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Established in 1607, Virginia is the oldest of the American colonies. When the colonies first settled here, they hoped to find wealth in the form of gold, but as it turns out, they found it elsewhere: in tobacco. Many influential tobacco plant owners had a huge impact on the US, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Over the years, Virginia has been caught up in Civil wars, leaving its towns and cities in disarray and many of its people struggling to survive.
Today, however, along with its rich history, Virginia has so much to offer, with plenty of things to do. You can book your Virgina car rental in advance with Enjoy Travel. You’ll find deals on all types of vehicles for your trip, with average prices just $54 per day.
Guide to Virginia
Virginia spans over nearly 40,000 square miles, and has plenty of mountain ranges, bays and wide-open plains. Geographically, Virginia is best known for its Blue Mountain Rage, Chesapeake Bay and its extremely fertile soil – which is perfect for growing crops.
Frequently described as having a ‘Goldilocks climate,’ Virginia is never too hot or too cold. The state has five climate regions: Piedmont, Northern Virginia, Western Mountain, Southwestern Mountain and the Tidewater. Thanks to these climate regions, Virginia can offer all sorts of outdoor activities, such as skiing in the mountains, or a varied selection of water sports all year round on the coast.
Virginia is a humid, subtropical state, which has warm summers and relatively mild winters. The average temperature in and around July is roughly 90°F.
Things to do in Virginia
Virginia has a rich history, so there is a ton of culture for everyone to explore when visiting this state. In fact, there is so much to do and see in Virginia that you might feel a little overwhelmed with options when planning a trip, but fear not, we have a few suggestions you might want to consider when visiting.
The American Revolution has been recreated countless times in museums and galleries all over the world – but none are quite as impressive as that seen in Williamsburg. In Williamsburg, you can see the original 18th-century buildings that have either remained standing, or have been reconstructed from their original foundations. Here you will be able to walk the same streets as Jefferson, or eat in George Washington’s favourite seafood restaurant.
In 1705, Williamsburg was capital of Virginia and, throughout the Revolution, the final battle was fought only a few miles away. Along with this, Williamsburg is known for being one of the most politically active colonial capitals in the whole of the US.
Around Williamsburg, you will see interpreters dressed up in costumes, creating visual displays for people to be able to see what life was like during the Revolution. This is the perfect place for all ages to learn a little about the history of the state in an education, fun and immersive way.
Williamsburg also offers many museums and galleries, which are suitable for all ages to go and visit.
In 1957, the Jamestown Settlement was built to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. In the area, visitors to Jamestown will find a museum, along with galleries that focus on the colonization of the New World by the English. At the site, there is also a statue that pays tribute to Pocahontas, who was famous for helping to ease tension between the Native Americans and the settlers at the time. The statue was built in 1922 by William O Partridge and is visited by hundreds of people every day.
Along with this, on the site there is also a re-construction of the famous triangular fort that was built by the colonies, with the original foundations still being visitable today.
Best known for being George Washington’s home until his death in 1799, Mount Vernon was a project undertaken under Washington’s strict supervision – which he took very seriously, even while leading the Continental Army throughout the Revolution. Each design, element of construction and interior décor received his own personal attention in some way or another, which can all be seen today.
What surprises people most when they visit Mount Vernon for the first time, is the color selection throughout the whole house. These shades were extremely popular while Washington was alive, with his favorite being the ‘New Room,’ which sports bright green walls.
Mount Vernon is unique in so many ways, but one way in particular is the personal reminders of George Washington and his family scattered throughout the whole house; with family portraits and the couple’s belongings still in view.
The grounds surrounding the house look over the Potomac River, which was one of Washington’s favourite places to sit. He took particular pride in the river, and made sure to keep it properly cared for.
Blacksmithing, sheep shearing, weaving and plowing are all demonstrated in the land around Mount Vernon, and all outbuildings have either been persevered to a high standard, or reconstructed.
Natural Bridge of Virginia
Over 215 feet high and 90 feet wide, the Natural Bridge of Virginia is one of the most famous and oldest tourist attractions in the whole of America. Between the 18th and the 19th century, it was one of the most popular sites for Europeans to come and visit, being ranked almost as high as Niagara Falls.
The natural phenomenon occurred when the cavern through the Cedar Creek collapsed, forming this bridge-like structure. There are hundreds of stories and legends surrounding this bridge, and it is certainly a sight to be seen if you are in the area.
In 2014, Natural Bridge officially became a state park finally, and welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world every day.
Eating out in Virginia
When visiting Virginia, you’ll learn that there isn’t a shortage of incredible restaurants. In every direction you look, you are likely to be able to find a restaurant or takeout place that takes your fancy – there is really something for everyone in this state, and we have collected together some of our favourites you might want to try out when visiting Virginia.
Both critics and competitors within the food industry have praised L'Oppossum for its outstanding menus, wine lists and specials menus. The food is the perfect balance between sophisticated and playful, which offers a completely fresh approach to French cuisine.
L'Oppossum is situated a few minutes away from VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) and is a one-of-a-kind eatery, that is as much an entertainment experience as it is a restaurant experience; unique paintings plaster the walls, all illuminated by a mix-match of hanging lights.
Making use of a mid-century flour mill, the Mill Street Grill in Staunton is a must visit. The atmosphere of the restaurant makes for a fun and unique dining experience right in the heart of Staunton. The Mill Street Grill prides themselves on their consistency, with every meal being unbelievably delicious.
Pungo Pizza in Pungo is situated roughly 20 minutes from Sandbridge Beach in the south of Virginia. This kid-friendly restaurant is always packed and full of a lively, excitable atmosphere, with a beautiful environment, surrounded by farmlands and horse ranches for people to visit.
Either for a date night, or a place to take the kids, Pungo Pizza is by far one of our favourite pizza places in the area. With their unique menu (including a bacon cheeseburger pizza), they combine flavours you would never imagine could work perfectly on a pizza – and you would be surprised, you might just find your new favourite topping. Along with this, if after you’ve finished your pizza, you still have room for more, they have an excellent dessert menu, just to top it all off.
The main international airport in Virginia is Washington Dulles International Airport, although it’s also easy to fly into Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in nearby Maryland. For domestic flights, there’s 10 airports in the state.
Getting around Virginia
When travelling around Virginia, we recommend hiring your own car – because there is no better way to see this beautiful state than with your own vehicle at hand. Thankfully, Virginia has plenty of interstate highways that link all of the major cities and most towns together; making it extremely easy to go from place to place.
If you do choose to drive, it is important that you know the maximum speed limits on the interstate highways are 65mph, on the state highways the speed limit is 55 mph and then 35 mph in surrounding towns and cities.
If driving isn’t your thing, you can always hail a cab, grab a bus or take the rain in and around the state. However, most train lines are best used for getting in and out of Virginia, rather than travelling around in the state. We recommend using the Greyhound bus service, which is the nationwide bus line – and this will be able to transport you to and from major Virginia cities. However, it is important to note that not all small towns have this service available, so if you don’t plan to hire a car, plan out your travel route before visiting, so you know exactly how to get from place to place.