25 Famous Landmarks in Virginia You Should See

Updated 10 min read
A skyline of tall modern buildings overlooking green grass and trees
Virginia has many cities full of various interesting landmarks, like Richmond

Virginia, on the East Coast of the United States, was one of the very first states in the country, so it has a lot of historic places and sites to visit.

So, what is Virginia known for?

Virginia is known for Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, and First Landing State Park. Some other famous landmarks in Virginia include Colonial National Historical Park, where Jamestown and Yorktown are.

There are also many natural sites in Virginia, like the Blue Ridge Mountains, Luray Caverns, and the Natural Bridge. These landmarks suit hiking, biking, camping, and water activities.

Continue reading to learn more about the most famous landmarks in Virginia and why you should visit them! No matter what landmarks you choose to visit, you will discover more than four centuries of history in the state.

  • 25 Virginia landmarks

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25 Famous Virginia Landmarks

Virginia Landmarks Map

A map of Virginia landmarks. Use the map to explore all of the points of interest.

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Blue text of "American Revolution Museum at Yorktown" on a building with arches
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown has an array of exhibits, films, and much more

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

The first famous place in Virginia is the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown. The museum has exhibits, films, and an outdoor demonstration area for visitors to learn about the war at the site. There is also a recreation of a farm from the 18th century and a Continental Army encampment.

A vernacular wooden house with a white roof and stairs
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is home to the famous McLean House

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Next is the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. The village was where the American Civil War ended when the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to the Union on April 9th, 1865.

The village where the war ended was very small, with only a few houses, a tavern, and the courthouse. The site is now a national monument and a national historical park.

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Looking at white headstones lined up on a green field against green trees
Arlington National Cemetery is home to almost four hundred thousand graves

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, VA, is one of the most important sites in the United States. Approximately four hundred thousand graves date back as early as the Civil War.

The cemetery is in the Arlington House site, where General Robert E. Lee lived. The cemetery is a relatively new addition to the National Register of Historic Places, as the register added the cemetery in 2014.

Looking at layers of mountains covered with green and autumn trees
Some of the earliest settlers of Virginia lived at the Shenandoah National Park

Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains are one of Virginia's landmarks running through seven other states. From afar, the mountains look to be a blueish color as the trees on the mountains release isoprene. Isoprene is a compound produced by many plants and also gives the mountains a hazy look.

Shenandoah National Park is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is one of the best national parks on the East Coast to visit. Some of Virginia's earliest settlers lived at the foot of the mountain range.

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens is a theme park in Williamsburg (with a similar park in Tampa Bay). Williamsburg park is the newer one, having opened in 1975.

It has a European theme with many rides and attractions related to Europe. And there are seven park sections themed on European countries.

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An old lighthouse built from bricks and a newer iron-made black and white lighthouse
The new Cape Henry Lighthouse was built in 1881

Cape Henry Lighthouse

The Cape Henry Lighthouse is one of Virginia's National Historic Landmarks. There are two lighthouses at the site in Virginia Beach, both of which make up the historic site.

The old lighthouse was built in 1792 and was the first federal construction project in the United States. The new lighthouse was built in 1881 near the original as a backup in case the first one stopped working.

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A white sculpture of a horse against a museum building with three arched doors
Around 200,000 people visit the Chrysler Museum every year to see the art collection

Chrysler Museum

The Chrysler Museum is one of Virginia's art museums. It is in Norfolk and opened initially as an art and science museum in 1933.

Two hundred thousand people visit the museum annually to see the collection here. A lot of the collection was donated by Walter P. Chrysler Jr., which is where the museum gets its name.

Looking at the remains of a red-brick settlement on green grass against some trees
Jamestown is one of the important historic sites in Colonial National Historical Park

Colonial National Historical Park

Colonial National Historical Park in southeastern Virginia is home to two of the most important historic sites in the state. First is Jamestown, which was the first permanent English settlement from 1607. Second is Yorktown, where the Americans defeated the British during the American Revolutionary War.

The victory during this battle was crucial in allowing the United States to become an independent nation. The Colonial Parkway, a 23-mile scenic road, is also at the historical park. It connects Jamestown and Yorktown.

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A wall-brick border with an entrance to a palace built from bricks with a gray roof
Colonial Williamsburg houses many restored buildings like the Royal Governor's Palace

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is part of Williamsburg, an independent city in eastern Virginia. It is a living history museum with restored and recreated buildings from the 18th century. During this time, the area was the capital of Virginia, then called the Colony of Virginia or Colonial Virginia.

The workers here dress as people did back when they first lived here. They teach visitors about the history and importance of the site.

A camping tent under the shade of multiple trees having wide branches and lush leaves
One of the best things to do in Virginia is to camp at the First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is one of the natural landmarks in Virginia. The park is at the site where the English colonists first landed in 1607. Throughout history, it has also been a navigation site for military ships in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. These events are why it is a National Natural Landmark.

The state park is the most visited one in Virginia. You can camp, hike, explore the beach, spot wildlife and learn about the park's history.

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One of the most famous landmarks in Virginia is the Fort Monroe National Monument
Fort Monroe National Monument is one of the most famous landmarks in Virginia

Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe National Monument was a military base built in the early 19th century. Its primary purpose was to control the channel between Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay.

The military fort was important during the Civil War, specifically during the Peninsula campaign. At the fort, you can explore the grounds of the old fort and learn about its history and importance in the country's past.

Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park

Another important military site is the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. It was one of the bloodiest and most tragic areas during the Civil War, with more than eighty-five thousand soldiers wounded and fifteen thousand killed.

During the American Civil War, the United States and the Confederacy fought four battles at the Fredericksburg site between December 1862 and May 1864. You can visit this top attraction in Fredericksburg to learn about these battles and how they shaped the war and the country.

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A four-poster bed and bed chamber in a room with a dressing table and a window
Mount Vernon is where George Washington lived until he died in 1799

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon was home to the first United States president George Washington and his wife, Martha. The home is in Fairfax County. He lived here during his presidency until he died in 1799.

The White House was not built yet, so Washington stayed here as it was already his home and family property. George Washington allowed the public to visit his home after his presidency, and you can still see and tour it today.

A vernacular brick house with a gray roof surrounded by green grass and trees
Jamestowne was the first permanent settlement for English settlers from 1607

Historic Jamestowne

Historic Jamestowne is another one of the historical sites in Virginia. The site was the first permanent settlement by English settlers in 1607.

It is part of the Colonial National Historical Park and is run by the National Park Service. It is officially called Jamestown National Historic Site and was added to the US National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

James Madison's Montpelier

James Madison's Montpelier memorializes Madison's importance in the United States creation. He originally devised the idea of a government run by the people and pushed to implement it into the new country's politics.

Unfortunately, the site was also a plantation when Madison owned it. The museum remembers the lives of the enslaved people who worked, lived, and died here.

Many artifacts also show their lives and educational information on why slavery was terrible. You can also learn about slavery and segregation at the Robert Russa Moton Museum, another historic site in Virginia.

James Monroe's Highland

Similar to Montpelier is James Monroe's Highland, where the fifth president of the US lived. The site is an educational space to learn about the former president's life and his political importance.

You will also learn about the enslaved people who worked on the property and how they lost their lives to being enslaved by the president.

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A historical ship docked on the water by a boardwalk under a partly cloudy sky
Jamestown Settlement houses a replica of a ship that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement is an interactive museum where you can learn about the first English colony. There are films, exhibits, and interactive events where you can learn about the site and how people lived here more than four centuries ago.

You can also explore recreations of the homes, a fort, and the town the colonists lived in. And there is a recreation of one of the ships they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on before arriving in Jamestown.

A walkway inside a cave with stalactites, stalagmites, and caverns
Luray Caverns are the largest caverns in the eastern half of the United States

Luray Caverns

The Luray Caverns in northern Virginia are the largest in the eastern half of the United States. The cave was discovered in 1878 by five men living in the area. They saw a limestone outcrop protruding from the ground and ended up digging into the cave.

However, Native Americans had previously discovered the cave before Europeans arrived. You can discover the caverns and take a tour through them at the caverns. The Geology Hall of Fame is also at the site.

An arched stone bridge over a shallow swamp surrounded by deciduous trees
Stone Bridge is one of the sites to visit at the Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park

Another one of the historical places to visit in Virginia is Manassas National Battlefield Park. Two battles during the Civil War took place at the site, one in 1861 and another in 1862.

The park opened in 1936 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. There are many sites to visit at the park, including the Stone House, the Stone Bridge, Battery Heights, and Matthews Hill.

A huge limestone rock formation with an arch, covered with green grass
Natural Bridge is a 215-foot-tall arched bridge spanning 90 feet across a gorge

Natural Bridge

One of the unique things to do in Lexington, Virginia is visiting the Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County. It is a 215-foot-tall arched bridge that spans 90 feet across a gorge.

Cedar Creek used to flow under the bridge. It likely used to be larger, like the roof of a cave or tunnel but was destroyed or deteriorated. The Natural Bridge is a Virginia Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

Looking at layers of a mountain covered with autumn trees under a blue sky
Shenandoah National Park is one of the 22 national parks in Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is one of 22 national parks in VA. The Appalachian Trail has 101 miles of trails that run through the park, and there are 500 miles to hike.

Along the way, you will see wildlife, waterfalls, and scenic views of the mountains. Besides hiking, you can camp, white water raft, and fish.

The John Marshall House

The John Marshall House in Richmond was home to John Marshall, the Chief Justice of the United States, from 1801 to 1835. He is currently the longest-serving chief justice.

Today, his former home is a National Historic Landmark and museum. You can tour the home with a knowledgeable guide. You will learn about Marshall's life, his impact on the judicial system, and how he still impacts the country today.

© SherryVSmith via Depositphotos
High-rise buildings overlooking a beach with shallow sea waves
Virginia Beach is a popular destination with an array of Atlantic Ocean resorts

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is one of the most famous places in Virginia. The City of Virginia Beach is the most populated in the state. The city is a popular tourist destination with many Atlantic Ocean resorts to accommodate visitors.

Virginia Beach's most popular attractions include state parks, military sites, and universities. The city is also home to surfing, soccer, and other sports tournaments.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond opened in 1936 and is one of the largest art museums in North America. There are over 22,000 pieces of art at the museum. The Leslie Cheek Theater is also at the art museum. The theater holds 500 people and hosts dance, film, and music events.

A staircase to a white neoclassical capitol building surrounded by green grass
The oldest elected representative legislature was organized in Virginia State Capitol

Virginia State Capitol

The final of the famous places in Virginia is the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and was built between 1785 and 1788.

Similar to George Washington not living in the White House as president since it was not built yet, Patrick Henry, the first governor of Virginia, did not work or live here either.

You can tour the capitol building to learn about the state's government and the oldest elected representative legislature, which was organized in Virginia in 1619.

Conclusion

Whether you are visiting Virginia for the first time or you want to explore the entire state, there is no shortage of famous landmarks in Virginia to visit! There is plenty to see, from beautiful museums to renowned state parks, you'll never get bored!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame and was first published on Aug 23, 2022 10:19 UTC.

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Written by Sarah Hartness

Sarah_Hartness WRITER I am a Chicago-based travel writer who loves to explore the Midwest and beyond. I have traveled all over the US and Europe. I look forward to going to Latin America and Asia next!


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