Top 16 Most Beautiful Virginia Attractions
From the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains to the idyllic coastal beaches, Virginia offers a treasure trove of beautiful places that often go unnoticed by visitors. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Virginia has something to offer everyone.
In this post, we will take you on a journey to discover the top 16 most beautiful places in Virginia and some that often fly under the radar. Prepare to be amazed as we unveil the attractions that await within this captivating state.
16. Chincoteague Island
Chincoteague Island is a true coastal gem that exudes tranquility and natural beauty. Known for its unspoiled beaches, abundant wildlife, and charming small-town atmosphere, this hidden paradise offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
As you step foot on Chincoteague Island, you’ll immediately feel the calming embrace of the coastal breeze and the soothing sound of waves gently crashing against the shore. The island’s pristine beaches stretch for miles, inviting beachcombers to take leisurely strolls along the soft sands or simply bask in the sun’s warm embrace.
One of the island’s most iconic attractions is the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, a haven for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers. This refuge is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the famous Chincoteague ponies, which roam freely across the marshlands and grassy dunes. Witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is a truly awe-inspiring sight that will leave a lasting impression.
For those seeking adventure, explore the island’s waterways by kayak or paddleboard, immersing yourself in the serenity of the surrounding marshes and observing the vibrant ecosystem that thrives beneath the surface. Embark on a guided boat tour to witness the annual pony swim, a beloved tradition where the ponies make their way from Assateague Island to Chincoteague in a breathtaking display of strength and agility.
In addition to its natural wonders, Chincoteague Island boasts a charming downtown area filled with quaint shops, art galleries, and delectable seafood restaurants. Indulge in fresh seafood delicacies, including succulent crab cakes and plump oysters harvested from the nearby waters. Don’t forget to sample the island’s signature dish, the famous Chincoteague salt oyster, renowned for its briny flavor and unique taste.
15. Natural Bridge State Park
At the heart of the park lies the iconic Natural Bridge, a towering limestone arch that spans 215 feet and soars 66 feet above Cedar Creek. This natural wonder is believed to be over 500 million years old and is considered one of the most significant natural attractions in the entire state. As you stand before this majestic formation, you can’t help but be humbled by its grandeur and the countless generations that have marveled at its splendor.
Take a leisurely hike along the Cedar Creek Trail, winding through lush forests and offering glimpses of cascading waterfalls and serene pools along the way. The trail meanders alongside the creek, providing a peaceful and immersive experience in nature’s embrace.
For those seeking a more adventurous experience, the park offers guided tours through the breathtaking Lace Falls Cave. Embark on a subterranean journey as you traverse narrow passages, marvel at unique rock formations, and listen to the soothing sounds of underground streams. This immersive spelunking adventure is a thrilling opportunity to witness the hidden wonders that lie beneath the surface.
As you explore Natural Bridge State Park, the true beauty of Virginia’s natural landscapes unfolds before your eyes. The harmonious blend of geological wonders, vibrant flora, and diverse wildlife creates an enchanting tapestry that captivates all who venture here. Whether you’re an avid nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Natural Bridge State Park offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you yearning to return time and time again.
14. Assateague Island
One of the most enchanting aspects of Assateague Island is its population of wild ponies. These majestic creatures roam freely across the island, adding a touch of untamed charm to the already picturesque scenery. Witnessing these graceful ponies in their natural habitat is a truly magical experience that shouldn’t be missed.
As you explore the island, you’ll also be captivated by its pristine beaches. Assateague Island boasts miles of untouched shoreline, where soft sands meet the gentle waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing day under the sun or an exhilarating surf session, these beaches offer something for everyone.
But Assateague Island is not just about its wildlife and beaches. The island is also home to diverse ecosystems, including salt marshes, dunes, and maritime forests. Hiking through these unique landscapes is a treat for nature enthusiasts, as it provides an opportunity to witness an abundance of flora and fauna in their natural habitat.
For those seeking a bit of adventure, Assateague Island offers a variety of recreational activities. From kayaking through the tranquil waters of the bay to birdwatching in the wildlife refuge, there’s no shortage of ways to immerse yourself in the island’s natural wonders.
13. Great Falls Park
As you enter Great Falls Park, you’ll be greeted by the thundering sound of water cascading down the majestic falls. The sight is truly awe-inspiring, with the rushing water creating a mesmerizing display of raw power and beauty. The sheer force with which the water crashes against the rocks is a sight that will leave you speechless.
The park offers a variety of vantage points from where you can admire the falls. Whether you choose to stand on the overlooks, hike along the trails, or even paddle on the river, each perspective offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
For those seeking a closer look, the park provides opportunities for rock scrambling and climbing. Adventurers can navigate the rugged terrain and get up close and personal with the falls, feeling the mist on their faces and hearing the roar of the water in their ears.
Aside from the falls, Great Falls Park boasts scenic trails that wind through lush forests and along the river’s edge. These trails offer breathtaking vistas and a chance to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature. Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls the park home, including birds, deer, and even the occasional fox.
12. Luray Caverns
As you step into this underground wonderland of Luray Caverns, prepare to be captivated by the sheer splendor that lies beneath the surface.
Luray Caverns is a labyrinth of intricate limestone formations that have been sculpted over millions of years. Stalactites hang gracefully from the ceiling, while stalagmites rise majestically from the ground, creating a mesmerizing dance of nature’s artistry.
As you venture deeper into the caverns, you’ll be greeted by awe-inspiring sights at every turn. The Great Stalacpipe Organ, a one-of-a-kind musical instrument, adds to the enchantment of the experience. This unique instrument produces melodic tones by tapping on the cavern’s stalactites, creating an ethereal symphony that resonates through the chambers.
One of the highlights of the Luray Caverns tour is the breathtaking Dream Lake. The still, crystal-clear waters of this underground lake reflect the surrounding formations, creating a magical illusion of an endless expanse. The sight is nothing short of extraordinary, leaving visitors in awe of nature’s ability to create such picturesque beauty.
Luray Caverns is not just a feast for the eyes but also a testament to the geological wonders that lie beneath the Earth’s surface. It is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those who simply appreciate the marvels of our planet.
11. Shenandoah National Park
Nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is a true natural wonderland that captivates visitors with its breathtaking beauty. Spanning over 200,000 acres, this pristine wilderness boasts an array of stunning landscapes, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
As you enter the park, you’ll be greeted by a scenic drive along the famous Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds through the heart of Shenandoah. Along the way, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of rolling hills, verdant forests, and cascading waterfalls that seem to appear around every bend. The drive itself is an experience to cherish, offering endless opportunities for awe-inspiring photographs and moments of tranquility.
For those seeking outdoor adventures, Shenandoah National Park offers a plethora of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. From leisurely strolls to challenging treks, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on the Appalachian Trail, which traverses through the park and offers hikers a chance to immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of the wilderness.
One of the park’s most iconic landmarks is its breathtaking viewpoints, such as the popular Stony Man Overlook and the awe-inspiring Hawksbill Summit. From these lofty perches, visitors are rewarded with sweeping panoramas of the Shenandoah Valley, where layers of misty mountains stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s a sight that will leave you awestruck and longing to explore further.
10. Richmond Canal Walk, Richmond, Virginia
This picturesque waterfront path is perfect for strolling, biking, or even kayaking. Along the way, you’ll take in magnificent views of the James River, pass by historic landmarks, and observe wildlife in their natural habitats. Plus, it’s a quarter mile of pure fun for kids of all ages!
You can enjoy a leisurely stroll down the cobblestone path or explore the area on two wheels. There are bike racks located throughout the walk, so you can easily park your ride before setting off to explore. For those who prefer to stay on the water, you can rent kayaks and canoes at the start of the trail. Don’t forget your camera – you just might spot some of the local wildlife along the way!
The Richmond Canal Walk is also full of history. On your visit, be sure to explore some of the area’s iconic landmarks such as Brown’s Island and Belle Isle. You can even take a stroll through the Richmond Slave Trail, which offers a unique look into the city’s past.
9. Skyline Drive, Shenandoah
Stretching for 105 miles along the crest of the mountains, Skyline Drive is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. The drive takes you through Shenandoah National Park, offering endless opportunities to witness the splendor of the surrounding landscapes. From the vibrant colors of the changing leaves in the fall to the vibrant wildflowers that bloom in the spring, each season brings its own unique charm to this enchanting journey.
As you navigate the winding roads, you will have the chance to spot an array of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, and a variety of bird species. It is not uncommon to catch a glimpse of a majestic bald eagle soaring overhead or a playful fox darting through the dense foliage.
Throughout the drive, there are numerous overlooks and viewpoints where you can pull over and take in the breathtaking vistas. The ever-changing colors of the mountains, the cascading waterfalls, and the peaceful valleys below create a visual symphony that will leave you captivated.
For those seeking a more immersive experience, there are several hiking trails that branch off from Skyline Drive, allowing you to explore the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains up close. Whether you choose to embark on a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, these trails offer a chance to discover hidden waterfalls, ancient forests, and serene meadows.
As you traverse the winding roads of Skyline Drive, you will be transported into a world of natural wonder and tranquility. This scenic drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains is a true hidden gem of Virginia, offering an unforgettable experience for all who venture along its path.
8. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Fairfax
Located just outside of the nation’s capital, this historic estate was once home to our first president and his family. Here you can explore over five hundred acres of scenic grounds, take a tour of the main house, or visit the museum to learn more about the Washingtons’ life on the plantation.
Plus, there are plenty of fun activities for kids like visiting the working farm, exploring the four themed gardens, and even meeting a real-life (tame) horse! Whether you’re a fan of American history or just want to have an exciting day outdoors, a trip to Mount Vernon is sure to make your visit one to remember.
7. Norfolk, Virginia
If you’re looking for the perfect way to spend a summer day, head out to the beaches and parks near Norfolk. Enjoy the sun along the shores of Elizabeth River Park or take a picnic lunch to Chesapeake Bay at Ocean View Beach Park. For exciting water fun, rent a kayak from Kayak Nature Tours and explore the picturesque waterways. There are plenty of walking trails waiting for you as well, including the popular Mount Trashmore Park paved trail.
When it comes to nightlife, Norfolk has it all. Head out for an evening of live music at 87th Street Club or enjoy a dance session at The Wave. If you’re looking for some exciting shopping, The MacArthur Center offers amazing stores with something for everyone.
Don’t forget to try the delicious local cuisine! Whether you want classic Southern dishes like fried chicken and collard greens, or inventive vegan eats, there’s something in Norfolk that everyone will love.
6. Busch Gardens, Williamsburg
You will reach #6, Busch Gardens, after driving about 3 miles east of Williamsburg. Visit Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and explore the wild world of thrilling rides, exciting attractions, and delicious snacks! Whether you’re looking to have a fun family day out or just want to zip around on some of the fastest roller coasters in the area, Busch Gardens has something for everyone.
Experience heart-pounding rides like The Curse of DarKastle, Apollo’s Chariot, and Griffon, all sure to get your adrenaline pumping! For more chill adventures, take a ride on the steam train or just spend a day strolling through the gardens enjoying the beautiful scenery and watching live performances. And don’t forget about the kids! There are plenty of attractions designed just for tiny adventurers, making it the perfect spot for families with young ones in tow.
When your stomach starts to growl, don’t worry – Busch Gardens offers plenty of options for refueling. Start with a classic funnel cake or chow down on an Italian feast. Don’t forget to end your day by sampling a flight of beer at one of the amazing pubs!
5. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington
Arlington National Cemetery is the site of the famous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the sacred ground is home to more than 400,000 brave and heroic men and women who have served in our nation’s military. From the Civil War to World Wars I & II to the Vietnam War, families have laid their loved ones to rest at Arlington National Cemetery for well over a century.
The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery are beautiful and serene, with peaceful trees, colorful flowers, and rolling hills. But what makes this site truly special is the incredible stories behind it. Did you know that some of the earliest graves are from the Revolutionary War? Or that President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy both are buried here?
When you visit Arlington National Cemetery, you can take a tour and learn about different memorials dedicated to those who fought for our country. You’ll even get an up-close look at the iconic Eternal Flame that burns beside President Kennedy’s grave.
4. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
As you wander through the streets of this living history museum, you will be transported to a time when Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony and a hotbed of political and cultural activity. The meticulously restored buildings, authentic period costumes, and passionate interpreters breathe life into the past, allowing visitors to truly experience what life was like during the Revolutionary War era.
From the grand Governor’s Palace to the humble homes of tradespeople, every corner of Colonial Williamsburg tells a story. You can visit the blacksmith’s forge and watch as skilled craftsmen shape metal into intricate works of art, or witness a thrilling reenactment of a colonial trial at the Capitol building. The sights, sounds, and even the smells of Colonial Williamsburg transport you to a bygone era, making it a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.
Beyond the historical reenactments, there are countless activities and attractions to enjoy in Colonial Williamsburg. You can try your hand at traditional crafts, such as pottery or weaving, or indulge in a delectable meal at one of the authentic colonial taverns. The streets are lined with quaint shops selling handmade goods, providing the perfect opportunity to take home a piece of colonial craftsmanship.
3. Virginia Beach
With miles of sandy coastline, Virginia Beach offers plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun. Kids can splash around in the waves or take part in exciting outdoor activities such as parasailing, surfing, and kayaking. If you’d rather stay dry, check out one of the many popular amusement parks or explore the area’s natural attractions such as the First Landing State Park and False Cape State Park.
Virginia Beach BoardwalkAt the end of the day, enjoy a delicious meal at one of Virginia Beach’s fantastic restaurants. From seafood to burgers, there’s something here for every taste bud. And don’t forget dessert -the area’s ice cream and candy shops are sure to satisfy everyone in the family.
2. Alexandria, Virginia
This historic city is home to tons of great attractions like museums, historical sites, parks, and shops. Alexandria is full of activities that will keep you and your family entertained, even on a rainy day. Plus, the city offers beautiful views of the Potomac River that will make your day even more special.
If you’re looking for an adorable adventure, be sure to head over to Old Town Alexandria! Here, kids can visit the Gum Drops and Lollipops candy store or take a ride on the carousel at the waterfront park. There’s even a pirate-themed mini-golf course complete with a water cannon!
Kids will love exploring the Torpedo Factory Art Center, which showcases different artworks and also offers classes so kids can create their own arts and crafts projects. If your family wants to get out in nature, visit Huntley Meadows Park to spot some wildlife on their 1,500 acres of wetlands. Or, take a trip back in time at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, where you can tour his estate and learn about his life as the first president of the United States.
1. Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia is a beautiful city located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. It’s known for its stunning views, historic monuments, and friendly community. It’s also home to some amazing parks that offer plenty of fun activities for kids.
From visiting Monticello where you can learn about Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers to fishing or boating at Lake Michie, there’s something for everyone. You can even take part in outdoor movie nights set against the backdrop of downtown Charlottesville.
Charlottesville is also full of exciting events perfect for families. Take part in the Festival of Cultures, which celebrates diversity and inclusion with live music, food, art, and more. Or join in the King of the Mountain Run and compete against your friends to be the king or queen of the mountain.
Virginia Historic Attractions to Visit
Virginia is a state rich in history and culture, with numerous attractions that are often overlooked by tourists. If you’re looking to explore the hidden gems of Virginia, be sure to include these cultural attractions and historic sites in your itinerary.
While Monticello may not be entirely hidden, it is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Located in Charlottesville, this iconic plantation was once the home of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. Explore the stunning architecture, and beautiful gardens, and delve into the fascinating life of one of America’s founding fathers.
Tucked away in Forest, Virginia, Poplar Forest is another significant historic site associated with Thomas Jefferson. Often overshadowed by Monticello, this architectural masterpiece served as Jefferson’s personal retreat. Step back in time as you wander through the meticulously restored rooms and discover the tranquil beauty of this lesser-known gem.
St. John’s Church
Located in Richmond, St. John’s Church holds great historical significance. It was at this very place where Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech during the American Revolution. Explore the church and learn about the pivotal role it played in shaping the nation’s history.
Cape Henry Lighthouse
For those seeking a picturesque coastal experience, Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach is worth a visit. This historic lighthouse dates back to 1792 and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Climb to the top and soak in the panoramic vistas, immersing yourself in the maritime heritage of Virginia.
Journey back to the early days of American colonization at Jamestown Settlement. This living history museum in Williamsburg showcases the story of America’s first permanent English settlement. Immerse yourself in the recreated village, interact with costumed interpreters, and gain insights into the struggles and triumphs of the Jamestown settlers.
The Chrysler Museum of Art
Norfolk is home to the impressive Chrysler Museum of Art, which houses a diverse collection spanning thousands of years. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, this museum offers a captivating journey through world art history. Explore the galleries, attend special exhibitions, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry on display.
We hope you enjoyed our virtual journey through Virginia’s hidden gems, discovering the top most beautiful places that often go unnoticed. From the breathtaking landscapes of Shenandoah National Park to the historic charm of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia has so much to offer for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and everyone in between. As you plan your next adventure, don’t forget to explore these hidden gems and experience the beauty that Virginia has to offer. Happy travels!
- Top 16 Most Beautiful Virginia Attractions
- 16. Chincoteague Island
- 15. Natural Bridge State Park
- 14. Assateague Island
- 13. Great Falls Park
- 12. Luray Caverns
- 11. Shenandoah National Park
- 10. Richmond Canal Walk, Richmond, Virginia
- 9. Skyline Drive, Shenandoah
- 8. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Fairfax
- 7. Norfolk, Virginia
- 6. Busch Gardens, Williamsburg
- 5. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington
- 4. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
- 3. Virginia Beach
- 2. Alexandria, Virginia
- 1. Charlottesville, Virginia
- Virginia Historic Attractions to Visit
- Final Word