What is Virginia Known for? 37+ Things Virginia is Famous For

From Williamsburg to bluegrass and folk music, Virginia is filled with notable things that make it famous, and if you’re wondering, “what is Virginia known for?” then you’ve come to the right place!

As an American who has traveled the USA all over, I can tell you that the answer to, “what is Virginia famous for?” is – quite a lot!

You’ve got Richmond and Virginia Beach, of course, as well as the history of Jamestown and other important American history held in the Arlington National Cemetery.

In this guide, we’ll uncover all the cool things Virginia is known for, including foods Virginia is famous for and people Virginia is known for!

1. History

Virginia holds a special place in American history as the “Mother of Presidents.”

It was the birthplace of eight U.S. Presidents, a fact that speaks to its central role in the formation of the nation.

George Washington, the first President, and Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, were among them.

2. Colonial Williamsburg

Immerse yourself in the past by visiting Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum that recreates the colonial capital of Virginia.

The streets are bustling with reenactors portraying life in the 18th century, allowing visitors to experience the daily routines, politics, and culture of the time.

The site features restored and reconstructed buildings, including the Capitol and Governor’s Palace, where significant events of the era unfolded.

3. Jamestown Settlement

Venture back to the early 17th century by exploring the Jamestown Settlement, the site where English colonists established the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

This historic landmark offers a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of the early settlers as they navigated the unfamiliar terrain and interacted with the native Powhatan people.

4. Monticello

A masterpiece of architecture and intellect, Monticello was the home of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States.

Situated atop a hill, this neoclassical estate showcases Jefferson’s ingenuity and interests.

Beyond its stunning design, Monticello is a reflection of Jefferson’s wide-ranging passions, from horticulture to scientific exploration.

5. Mount Vernon

The iconic plantation of George Washington, the first President, Mount Vernon offers a glimpse into the life of a Founding Father and a respected military leader.

Overlooking the Potomac River, the mansion and grounds provide insights into Washington’s role in shaping the early American republic.

6. Civil War

Virginia played a pivotal role in the American Civil War due to its strategic location and ideological divisions.

The state was home to many significant battles and campaigns, including the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Gettysburg.

Historical sites like Manassas National Battlefield Park and Appomattox Court House National Historical Park offer profound insights into the war’s impact on the nation.

7. Arlington National Cemetery

A somber testament to sacrifice and service, Arlington National Cemetery serves as the final resting place for thousands of veterans, including military leaders, Medal of Honor recipients, and Presidents.

Originally the estate of Robert E. Lee, the cemetery’s iconic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame at President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite evoke deep feelings of respect and gratitude.

8. Richmond

As the capital of Virginia, Richmond is steeped in history and culture.

The city played a central role in the American Revolution and the Civil War, making it a treasure trove of historic sites and museums.

Monument Avenue, lined with statues of Confederate leaders, reflects the complex history of the region.

9. Virginia Beach

With its sprawling sandy shores and vibrant boardwalk, Virginia Beach is a popular destination for beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The city offers a range of recreational activities, from swimming and sunbathing to water sports and eco-tours.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center allows visitors to explore marine life from the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay ecosystems.

10. Chesapeake Bay

One of the largest and most biologically diverse estuaries in the world, Chesapeake Bay is a critical ecosystem that supports fisheries, wildlife, and water quality.

It stretches across several states, including Virginia, and offers a multitude of recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing, and birdwatching.

11. Blue Ridge Mountains

Part of the majestic Appalachian mountain range, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and outdoor adventures.

Shenandoah National Park, situated along the crest of the Blue Ridge, is known for its Skyline Drive, a scenic highway that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

12. Skyline Drive

Winding its way through the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive is a scenic byway that spans 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This iconic road trip route provides motorists with stunning vistas, wildlife sightings, and access to numerous hiking trails and overlooks.

13. Culinary Traditions

Virginia’s culinary heritage is a blend of Southern comfort food and coastal influences.

Virginia ham, a salt-cured and smoked ham, is a regional delicacy that has earned worldwide recognition.

Peanuts are another signature ingredient, with Virginia producing a significant portion of the country’s peanut crop.

Seafood, especially Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, is an integral part of the state’s cuisine.

14. NASA Langley Research Center

Located in Hampton, Virginia, NASA Langley Research Center has been a hub of aerospace research and innovation since its establishment in 1917.

It played a crucial role in the early days of space exploration, contributing to projects such as the Apollo missions.

15. Colonial Architecture

Virginia boasts an impressive array of well-preserved colonial and antebellum architecture.

Historic towns like Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown showcase buildings that transport visitors to the 18th century. Colonial-style homes, courthouses, and churches offer glimpses into the architectural styles and lifestyles of the past.

16. Historic Plantations

Beyond Monticello and Mount Vernon, Virginia is home to numerous other historic plantations that provide insights into the state’s agricultural and social history.

Plantations like Shirley, Berkeley, and Stratford Hall offer guided tours that delve into the lives of the people who lived and worked on these estates.

17. Appomattox Court House

This site holds immense historical significance as the location where Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War.

The surrender took place in the Appomattox Court House, a small Virginia village.

18. Virginia Cavaliers

The University of Virginia’s athletic teams, known as the Cavaliers or the Wahoos, have a rich tradition of sports excellence.

Competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), UVA’s sports programs encompass basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, and more.

19. Shenandoah Valley

Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west, the Shenandoah Valley is a picturesque region known for its natural beauty, fertile farmland, and charming communities.

The valley offers a diverse range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and canoeing.

20. Wineries and Vineyards

Virginia’s wine industry has been steadily growing, earning recognition for producing high-quality wines.

Regions like the Northern Virginia Wine Trail and the Monticello Wine Trail offer opportunities to explore wineries and vineyards nestled amidst scenic landscapes.

Virginia’s climate and soil provide favorable conditions for a variety of grape varietals.

21. Virginia Military Institute (VMI)

Founded in 1839 in Lexington, Virginia, VMI is a prestigious military college known for its rigorous academic programs and disciplined military training.

VMI’s historic campus is home to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War, which provides insights into the role of the institute during the Civil War.

22. Virginia Tech

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, commonly known as Virginia Tech, is a prominent research university located in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Known for its strong programs in engineering, technology, and agriculture, Virginia Tech is a hub of innovation and research.

23. Battlefields

Virginia’s landscape is dotted with preserved battlefields from various conflicts, most notably the American Civil War.

These historic sites, including Manassas National Battlefield Park, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and Petersburg National Battlefield, offer visitors the chance to step back in time and gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and sacrifices of soldiers on both sides of the conflicts.

24. American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Situated near the site of the Battle of Yorktown, this museum provides an immersive exploration of the American Revolution’s final major battle and its significance in securing American independence.

25. Natural Bridge

This striking natural rock formation, located in Rockbridge County, is a testament to the beauty and geological history of the region.

Spanning a gorge and the Cedar Creek below, the Natural Bridge has captivated visitors for centuries.

26. Edgar Allan Poe

While not born in Virginia, Edgar Allan Poe spent a significant portion of his life in Richmond, where he wrote many of his famous works.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond is dedicated to preserving his legacy and exploring his impact on literature and culture.

27. Barbecue Traditions

Virginia’s barbecue traditions offer a unique take on this quintessential Southern cuisine.

The state has its own style of barbecue, often featuring pork and a distinctive vinegar-based sauce.

28. Virginia State Capitol

Designed by Thomas Jefferson and completed in 1788, the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond is an architectural marvel and a significant symbol of democracy.

Its neoclassical design and historic significance make it a must-visit landmark.

29. Great Dismal Swamp

This vast marshy area straddles the border between Virginia and North Carolina, offering a unique and diverse ecosystem.

The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge provides a haven for wildlife, including various bird species and black bears.

30. Hampton Roads

A major seaport and harbor area located at the confluence of the James River, the Elizabeth River, and the Chesapeake Bay, Hampton Roads holds strategic importance in the region.

It’s home to Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, as well as other military installations.

31. James River

Flowing through the heart of Virginia, the James River has played a central role in the state’s history and development.

From its significance to Native American cultures to its use as a transportation route during colonial times, the river holds a rich heritage.

32. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Located in Virginia Beach, this comprehensive facility offers a journey into marine life and ecosystems.

With an expansive array of exhibits showcasing marine creatures from the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay, visitors can learn about conservation efforts, marine research, and the delicate balance of aquatic environments.

33. Black History

Virginia’s history includes a complex narrative related to African American struggles for civil rights.

Richmond, as the former capital of the Confederacy, holds historical significance in the context of Black history.

34. Bluegrass and Folk Music

Virginia has made notable contributions to the world of music, particularly in the genres of bluegrass and folk.

The state hosts music festivals and events that celebrate these traditions, preserving and promoting the legacy of musicians who have shaped these genres.

35. Virginia International Raceway

Located near Danville, Virginia International Raceway (VIR) is a renowned motorsport resort complex that attracts racing enthusiasts from around the world.

VIR features various racetracks designed to challenge drivers and provide exciting competitions.

36. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Located in Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) is a premier art institution that houses an extensive collection spanning various periods and styles.

The museum’s exhibits encompass everything from ancient art to modern and contemporary pieces.

37. Old Dominion

The nickname “Old Dominion” reflects Virginia’s historical significance and contributions to the United States.

The title refers to the Commonwealth’s status as one of the original 13 colonies and its historical role in the nation’s formation.

Want to know what things the other US states are known for? Check out our other guides!

Get the All-American Travel Secrets!

Don't miss out on America's hidden gems!

Leave this field blank

Leave a Comment