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Top 17 Hidden Gems to visit in Virginia

  1. In the heart of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia lies the breathtaking Luray Caverns. Discovered in 1878 and open to the public since 1880, these underground marvels are a must-see for anyone visiting the area. The intricate formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and crystal-clear pools, created over millions of years, are sure to leave visitors in awe. Guided tours of the caverns are available for an unforgettable experience.
  2. Nature lovers will delight in visiting the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge located on the picturesque Chincoteague Island. The refuge is renowned for its birdwatching opportunities, including the famous wild ponies that roam free on the island. Guided tours of the island are available, allowing visitors to watch for birds and other wildlife while enjoying the unspoiled beauty of the island’s beaches and marshlands.
  3. The Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia is a geological wonder that has attracted visitors for centuries. This 200-feet tall limestone bridge is one of the oldest natural attractions in the United States. Visitors can walk across the bridge, explore the surrounding park, and learn about the history and geology of the area.
  4. The James River, a scenic river that flows through central Virginia, offers visitors a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities such as fishing, kayaking, tubing, hiking, and picnicking in the surrounding areas.
  5. For a breathtaking scenic drive, visitors can take the Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds for 469 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. The parkway offers stunning views of the Virginia countryside, with opportunities to stop and explore scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and historic sites along the way.
  6. The Homestead, a historic hotel and spa in Hot Springs, Virginia, has been a popular destination for over 250 years. The resort’s luxurious accommodations, world-class spa, and outdoor recreational activities such as golf, tennis, hiking, and soaking in the hot springs, make it an ideal vacation spot for visitors.
  7. The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach is a must-visit for anyone interested in marine life. With over 300 species of animals, including sea turtles, sharks, and dolphins, visitors can learn about the conservation efforts of the aquarium and take part in educational programs and events.
  8. In neighboring West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park is a natural wonder that draws visitors from around the world. The park is home to the stunning Blackwater Falls, which drops 62 feet into a gorge below. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, and camping in the park, as well as exploring the surrounding area.
  9. Finally, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers visitors a glimpse into the life and times of one of America’s founding fathers and the third President of the United States. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features tours of the house and grounds, showcases Jefferson’s accomplishments, and provides opportunities to explore the beautiful gardens and orchards on the property.
  10. The Historic Jamestowne: Step back in time to the birthplace of America at this historic site nestled on the banks of the James River in Virginia. It’s where the first permanent English settlement in North America was established, and boy, have things changed since then! Visitors can explore the remains of the original settlement, including the foundations of houses and the first church, and discover what life was really like for those early colonists. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t all tea and crumpets.
  11. The Natural Tunnel State Park: Come and see nature’s version of a tunnel, formed over millions of years by a river, in the Appalachian Mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a guided tour of the tunnel and marvel at the wonder of it all. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots and picnic basket, as the park’s hiking trails, and picnic areas are not to be missed!
  12. The Grayson Highlands State Park: If breathtaking scenery is your thing, you’ll love this state park located in the southwest of Virginia. The park boasts some of the most stunning views in the state, with mountain trails to hike and even wild ponies to see. And if that’s not enough for you, you can also explore the nearby Appalachian Trail. Don’t forget your camera to capture the incredible views!
  13. The Virginia Creeper Trail: This biking and hiking trail is located in the southwestern part of Virginia and is a must-see for anyone who loves the great outdoors. You’ll be surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains as you traverse the 34-mile trail, taking in stunning views of forests, streams, and wildflowers. Just be sure to bring a hat to protect yourself from those pesky creeper vines!
  14. The Smithfield Plantation: Get a glimpse into the life of a prominent Virginia politician at this historic plantation located in Blacksburg. Take a tour of the 18th-century mansion and learn about the history of the Preston family, as well as the lives of enslaved people who lived and worked on the plantation. It’s a fascinating look at a bygone era, but be warned, it may leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable.
  15. The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: Who says swamps aren’t cool? This wildlife refuge located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina is one of the largest remaining swamps in the United States. Explore the park’s trails, take a guided boat tour, and keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls the swamp home. Just make sure to bring some insect repellent, those mosquitoes are no joke!
  16. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts: If you’re a fan of art, this museum located in Richmond is not to be missed. It’s one of the largest art museums in the United States, with a collection of over 50,000 works from around the world, including ancient art, European art, and contemporary art. Whether you’re an art aficionado or just looking for a little culture, this museum has got you covered.
  17. The Virginia Living Museum: This natural history museum located in Newport News is a treat for all ages. You can learn about the natural history of Virginia through interactive exhibits and live animal displays. From the aquarium to the planetarium to the dinosaur discovery trail, there’s something for everyone. Just be careful not to get too close to the animals, they’re not as friendly as they look!