Virginia is one of the 13 colonies that was named after Queen Elizabeth I, also known as “the virgin queen”. Virginia is known as the birthplace of American presidents, as well as the state where both the Civil War and the American Revolution ended.
However, aside from its historical importance, this state is also famous for its wonders of nature and numerous landmarks.
Here is a list of some of the best landmarks in Virginia that are worth seeing and exploring.
Famous Landmarks in Virginia
1. George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon is the beloved home of the first American president, George Washington. It is the most popular historic estate in the US.
You have a unique opportunity to explore the place where George and Martha lived and learn more about their lives.
Mount Vernon is situated on the Potomac River and has multiple exhibits that you can explore besides the president’s residence itself.
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There is a burial site of the president and his wife, the Slave Memorial, a museum and education center, and a working farm.
There are also other places you can visit near Mount Vernon. One of them is Fort Washington Park. You can also drive to Washington DC that is located only 13 miles from Mount Vernon.
2. Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in the United States that is located just across the Potomac River from Washington DC.
The cemetery was established during the Civil War in 1864 by the order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. It was created because the fatalities during the war began to outpace the burial capacity of the cemeteries in Washington DC.
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Today, it is the final resting place for many American heroes, including more than 300,000 veterans. At the cemetery, you can see the Tom of the Unknown Soldier, as well as the monument for the deceased American soldiers whose remains have not been identified.
You can also see the ceremony of the changing of the guard that takes place throughout the day when the cemetery is open.
If you are interested in the military history of the country and want to learn more, you can also visit the Pentagon, situated on the northwest corner of the cemetery.
3. First Landing State Park
First Landing State Park is another famous historic landmark that is known as the landing site of English Settlers who arrived in America on April 26, 1607. The park is located in Cape Henry on North Virginia Beach.
It is the oldest park in Virginia, and it welcomes over 1 million people every year. It has over 19 miles of hiking trails, incredible coastal habitats, and a lot of fascinating attractions, including the Rainbow Swamp.
There are also maritime forests, cypress swamps, and beautiful lagoons that are worth seeing and exploring. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, First Landing State Park is for you as it offers many activities, such as biking, hiking, camping, and swimming.
It is a perfect place for families and solo outdoor activities. You can also visit the neighboring cities, including Chesapeake and Norfolk.
4. Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas National Battlefield Park is a very significant historical attraction that is known as the site of two major battles of the American Civil War – the First Battle of Manassas that occurred on July 21st, 1861, and the Second Battle of Manassas that took place from August 28th to August 30th, 1862.
It was established in 1940 and attracts about 700,000 visitors every year. You can take a walking tour of the park, explore the historic site, and learn more about the war and the battles.
If you are a history and military fan, you can also head over to Washington DC, or visit Arlington National Cemetery.
The Manassas National Battlefield Park is also not far from Mount Vernon and the Potomac River. Also, one of the best think about this landmark is that the entrance is free.
5. Shenandoah National Park
This park is located near Elkton, Luray, and is known as one of the greatest and most famous natural landmarks in the state. The park has over 500 miles of hiking trails, including about 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
If you love nature and spending time outdoors, you should definitely visit this park. There are plenty of fun outdoor things to do, such as hiking, biking, camping, and more.
You can also climb the mountain peaks, see fascinating waterfalls, and enjoy its breathtaking scenic views. You should also drive Skyline Drive that is known as one of the best scenic roads in the United States.
When you are done exploring the park, you can also visit Washington DC that is only a few hours away. If you prefer to stay outdoors and be more adventurous, there is George Washington and Jefferson National Forest nearby.
6. Booker T. Washington National Monument
This monument is located in Franklin County known as the birthplace of Booker T. Washington. He was an American educator, philanthropist, reformer, and orator.
He was born as a slave on one of the tobacco farms and became one of the most influential African American leaders in the 19th and 20th centuries. He lived until after the Civil War and established Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.
By visiting Booker T. Washington National Monument and the park, you can learn more about slavery, Washington’s life, his achievements, and his legacy. You can also visit George Washington and Jefferson National Forest that is located nearby.
7. Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center
Do you want to learn more about the American history of the 18th century? Do you want to see what life in the United States was like centuries ago? You should visit the Colonial Williamsburg visitor center known as one the world’s largest living history museums.
It is part of Virginia’s Historic Triangle that includes Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown.
It is located in a historic part of the town of Williamsburg, Virginia, and encompasses over 300 acres of iconic sites, exhibition halls, historic buildings, and gardens that are staffed by costume characters that portray colonial citizens of the 18th century and show their everyday life.
It is a perfect place to spend time with a family and kids and learn more about American history in a fun and interactive way.
One of the must-see attractions near Charlottesville is Monticello that is known as the historic home of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and the author of the Declaration of Independence.
Monticello is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also a striking example of French Neoclassical architecture in the US. Today, Monticello is one of the most visited historic homes in the county.
Thomas Jefferson started building it when he was only 26 years old after inheriting the land from his father. You can take a guided tour of the house, as well as outdoor garden and plantation tours that are offered from April to October.
There is also a digital exhibition “The Life of Sally Hemings” that is based on the recollections of Thomas Jefferson’s and Sally Heming’s son Madison.
9. Historic Jamestown
Historic Jamestown is another great Virginia landmark that gives you a unique opportunity to learn more about the history of the first permanent English settlement in the United States that was established by the colonists in 1607.
First, it was the location of the James Fort and later the location of Jamestown. It is located on Jamestown Island and is a living history museum that recreates the life of the English colony.
There are plenty of things to do and experience, including visiting gallery exhibits, exploring the Archaearium museum, and even seeing an active excavation.
It is also worth visiting this landmark with a family and kids because there are educational and fun programs for young visitors.
10. Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns are the largest and most visited caverns in America. They were discovered in 1878 in the Shenandoah Valley of Luray, Virginia.
This unique cavern system attracts visitors by its great variety of speleothems, such as columns, stalagmites, mud flows, stalactites, and mirrored pools.
The caverns are open year-round and they have a steady temperature of 54F regardless of the temperature outside. The most unique feature of these caverns is that there are no steps at any part of the 1.25-mile tour.
Visiting Luray Caverns is definitely a unique and memorable experience for the whole family.