If you’re in the mid-Atlantic or southern region of the United States, there’s one state you need to put on your road trip list this year – Virginia. The state’s motto, “Virginia is for lovers,” couldn’t be any more true. If you’ve been before, you’ll fall in love all over again with the majesty of this beautiful state and if you’ve never been before, well, prepare to be in awe. Virginia not only boasts gorgeous coastlines and bays, but the mountains are second to known in this country. The Blue Ridge Mountain is genuinely something to behold as you drive through the state, as well as the gorgeous trees, fauna, and wildlife. Let’s take a look at some must-visits for your trip to one of America’s most beautiful states.
Nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the idyllic small city of Charlottesville, Virginia. Most known for its connection to Thomas Jefferson – whose touch is felt throughout town, especially around the University of Virginia – which he helped found. Charlottesville is a town full of breweries, wineries, and more restaurants per capita than any city in America aside from New York, New York. The downtown mall is a brick-lined pedestrian outdoor mall (the longest in the country) full of upscale and vintage boutiques, restaurants, bars, bookstores, and everything in between. Every level of accommodation in Charlottesville, depending on what type of trip you’re taking, from quaint bed and breakfasts, modern Airbnbs to luxury hotels.
The shopping in Charlottesville also leaves nothing to be desired, so don’t worry if you barely packed more than women’s bamboo t-shirts; you can find anything you may need in town. With the city being surrounded by the Blue Ridge, there are orchards with fresh apple and peach picking and strawberry and lavender fields, depending on the season. You should drive Skyline Drive to appreciate the mountain’s majesty, and if you’re here during the fall, the real treat is watching the tree’s foliage turn green to orange and beautiful reds.
Cape Charles, Virginia
If you’re tired of the traditional beach trip, full of boardwalks, loud sounds, and tons of people, Cape Charles on the Bay in Virginia is an excellent option. Nature-lovers rejoice in the abundance of aquatic life that’s easily observed in the bay. The rocks are full of living mussels and the clear, shallow water full of snails, crabs, and jellyfish. But, don’t fear, not in a way that you can’t still enjoy the tranquil waves if you’re looking for a swim in the bay. The Cape Charles community is so tiny that most visitors (and residents) get around by golf cart, which is not only charming but incredibly fun! The small cape town has several delicious bakeries and coffee shops and even a Russian teahouse. However, if you’re looking for cliche souvenirs and surfing, this isn’t the place for you. It’s a must-visit if you’re looking for a truly relaxing beach getaway!
If you’ve never had the life-changing experience of spelunking through an actual cavern, Luray is a must-stop on a road trip through Virginia. While there’s not much else to do in Luray, experiencing Luray Caverns is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There is even an organ made from stalactites! You’re close enough to other, bigger cities in Virginia that a short day trip to Luray is worth it to explore.
If you’re looking for something a little hipper and fast-paced, Richmond, the state’s capital, is an excellent city for a weekend getaway. Not only do you have the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but you’ve also got Maymont Gardens to explore as well as the Science Museum of Virginia (which is especially significant if you’re traveling with younger children). There’s also a wide variety of food options in Richmond, many of which are locally-owned restaurants. If you’re someone with specific dietary restrictions or just a strict dietary lifestyle like veganism, etc., then Richmond has you easily covered as far as options go.
The shopping in Richmond is bountiful as well. Several malls are enjoyable and full of upscale shops (rare as we watch the classic malls fall out of fashion and get bulldozed). You should also check out Carytown, an eclectic collection of shops and boutiques in the heart of the city, somewhere you can easily find a unique souvenir from the trip.
The great thing about the state of Virginia is you don’t have to be in the car long to wind up in another fun town or at the beach. You’ve also got Washington D.C. (our nation’s capital) nestled in the state as well, which is a must-see if you’ve never been and always a fun re-visit. So, hopefully, you add Virginia to your list of places to tour this year; you won’t regret it. Happy Trails!