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Best Places to Visit in Virginia

"Virginia is for Lovers" is the state's tourism slogan. Mountain lovers, animal lovers, history lovers, wine lovers – you name it, you'll find something to love in Virginia. To help you decide where you should plan a trip, U.S. News weighed factors like attractions, accessibility, accommodations and the input of everyday travelers to select the best places to visit in Virginia. Vote for your favorite Virginia vacation below to help us create next year's ranking.


Best Places to Visit in Virginia

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    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Williamsburg is an engaging historical and family-friendly destination. Colonial Williamsburg transports travelers back in time to experience the 18th century's historic homes, peruse antique wares and soak up the culture. Talented craftspeople and interpreters portraying historical figures help bring the town's history to life. Meanwhile, Williamsburg's two amusement parks – Busch Gardens and Water Country USA – attract families with kids looking for some outdoor fun.

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    Shenandoah National Park

    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    An excellent place to view fall foliage, hike and picnic, Shenandoah National Park stretches across nearly 200,000 acres of protected land in northern Virginia. Skyline Drive is a popular way to see the park – it snakes through the hills and valleys, offering beautiful vantage points and photo opportunities along the way from dozens of different overlooks. Visitors can also take part in ranger programs, which cover everything from birds to meadows.

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    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    The capital of Virginia is another town steeped in rich history. Visitors will want to check out American Revolution sites like St. John's Church (where Patrick Henry pleaded "Give me liberty, or give me death!") and attractions like The American Civil War Museum. If the weather is warm, head to nearby Kings Dominion for amusement park fun or to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to admire the blooms.

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    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Chincoteague Island welcomes visitors with its scenic, serene coastal beauty and its famous wild ponies. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is the main attraction. Here, you'll spot birds and waterfowl in addition to the island's horses. Though these beautiful creatures might look tame, they are still wild animals, so avoid approaching, feeding or touching them. Other popular Chincoteague activities include fishing, boating and biking.

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    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Home to the prestigious University of Virginia, Charlottesville is a fun getaway for wine lovers and history buffs. Rolling countryside and dozens of wineries and vineyards surround the town, and the area's excellent topography leads to some tasty wine varieties. Visitors should also spend some time walking around the historic Downtown Mall, which features more than 150 shops and restaurants, and touring Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's former home.

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    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Outdoor and historical attractions are the highlights of Jamestown. Greensprings Interpretive Trail features 3 1/2 miles of hiking and bike paths, while Jamestown Settlement offers a look at 17th-century Virginia and the events that paved the way for the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Travelers should also pop into the town's Glasshouse to see glassblowing demonstrations and pick up a handblown glass souvenir.

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    Virginia Beach

    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    With multiple districts and beaches, Virginia Beach is sure to offer something for everyone. Skate down the boardwalk or soak up some rays in the Oceanfront neighborhood, hike or kayak in the Sandbridge area or enjoy some retail therapy before grabbing a bite to eat in the Town Center district. This coastal city provides plenty of options for both relaxation and entertainment, making it perfect for your next vacation.

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    Mount Vernon

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    The iconic Mount Vernon is where you'll find the plantation home of the first president of the United States, George Washington. At Mount Vernon, you can walk through the mansion, enjoy a stroll through the gardens, stop in the museum, learn about the enslaved people who lived there and visit the family's tomb. The attraction also hosts events like tea with Martha Washington and military reenactments.

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    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Middleburg is known for its horses and its wine. Often referred to as "the nation's horse and hunt capital," the city is home to many equestrians and fox hunters. Plus, numerous wineries surround this town, including the popular Chrysalis Vineyards, Boxwood Estate Winery and Greenhill Winery & Vineyards. Spend a sunny afternoon at one of the vineyards, then head to the Salamander Resort & Spa for a delectable meal or spa treatment.

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    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Spend some time in nature during a trip to Luray. Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, this town is best known for its Luray Caverns, the largest cave system in the eastern U.S. Visitors flock to this underground wonderland to view its stunning natural stone formations. Outdoor attractions, such as the Rope Adventure Park and the nearby Wisteria Farm and Vineyard, offer countless ways to have fun above ground as well.

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    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    The world's largest naval base calls Norfolk home, and as such, the city pays homage to its military past and present. Nauticus, an interactive science and technology museum, is a popular attraction among families and history lovers thanks to its hands-on exhibits and Battleship Wisconsin display. Plus, Naval Station Norfolk offers tours of its complex, where visitors can see the base's massive ships and aircraft.

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    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    This town in southwestern Virginia is home to the Barter Theatre, the longest-running professional theater in the U.S., which puts on a variety of performances throughout the year. In addition to catching a show, travelers can sample local beer at Wolf Hills Brewing Co. and explore the great outdoors. Abingdon is surrounded by the towering Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Virginia Creeper Trail, which starts in Abingdon, is an excellent spot for scenic strolls, bike rides and horseback riding outings.

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    Fredericksburg, VA

    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park is this Virginia town's claim to fame. Here, travelers can tour four major Civil War battlefields, learning about the park's history through films, exhibits and knowledgeable staff members. Additional Fredericksburg attractions visitors may enjoy include the A. Smith Bowman Distillery, which won "World's Best Bourbon" two years in a row at the World Whiskies Awards, and the many historic house museums, including Ferry Farm, George Washington's childhood home.

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    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Another city with a Blue Ridge Mountains backdrop, Roanoke features cultural hot spots like art galleries, live music venues, museums and more. Chances are you'll want to explore the scenery on a hike, on a bike or from the water via canoe or kayak. If you prefer a long, relaxing drive, Blue Ridge Parkway allows you to view the landscape from the comfort of your vehicle.

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    Alexandria, VA

    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Virginia

    Alexandria's old-fashioned charm makes it a must for anyone coming to Virginia. Old Town Alexandria draws visitors in with its historical architecture and abundant shops and restaurants. Those looking for a spookier glimpse of Old Town's past can sign up for a ghost tour. Plus, sightseers who want to take advantage of Alexandria's proximity to Washington can catch a unique view of the nation's capital during a riverboat tour on the Potomac River.

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