It is said ‘Virginia is for Lovers’, and while the state has many romantic aspects to it, what the state tag line really means is that Virginia is for those who love the good life. So whether you have a passion for music, food, wine or you love the beach life, the outdoors, or the mountains, or you dig on history, Virginia is your go-to place. This beautiful state that lies in the southeastern US is flanked by the Appalachian mountains on one side and the Atlantic coastline along with the other. Virginia, between its rolling hills and sunny beaches, is peppered with charming towns and boardwalks. It is also one of the earliest states that saw the very first American colonist settlements and has many historical landmarks. It is, therefore, no surprise that there are many exciting things to do in Virginia for tourists. Here is our pick of some of the top activities in Virginia that you should not miss.
Virginia is for Wine lovers
If your idea of a perfect vacation is sipping on an exotic wine under sunny skies, then Virginia is for you. After all, this state is the “Birthplace of American Wine,”. A vacation here gives you the chance to savour a wide variety of wines and explore its scenic wineries. Some of the top wineries in Virginia are Williamsburg Winery, Chateau Morrisette Winery and its largest one – Trump Winery that produces about 36000 cases annually. All in all, Virginia has nearly 300 boutique wineries, over 200 craft breweries plus a number of cideries and distilleries. Add to that the state’s award-winning cuisine and mealtimes become cherished moments.
To name a few of the popular red wines of Virginia, there is Merlot – a perennial favourite, Norton – steeped in history and Cabernet Franc – considered among the finest red wines of the state. Some of its favoured white wines are Chardonnay – its most planted one, Traminette – a local favourite and Viognier known for its high quality. For the wine connoisseur, there is no dearth of choices from among the over two dozen major wine grape varieties found here.
Virginia is for Music Lovers
If you are a real music aficionado take a trip down The Crooked Road. This is a heritage trail that winds through 300 miles of picturesque landscape across south-west Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Cumberland Mountains, exploring the rich musical history of the region. Bristol along this route is considered the birthplace of Country Music. Other music genres that the state boasts are bluegrass, gospel, rock and roll, R&B, to jazz, folk, and more. The region is alive with performances through the year by world-famous musicians. The setting can be from historic concert halls to small intimate settings, but the music is sure to leave you entranced.
Some of the most popular music festivals of Virginia are the Ella Fitzgerald Music Festival of Newport News in April, the PANorama Caribbean Music Fest held on Virginia Beach in May and the Old Fiddlers Convention of Galax in August.
Virginia is for History Lovers
The roots of American history run deep in Virginia that was home to the first European settlement in the new world. At Jamestown, view a full-scale model of the first settlement – Jamestown Fort and the original tribes – the Powhatan, and delve into 400 years of American history here. Its first colonial capital – Williamsburg has many restored historic buildings as well as a formal garden and natural park open for tours, among a wealth of other historic attractions. It is no wonder, Colonial Williamsburg is deemed as America’s largest living history museum.
The first president of the United States, George Washington’s home – Mount Vernon is a definite must-visit for history lovers. Also get to view the third president Thomas Jefferson’s home – Monticello, the fourth president James Madison’s home – Montpelier, and the fifth president James Monroe’s home – Highlands; all these beautiful heritage estates in Virginia are open for visitor tours. Another must-see is the architectural marvel of the Virginia State Capitol building and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with its various exhibits and experiential theatre.
Virginia is for Beach Lovers
Virginia with its stunning sandy stretches and warm, waters is the perfect getaway for beach lovers. Its waters are safe for swimming, and you can enjoy amazing water sports and activities along its beaches making for fun-filled vacations. Virginia Beach at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay is one of its most popular beaches, and you can experience oceanfront culture at its best here. Enjoy the freshest seafood at its local restaurants, including the exotic Chesapeake blue crabs, and enjoy a stay at one of the numerous luxury hotels or resorts along its waterfront. The right time to hit the beaches in Virginia is between May to September when activities as beach soccer tournaments and the Surfing Championship also take place.
Some other popular beaches are the sister islands of Chincoteague and Assateague along the Atlantic side. Both these islands are known for their pristine beaches and spectacular island dune ecosystem. There is also the serene resort town of Hampton known for its soft sands and warm clear waters that is a popular getaway.
Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers
If the outdoors is what gets you going, there is nothing like a vacation to Virginia! From its lovely beaches and campsites to amazing hiking trails and mountain biking, down to kayaking and more, there is never a dull moment when you are in Virginia. Take on the waves as you surf along its coast, ski down its mountains, camp on pony inhabited islands, or take a paddle-boat tour down one of its many rivers or lakes. From soft adventure to giving you an adrenalin rush, there are activities to suit every inclination.
Explore the Luray Caverns – an extensive and exquisite underground cavern system that makes for a fascinating tour. Hike along the Dan Ingalls Overlook, at the top of Warm Springs Mountain, and soak in the breathtaking views. Enjoy boat and biking tours at Chincoteague Island. Do the Skyline Drive taking in the dazzling views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And paddle along the Virginia Seaside Water Trail, that links 100 miles of “trails” along Virginia’s Eastern Shore. You can find a route from its 37 waterways to suit your skill level. Just head out – Virginia is calling!
Virginia is for Mountain Lovers
It is a known fact that Virginia’s mountains have inspired generations of songs, so do not be surprised when you find yourself left breathless by their sheer beauty. The Blue Ridge Mountains with its abundant variety of plants and trees is known for its mesmerising natural beauty. Fall time between mid-October through early-November when the leaves change colour these mountains make for an even more spectacular sight. The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to the popular Blue Ridge Parkway making for the most scenic drive. You will also find a part of the Appalachian Trail here, which is among the most visited trails in the world.
As you traverse the Virginia mountains you will experience the unique Appalachian heritage, culture, regional art, music, world-class wine and a range of outdoor activities. These natural habitats are a definite must-visit for those who love the mountains.
Virginia is for National Park Lovers
If serenity is your calling – the over 20 national parks of Virginia will leave you spoilt for choice. They offer a quiet getaway for those looking for a tryst with Virginia’s amazing landscape and history. These parks along with being home to natural wildlife, abound in trails, drives, monuments, battlefields, and historic sites.
The famous Shenandoah National Park along the Rocky mountains is crossed by waterfalls, wetlands and rocky peaks. It is home to the elusive black bear besides deer, squirrels and a variety of birds. The Great Falls National Park as its name suggests abounds in many scenic waterfalls. Located just 24 km from Washington DC, its proximity to the city adds to its popularity. To delve into the natural beauty of the countryside stride out to the Jefferson and George Washington National Forests. The Blue Ridge Parkway and Assateague and Chincoteague Islands are of course top parks for a retreat into mesmerising nature.
Understand America’s origins at the Historic Jamestown National Park and learn about the Revolutionary Wars at Yorktown Battlefield. Know all about the country’s agricultural beginnings and living at Claude Moore Colonial Farm Historic Park. Whatever be your inclination, take your pick!
Virginia is for Food Lovers
Take a gastronomical journey as you traverse the state of Virginia with its unique flavours, locally sourced fresh ingredients and a history of tasteful foods. From top-end dining experiences to locally home-grown editions, from happening cafes and pubs to farm-to-table eateries, there is a wide range of dining experiences and an amazing array of foods and beverages for you to choose from.
Virginia is most famously known for its fresh seafood as the Chesapeake blue crab, and oysters from this Bay. People travel from miles around to sample the blue crabs of this area and Virginia Beach has the best restaurants that serve these crabs. Virginia also specialises in its oysters and in fact is known as the Oyster Capital of the East Coast. Several oyster festivals take place through the year and you can do the Virginia Oyster Trail to find out all about this enticing seafood! Virginia also serves a wide variety of other exotic seafood as clams, scallops, croakers, mackerel, eel, ray, to name a few.
Virginia is also particularly known for the Smithfield ham with its distinct salty flavour that is best enjoyed with ham biscuits. The Brunswick stew a thick and savoury stew that was traditional made with rabbit, but is now popularly made with chicken. Other famous foods of Virginia are its maple syrup, homegrown peanuts, stone-ground pancakes, deviled eggs, and apple pie.
Amazed at the wide array of things to do in Virginia? Wait no longer – whatever you love to do Virginia has it for you – just head out.