Take Your Pick
Appomattox, VA
Where Robert E Lee Surrendered
Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park - On April 9, 1865 General Robert E Lee surrendered the army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse. The War Between the States which ran roughly four years and saw nearly 630,000 deaths was finally over. Although it wasn't the last army of the Confederacy to surrender, it is often looked at as the unofficial end of the Civil War. At the site are the Appomattox Courthouse/Visitor Center, the Plunkett-Meeks Store and the McLean House. The McLean House is the location where signing of the surrender occured.
Charlottesville, VA
Designed by Thomas Jefferson
Monticello - Monticello is the 40 year work and retirement home of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826). This wonderfully designed structure hosts 33 rooms in the main house, with three stories including beer and wine cellars and a distinctive domed bedroom. The structure had the honor of being featured on the reverse side of the 1929-1966 2 dollar bill. Thomas Jefferson had a very distinguished career; he drafted the Declaration of Independence, served as a congressman, Governor of Virginia, Vice President, and the nation's 3rd President. He is buried on the Monticello estate.
Chincoteague Island, VA
Ponies For Sale
Pony Penning and Swim - Since the 1600s wild horses have roamed Chincoteague Island. It is unclear how the ponies arrived at the island, some reports say a Spanish galleon filled with mustangs shipwrecked and the horses swam ashore. And other reports say settlers of the island turned them loose to avoid taxes. All this monkey knows is that every year a portion of these feral ponies swim the channel from neighboring Assateague Island to be auctioned off during the Pony Penning and Swim event. The horses find good homes and the proceeds from the event benefit the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.
Colonial Beach, VA
Lee and Washington - Neighbors
George Washington and Robert E Lee's Birthplaces - Two of the nation's most historic figures were born within 10 miles of each other. George Washington and Robert E Lee's Birthplaces are in Westmoreland County, Virginia situated overlooking the beautiful Potomac River. George Washington's (1732-1799) birthplace has several buildings with costumed interpreters (say hi to Rebecca for me) and a living colonial farm. The foundation footprint of the original house where Washington was born is still visible. Robert E Lee's (1807-1870) birthplace is on a sprawling 1,900 acre estate named Stratford Hall which was built in the 1730s and offers informative tours.
Luray, VA
Life is Old There, Older than the Trees
Shenandoah National Park - The 105 mile Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park offers some breathtaking views of the Virginia countryside. Although the views are beautiful all year long, they are particularly stunning in autumn during the color change. Leaf peepers should make an effort to get up early and catch the sunrise over the valley. If hiking is your thing, there are over 500 miles of hiking trails including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Nearby are several cave systems including, Grand Caverns, Endless Caverns, Skyline Caverns, and the gorgeous Luray Caverns.
Montvale, VA
Solve a Puzzle and Find Gold
Buried Treasure - Somewhere near Montvale is a Buried Treasure with 2,921 lbs of gold, 5,100 lbs of silver and an unknown quantity of jewels. The treasure is estimated to be worth roughly $50 million. According to one of the "Beale Ciphers" the treasure was buried between the years 1819 and 1821. There are three Beale Ciphers, the one that was solved detailing the contents of the treasure, and two that were unsolved, of which one gives the exact location and the other the rightful heirs of the loot. Over the years many people have looked for the treasure, but so far nobody has found it. Bring a shovel.
Mount Vernon, VA
The Home of George and Martha Washington
Mount Vernon - Mount Vernon was the home of the nation's first President George Washington (1732-1799) from the time of his marriage to Martha Dandridge Custus (1731-1802) in 1759 until his death in 1799. The main attraction of the 500 acre estate is the marvalous three story mansion overlooking the Potomac River. The house contains many original furnishings once owned by the Washingtons. Also on the grounds are the gardens (with trees planted by the President), a distillery and gristmill, a museum, orientation center and the tomb of George Washington. Lines get long to see the house, so get there early.
Natural Bridge, VA
A Virginia Natural Attraction
Natural Bridge - Natural Bridge is an enormous gorge carved into the limestone wall of the Virginia countryside. During the day, walk under this uplifting 20 story bridge to the waterfall at the end of the trail; and at night enjoy the choreographed light show "The Drama of Creation" that was inaugarated by then President Calvin Coolidge. While under the bridge, see if you can spot George Washington's initials carved into the wall. In addition to the Natural Bridge, an admission ticket includes a nice wax museum and factory tour, as well as a toy museum.
Natural Bridge, VA
Stonehenge's Foamy Cousin
Foamhenge - At the base of Foamhenge is a sign stating that it took 1500 years to complete Stonehenge and only six weeks to complete Foamhenge. Take that you slow-poke Druids. Built by Mark Cline, Foamhenge as its name implies, is built out of foam and is a full scale replica of the original in England. Not only is it the same size, but each foam stone was handcrafted to precisely replicate Stonehenge's stones. The great thing about Foamhenge is that you can get up close and mingle with the sculpture. There is one oddity though, at Foamhenge Merlin the Magician is seen levitating a rock. Hmmm, my monkey mind says if they had Merlin, it wouldn't take 1,500 years.
Norfolk, VA
World's Largest Naval Station
Nauticus National Maritime Center - The Norfolk Naval Station is the largest Naval Station in the world supporting operations in the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Located on the downtown waterfront of Norfolk, Nauticus shows off its maritime roots with a science museum, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and the battleship USS Wisconsin. The USS Wisconsin is an Iowa class battleship that was commissioned in 1944 during WWII and was used during the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm.
Richmond, VA
One Gleeming White Capitol
State Capitol Building - Looking at the gleaming bleached white Virginia State Capitol Building you'd swear it was built just a few short years ago, but believe it or not the structure was completed in 1788. The building was designed by Thomas Jefferson and is modeled after the Roman temple "Maison Carree at Nimes" in southern France. During the Civil War the building was used as the Capitol of the Confederecy and some how managed to escape damage throughout the war. The structure today is completely restored - inside and out - to the way it looked in the early 1900s. Just beautiful.
Richmond, VA
The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe
Poe Museum - Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849) was born in Boston, MA and is buried in Baltimore, MD, but he grew up in Richmond and spent several years as an adult here. Poe is known as "America's Shakespeare" and penned "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Tell-Tale Heart". His career started with works of poetry and short stories and he later became a horror and mystery writer. The Poe Museum has a fine collection of the author's manuscripts, first edition works and personal belonging. Like some of his works, Poe's death is surrounded in mystery. He was found in the streets of Baltimore in a state of "great distress" wearing someone else's cloths. He died a few days later without ever explaining what happened to him.
Richmond, VA
Jefferson Davis White House
Museum of the Confederacy - The Museum of the Confederacy and the White House of the Confederacy are side-by-side in the historic Court End neighborhood of Richmond. The museum has the most comprehensive collection of Civil War artifacts in the USA, holding over 15,000 items including flags, uniforms, and weapons as well as nearly 6,000 Civil War period (1861-1865) photographs. The 1818 structure next to the museum was used as the Executive Mansion (White House) for Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family during the entire war.
Schuyler, VA
Walton's Mountain
The Waltons - Earl Hamner Jr. was born in Schuyler, VA and went on to write, produce and provide narration for the long running 1970s TV show "The Waltons". The show centered on a large family living through the Great Depression in a small town in rural Virginia. Every episode would end with the lights going out in each bedroom while the family said, "Good-night John Boy", "Good-night Socko", "Good-night TJ", "Good-night Jessica". Or something like that. The Walton's Mountain Elementary School contains a small museum dedicated to show with cast photos and show memorabilia.
Triangle, VA
Inside the Marine Corps Museum
National Museum of the Marine Corps - The National Museum of the Marine Corps is a fitting tribute to the US Marines who've fought and are fighting for our freedom. The distinctive triangular shaped building was designed with the flag raisers of Iwo Jima in mind and the spacious 118,000 square feet of interior space holds some very innovative exhibits. Enter into the Leatherneck Gallery where several aircraft suspended are from the ceiling, then work your way through the war exhibits, upstairs to the Mess Hall and Tun Tavern and finally to the top of the Observation Deck. Ooa-rah!!!
Virginia Beach, VA
Surfing Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach - With nearly 40 miles of coast line and 30 miles of public beaches, Virginia Beach is a beach lover's dream. The most popular section of the coast is the Boardwalk, with 3 miles of shops, amusement areas, sculptures (don't miss the giant Neptune), and street vendors. Events are held throughout the year including the popular Neptune Festival featuring the North American Sand Sculpting Championship, a Neptune Run and Surfing Competition.
Williamsburg, VA
First Permenant English Settlement
Jamestown - Located near each other are the National Park Service's Historic Jamestowne and Virginia's Jamestown Settlement, both commemorating the first permanent English settlement in North America. In 1607 (even before the Pilgrims arrived in America) 104 Englishmen landed on shores of the James River to form a colony. At Historic Jamestowne are a reconstructed fort, a church, and graves of the settlers. At the Jamestown Settlement is a museum, a reconstructed Powhatan Village and several ships. To enjoy your visit even more, take the Colonial Parkway to and from Williamsburg, it is a beautiful and relaxing drive. Then head over to the Yorktown Battlefield.
Williamsburg, VA
Halloween at Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens - Busch Gardens Williamsburg mixes the thrill of park rides with a European theme. The park is divided into countries, French Canada, France, Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy and two Germanys each offering their respective country's flavor. The best attractions of the park are the Griffon, Curse of Darkcastle, and the Loch Ness Monster. And the best time to visit the park is during Howl-o-Scream which is around Halloween of course - you can get your spook house fix.
Wirtz, VA
Up From Slavery
Booker T Washington Monument - Born into slavery, Booker T Washington (1856-1915) later founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute and become the most influential African American of his time. In 1865 at the age of nine Washington was freed from slavery by the Emancipation Proclamation after which he attended elementary school, the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, and Wayland Seminary. He authored "Up From Slavery: An Autobiography" which details his struggles and successes. The Booker T Washington Monument preserves the Burrough's Plantation where Washington was born.
Woodford, VA
The Bed Where Stonewall Died
Stonewall Jackson Shrine - Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (1824-1863) was a graduate of West Point who later became famous as a General in the Confederate States Army. His nickname was earned at the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) when he stood his ground like a "stonewall". The Stonewall Jackson Shrine is the site where Jackson was taken after mistakenly being shot by his own men and where he subsequently passed on (he died of pnemomia). At the shrine is the original building, the actual bed, and the antique clock from the day he died.