Top 10 things to do in Virginia

Coach carrying sightseers pauses in front of the Governor's Palace in Williamstown, the restored...

Coach carrying sightseers pauses in front of the Governor's Palace in Williamstown, the restored colonial capital of Virginia. (MITCHELL SMYTH/Special to QMI Agency)

MITCHELL SMYTH, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:47 PM ET

"Virginia is for lovers." The state tourism department has been using that slogan since 1969, its popularity eclipsed only (and this might be debatable) by "I (heart) New York."

Here, then, are 10 things to love about Virginia: An eclectic mix of the cultural, the historic, the scenic and, yes, the offbeat. Remember, the state's lure for vacationers is enhanced by the fact it's far enough south to be an all-seasons destination.

1. The glorious adventure. That's what Virginians thought in 1861 when the U.S. Civil War broke out. Their state was truly the cradle of the war and dozens of battlefield parks recall that time. I'd choose Manassas/Bull Run for an overview. See virginia.org/CWbattlefields.

2. Good-night, John Boy. Earl Hamner Jr., who created the TV series The Waltons (1971-'81) grew up in Schuyler and the stories reflected his early memories. The Waltons Museum in town includes a mock-up of sets from the series, memorabilia and a video. See waltonmuseum.org.

3. Capital ideas. There's much to see in Richmond, the state capital. Don't miss the White House of the Confederacy (Richmond was the capital of the Confederate states), the Capitol, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum; take a guided trolley tour and view a $100,000 bill behind glass at the Money Museum. See visitrichmondva.com.

4. Colonial triangle. That's Jamestown, where the first English colony was established in 1607; Williamsburg, the colonial capital; and Yorktown, where the British were defeated and America became independent. See historictriangle.com.

5. Twists and twangs. Virginia has a rich country music heritage, and museums, hoedowns and little theatres -- even a country store -- along what's dubbed The Crooked Road from Ferrum to Clintwood celebrate this. See thecrookedroad.org.

6. Scenic wonder. One of the great motoring experiences of North America is the Skyline Drive, which merges into the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is especially beautiful in fall. Side trips take in the Shakespeare theatre -- a reconstruction of the Bard's Blackfriars theatre -- and a pioneer village in Staunton; and Luray Caverns, the grande dame of subterranean attractions in an area of the state riddled with caverns. See bludridgeskyline.com.

7. One for the kids. King's Dominion in Doswell, north of Richmond, is everything you'd expect in a world-class amusement park. See kingsdominion.com.

8. A little sip. Virginia's wine industry has grown by leaps and bounds. There are now more than 200 wineries; they regularly win medals and many offer tours and tastings. See Virginia.org/wine.

9. Pose with T-rex. Florida doesn't have the copyright on kitsch. Witness Dinosaur Land, a roadside attraction in White Post, south of Winchester, with all the (fibreglass) brontosauruses and pterodactyls and triceratopses you ever want to see, all in a "prehistoric" forest. See dinosaurland.com.

10. Up, up and away. Wallops Island, off the east coast of the Delmarva Peninsula, is NASA's primary facility for sub-orbital missions. A visitor centre tells all about it and you're welcome to watch the rocket launches; dates are on the website. See nasa.gov/centers/wallops.

NEED TO KNOW

Virginia is a day's drive from Toronto. For general tourist information, visit the website virginia.org.


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