The Best Places to Visit in Virginia for History Lovers
Step Back in Time: The Best Historical Sites to Explore in Virginia
If you and your significant other are big history buffs, then you’ll love taking a trip to Virginia. The state’s name literally means “virgin land,” and was one of the first stop-offs for European colonizers hundreds of years ago.
What makes Virginia special for travelers is how it offers a historical record of those earlier, pioneering times. Virginia is full of historic sites, museums, and landmarks that tell the story of America’s past. It’s a great place for learning about the Civil War, life in colonial America, the American Revolution and the early presidents who fought off the British and brought the Union closer together.
One of the most iconic places in Virginia is Historic Jamestown. This was the first permanent English settlement in America, founded in 1607. Here you can see the original fort, the church where Pocahontas married John Rolfe and the archaeologic digs that reveal new discoveries about life in the 17th century.
You can also visit the living history museum at the Jamestown Settlement. It details the history of the Powhatan Indians and the early colonists, and how they worked together.
You might also want to take a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, where you can step back in time to the 18th century and experience the daily life of colonial Virginians. You get a keen insight into how most people lived, exploring various historic buildings while watching craftsmen at work.
The site has tried to recreate what it was like to live at the time and the sorts of activities that occupied most people’s days. For many visitors, it feels like taking a trip back hundreds of years and experiencing the same conditions as locals. It’s incredible to think that the whole of American society emerged from these early settlements and their way of life
Occasionally, you can also witness dramatic events that shaped the American Revolution. Organizers at Colonial Williamsburg recreate these to sketch out significant events in American history, as historians believe they unfolded. There are also carriage rides, taverns, gardens, and shops that offer authentic goods and souvenirs.
Manassas National Battlefield Park
For those interested in learning more about the Civil War, Manassas is a great place to visit. Its National Battlefield Park tells the story of the First Battle of Bull Run, also sometimes called the First Battle of Manassas. The battle was fought in July 1861, just north of the city, but several miles southwest of Washington D.C. In total, more than 14,000 people were involved. Northerners who expected a quick victory found themselves surprised by the Confederate strength.
Those interested in American history can also visit Yorktown, where the British surrendered to George Washington in 1781, ending the Revolutionary War. This location is of extreme political and historical significance and represents the end of a long conflict with the overseas power.
Nearby is the Appomattox Court House. This location is famous because it was where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in 1865, ending the American Civil War.
Virginia is also home to numerous presidential estates and historic homes that showcase the lives and legacies of some of America’s most influential leaders.
For instance, you can visit James Madison’s Montpelier farm where he drew up parts of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. You can also take a trip to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first president of the U.S. as a truly independent nation from the British.
Even lovers of Thomas Jefferson will be pleased by what Virginia has to offer. Jefferson was the founding father who wrote the Declaration of Independence and founded the University of Virginia. He remains a highly celebrated figure until this day.
Virginia Is The History State
We’ve only detailed a few of the historical sites dotted around Virginia. However, the state was pivotal to the founding of the Republic, and a key player in the early days of the U.S. when it looked very different from today. The structures, laws, and ideas that came from the state eventually shaped the entire nation and encouraged more areas to sign up and take part in the Union.
Of course, significant historical events also occurred elsewhere. But Virginia is almost unique in the sheer number of accolades it has. There’s nowhere else like it. Traveling there is generally quite easy. Most people travel to Richmond first and then make their way from there. Jamestown was the former capital for around 92 before English colonists abandoned it. s