Whatever route, U.S. highway, interstate highway, dirt road or bypass you take in Virginia, you undoubtedly will find it rich with the history of the beginnings of this great nation. Honestly, I don’t believe any tourist can take in most of what Virginia has to offer in one visit. There will be plenty of leftover attractions the next time you get a vacation.
In the summer, tourists flock to Virginia Beach. It has some of the closest beachfront hotel rooms on the east coast. You can literally sit on the fifth floor balcony of your hotel and see just sand and water. A little imagination and you’re in an infinity pool. You can’t see the other hotel balconies or beachfront hotels around you and this gives a transcendent feeling of being on a boat on the ocean, with the sounds of the waves crashing around you. I guarantee if you step out onto the balcony and see this lovely sight, you’ll sit there until the wee hours of the night, contemplating the origins of the universe.
From Norfolk to Williamsburg:
For military enthusiasts, before you leave adjacent Norfolk, don’t miss the naval tours. Later, enjoy the Chrysler Museum, ranked among the top twenty fine arts museums in the U.S. See this along with the War Memorial Museum in Newport News. Leaving Virginia Beach and traveling through Norfolk, it’s best to take the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on highway 64 up to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. Mind you, all along the way are numerous attractions I am not mentioning, so it’s best to get your own map or Google the locations you want to see. Also, most hotel lobbies have plenty of fliers and brochures about places all over Virginia. Consequently, Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown should not be missed. It is the realization of what every young schoolchild in the United States studies in their classroom history books and the actors are very animated and convincing. They don’t mind explaining history and if you go during the school season, there probably will be so many 5th graders; you won’t get a chance to ask a thing.
The experience of Colonial Williamsburg is a true delight. Make sure to taste the ginger bread that is made by custom artisans the way it would have been baked in the 1700 and 1800’s. The oven that it’s baked in and the display of cooking methods in those days is a must see. In addition, check out the shoemaking and blacksmithing artisans.
Moving on to Richmond, there are many attractions to take advantage of. First, I suggest the Edgar Allen Poe Museum; it was built in 1768 and is the oldest building in Richmond. Go riverboating on the James River or head northeast to George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, which is close to the birthplace of Confederate war hero Robert E. Lee. The Museum of the Confederacy is on the short list for civil war buffs. If you decide to go southwest on 460, you will run into Sailors’ Creek Battlefield Historic Park near Farmville, before you reach the Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park.
At this point you have a choice, you can travel north on highway 29 towards Charlottesville to see Monticello, famed home of none other than Thomas Jefferson, or go north on highway 95 to Fredericksburg to visit the Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park. If you stay on a southwestern path, you can run into Roanoke and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. You can then drive The Blue Ridge Parkway up to Lexington and visit Charlottesville. If you get back on the Blue Ridge Parkway headed north, you’ll run into The New Market Battlefield Park on your way back to Dulles or Ronald Reagan airports. If you go to Strasburg and take route 66 to Manassas, you will see Manassas National Battlefield Park.
Whew! This tour of historical Virginia is only one scenario of many, depending on what you don’t want to miss and how much time you have. In any case, load up the family and start your adventure. You don’t even have to tell the kids it’s educational.