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Virginia offers a wide variety of options for weekend getaways, from gorgeous beaches and mountains to world-famous historical sites, and even the chance to watch wild horses.
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Virginia’s largest city boasts nearly 30 miles of beaches, three miles of boardwalk filled with rides and a host of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. There are over 10,000 accommodation options to choose from which means you’ll have your pick, whether you’re looking for something budget-friendly or upscale. Enjoy exploring the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art as well as everything outdoors, from fishing and cruises to kayaking, parasailing and surfing.
If you can plan a Chincoteague Island weekend getaway during the annual Pony Swim, watching the wild horses swim across the channel is a sight you’ll never forget. It takes place on the last Wednesday of July, when the horses swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. But if you can’t make it for that, a getaway to this small, serene island off the Virginia coast is enjoyable all year round. In addition to being home to wild ponies, there are foxes and over 320 species of birds. Explore the island on foot, two wheels, or horseback.
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
North Carolina’s Outer Banks region is easily accessible from Virginia. This long, narrow strip of land that separates Pamlico Sound from the open waters of the Atlantic is a beach lovers’ paradise offering activities include paddle boarding, surfing and kayaking, as well as lessons and rentals that are available at numerous local shops. Check out the iconic Cape Lookout Lighthouse, and relics from Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. The Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores offers close encounters with an albino sea turtle and playful otters too.
Chocolate lovers may want to escape to Hershey, Pennsylvania, a relatively short drive from northern Virginia cities. Originally called Derry Church, Hershey was renamed in 1906 due to the popularity of Hershey chocolate. Today, it’s also known as the “Sweetest Place on Earth.” The Hershey Company and the H.B. Reese Candy Company are both found here. In this chocolate heaven, visitors can taste Hershey’s chocolate at Hershey’s Chocolate World, visit the Hershey Story Museum and stay at Hotel Hershey, the official resort of Hersheypark, featuring a chocolate spa where guests can enjoy a luxurious whipped cocoa bath, get chocolate bean polish or order up a chocolate fondue wrap.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park gets only a fraction of the visitors of the region’s two other parks, which makes it an ideal getaway for enjoying that gorgeous scenery that includes awe-inspiring mountain vistas and cascading waterfalls, practically all to yourself. If the outdoors is your thing, you’ll really love it here, with more than 500 miles of hiking trails as well as nearly 200,000 acres of backcountry for camping. Enjoy wildlife viewing, bird watching, rock climbing, fly fishing and more.
Shenandoah Valley Wine Country
Virginia has a long history of winemaking, dating all the way back to the Colonial Period. Its largest region is the scenic Shenandoah Valley, making it an ideal place for wine lovers as the regional wine leader in the eastern region of the country. A tour of the Valley’s wineries offer a unique experience filled with award-winning wines along with rural scenery, high quality dining establishments and entertainment. There are numerous accommodation options in the region too, from quaint inns and grand old hotels to cozy cabins.
The Historic Triangle
The Historic Triangle makes for an ideal getaway for history lovers, made up of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. Jamestown is the site of the first permanent settlement in the Americas, founded back in 1607, and at Historic Jamestown, you can see ongoing archaeological discoveries of the fort as well as thousands of artifacts unearthed on display in the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium. Watch history come alive in Colonial Williamsburg, where costumed characters act out the details of life in the early years of America, and in Yorktown, step back in time by walking through the battlefield at the Yorktown Battlefield and Visitor Center. The Yorktown Victory Center, a living history museum of the American Revolution, features indoor galleries and exhibits as well as a re-created military encampment outside which depicts life in the military during Colonial times.
Alexandria is an ideal, less expensive place to stay for exploring Washington, D.C., just minutes nearby, but it also offers many treasures of its own. Located along the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria, it’s renowned for its acclaimed chef-driven restaurants, unique boutiques and thriving art scene, all set against a backdrop of 18th- and 19th century architecture that still remains from its days as George Washington’s hometown. Visit the 1753 Carlyle House, the Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Apothecary Museum and Fort Ward Museum.
Fredericksburg is an especially charming town filled with historical attractions and battlefields, shops, galleries, restaurants and golf courses. The historic district is home to more than 300 buildings that date back to the 18th- and 19th-centuries, and there are over 15,000 Union burials at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery as well as preserved portions of Civil War Battlefields. Enjoy exploring antique shops and dining on especially delicious, fresh seafood at the Happy Clam, a local favorite, as well as picking up fresh produce and more at the local farmers markets too.