The story of the United States begins in Virginia. The long and storied history of this great state first started in 1607 with the establishment of the first English settlement in North America. A lot has happened in the 400 years since. With a deeper history than any other place in the United States, it should be no surprise that Virginia has countless historical sites and attractions.
Jamestown marks the first successful English settlement in North America. Established by the London Company in 1607, this small colony struggled mightily in its infancy. Without the aid of nearby Native tribes and competent leadership, the colony would have surely perished.
Today visitors can see the site that led to the formation of the United States. Tourists can enjoy a guided tour of the historic town along with reenactments and costumed actors which all help drive the emersion and realism of the experience. Exploring historic Jamestown is a great day trip for both families and couples alike.
2. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
The small town of Harpers Ferry was one of the flash points that eventually led to the American Civil War. In 1859 a band of armed abolitionists led by the firebrand John Brown attacked and killed a number of local militia and law enforcement in an attempt to set up a safe haven for escaping slaves in Virginia and Maryland.
The insurrection was ultimately crushed with John Brown and his companions killed in the fighting or put to death. Despite this, John Brown remains a symbol of freedom and self-sacrifice to this day. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is brimming with beauty and charm and offers extensive tours and guides of where the battle took place. The river that runs through the town as well as the forested hills that surround it make for a stunning backdrop.
3. Booker T. Washington Monument
The site of what was once a tobacco plantation is now a monument to one of the most influential civil rights leaders in American history. The monument to Booker T. Washington is a humble yet powerful reminder of some of the darker moments in Virginian history.
Born a slave in 1856 Booker T. Washington would later go on to spearhead numerous civil rights groups in the late 19th century during a time of immense racism in the American South. The park itself is equipt with a visitor center filled with more information about the life of Washington. A half-mile loop around the park is a great place to enjoy a leisurely walk and soak in the fresh air and open buildings.
4. Edgar Allan Poe Museum
As one of the most well-respected and famous American authors in history, it is only right that Edgar Allen Poe has his own museum. The museum was first started over a century ago by an ardent admirer by the name of James Howard Whitty. The museum is a celebration of Poe's writing and poetry and the long-lasting impact it had on literature. The museum is in the oldest standing home in Richmond, Virginia. While Poe never grew up in this house, he would have surely been aware of it and its importance at the time.
Along with regular tours, weddings, birthdays, and other events are regularly hosted in the Enchanted Gardens area of the museum. Dozens of cats also call the museum home. A tip of the cap to the late authors' love of feline friends.
5. George Washington Birthplace National Monument
George Washington, the first president of the United States is perhaps one of the greatest Virginians of all. Born in 1732, George Washington went on to play an invaluable role in the American War of Independence against British rule.
The original home in which Washington was born has gone through many renovations and revisions over the years. However, it has still managed to hold on to its 18th-century aesthetic and charm. The home is in the Northern Neck of Virginia and is open to visitors all year round. The surrounding park is host to a series of picnic areas and a quaint beach.
6. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
The Appomattox Court House was where the Confederates surrendered, signaling the conclusion of the American Civil War. This marked the end of the bloodiest conflict in American history as well as an end to the institution of chattel slavery that had long persisted in the south.
The site is well-preserved by a crew of vigilant maintenance workers and the courthouse and surrounding buildings are in their original state. A visit to Appomattox can serve as both a valuable history lesson as well as a pleasant trip to a small and rustic town in rural Virginia.
7. A.P. Carter Museum
The supposed home of "true" country music the AP Carter Museum is a must for anyone who loves music history. The old general store of AP Carter now serves as a monument to all of their achievements in the music industry and as pioneers of bluegrass and old-time.
Inside the museum, you will be able to find plenty of intriguing memorabilia such as old outfits and instruments and donations from both June and Johnny Cash. Not far from the museum is the Carter Family Memorial Music Center a place that routinely hosts live country music every Saturday night.
Known for its unique architecture and stunning gardens that surround the residence, Monticello is the former home of founding father and 3rd American President Thomas Jefferson. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Monticello is a popular tourist attraction for history buffs around the United States.
The standout dome structure built into the home was something that Jefferson planned as his personal mark on the dwelling. The Monticello also makes an appearance on the back of the American nickel.
9. Bacon’s Castle
The oldest brick home in North America, Bacon Castle was first constructed all the way back in 1665. Built for an English aristocrat named Arthur Allen, this building is one of the most well-preserved examples of style and architecture from that time period.
This "castle" played a key role in the well-known Bacon’s Rebellion. Bacon's men stayed within the home for months at a time during the conflict. Today tours of Bacon's Castle and its grounds are available to the public for only a few dollars.
10. Humpback Bridge
Built sometime around 1857, Humpback Bridge is Virginia's oldest covered bridge still in use today. Over 100 feet long, the distinct curve of the bridge has given it the name humpback. Humpback Bridge is part a of series of scenic backwood roads. Visiting this bridge will also give you the opportunity to take in the views of some stunning Virginia countryside.
The long history of Virginia has gifted it with a never-ending number of historical sites and points of interest. Whether you are a local or visiting from out of state, taking a look into the intriguing past of Virginia should be on everyone's list.