Is Virginia Worth Visiting
As you can see, Virginia has so much to offer! If you’re interested in history, hiking, nature, art, culture, beaches, or just about anything else, Virginia has something for you!