The United States’ (US) oldest state has plenty to offer anyone who’s interested in history. Virginia, in addition to being the birthplace of eight US presidents, has also seen its fair share of conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. With spring break around the corner for many schools and universities; here are some suggestions on what to hit during your historic Virginia spring road trip.
Historic Virginia Spring Road Trip Destinations
Jamestowne holds the distinction of being the first permanent English colony in the US and that in itself, makes it a worthwhile stop on this list of places to go for your historic Virginia spring road trip. Learn about the Native American tribes that once inhabited this section of the state before the first European settlers drove them westwards. Everyone in the family can channel their inner “Indiana Jones” by participating in one of the many archaeological digs and immersing themselves in the meticulous re-creations of life in Virginia’s earliest settlement.
Not far from America’s first settlement is the country’s best historically preserved town, Colonial Williamsburg. An obvious choice for your historic Virginia road trip; visitors to Colonial Williamsburg get to experience what life was like in 18th century America. Those who choose to stay in nearby accommodations will revel the simplicity of colonial life and hopefully leave with more of an appreciation and understanding of our country’s history.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Perched on top of a hill on a quiet bluff overlooking the Potomac River is George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Washington was elected as the first president of the newly formed United States and Mount Vernon was his home. Fully restored to reflect the designs and architecture during his lifetime; the estate also features a vast outdoor lawn and several trails that cut through the farm and forest sections of the property. Don’t miss a visit to the grave where Washington and his wife Martha are both entombed, as well as the dock below where you’ll have gorgeous views of the quiet countryside just 15 miles away from the nation’s capital.
Not every city in America can boast that theirs was built by one of this country’s Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson, considered one of this country’s greatest minds, lived most of his life in Charlottesville. As you peruse the city’s old town center and the campus of the University of Virginia (UVA) on foot or by rental car; you’ll see that his legacy is still very much alive in this small city in central Virginia. Don’t miss a tour of the Rotunda at UVA and a visit to Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered Jefferson’s greatest creation.
Do you love Civil War history? If so, make it a point to include Lexington in your historic Virginia spring road trip. Home to two of America’s oldest colleges, Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University; it’s also the burial place of Stonewall Jackson, regarded as one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals. Explore the beautifully preserved downtown, one of the many remarkable homes on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and partake in outdoor activities in the surrounding countryside. This small town is nestled in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.
The diversity of history offered by the city of Fredericksburg is unrivaled anywhere else in Virginia. The city that was once the boyhood hometown of George Washington and James Monroe has a rich Native American history, Revolutionary War history, Civil War history and African American history making it a must see on your road trip to historic Virginia. Its importance in American history, particularly during the Civil War, is evident with a visit to the nearby Fredericksburg and Spotsylsvania National Military Park. The 8,374-acre park encompasses four major battlefields and houses the Chatham Manor; which served as the Union headquarters and hospital during the war.
Virginia’s state capital is not one to be overlooked. Richmond boasts a city full of history and tradition dating back to the discovery and formation of the US. Once the capital of the Confederacy, it features a number of important sites related to that period in history, including the magnificent Museum of the Confederacy and the White House of the Confederacy, home of President Jefferson Davis. The State Capitol is also worth visiting. Designed in 1785 by Thomas Jefferson; it features marble busts of Virginia-born presidents and a life-size statue of George Washington created by renowned artist Jean-Antoine Houdon.