Every state in the Union has something that makes it unique and attracts visitors; Virginia’s central role in American development make it a perfect place to visit for anyone who loves history, battles, politics and intrigue.
Check out five great places to visit next time you’re in the area.
Arlington National Cemetery
Just outside Washington, D.C. is some of the most hallowed ground in the United States. Arlington National Cemetery is currently the final resting place for nearly 400,000 veterans of American wars and their immediate children. Soldiers from the Civil War to current engagements are buried here, as are President John F. Kennedy and his wife, and Senator Ted Kennedy.
One of the most important features of the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where unidentified remains from several world conflicts are interred in honor of all those soldiers who served but never returned home to their families.
Thomas Jefferson was one of our Founding Fathers, who wrote the American Declaration of Independence, worked for independence from Great Britain, and was the third President of the United States. He was also an influential politician and civic leader in Virginia. His home and plantation, Monticello, is in southern Virginia, and is a wonderful place to learn about the man, and the times in which he lived.
Monticello has a large main house which he designed. Many of Jefferson’s personal possessions and inventions are still housed and on view to tours, including his extensive library collection, which at one point rivaled the collection of the Library of Congress.
Jefferson was buried on the site of Monticello, with an obelisk gravestone recognizing his achievements at the writer of the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, and the founder of the University of Virginia.
Williamsburg was the colonial capitol of Virginia, and a portion of the city has since been preserved as a living museum of life during the early settlement and colonial eras of Virginia. Several city blocks are restored to historical periods, complete with government buildings, taverns, and homes set in the colonial era.
Staff in character dress and act as workers and townspeople, performing trades and reenacting historical events for visitors. The goal of the community is “That the future may learn from the past” and it is accomplished by providing an entertaining, accurate and interactive way to learn about American history and life in colonial times.
Appomattox Court House
Appomattox Court House is not a court house, but a small city and county seat in central Virginia. It was also the site of the last major battle of the Civil War, and the surrender of General Lee to General Grant, effectively ending the war.
Grant and Lee met at the McLean House to complete the official terms of the surrender on April 9, 1865. Wilmer McLean had been a wealthy grocer on whose property the early Battle of Bull Run had been fought. After the battle, he moved away from the area in order to avoid further skirmishes. Ironically, in his efforts to avoid conflict, he ended up being a part of the start and end of the war.
Mt. Vernon is George Washington’s plantation and house located just outside Washington, D.C. The land was owned by the Washington family for a few generations before George and Martha built the mansion currently on the property. The grounds include fruit and vegetable gardens from the period George Washington ran the plantation, as well as a distillery for whiskey authentic to the colonial time period.
These are just a few interesting and educational places to visit in Virginia, and Virginia is just one of 50 awesome states to visit, but if you’re considering a visit to the East Coast, these places should really be on your itinerary!