Every state has those little things that make it unique. Sometimes it’s an accent or a particular food. Other times it’s the geography or history. Whatever it is, these are the things that make living there something special. And when Virginia comes to mind, here are just a few of the things that people think of…
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Civil War (or the "War of Naw-thun Aggression" to some)
Richmond, Virginia was the Capital of the Confederacy, many of the top generals called Virginia home (including R.E. Lee), and more than half of the battles were fought here. So it's really only fair that this is a chart-topper when it comes to iconic Virginia.
2. Historic Homes and Plantations
Considering all the historical figures Virginia has produced, from colonists to statesmen to military leaders, it makes senses that their homes have become significant places to visit. Thankfully, we also have amazing groups like Preservation Virginia to keep them intact and available to us.
3. Mountains. Sigh. It just doesn't get much better than the Blue Ridge.
…and the Appalachians and the Shenandoah Valley...
4. Beautiful beaches
We may not be known for beaches the same way other states are - I mean, Baywatch wasn't filmed here, after all. But we have some of the most stunning coastlines you'll ever see. And that's good enough for me.
C.P. Ewing / flickr
Although we share the cardinal as a state bird with 6 other states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia),
it's one of the most common symbols for Virginia, appearing on state advertisements, signs, and merchandise.
6. The NoVA 'Burbs
Awww…c'mon! Virginia is more than just Northern Virginia and Northern Virginia is more than just the 'burbs. We've got all kinds of history and good ol' Virginia tradition tied up in that crazy mix of a culture we call NoVA.
7. Music -- from the mountains and beyond
From the country and bluegrass roots of Southwest Virginia to the breeding ground of musical stardom that is Hampton Roads, Virginia makes music left, right, and center.
8. Government and Politics
Politics are simply part of our story. With the oldest continuously operating legislature in the Western Hemisphere - and a border shared by the nation's capitol - it's only natural.
It's our state tree - and the flower. The dogwood was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson's in the 1770s and was grown at his home, Monticello. Since it was named state flower in 1918, the dogwood and its blooms have been an iconic symbol of the Commonwealth.
10. Virginia Ham
It's pretty much in the name. While "Country Ham" refers to a style of curing meat, "Virginia Ham" refers to our particular style of doing it here. Salty, flavorful, and full of goodness, Smithfield Ham is our most famous ham and can only be cured in the town of Smithfield by law.
11. Super Top-Secret Spy Stuff…don't ask any questions. I've already said too much.
With CIA headquarters at Langley and countless other training grounds throughout the state, WE don't even know what's going on. And yes, we understand the irony of the sign. Don't worry, it's right next to the "Richard Nixon Center for Government Transparency" and the "Bill Clinton Intern Training Center."
12. Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. The Holy Trinity for History Lovers.
Few visitors to Virginia make it out without seeing these three. And with good reason - this is where it all began.
13. Southern Belles and Virginia Gentlemen
Oh yes, we have those a-plenty! You can tell them by their elegant southern accents, mean mint juleps, refined manners, and the ability to "bless your heart" without you even realizing you've been put in your place.
14. Hillbillies - sure we have 'em. Proud of it, too!
One of my favorite comments recently was a reader from Southwest Virginia who said, "I'm a hillbilly and proud of it. But don't confuse hillbilly with redneck." There are others still who wear the name redneck like a badge. Just remember, being from the country or the mountains or simply enjoying the simpler things in life isn't a bad thing. So be proud of who you are, whatever that might be.
15. POTUSes…or is that POTUSi?
That's Presidents Of The United States, in case you were wondering. Virginia just couldn't seem to stop cranking out presidents from 1732 - 1913. During this time, 8 U.S. Presidents were born here, earning us the nickname "Birthplace of Presidents."
16. Military. A Long and Proud Tradition
Virginia saw the end of the Revolutionary War in Yorktown, the end of the Civil War in Appomattox, and more battles than you can imagine in between. Today, we are home to the Arlington National Cemetery, countless memorials, and nearly 30 military bases and installments.
Whether it's the Highland Ponies at Grayson Highlands State Park and Mt Rogers Recreational Area or the world-famous ponies of Chincoteague, we have 'em and we LOVE 'em.
18. Chesapeake Bay Crabs and Eastern Shore Oysters
I just read an article the other day discussing just how much of the nation's seafood comes from China…and how much of it is contaminated. And all I could think was "Thank God for Virginia!" With plenty of tasty blue crabs and 7 varieties of homegrown oysters, we have everything we need right here.
I’m sure you’ve all heard interesting things over the years when people from other states talk about their impressions or stereotypes of Virginia. Use the comments section below to tell us about some of the things you think come to mind when Virginia pops up in conversation!