20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Virginia

Jul 22, 2021

Virginias most recent ranking on the list of most popular places to visit in the USA was number 1.

Apart from a dazzling coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, Virginias amazing capital, Washington DC, and rural mountains, Virginias attractions also include a thriving city of historical old towns, gorgeous state parks, and historic plantations.

Places to visit in Virginias beautiful state include six of Americas UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than 200 national parks and monuments, and the original location of the Declaration of Independence, at the most prominent city in the USA, Philadelphia.

One of the many reasons to travel to the USA is the many things to see and do, and Virginias attractions are the perfect place to start. Plan your itinerary with our list of the top attractions in Virginia.

Mount Vernon

Photo of Mount Vernon, Virginia
Mount Vernon, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

With the name George Washington's estate, Mount Vernon is most familiar to Americans as the home of George Washington, America's first president. The property has been a private farm since the Washington family took possession of it in 1757 and it became a landmark in its own right, drawing a host of American presidents to stay there. The core of the property is the mansion, the oldest house in continuous occupation in the country, which is open for self-guided tours during the summer months. While the house itself is largely unchanged since George Washington's day, many aspects of the building life are more modern. After touring the house, you can enjoy a tour of the well-kept grounds, including the maze, reflecting pool and gardens, which are adorned with huge statues of Greek mythology figures.

Williamsburg

Photo of Williamsburg, Virginia
Williamsburg, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

The quaint town of Williamsburg, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains, is located in the heart of the picturesque Virginia countryside and is well worth a day's visit. For the visitor who enjoys the good things in life, Williamsburg has a certain charm that is hard to find in cities that have seen better days. A pleasant setting is another attraction of Williamsburg. Almost a village within a village, Williamsburg can be reached by train, car, or bus, and has a history stretching back to the colonial era. The visitor will find that it is charmingly laid out, with historic streets and houses remaining the same as they were 200 years ago. Historic houses, museums, shops, and galleries abound in Williamsburg and the visitor is sure to enjoy seeing how the Williamsburg colonial town retains its charm today. The town is also home to many private homes and the Ivy Inn & Spa and the Williamsburg Inn are particularly notable for their character. Colonial Williamsburg has made many improvements to the area and the town offers tourists great experiences and recreational opportunities. Williamsburg is within a day's drive of Williamsburg Winery, Blue Ridge Casino, Canaan Valley Resort, and the world famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: en.wikipedia.org

A relatively small art museum situated on a campus of similar-sized schools, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (aka the VMA) houses collections of fine art from around the globe. These include examples of classic works of art from the Egyptian, Greek and Roman periods as well as from 17th and 18th century Europe. Visitors can also view a rather eccentric collection of Chinese and Japanese art, along with 20th century modern art. To make the most of your visit, get an insiders' tour of the VMA, and explore the campus, with its many galleries, exhibitions, workshops and special programs.

Washington Monument

Photo of Virginia Washington Monument
Virginia Washington Monument: en.wikipedia.org

The Washington Monument is the world's tallest marble obelisk. During construction in 1848, Washington discovered the plans in a bottle washed ashore. Although he wanted a much bigger building to honor himself, the plans were never approved by the U.S. Congress, and it wasn't until 1895, three years after his death, that a resolution was finally passed to begin construction.

Colonial Williamsburg

Photo of Colonial Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg: en.wikipedia.org

After enjoying the quaint town of Williamsburg on its Historic Courthouse Square, step back in time with a visit to one of the great, history-filled Colonial Williamsburg landmarks. Dating back to 1721, it is home to the General and Prince of Wales' Houses and the lively costumed interpreters are well-versed in their roles and eager to share the history of the eighteenth century with visitors. This park encompasses miles of footpaths and scenic roads, giving the visitor the opportunity to explore on his or her own, or for a guided tour. Filled with colonial architecture, historic homes and gardens, and dozens of museums and monuments, the park is a must for any visitor to the U.S.

Yorktown Battlefield

Photo of Yorktown, Virginia
Yorktown, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Yorktown, a former tobacco and grain port on Virginia's Eastern Shore, was occupied from 1777 to 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. On October 19, 1781, Washington's forces under Nathanael Greene defeated the British under Lord Cornwallis in the Battle of Yorktown and their ensuing retreat along the Yorktown Road during the last part of the siege of Yorktown. The victory was one of the turning points of the war, and the site itself is of great importance in that it's the location of the largest American Civil War field of battle where 4,500 men fought. After the war, the site was settled into a fishing village. The current park, including some of the land where Yorktown is located, was built in 1891. The park was the largest in the U.S. when it opened and includes an open field with some cannons from the battle that are still on site, an information center, a small museum, a five-acre battle site, and a church. Some of the original British army buildings from 1780 that were destroyed during the war have been restored, and there is a replica of the Yorktown Gun Battery that is said to have fired the first shot in the war.

Shenandoah National Park

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Shenandoah National Park: en.wikipedia.org

Shenandoah National Park lies just to the north of the state of Virginia in the rolling Appalachian hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With a huge number of steeply carved valleys, forests of towering old growth and post-fire balds, and steep ridgelines, the park is a magical place to explore and enjoy. Activities in Shenandoah include climbing and hiking at New Market, Woodstock, and Luray; mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, and fishing at the Mountain Lake Park Visitor Center and Stony Man; horseback riding at Beechwood Farm and Moores Knob; backpacking or camping in Shenandoah, Cheoah, Blackwater, and Swift Run-Swamp Orchids; and scenic tours by automobile, bicycle, horse, or raft. Hiking in the park can be difficult, as several popular trails are steep and rocky. As a result, many hikes in the park focus on shorter distances. The Appalachian Trail, which stretches 2,200 miles through the eastern US, and the southern Appalachian Mountains mark the edge of the park, and hikers are usually required to register before entering the park. In the northern part of the park, look for the Appalachian Trail Tour, which allows you to explore all but the most difficult areas of the trail.

Jamestown

Photo of Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Jamestown is an historic, coastal town located across from historic Yorktown, Virginia. Jamestown has been referred to as the birthplace of America, thanks to the discovery of its first permanent English settlement in the New World. The city is home to the National Museum of the United States Navy, the National Park Service, and the Jamestown Settlement, among other interesting attractions. Jamestown is best reached by car from Norfolk or Richmond. It can also be reached by train or bus. Most visitors stay in nearby Williamsburg.

Central Park, New York City

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Central Park: en.wikipedia.org

New York City is probably the most famous park in the US and one of the most visited national parks in the world. Spanning more than 995 square miles and home to the Statue of Liberty and Broadway, Central Park is a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike. With its 62 miles of trails, horse-drawn carriages and bicycle rentals, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities and tours such as the Ullrich Tour (walking tour), a boat ride or a guided horse-drawn carriage ride. Or you could just relax at one of the many open air cafes, listen to the sound of New York, or sit by the lake and enjoy a stunning sun set.

The Shenandoah Valley

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Shenandoah Valley: en.wikipedia.org

Shenandoah is a picturesque valley and part of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, with picturesque small towns and rural villages sprinkled throughout. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Shenandoah as you take walks along the stream-and-hiker-filled trail system, or by relaxing on the green and red Appalachian foliage. Mount Rogers National Recreation Area includes the highest peak in Shenandoah. An easy half-hour hike along the ridge of the 11,038-foot peak will reward you with superb views. The Shenandoah National Park covers about 70,000 acres, with most of the area within a few hundred yards of the visitor center. The big draws are the mountain parks and forests, the state parks and recreation areas and the caves, including Pipe Creek, Bowmans Castle, Cades Cove and Nickajack.

Stone Mountain

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Stone Mountain: en.wikipedia.org

Native Americans considered Stone Mountain, located in central Virginia, to be one of the world's largest granite monoliths. Rising 2,420 feet above sea level and weighing in at 11,000,000 tons, Stone Mountain is covered with glistening white granite and shaped like the body of an enormous human. Most of the mountain consists of a single granite mass more than 1.5 miles long and 300 feet thick. The face of Stone Mountain is covered with various types of flora. Although visitors are often just looking for a place to go for a stroll, there are also scenic drives and paths through the area. Mount Mitchell State Park, on the eastern side of the mountain, offers scenic hiking, camping, boating, and swimming. Also of interest is the visitor center, which has exhibits and information about the mountain. A little farther to the north of Stone Mountain, 1,600 miles away, is a series of caves under the remote Appalachian Mountains called Mammoth.

Museum of the Confederacy

Photo of American Civil War Museum
American Civil War Museum: en.wikipedia.org

The Museum of the Confederacy, founded in 1866 by Jefferson Davis, was built in the 1820s and designed by architect James Renwick. The white Doric-columned building stands amid elegant lawns and gardens and was built to help the Confederates achieve victory in the Civil War. Now this landmark symbol of Southern pride serves as a national museum of American history. It offers a permanent exhibition of original artifacts and art that display the history of the South and the nation from the Civil War through the Civil Rights movement. It also houses a museum store that stocks books, specialty souvenirs, and nostalgic music and video. The museums highlights include a memorabilia-filled room that documents the famed Stonewall Jackson cup, a Confederate spyglass used to send messages from the mountains during the war, and a fascinating presentation about the Civil War. There is also a re-creation of a Civil War regiment and an exhibit about African-Americans and the war. A separate museum is dedicated to the role of women during the war. A separate small exhibition about Jefferson Davis, the nation's 13th president, who was a native of the city and did much to promote the heritage of Virginia, also resides at the museum.

Fredericksburg

Photo of Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Not too far from Washington, D.C. (as the crow flies), Fredericksburg is a pretty town, although the Potomac River has silted in over the years. The town has several cafés and bars where you can spend the day before taking a quick trip to nearby Harpers Ferry, a turn-of-the-19th-century river town that you can see from a distance from the town of Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg is known for several things: its excellent apple and cherry orchards, its 18th-century brick row houses, and one of the most renowned festivals in the country. The most famous event, the Gathering, takes place in the nearby Gettysburg battlefield, where 600,000 Civil War veterans from all over the country converge on the anniversary of the battle. These events attract hundreds of thousands of people every July.

Blue Ridge Mountains

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Blue Ridge Mountains: en.wikipedia.org

Nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, Harpers Ferry is a charming town of pastel buildings, beautiful nature, and historic districts where the Civil War took place. The first sight of this fine town is the beige St. John's Catholic Church, also known as the Blue Church. Built in 1863, the church features an 18,000-pound copper dome, which is unique in the U.S. This is also where you'll find the Antietam National Battlefield, where the bloodiest day of the Civil War took place. Not only do you get to witness the haunting story of the battle but you'll also find plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and other places to enjoy in this attractive town.

Charlottesville

Photo of Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

One of the main draws to Charlottesville is the University of Virginia, a storied, conservative institution based in a beautiful campus on 600 wooded acres. Also based on the grounds of the University of Virginia are several of the town's most popular attractions, including the Thomas Jefferson Inn, a luxurious inn set in a turn-of-the-century mansion, where the famous president of the United States once stayed; Monticello, home of Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia; the Downtown Mall; and the Arcade. History buffs will find the Downtown Mall, with its number of exhibits from the museum and other institutions, particularly interesting. In addition to artifacts from historic Charlottesville, the Downtown Mall boasts a number of small museums, including the French Broad Art Museum and the Hillwood Museum of Art. If you're a history fan, these two museums alone make it worth a visit.

Kenmore

Photo of Kenmore (Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Kenmore (Fredericksburg, Virginia): en.wikipedia.org

Kenmore is one of the little historic towns and villages on the shores of the Potomac River in Northern Virginia. Kenmore itself is very small, with just a few shops and restaurants. In fact, Kenmore was originally part of Fairfax County, until that county became a city in 1976. Some locals feel that this was an attempt to merge Kenmore and nearby Mount Vernon, so that locals would get poorer housing and lower property taxes. The town of Alexandria is to the south of Kenmore, and is full of popular attractions. It is a great shopping, cultural and educational center, and can be reached by car, train, or Metro. Kenmore lies within the Northwest quadrant of Alexandria.

Wolf Trap

Photo of Wolf Trap, Virginia
Wolf Trap, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Although not yet open to the public for winter skiing, Wolf Trap has been enticing visitors with its picturesque views, ample trails and bright azure waters for years. This 2,400-acre park is located 10 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. It was developed in the 1950s by the National Park Service for both mountain hiking and picnicking and was purchased in 1979 by The Walt Disney Company. In the park are 15 trails open to hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and wheelchair users, a skate park, two playgrounds, 10 picnic areas, a waterslide, a walking bridge, camping facilities and a restaurant. Visitors can also rent bicycles, mountain bikes and canoes. Wolf Trap is less than two hours from Washington D.C. and less than three hours from Baltimore.

Manhattan Bridge, New York City

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Manhattan: en.wikipedia.org

Manhattan Bridge is the first of two Brooklyn-Queens span crossings of the East River, and for pedestrians and cyclists, it is the longest continuous bridge over a navigable waterway in the world. Though now dwarfed by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which opened in 1964, the Manhattan Bridge is still a key link between downtown Brooklyn and points in Queens. The bridge, which was opened in 1931, links bustling Bay Ridge with the Bronx. Points of interest in Brooklyn include Bay Ridge itself, which has a distinctive Italian-American architectural style. In the vicinity are the Brooklyn Public Library, St. Paul's and Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Churches, and St. Vincent De Paul, the country's oldest Roman Catholic church. If you're on foot, the pedestrian ferry operates daily and runs from Manhattan to either DUMBO or Brookyln Harbor, stopping at Van Dyke Street in Bay Ridge and Governor's Island in the Bronx. In the Bronx, highlights include the South Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Bronx Zoo, the country's largest. If you're near Penn Station, there are numerous attractions in downtown Manhattan, including the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center and Museum of Modern Art.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park

Photo of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park: en.wikipedia.org

With its verdant forests, rolling hills, meandering rivers, stone walls, and even a trolley car line running through it, Fredericksburg is the quintessential Southern American town. The small town is surrounded by Spotsylvania National Military Park, a fascinating example of a typical Civil War-era army fort and training grounds. Hiking the Battlefield Trails provides visitors with an opportunity to see some of the forts and other surviving structures, while Fort Whitehurst, the centerpiece of the park, preserves the massive 120-foot artillery cliff-top gun position. The historic town center is also a popular destination, and includes a number of restored 18th century homes. Some are open to the public, while others are furnished for private rentals.

Virginia Beach

Photo of Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Not to be confused with more serene, less crowded Virginia, America's old south, Virginia Beach is almost a sprawling metropolis, located midway between New York City and Washington D.C. America's oldest resort town, and first established in 1619, Virginia Beach has changed little over the past 400 years, giving it a wonderful feel of authenticity, and over the last 50 years, a seedy, neon-lit look. Today, with miles of coastline, in addition to traditional seaside life, the city is known for its lively nightlife and action-packed boardwalk, where visitors can purchase the latest in heavy-metal music, and watch surfer "surfs" practice their craft. Visitors to the beach can either stay in a plush hotel, and rent a car for an excursion into the many other small towns scattered throughout the peninsula, including Ocean View, North Carolina, or Norfolk, Virginia. Today, despite its place in American popular culture, Virginia Beach is both a romantic and a family destination, and its annual AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour, held at nearby National Harbor, attracts thousands of spectators every year.