10 Most Beautiful Cities In Virginia

Historic Virginia is a highly-scenic state of natural and urban sights. These ten cities offer the Old Dominion State's best attractions, water views, and activities.

Alexandria

Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia.

Alexandria is a deeply-historic city from one side and a mega-modern metropolitan from another, just minutes from the nation's capital. Colonial architecture lines streets full of art and culture, along with award-winning restaurants, urban shops, and local boutiques at each corner. The former home to George Washington is now a favorite vacation spot with beautiful river views, all comforts, and entertainment at hand. The cultured can spend days at the Top ArtPlace 2013 center of galleries, perusing the popular Torpedo Factory Art Center and visiting the famous Birchmere Music Hall.

Historians will find the colonial streets wander-worthy, with a stop at the magnificent Christ Church and Gadsby's Tavern Museum for an insight into the region's past. The significant Mount Vernon comes with a lingering presence of the US's first president and scenic outside surroundings. Old Town Alexandria is home to famous boutiques, restaurants, and hotels, while the picturesque waterfront is lovely for evening strolls. There are also spooky tours around the city with Ghost & Graveyard Tour and breezy rides with Alexandria's Potomac River cruises to round up the perfect getaway with views of the beautiful city from the water.

Arlington

Arlington, Virginia
The skyline of Arlington, Virginia.

The Northern Virginia city sits looking over at Washington DC across the Potomac River. Arlington is gorgeous, grandly historical, and home to The Pentagon. Many visit to pay respect to war heroes, from the American Revolution through The War on Terrorism in Iraq, who are buried at the famous Arlington National Cemetery. It was established as an American military cemetery during the Civil War on the grounds of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's home, the Arlington House. There is President John F. Kennedy's grave, crowned with Eternal Flame, as well as The Tomb of the Unknowns and the Iwo Jima Memorial.

The city is a "history book come alive," with modern activities and attractions imparting knowledge. The 23-mile self-guided bike tour around Arlington with 12 historic stops offers a glimpse at the past over a good workout. There is also the W & OD. Railroad Trail for hiking and biking through the urban heartland and Northern Virginia countryside for a dose of Arlington's and nature's best-in-one scenic trip. The city is prepped with countless bike rentals to let one explore its beauty in the best possible way, while the many famous restaurants have been featured on TV for amazing food at great deals. 

Charlottesville

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Aerial view of the famous Rotunda building of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

The remarkable city of many lakes and river vistas is incredibly-scenic from every angle. It is a water sports fan galore with sailing, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and tubing, as well as great golfing in a perfect landscape with the best views of the beautiful city. There are many parks for fresh-air sports, recreation, and relaxing picnics on the banks. The picturesque streets are laden with boutiques, bookshops, local wineries, and antique stores that make the strange city feel like home while discovering new surprises around each corner.

One can travel back in time by exploring the Ash Lawn-Highland, visiting the Historic Court Square, and stopping by the Michie Tavern. There's also the famed Monticello, and the University of Virginia from the early 19th century, with grounds for atmospheric strolls. Charlottesville hosts tours and events throughout the year for all tastes and groups to get excited, while the two dozen Vineyards and Breweries offer a real taste of Virginia.  

Chesapeake

The beautiful city along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, just south of Norfolk, is full of scenic surprises. It is a known recreation galore for outdoor lovers with water fun, bird watching, golfing, and scenic hikes. Chesapeake is set on the Elizabeth River with several canals through the city and the few urban areas putting out all they've got. The city is regularly ranked among the best to live in the US, with a vastly-varied dining and shopping scene and surroundings of the immense countryside with farms, forests, and wetlands to explore.

There's also the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail gateway into the treasured Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for active naturalists. While many move for the excellent public school system and new employment, they quickly fall in love with Chesapeake's aesthetic appeal and quiet pace of life for a sizeable city. The center of high activity, attractions, and entertainment in Norfolk is only ten minutes away.

Hampton

Hampton, Virginia
The beautiful city of Hampton.

The state's southeastern city lies on the Virginia Peninsula in the center of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area. It boasts water vistas all around, with the Chesapeake Bay to the north and east and Hampton Roads Harbor to the south. Hampton is a highly desirable place to visit and live, surrounded by beautiful natural privileges. It is a real Americana city with continuous English settlement from the early days, with tons of historical and cultural attractions to discover. There's the harbor for tours aboard the 65-foot "Miss Hampton II," the Buckroe Beach, fishing in the bay, and spending wistful evenings along the Downtown Hampton Public Piers.

The Langley Speedway gathers NASCAR fans for Late Model and Grand Stocks races, while the Maritime Center and the Virginia Air & Space Center offer fun through learning for entire families. The city's unique dining and shopping scene includes the Peninsula Town Center, while the award-winning Hampton Coliseum hosts some of the state's most popular events, including the beloved annual Hampton Jazz Festival. More cultural recreation includes the Riverside IMAX Theater, the American Theatre, the Hampton History Museum, and Fort Monroe with a National Monument and Casemate Museum revealing Confederate President Jefferson Davis' imprisonment and Fort's importance in the Civil War.

Lynchburg

Lynchburg, Virginia
An aerial view of Lynchburg.

The beautiful Lynchburg is a smaller city nestled within the Blue Ridge range in Central Virginia. The 'City of Seven Hills' offers a peaceful locale and big-city amenities for a comfortable getaway within distinct topography. The area's cultural hub is home to higher education establishments that make it an attractive place to move and settle with a family. Lynchburg was established in 1757 as a simple ferry crossing and the only one un-recaptured by the Union forces through the end of the Civil War.

Its vibrant downtown area boasts old warehouses and mills that set a historic atmosphere for the modern lofts, businesses, bars, and boutiques. The laidback streets ring with youthful vibe from colleges and universities that retains in the air throughout the year. When the student body departs on holidays, there is ample space to enjoy the city's natural privileges without crowd under the summer's sun. The many attractions geared to the young and creative include regular concerts, cultural shows, and art exhibits. It is hard not to stumble upon an event in Lynchburg, which makes for a perfect anytime-getaway or a quaint weekend.

Norfolk

Norfolk, Virginia
The cityscape of Norfolk, Virginia, from the air.

The beautiful city spreads scenically along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay and the Elizabeth River. The locale shaped it with activities revolving around water that expanded the formerly rowdy port town into a thriving city. Norfolk is the seaside hub at the heart of a major metropolitan area, with the world's largest naval base, rich heritage, culture, and sights on full display along the vibrant streets. The winding Waterfront District is lovely for strolls, mingling, and people-watching among all the attractions. There are two world-class museums, pretty parks, historic houses, and an exquisite performing arts center, with pristine beaches in between.

The city boasts great entertainment options and brilliant shopping, from regional shopping malls to the Waterside Festival Marketplace. There is also the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Virginia Symphony, Virginia Opera, and regular Broadway Shows on tour. The Nauticus National Maritime Center proudly showcases Norfolk's rich history alongside the USS Wisconsin, the world's largest battleship. The growing city attracts newcomers through employment with a special bonus of living and working around water vistas. Active outdoor fans enjoy fishing, boating, and surfing in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. 

Richmond

Richmond, Virginia
The spectacular cityscape of Richmond, Virginia.

The city, also known as RVA, is full of history embedded in modern life. Richmond is best to discover via a Segway tour for a wholesome perspective of the beautiful city and leisurely strolls along the vibrant streets full of hidden art. One can spend the whole day perusing the lovely water-bound River District with restaurants, shops, and beautiful views. The 17th Street Farmers' Market comes with an innovative "fresh way of living" approach selling produce and much more in an open-air, inspired locale. The cultural attractions include the Edgar Allen Poe Museum, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, tons of galleries, and the historic Jefferson Hotel.

There are numerous sightseeing tours, along with Maymont Park, for a self-guided walk-through with many landmarks to picnic and relax. Richmond boasts the training center for the Washington Redskins, while the active can take a canoe or a tube out on the James River for a panoramic view of the scape. The city is known among top historical family destinations, and its Galaxy Diner in Carytown, which was voted Best Diner in the state, guarantees a lovely, wholesome weekend getaway.

Virginia Beach

virginia beach
The beautiful skyline of Virginia Beach.

The highly-attractive Virginia Beach is known for its glorious ocean views and gorgeous beaches. The highly-cultural big city where music meets food, sand, and sun features a beautiful waterfront with award-winning restaurants. It is a destination getaway with many places to shop, dine, watch comedy, and enjoy live music at the Virginia Beach Town Center. Many come to Virginia Beach specifically for the famous themed festivals, including the Boardwalk Art Show, Neptune Festival, and the East Coast Surfing Championship.

The exciting city is an activity galore with the Rock' N' Roll Half Marathon and hiking and biking trails at Virginia's most popular First Landing State Park, along with sailing, camping, swimming, and scuba-diving. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is fun and knowledgeable for whole families, along with the Ocean Breeze Waterpark, which is loved by the kiddos. The Back Bay National Refuge offers a respite for nature fans, while the Cape Henry Lighthouse is everyone's favorite for photo ops and scenic views on a stroll. The great dining scene includes the famed Surf Club Ocean Grille and Neptune's Restaurant on the boardwalk.

Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia
Horse drawn carriage tours in British Colony in Williamsburg, Virginia. Editorial credit: Daniel Reiner / Shutterstock.com

The historic city, founded in 1632 as the largest and most prosperous American colony, is home to around 15,000 very proud residents. Williamsburg was the state's capital between 1699 and 1780, with un-replicable scenic streets today that feels like stepping into a time capsule. A whole town in itself, the immense Colonial Williamsburg district boasts 301 acres stomped by four million visitors each year. It offers highly educational and entertainment-laden grounds, along with tours, re-enactments, and regular special events. The nearby Busch Gardens amusement park is beloved by families, and the Williamsburg Premium Outlets will satisfy shopaholics. The Raleigh Tavern hosted big events and big people planning to join other colonies in the American Revolution. The colonial arsenal Magazine boasts a collection of muskets and cannons, with musket-firing demonstrations, drills, and military live music. 

For a break to refuel, there's the most popular Chowning's Tavern for the best BBQ, beer, and ale. There is also coffee drinking while watching live scenes from the 1765 hotbed of political, business, and social activity. The kids will love seeing rare animal breeds and historical trades, along with family strolls through the beautifully-restored gardens. The Merchants Square on Duke of Gloucester Street is home to over 40 shops, restaurants, and a theater. The 3,380-square-foot Governor's Palace is a Georgian home with an 11-bin wine cellar, and immaculate grounds with a natural park was Williamsburg's third largest public building. The art fans will enjoy the extensive collection of American and British antiques from the 17th century at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, while the award-winning Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is the oldest institution in the US that collects and preserves exclusively American folk art.

These cities in the "Birthplace of a Nation" will amuse and amaze through interesting insights within beautiful urban scenery. The many water-bound locales offer galore of activities to enjoy nature's best on a memorable getaway.

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