If you live in Virginia, chances are you’ve hit the big spots. You’ve been to Busch Gardens. You’ve seen the sights in D.C. You’ve done the mandatory grade school field trip to Colonial Williamsburg – let’s be honest, it’s a rite of passage and who doesn’t love people dressed in period costume churning butter? But if you’re looking for a road trip that’s not just about tourist destinations, but truly about beauty and inspiration, these 15 places are a must-see.
15) The Homestead.
Located in Hot Springs, Virginia, The Homestead is a taste of good ol' Southern elegance. Two natural hot springs and 45 acres of indoor and outdoor splendor have made this a prime destination for travelers from around the world.
14) Yorktown Battlefield.
This is where it all began – or ended, depending on your point of view. The site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War, it's a must-see for any history buff.
13) Luray Caverns Wishing Well.
Hidden inside the largest cavern series in the East, this glowing green pond will make you believe in magic even before you throw in your penny.
12) Virginia Wine Country.
It's all about the grapes, but the stunning views don't hurt. Virginia is putting herself on the map for beauty and taste at wineries like this one in Central Virginia.
11) The Shenandoah Valley.
Sporting nicknames like “The Big Valley” and “The Bread Basket of the Confederacy," the Shenandoah Valley is a 200-mile stretch of breathtaking beauty through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains.
10) Great Falls Park.
It’s easy to forget that things like traffic, deadlines and real life exist when you stand at the edge of Great Falls in McLean, Virginia. In the urban hub of Virginia, the Potomac River gathers at Great Falls to make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world - or at the very least the set of “Outlander."
9) The James River through Richmond.
We may not be able to compete with New York or Chicago when it comes to city skylines, but we’ll see your skyline and raise you the James River. As it run through Richmond, the James features the only class III and IV rapids in any city…that’s right ANY city.
8) The Jefferson Hotel.
Built in 1895, The Jefferson's Old World elegance makes it one of the finest hotels in America. It’s all too easy to feel like the belle of the ball walking down the grand staircase…or maybe that’s just the Scarlett O’Hara in me.
The home of our third President, Thomas Jefferson, Monticello was designed and built by T.J. himself. In addition to the house, which I like to call “Jefferson’s brain museum," Monticello features working gardens and nearly 360-degree views of the surrounding Charlottesville countryside.
6) Gravelly Point.
Set alongside the George Washington Parkway, Gravelley Point is a year-round favorite for bikers, joggers and my personal choice, “walkers." It's the perfect place to stop and take in the D.C. skyline or watch planes coming in and out of the nearby Ronald Reagan airport.
5) The Canal Walk.
From sunny riverside paths and gondola rides to deliciously dark and eerie tunnels, the canal walk takes visitors through 400 years of history along one of the earliest trade routes in and out of Richmond.
4) The Blue Ridge Parkway.
While this might be a treasure we share with our neighbors to the west and south, Virginia’s portion of the Parkway delivers incredible views of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests – with plenty of stops along the way for you hiking types.
3) Arlington National Cemetery.
There are few places more powerful - or humbling - than the Arlington National Cemetery. The final resting place for more than 14,000 veterans dating as far back as the Civil War, Arlington is one of the oldest national cemeteries – and a breathtaking reminder of our military's sacrifice and dedication.
2) The Virginia Beach Pier.
Is there really anything more peaceful than the beach at night? Add a pier, twinkling lights and a warm evening breeze and you have yourself a little bit of heaven.
1) Natural Bridge.
Located in Rockbridge County, Natural Bridge is truly one of the wonders of the world. No really, Natural Bridge has been featured on multiple “natural wonders” lists throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Monacan Indian folklore claims it appeared as an escape route during battle.
The world is full of beauty, make no mistake. But for Virginians, there’s just no place like home and it’s easy to see why. This list doesn’t begin to cover all that our beautiful state has to offer, so let me know some of your favorites and let’s get the word out there!