Besides breathtaking natural attractions and historic sites, there are several cities in Virginia that belong on any itinerary to the Old Dominion. In this post, we’ve compiled a list of five historic Virginia cities that are worth visiting.
5 Historic Virginia Cities to Visit
From wineries, cideries and craft breweries to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a pedestrian mall, Charlottesville is one of the most exciting historic Virginia cities. The former home of Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, this cute small city has a lot going for it. There’s, for example, a wonderful small-town atmosphere but also the prestigious University of Virginia.
Its setting in one of the most beautiful rural areas in the United States makes it a great holiday destination. The rolling landscapes are dotted with vineyards while the Blue Ridge Mountains form the perfect backdrop. With its laidback vibe and wealth of things to see and do—the restaurants are excellent, too—Charlottesville is one of those places that are guaranteed to overwhelm and surprise you.
Visitor Information: Visit Charlottesville
Home to the highest concentration of 17th– and 18th-century buildings of any city in the United States, Alexandria is a fantastic destination. It lies only fifteen minutes by car from Washington, D.C. The Old Town of Alexandria is absolutely stunning, filled with a variety of stores, superb restaurants, a few museums and even a couple of exceptionally charming cobbled streets.
The city’s location on the bank of the Potomac River results in a vibrant waterfront, lined with restaurants and parks and the starting point of river excursions. Even though it lies a stone’s throw from the capital of the United States, Alexandria is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Visitor Information: Visit Alexandria
One of the oldest towns in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Staunton is nothing short of an “architectural gem.” This virtually undiscovered city boast a phenomenal density of historic architecture—there are six nationally registered historic districts.
Among Staunton’s many attractions are the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, the American Shakespeare Center, home to the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare Blackfriars Theater, and the world-class open-air Frontier Culture Museum. There are also many quaint boutiques, farm-to-table restaurants, wine bars and breweries.
Visitor Information: Visit Staunton
Located in the heart of the southern Shenandoah Valley, about a half-hour drive south from Staunton, Lexington is another one of those historic Virginia cities that have much more to offer than you’d expect.
Lexington is home to two great colleges. One of them is Washington & Lee University, named after George Washington and Robert E. Lee, respectively an important financer and a president of the college. Main highlights include Lee Chapel and Museum and the Colonnade.
The other college in Lexington is the Virginia Military Institute. This renowned military school lies basically next to Washington & Lee, but is entirely different. A historically influential college, VMI has had its fair share of important historical figures, whether they were faculty staff or students. Well-known notable people associated with VMI are Stonewall Jackson, George C. Marshall and Matthew F. Maury.
Visitor Information: Visit Lexington
The capital of Virginia, Richmond is one of the greatest historic Virginia cities to visit. With its tall office and government buildings, Richmond is clearly a modern city, but there are several historic sites as well.
The Virginia State Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, is a major highlight. Other places you should visit include the Hollywood Cemetery, the Canal Walk, the American Civil War museum and the hipster hub that is Carytown. Richmond also has a thriving food and arts scene, and there are numerous craft breweries.
Visitor Information: Visit Richmond