Virginia destinations, parks and attractions
Are you going on a road trip to Virginia, looking for tips about the destinations so you and your party can enjoy it, be comfortable and not spend a fortune?
Here are some of the top destinations in Virginia and tips about visiting them
National parks and monuments in Virginia
- Appalachian National Scenic Trail,
Maine to Georgia, CT,GA,MA,MD,ME,NC,NH,NJ,NY,PA,TN,VA,VT,WV.
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,180+ mile long public footpath that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains. Conceived in 1921, built by private citizens, and completed in 1937, today the trail is managed by the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.
- Appomattox Court House National Historic Park,
On April 9, 1865, the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia signaled the end of the nation's largest war. Two important questions about its future were answered. Could the nation survive a civil war intact, and would that nation exist without slavery? The answer to both was yes and a new nation was born.
- Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, Arlington, VA.
Arlington House is the nation’s memorial to Robert E. Lee. It honors him for specific reasons, including his role in promoting peace and reunion after the Civil War. In a larger sense it exists as a place of study and contemplation of the meaning of some of the most difficult aspects of American history: military service; sacrifice; citizenship; duty; loyalty; slavery and freedom.
- Assateague Island National Seashore,
Want to live on the edge? Visit a place recreated each day by ocean wind and waves. Life on Assateague Island has adapted to an existence on the move. Explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays. Rest, relax, recreate and enjoy some time on the edge of the continent.
- Blue Ridge National Parkway,
Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, NC,VA.
A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other: a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. The Parkway meanders for 469 miles, protecting a diversity of plants and animals, and providing opportunities for enjoying all that makes this region of the country so special.
- Booker T Washington National Monument,
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in April 1856 on the 207-acre farm of James Burroughs. After the Civil War, Washington became the first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School. Later as an adviser, author and orator, his past would influence his philosophies as the most influential African American of his era. Come explore his birthplace.
PART OF COLONIAL NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Fort Story, VA
English colonists first landed here in April 1607, erected a wooden cross and gave thanks for a successful crossing to a new land. In 1781, Americans could watch from these same sand dunes the largest naval battle of the Revolutionary War. Our French Allies defeated a British fleet just off this shore to set the stage for General George Washington's victory at Yorktown.
- Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail,
Various States VA,MD,DE,DC,PA,NY.
People first arrived in the Chesapeake Bay during the last ice age. As glaciers melted, diverse societies learned to thrive in a world of water. When Englishman Captain John Smith explored the Bay in 1608, he documented hundreds of American Indian communities. Today, sites on his map are archeological treasures and sacred sites for tribal citizens. Come join us on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay!
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park, Middletown and Strasburg, VA.
The Shenandoah Valley invites you to learn about its rich heritage, from Native Americans who first shaped the land, to pioneers of this frontier; this fertile area became one of the most important wheat producing regions of the entire South. The Valley also witnessed some of the most dramatic events of the Civil War,including the Battle of Cedar Creek, a decisive October 19, 1864 Union victory.
- Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Bay Watershed, DC,DE,MD,NY,PA,VA,WV.
NPS helps you learn about and enjoy the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in North America. Here, you can visit major league cities, colonial towns, American Indian landscapes, farms and fishing villages. You can learn to kayak, pick crabs, go fishing, tour a lighthouse, slurp oysters, and slow down to enjoy the natural beauty of the Chesapeake.
- Civil War Defenses of Washington, Washington, DC,MD,VA.
On forested hills surrounding the nation's capital are the remnants of a complex system of Civil War fortifications. These strategic buttresses transformed the young capital into one of the world's most fortified cities. By 1865, 68 forts and 93 batteries armed with over 800 cannons encircled Washington, DC. Today, you can visit 17 of the original sites now managed by the National Park Service.
- Colonial National Historic Park,
Jamestown and Yorktown, VA.
On May 13, 1607, Jamestown was established as the first permanent English settlement in North America. Three cultures came together - European, Virginia Indian and African–to create a new society that would eventually seek independence from Great Britain. On October 19, 1781, American and French troops defeated the British at Yorktown in the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War.
- Cumberland Gap National Historic Park,
At Cumberland Gap, the first great gateway to the west, follow the buffalo, the Native American, the longhunter, the pioneer... all traveled this route through the mountains into the wilderness of Kentucky. Modern day explorers and travelers stand in awe at this great gateway and the many miles of trails and scenic features found in the park.
- Fort Monroe National Monument,
Fort Monroe, VA.
Fort Monroe National Monument has a diverse history spanning the American story from American Indian presence, Captain John Smith's journeys, first arrival of enslaved Africans in English North America, a safe haven for freedom seekers during the American Civil War, and a bastion of defense for the Chesapeake Bay through the 21st Century. Visit and witness the on-going preservation work in action.
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Fredericksburg, VA.
Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania--this is America's battleground, where the Civil War roared to its bloody climax. No place more vividly reflects the War's tragic cost in all its forms. A town bombarded and looted. Farms large and small ruined. Refugees by the thousands forced into the countryside. More than 85,000 men wounded; 15,000 killed--most in graves unknown.
- George Washington Memorial Parkway,
The George Washington Memorial Parkway was designed for recreational driving. It links sites that commemorate important episodes in American history and preserve habitat for local wildlife. The parkway and its associated trails provide a scenic place to play and rest in the busy Washington, DC metropolitan area.
- George Washington Birthplace National Monument,
Westmoreland County, VA.
George Washington Birthplace National Monument is located in the Northern Neck of Virginia. It encompasses 550 acres of the former Popes Creek Plantation, which is the American ancestral home of the Washington Family and where George Washington was born. In addition to a Colonial Revival farm, visitor center, and historic structures, the park also has picnic grounds and a public beach.
- Great Falls National Park,
At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Great Falls Park has many opportunities to explore history and nature, all in a beautiful 800-acre park only 15 miles from the Nation's Capital.
- Green Springs, Louisa County, VA.
Green Springs National Historic Landmark District in Virginia’s Piedmont encompasses over 14,000 acres. Its landscapes and structures, privately owned today but viewable from public roads, offer a continuum of rural vernacular architecture with minimal alteration. Many of the farmsteads, often dating to the 19th century and connecting to one another visually, are preserved through easements.
- Harpers Ferry National Historic Park,
Harpers Ferry, WV,VA,MD.
A visit to this quaint, historic community, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, is like stepping into the past. Stroll the picturesque streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike our trails and battlefields. Spend a day or a weekend. We have something for everyone, so come and discover Harpers Ferry!
- Historic Jamestowne - Colonial National Historic Site - James City County, VA
Walk in the steps of Captain John Smith and Pocahontas where a successful English colonization of North America began. Despite early struggles to survive, the 1607 settlement evolved into a prosperous colony. As the colony expanded, the Virginia Indians were pushed out of their homeland. In 1619, the arrival of Africans was recorded, marking the origin of slavery in English North America.
- Maggie L Walker National Historic Site,
Maggie Lena Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for Jim Crow-era African Americans and women. As a bank president, newspaper editor, and fraternal leader, Walker served as an inspiration of pride and progress. Today, Walker’s home is preserved as a tribute to her enduring legacy of vision, courage, and determination.
- Manassas National Battlefield Park,
On July 21, 1861, two armies clashed for the first time on the fields overlooking Bull Run. Heavy fighting swept away any notion of a quick war. In August 1862, Union and Confederate armies converged for a second time on the plains of Manassas. The Confederates won a solid victory bringing them to the height of their power.
- Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail,
Stretching 330 miles through four states (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina) the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail traces the route used by patriot militia during the pivotal Kings Mountain campaign of 1780. Follow the campaign by utilizing a Commemorative Motor Route which uses existing state highways marked with the distinctive trail logo, or 87 miles of walkable pathways.
- Petersburg National Battlefield,
Nine and a half months, 70,000 casualties, the suffering of civilians, thousands of U. S. Colored Troops fighting for the freedom of their race, and the decline of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of No. Virginia all describe the Siege of Petersburg. It was here Gen. Ulysses S. Grant cut off all of Petersburg's supply lines ensuring the fall of Richmond on April 3, 1865. Six days later, Lee surrendered.
- Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail,
the corridor between the Chesapeake Bay and the Allegheny Highlands, DC,MD,PA,VA.
Over thousands of years, the Potomac River wound its way through layers of rock. Carving limestone cliffs, roaring falls, and serene winding bends, these waters created a landscape and shaped a nation. Today, the Potomac River corridor is rich in both history and recreation. Offering a chance to both explore your heritage and choose your adventure along the way. Start your journey below!
- Prince William Forest National Park,
Prince William Forest Park is an oasis, a respite of quiet and calm. In 1936, Chopawamsic Recreation Area opened its gates to house children's 'relief' camps during the Great Depression. Renamed Prince William Forest Park in 1948, these fragrant woods and trickling streams have welcomed generations of campers, hikers, bikers and nature lovers. Discover Northern Virginia's best kept secret!
- Richmond National Battlefield Park,
The center of Confederate manufacturing fueled a modern war, one of the South’s largest hospitals gave care to the sick and wounded, and armies battled on open fields and in miles of defensive earthworks. From 1861 to 1865, Richmond’s fate would determine America’s future.
- Shenandoah National Park,
the Blue Ridge Mountains near Luray, VA.
Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is a land bursting with cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, fields of wildflowers, and quiet wooded hollows. With over 200,000 acres of protected lands that are haven to deer, songbirds, and black bear, there's so much to explore...and your journey begins right here!
- Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, DC,MD,VA.
For three years the young United States was embroiled in the War of 1812 and the Chesapeake Bay region felt the brunt of it, choked by shipping blockades and ravaged by enemy raids. Through sites and landscapes in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland, the Trail tells the stories of the events, people, and places that led to the birth of the U.S. national anthem.
- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, MA,RI,CT,NY,NJ,PA,DE,MD,VA,DC.
In 1781, General Rochambeau’s French Army joined forces with General Washington’s Continental Army to fight the British Army in Yorktown, Virginia. With the French Navy in support, the allied armies moved hundreds of miles to become the largest troop movement of the American Revolution. The effort and cooperation between the two sides led to a victory at Yorktown and secured American independence.
- Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna, VA.
No matter what your age or taste in shows, you'll find something you like onstage at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. From May through September, multiple amphitheaters in the park present performances such as musicals, dance, opera, jazz, and popular and country music. A good time to explore the beauty and history of the park without the crowds is October - April.
- Yorktown Battlefield Colonial National Historic Site - Yorktown, VA
Discover what it took for the United States to be independent as you explore the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Here at Yorktown, in the fall of 1781, General George Washington, with allied American and French forces, besieged General Charles Lord Cornwallis’s British army. On October 19, Cornwallis surrendered, effectively ending the war and ensuring independence.
Virginia State parks and historic sites
- Bear Creek Lake (BC)
- Belle Isle (BI)
- Breaks Interstate (BK) *
- Caledon (CA)
- Chippokes Plantation (CP)
- Claytor Lake (CL)
- Clinch River (CR) **
- Douthat (DO)
- Fairy Stone (FS)
- False Cape (FC)
- First Landing (FL)
- Grayson Highlands (GH)
- High Bridge Trail (HB)
- Holliday Lake (HL)
- Hungry Mother (HM)
- James River (JR)
- Kiptopeke (KP)
- Lake Anna (LA)
- Leesylvania (LE)
- Mason Neck (MN)
- Machicomoco (MA)
- Natural Bridge (NB)
- Natural Tunnel (NT)
- New River Trail (NR)
- Occoneechee (OC)
- Pocahontas (PO)
- Powhatan (PW)
- Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historic (SC)
- Seven Bends (SE)
- Shenandoah River (SH)
- Shot Tower (ST)
- Sky Meadows (SK)
- Smith Mountain Lake (SM)
- Southwest Virginia Museum Historical (SW)
- Staunton River (SR)
- Staunton River Battlefield (SB)
- Twin Lakes (TL)
- Westmoreland (WE)
- Widewater (WW)
- Wilderness Road (WR)
- York River (YR)
Virginia Seasons, bugs, topography and climate
Virginia's climate is typical southern Atlantic coast: humid, sub-tropical, hot summers and relatively mild but cold winters that feel colder due to the relatively high humidity. There is moderate rainfall throughout the year, snows are common in the winter. Average coastal temperatures in July and August rarely exceed 90°F (32°C).
Virginia Camping tips
Twenty-nine state parks throughout the state offer camping (see camping rates) with a total of more than 1,800 campsites. Site sizes, configurations and amenities vary. Some parks provide sites with electric and water hook-ups, which tend to be larger to accommodate recreational vehicles and campers.
- Kiptopeke and Hungry Mother campgrounds offer sewer hook-ups.
- Primitive campgrounds are open year-round and do not offer a bathhouse.
- Full-service campgrounds (with bathhouses) are open from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December with the exception of Douthat, Hungry Mother, Pocahontas and Shenandoah River state parks which have full-service campgrounds open year-round.
- Park campgrounds are pet-friendly, (False Cape has some restrictions).
Sign up for the Customer Loyalty Program to earn points for free overnight stays.
Reservations are recommended, and it's best to reserve a site as early as possible. Reservations are accepted 11 months in advance and up to 2 p.m. on the day of arrival. You may reserve a site by calling the Customer Service Center Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or at Virginia State Parks Camping Reservations online. A “hybrid” reservation system is used for most developed campgrounds, i.e., those with bathhouses. At least half of the sites in those campgrounds may be specifically reserved. The rest are reserved by site type, and guests select a specific site on arrival. As we transition to all site specific in 2022, some parks have increased the sites available for specific reservations.
If you have concerns or questions about your upcoming reservation, please call our Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please be sure to call before your reservation is scheduled to start.