Top photo: Richmond, Virginia – downtown skyline on the James River
Up the Eastern Seaboard we go. Today we are going to visit Virginia. Known as the “Birthplace of a Nation,” Virginia has a rich and storied history as a linchpin of democracy, and mover and shaker in the constant battle between Federalist and States’ Rights groups, as well as between North and South in days gone by.
Virginia is bordered by North Carolina to the south, Tennessee to the southwest, Kentucky to the west, West Virginia (appropriately enough) to the northwest, Maryland to the northeast, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.
It is a small (15th smallest) state but 12th in population, making it one of the truly urban states in the Union. In fact, about 1/2 of all the people in the United States live within a 500-mile radius of the Capital of Virginia. Richmond is the capital, and Virginia Beach the most populous Virginian city. That said, much of Virginia’s urban identity is drawn from the Washington D.C. metro area which dominates the northern part of the state.
The State Capital building in Richmond, Virginia
Presidents: George Washington, William Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Zachary Taylor, Woodrow Wilson, and John Tyler
First Ladies: Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, Rachel Jackson, Letitia Tyler, Ellen Arthur, and Edith Wilson.
Actors: Warren Beatty, Joseph Cotten, Shirley MacLaine, and George C. Scott
Author/Journalists: Russell Baker, Willa Cather, Booker T. Washington, and Tom Wolfe
Entertainers: Pearl Bailey, Roy Clark, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
Military/Politics: Henry Clay, Sam Houston, Patrick Henry, Robert E. Lee, James “Jeb” Stuart, Walter Reed, and Nat Turner
Athletes: Arthur Ashe and Sam Snead
Movies in Which Virginia Played a Prominent Role:
D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear
Remember the Titans
Academical Village at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Virginia:
The present state capital in Richmond was also the capital of the Confederacy.
The first peanuts grown in the United States were grown in Virginia.
The geographic center of Virginia is five miles southwest of Buckingham, population 17,136.
The American Revolution ended with the surrender of Cornwallis in Yorktown.
Over half the battles fought in the Civil War were fought in Virginia.
Robert E. Lee, Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his men to Ulysses Grant, General-in-Chief of all United States forces, on April 9, 1865, at the Appomattox Court House.
Virginia was named for England’s “Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth I.
The major cash crop of Virginia is tobacco.
Jamestown was the first English settlement in the U.S. It was also the first capital of Virginia.
Lake Anne Reston – Luxury Lakefront Townhomes Fairfax County
Let’s Take a Trip Through Virginia!
We are going to be traveling north to south through Virginia. Along the way, we will have some fun. But we are going to start in a somber place which should be a must-see for American travelers.
Arlington National Cemetery is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame, which burned above the grave of President John F. Kennedy. Those two sights alone are worth the trip. The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is awe-inspiring and beautiful to see. There are three different tours available. Choose the one which suits you but, under no circumstance short yourself time-wise on this stop. We are giving it an entire day. Stay at the Crowne Plaza Washington National Airport for $94 a night.
After the serious nature of Arlington Cemetery, we need some whimsy. Take I-66 west to Marsh Road, about 50 miles total to the town of Bealeton. There find the world’s largest roller skate. Billed as a “Wonder of the World” it is made of wood and plaster, celebrating the great American pastime of flirtation on wheels.
Market Square and City Hall in Alexandria, Virginia
We are going to spend the night in Richmond. Listed in the Top Three of “Places to Live” by recent surveys, Richmond is a town of both grace and charm. Our trips through states always seek out beauty. We will find it at Maymont.
Maymont is a 100-acre estate, given as a gift to Richmond by James and Sallie Dooley, who lived there from 1893 to 1925. Whether strolling in the gardens, touring the mansion or watching river otters play, there is something for everyone to enjoy. It is said to be one of the great places in America to relax and enjoy life. Sounds like a winner to Gildshire.
Stay at Candlewood Suites Richmond West End Short Pump for $85 a night.
Next morning, sleep in Nevermore. We’re going to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. This museum is a collection of buildings that cover the story of Poe’s life. The black cats only add to the mood of intrigue.
I-64 toward Norfolk for about 50 miles will take you to historic Jamestown. The site of the first European settlement in the New World, the historically accurate tour will show you how they lived. An active archeological site, great and fascinating things are still being discovered here. Stay the night for $94 at Bluegreen Parkside Williamsburg.
Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, in Charlottesville
Back on I-84 to I-264 and you will soon be on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to Virginia Beach. A walk on the boardwalk will give you a nice overview and a look at Virginia’s portion of the Atlantic Ocean. You are steps away from the beach, so get your toes in the sand and enjoy the sea air.
Next we are going to Ocean Breeze Waterpark. It isn’t the largest waterpark in the world (wait for Wisconsin if you want water fun) but Ocean Breeze one of the best places along the Eastern Seaboard to take the family in Virginia Beach. Very clean! Tons of fun things to do. Perhaps best of all, the food is some of the tastiest, and most reasonable, to be found in any amusement park anywhere.
Enjoy the night at Founders Inn and Spa for $89 a night.
We hope you enjoyed the trip through historic Virginia. More than anywhere we have so far been, it feels appropriate to add “historic” to the state name.
Where are we going next? The natives sing it, “Maryland, My Maryland.”