Published May 01, 2017
As the first established colony in British America during the early 1600s, Virginia has a rich history that spans more than 400 years, providing groups the opportunity to explore some of the nation’s most important historic sites.
Virginia was home to eight U.S. presidents, more than any other state in the country, among them prominent Founding Fathers like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Groups can tour many of these men’s historic homes, such as Washington’s beloved Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello.
For a taste of Colonial America, visitors can travel along the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, which features interactive attractions like the Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum.
Other key landmarks include the Arlington National Cemetery and the Virginia State Capitol, which housed the United States’ oldest body of government.
In addition to its political heritage, Virginia is also known as the birthplace of country music, which travelers can experience through nine distinct music venues along the Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail.
Nestled atop a hill in Charlottesville, the elegant manor and grounds of Monticello yield a rare glimpse into the world of the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, shaping a nation’s future with the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Jefferson spent nearly half his lifetime constructing the home in what he termed his “essay in architecture,” which now serves as a blueprint to both his character and his historical contributions. Visitors can take a 40-minute tour of the main house. A day pass provides additional access to the garden tours, the Slavery at Monticello tour, the museum galleries and a film on Jefferson’s life.
In the restored garden and orchard, groups can learn about Jefferson’s fascination with botany and agriculture, and even sample selections of fruits and vegetables during the harvest tasting tour, which is available between May and October. Groups can also delve into local scenery along the Saunders-Monticello Trail, a beautiful four-mile loop through Kemper Park.
Connected by the scenic Colonial Parkway, the Historic Triangle comprises three of Virginia’s most historically significant towns: Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown.
Beginning at the reconstructed Jamestown Settlement, visitors can take a brief voyage aboard the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discover, or explore the Powhatan Indian Village, where historic interpreters bring Native American culture to life. The original site of the settlement, Historic Jamestowne, is located nearby.
Colonial Williamsburg contains one of the country’s largest living-history museums, with 300 acres of taverns, trade shops and Colonial homes that preserve the everyday lifestyle of Americans in the 1770s. Groups can tour the Governor’s Palace, explore an art museum and grab a bite to eat in Merchant’s Square.
The historic loop ends in Yorktown, where Washington and his troops famously coerced British forces to surrender following the Siege of Yorktown, effectively bringing the American Revolution to a close. Travelers can learn about this momentous event at the brand-new American Revolution Museum.
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