Virginia

From sparkling Virginia Beach on the Atlantic Ocean to the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, Virginia is a laid back state combining colourful history, culture, sophistication, and stunning scenery. Virginia wows its visitors with the many ways it expresses its 400-year heritage as the first permanent English-speaking settlement in the Americas.

Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean with more than 1,000 square miles of ocean and Chesapeake Bay waterways to the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains with elevations greater than 5,000 feet, Virginia excites the senses. It is one of the country’s most historic and scenic states.

Top Tips

Include at least one night staying in Shenandoah National Park because there are lots of lookout points, amphitheatre presentations (including a fabulous one about Birds of Prey) and trails to explore. Skyland Lodge makes a great selection as it has its own stables and offers horse trail rides in the warmer months.

Colonial Williamsburg is a brilliantly restored 18th century town where actors, who are dressed in costumes from the era, bring the village to life. Before you travel, book a table at one of the three taverns for dinner. Its very popular, and rightly so, as everyone is in costume and you are entertained by showmen of the day, such as mandolin players and card tricksters.

Make sure you include a visit to Luray Caverns on your itinerary, it is a must see! It's incredible that a cavern of such colossal size could be hidden deep underground - it takes almost an hour to walk through and features an underground reflecting lake.

If you are visiting Middleburg, make plans to dine at The Red Fox Inn, an old tavern established in 1728 which maintains its historic charm and serves fabulous cuisine. Book ahead as it is always fully-booked!

Virginia is becoming known for its fabulous quality wines. There are lots of vineyards dotted around the state, but The Boxwood Winery on the outskirts of Middleburg is one of our favourites, as is Williamsburg Winery which also has accommodation and has a hugely popular restaurant staffed by acclaimed chefs.

If you are visiting Williamsburg, make sure you make a stop of Virginia Beer Company. Filled with locals, it offers a great atmosphere, food truck dining and a huge range of IPA's which vary with the season. A great experience.

If you like being out on the water, why not hire a kayak from Virginia Beach and head out searching for the wild native dolphins.

For a great introduction to the pretty seaside town of Yorktown, why not try a Segway tour? With a long boardwalk along its waterfront, it provides a safe environment with great views and lots of fun. The Riverwalk Restaurant, located adjacent to the Segway office, makes for a fabulous post tour treat.

Diverse Virginia

From state-of-the-art skyscrapers and world-class shopping malls to meandering scenic byways and trails that encompass the Revolutionary War, Civil War, music and wildlife-watching, the commonwealth is a state of contrasts. Not only has Virginia nurtured more leaders who became President of the United States than any other state, but its leadership has continued into the space-age with the training of the first astronauts at NASA and the election of the nation’s first elected black Governor.

Driving trails

These trails link more than 250 Civil War sites across Virginia. Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy in the Civil War, has many fine old buildings and cultural options. Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown (the birthplace of the USA) make up the three points of Colonial Virginia’s historic triangle in the state’s southeastern corner.

Through the years

The Shenandoah Valley, with its caverns, waterfalls and popular resorts is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains to the west. Norfolk is an important Atlantic seaport and home to the world’s largest naval base whilst the Chesapeake Bay has a long history of pirates and shipwrecks. In modern times it has thriving oyster farms and is popular for fishing, swimming, boating, and sailing. The state also has a growing wine industry boasting over 100 wineries.

Active pursuits

Most relaxing activities: Find serenity in the sweeping mountain vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, sip local Merlot after a winery tour, stroll the shoreline at Virginia Beach.

All-American fun: Experience 18th-century life in Colonial Williamsburg and get a glimpse into America’s origins at the first English colony, Jamestown and Yorktown, where the decisive battle of the American Revolution was won.

Active pursuits: Bike the Mount Vernon Trail, hike the Appalachian Trail or go whitewater rafting on the James River. In 2015, the city of Richmond hosts the UCI World Road Cycling Championships.

Virginia in a nutshell

Virginia is known for its Presidential estates, Colonial Williamsburg, Civil War history, the Blue Ridge Mountains, outdoor recreation, beaches, oysters and wine country. Its key cities include Richmond (capital city), Virginia Beach (largest city), Norfolk, Lynchburg, Alexandria.

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