Considering our history of exploration, from the first colonists to Lewis and Clark and beyond, it’s no surprise that Virginians are known for their adventurous spirits. We like to get out and explore the world around us, and thankfully, Virginia has plenty of places to do just that. If you’re looking to get out and about for some exploration this year, here are some of the places you’re definitely going to want on your to-do list.
1. Breaks Interstate Park, Breaks
Hailed as the “Grand Canyon of the South”, Breaks Canyon is the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi and is, without a doubt, the highlight of Breaks Interstate Park in southwest Virginia. Located within the Jefferson National Forest, the canyon ranges from 830-1,600-feet in depth and stretches five miles in length. With hiking and walking trails, a water park and ample cabin and camping accommodations, Breaks Interstate Park is a must-see for anyone who loves to explore the great outdoors. You can find the park at 627 Commission Cir, Breaks, VA 24607.
2. Coal Canyon Trail, Buchanan County
As the newest trail system on the Spearhead Trails in Buchanan County, Coal Canyon is a 20-mile, multi-use trail through some of Buchanan’s beautifully repurposed coal fields. Its wide views and easy terrain make it perfect for ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles) and serves as an ideal place to plan an outing with family or friends. Eventually, the trail will cover 100 miles, connecting the town of Grundy to Haysi. To learn where you can rent ATVs or for trail maps and directions, visit
3. Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond
If you have young explorers, or just don’t want to face the winter cold, try the indoor world of discovery at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond. Featuring 6 permanent exhibits, ongoing special exhibits and events, and "The Dome," the most technologically advanced digital dome theater in the world according the museum website, the
Science Museum of Virginia
is a great place for kids, teens and adults to learn about world of science and technology.
4. Chief Benge Scout Trail, Norton
Beginning at the High Knob Trailhead and High Knob Observation Tower, the Chief Benge Scout Trail winds through forests, along the shores of High Knob Lake, beside the Little Stony, across the Mountain Fork Creek and past Bark Camp Lake. Although the trail ends at the Little Stony Falls Trailhead, many will go the extra half-mile to see the falls themselves. Chief Bob Benge, for whom the trail is named, was an infamous Native American chief, known for raiding European settlements throughout southwest Virginia in the late 1700's, killing dozens of settlers. Today, you can hike the trail through these tranquil, historic lands and imagine life as it was hundreds of years ago.
to learn more about the Chief Benge Scout Trail.
5. Gunston Hall, Lorton
is the former home of George Mason, one of the many founding fathers and esteemed statesmen who called Virginia home. Gunston Hall was built in the 1750s on what became a booming 5,550-acre tobacco and corn plantation. Known for its carefully preserved architecture, this Georgian mansion still features its original ornate Gothic woodwork and elaborate carvings, features that were highly unusual in colonial times. Today, the house and land serve as a museum with tours and living history exhibits, as well as ongoing, interactive programs on colonial life and archaeology digs.
6. The Virginia Capital Trail – from Colonial Williamsburg to Richmond.
This 52-mile trail from the colonial capital of Williamsburg to the present day capital in Richmond only opened in October 2015, but already the Virginia Capital Trail is a must-do for outdoor adventurers. The dedicated, paved path offers the opportunity to walk, bike or run through 400 years of history. Running parallel to the scenic Route 5 corridor, the Virginia Capital Trail provides glimpses of countless sites and landscapes that have shaped Virginia’s past and present. To learn more, visit
Virginia Capital Trail
7. Luray Caverns, Luray
As the most well-known cavern series in Virginia, and the largest cavern series in the East, Luray Caverns is famous for its dazzling formations, awe-inspiring underground lakes and magnificent caves. But once you’re done exploring the wonders beneath the ground, Luray Caverns offers much more. In addition to guided cavern tours, you’ll find museums, a seven-acre 19th century farming village, gem sluicing, a garden maze, a ropes course, a 47-bell tower, a country club and a vineyard, guaranteeing that the explorer in your will be satisfied, no matter what you’re looking for. Discover the caverns for yourself at 101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA 22835.
8. Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing, New Castle
This year-round base camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains is more than just a getaway – it’s an adventure for the whole family. With camps and event weekends starting in the late spring,
Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing
offers bed and breakfast stays at their main lodge or cabins throughout the cooler months, with opportunities to add on zip lines and rock wall climbing. As the weather turns warmer, get ready for canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, guided expeditions and much, much more.
9. Bob Cage’s Sculpture Farm, South Boston
If artistic creativity is your thing, but an indoor museum feels a bit stifling, then get ready to explore art in a whole new way. Halifax native, Bob Cage, passed away in 2014, but he left an enduring legacy behind with his sculpture farm, a large field filled with larger-than-life creations. Cage, a well-loved local artist and retired tobacco auctioneer, spent decades creating the sculptures that have been called a “must-see” when visiting Halifax County. The farm is on a country road, accessible anytime, but because there are no scheduled tours, you may want to stop by the nearby Halifax Visitor Center at the corner of Hwy 58 and 360 for directions. The center is open 7 days a week, Monday – Saturay, 9am – 5pm, and Sunday, 12pm - pm.
10. The Homeplace Mountain Farm and Museum, Gate City
If you like exploring Virginia’s mountain history, the Homeplace Mountain Farm and Museum is the perfect place to start. The Homeplace features cabins and other authentic structures from the mid-1800s that were found throughout Scott County. Each structure was carefully moved and reassembled at the site, resulting in a living history museum that meticulously depicts life in 19th century life in Southwest Virginia. With classes offered in traditional arts and crafts, as well as displays of quilts, pottery, household tools, molasses makers, candles and more, The Homeplace provides a hands-on, interactive approach to learning mountain culture in Virginia. You can find the Homeplace Mountain Farm and Museum on Rte. 224 in Gate City, VA 24251.
11. Devil’s Den Nature Preserve, Fancy Gap
This geological wonder, referred to as the "Devil's Den," sits at 2,906 feet just south of the Blue Ridge Parkway in an area surrounded by frontier history and fairy tale magic. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the cave began forming 600-million-years ago with the collision of Appalachian and Piedmont rock encrustations. A 280-acre nature preserve surrounds the cave and contains hardwood forests and open plateaus filled with deer, foxes, birds, bats and many species of migrating butterflies. To find the preserve, travel south on US 52, cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway, then turn right on Old Appalachian Trail, just after the bridge. Follow Old Appalachian Trail for 1.3 miles, then turn left on Cemetery Road. The preserve will be 0.1 miles ahead on the left.
12. Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge, Woodbridge
Wildlife is plentiful in Virginia. But if birds are your things, then Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge will keep you busy for days. Only 18 miles out of Washington D.C., the Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge on the Potomac River was the first national refuge purposed specifically for protecting bald eagles. This free refuge hosts eagles, herons, deer and many other species of wildlife on 2,227-acres of forest, marsh and Potomac shoreline. You can find the refuge at High Point Road in Lorton, VA 22079.
With so many places to explore in Virginia, these 12 are just the start of many adventures. If you have some favorite places that you would like to see highlighted on a second list, let us know in the comments below and we will be sure to check them out!
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