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For other places with the same name, see Virginia (disambiguation).
Virginia in United States.svg
Flag of Virginia.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Richmond
Government U.S. State(U.S. Commonwealth)
Currency US dollar (USD)
Area 110,785.67 km2
Population 8,260,405 (2013 est.)
Language Official:English
Regionally Spoken:Spanish
Religion Christian 76%, No-Religion 18%, Other 3.5%
Electricity 120V/60Hz (North American plug)
Time Zone UTC -5(EST)/-4(EDT)

The Commonwealth of Virginia [3] is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern regions of the United States of America. The state was one of the original thirteen British colonies and is the twelfth most populated state in the USA.

Bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and the west by the Appalachian mountains, with expanses of farmland in between, Virginia has much to offer history buffs and lovers of scenic landscapes. Virginia's three largest cities are Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake.

Virginia is bordered by the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.


Regions of Virginia
Northern Virginia, the populous area bordering Washington, D.C., is influenced by the city's culture.
Eastern Virginia includes such tourist hot-spots as Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach.
Central Virginia is home to Richmond, Virginia's capital city, and features historic sites from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
Southwest Virginia, also known as Virginia's highlands, is a mainly rural region defined by its Appalachian heritage.
Shenandoah Valley is bordered by the Blue Ridge Mountains, a region to enjoy nature at Shenandoah National Park.


Note: "City" is used here in a broad sense. Virginia draws a very sharp distinction between cities and other communities. Since 1871, all communities incorporated as cities are legally separate from counties.

All of the communities listed below are in fact cities under Virginia law, except for Arlington, which is actually a county.

  • Lynchburg

Other destinations[edit]


"Virginia Is For Lovers" [4] is the enigmatic motto of the Virginia tourism council. What makes Virginia particularly suited for amour remains something of a mystery, but the state does have many great features: beaches, forests, some of the oldest towns in North America, and proximity to the Mid-Atlantic and the deeper South.

Virginia is one of the thirteen original colonies, and one of the first states to ratify the Declaration of Independence. It is known as the "Mother of States" as its original territory included West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee. It is also known as the "Mother of Presidents," as eight U.S. presidents were born in the state: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

What is known today as Virginia has been inhabited for many hundreds of years by people of European descent. Jamestown, Virginia (near Williamsburg) is the site of the first lasting British settlement in the New World, dating to 1607. Native American tribes from Virginia, such as the Powhatan, had some of the richest native cultures in the Colonies.

In colonial times, Virginia was settled mainly along the rivers that empty into the Chesapeake bay. The settlers relied on slave labor to grow cash crops, such as tobacco, and relied on trade from England for basic needs. While settlers primarily from England, Scotland, and Ireland settled along the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James Rivers, many German settlers migrated into Virginia from Pennsylvania along the Shenandoah Valley. Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861 and has a strong Civil War heritage.

Following the Reconstruction after the Civil War, Virginia's economy shifted toward growing food crops in the north of the state, while the southern interior of the state continued to grow tobacco on smaller farms. The major shipyards at Norfolk continued to grow in importance as a major coal port and a naval base.

Following the growth of the US Federal Government during and after World War II, Northern Virginia grew at an astronomical pace as government workers and contractors settled across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. Today, Virginia's economy is dominated by military bases dotted all over the state, government contracting agencies, and residents who commute into Washington, DC. Virginia Beach serves as a popular summer vacation spot and the Appalachian Mountains offer outdoor recreation. Virginia is also a popular destination for history buffs as Virginia was a major player in much of America's history.


English is spoken by most residents. In rural areas and farther south, you may experience what is commonly known as “Southern accent”. This accent generally does not stop fluent English speakers from understanding the person, but non-native English speakers may experience problems. Most people can deliberately speak in non-accented English upon request but find it difficult to do so for extended length of time. As with all places, locals may have nonstandard words to refer to places, actions and people. Locals are understanding of tourists who do not know these words and will clarify upon request.

Get in[edit]

Virginia like all states, territories, and the federal district in United States can be entered freely by people who are either American Citizens or by other people who have been allowed entry into United States. People from other countries should see the United States of America article for more information about entering from foreign counties.

By plane[edit]

Virginia has many major airports servicing its main cities. Northern Virginia (the Washington DC suburbs) is serviced by Washington-Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (or, simply "Washington National" or "Reagan" for short). Washington National airport is by far the best airport in Northern Virginia due to its proximity to the Washington Metro Rail system and lower volume. Washington-Dulles Airport is better for international flights. However, its shuttles which transport passengers between the concourses, called "Mobile Lounges," make moving through the Dulles Airport a major hassle. Some concourses are connected via moving walkways and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is working on an underground rail system to link the concourses.

For Central and Southern Virginia destinations, Richmond International Airport offers flights to and from hundreds of cities across the country and abroad..

For Eastern Virginia, especially the Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Hampton Roads/Portsmouth area, Norfolk International Airport offers flights to and from cities all over eastern portion of the United States.

Other smaller regional airports service Roanoke, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, and Harrisonburg. Flights from these airports generally only go to large hubs such as Atlanta or Washington DC.

By train[edit]

Amtrak offers passenger rail service to many Virginia cities, including Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Richmond, Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Staunton. For destinations in Northern Virginia, the best stops are Union Station in Washington, DC and the Fredericksburg station.

Amtrak offers commuter rail service via the Virginia Railway Express. Major stops are in Manassas, Franconia-Springfield, and Fredericksburg.

Getting into Virginia from Maryland and Washington, DC is very easy via Metro Rail and Metro Bus.

By car[edit]

Virginia is connected by secondary roads and Interstate highways to the surrounding states.

  • Interstate 81 is the main route from Tennessee and continues through Virginia into Maryland and Pennsylvania.
  • Interstate 66 connects Northwestern and Northern Virginia with Washington, DC.
  • Interstate 95 runs north-south through Virginia connecting Washington, DC to Fredericksburg and Richmond, on to North Carolina.
  • Interstate 495 encircles Washington, DC with part of its route going through Northern Virginia. Where I-95 intersects with I-495 at the southern-most end of I-495, Interstate 395 continues northward into DC while I-95 traces the same route as the eastern half of I-495. Thus, if you are to take I-95 from Richmond to Baltimore, MD, you would merge onto I-495 going East and North until I-95 splits off from I-495 on its north side to reach Baltimore.
  • Interstate 64 runs east-west through Virginia, connecting the Hampton Roads area with Richmond and Charlottesville. West of Charlottesville, it joins I-81 at Staunton. The two highways split at Lexington, with I-64 going through the western mountains until entering West Virginia.
  • US 1 travels along a parallel north-south route of Interstate 95, coming from North Carolina, going through Richmond, Fredericksburg and into Northern Virginia and Washington DC, where it continues on. It is a historic route, and you can find many hotels and tourist attractions along the route.
  • US 29 connects the Western Washington Suburbs to North Carolina and Atlanta forming a scenic alternate route to taking I-95 to I-85. A four lane divided highway throughout the state, it offers a short route to the Southeast avoiding heavy freeway traffic.
  • US 11 runs paralled to Interstate 81 and is a beautiful alternative to freeway travel going through many picturesque cities, through Natural Bridge, and past many antique stores
  • US 301 enters the state from North Carolina with I-95 and is a popular short route north of Richmond to Chesepeake and Northeast destinations bypassing the Baltimore-Washington traffic.
      • Northern drivers beware VA has the strictest traffic laws in the nation including "reckless driving by speed" which is a class 1 misdemeanor (you can be cited for this by going 81 in a 70 zone) and carries penalties up to 1 YEAR IN JAIL and $2500 and you will need to appear in court or hire a lawyer!!! Do not speed in Virginia!!!

Get around[edit]

Travel around Virginia is primarily (like the rest of the US) by car but public transportation is also relatively abundant in the Northern Virginia suburbs neighbouring Washington DC.

Amtrak trains run from Norfolk/Newport News to Richmond and out to the western panhandle. Trains also run north and south between Richmond and the Northern Virginia/DC area. A third major line runs from the western panhandle, north through Charlottesville, and up to Northern Virginia.

Virginia Railway Express (VRE), a commuter rail line, serves Washington, DC from points as far a way as Fredericksburg and Manassas.

The Washington Metro has several rail stations in Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax County.

Hitchhiking is slow-going in Virginia. Rides are hard to come by and the Virginia State Police are notorious for hassling travelers (hitchers and motorists alike). Your best bet is either to stick to the state roads in the mountains, or to stick to rest stops on the major highways.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Crabtree Falls in Nelson County
  • Natural Bridge in Rockbridge County
  • Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington
  • Peaks of Otter in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Popular spot for hiking and fishing. Home of the famous Peaks of Otter Lodge.
  • D-Day Memorial in Bedford
  • Shenandoah Caverns, 261 Caverns Road (2 minutes from I-81 Exit 269), 540-477-3115, [1]. open 9 AM, closing times vary by season. Shenandoah Caverns is Virginia's only cavern with elevator service, so only the sights are breathtaking! The beautiful and unique formations have been thrilling visitors since 1922. $23 per adult, $10 per child to see all four attractions.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

As one of the original thirteen colonies Virginia offers numerous opportunities for those interested in history:

  • Mt. Vernon (George Washington Residence)
  • Monticello [5] , Poplar Forest [6] , and the University of Virginia [7] (All dealing with Thomas Jefferson)
  • Appomattox Court House (Site of Civil War Surrender)
  • Berkeley Plantation [8] (Home of Benjamin Harrison and others)
  • Agecroft Hall [9] (1600 style setting Castle)
  • Maggie Walker Historical Site (Home to Maggie Walker)
  • The Historical Triangle (Colonial Williamsburg [10] , Jamestown [11] , Yorktown [12] )
  • The College of William and Mary [13] (Jefferson's alma mater)

In addition, visitors might choose to go to Theatre IV [14] for some great authentic plays. In Richmond the Byrd Theatre [15] is always the place to see old and modern movies at rates not topping $4. Or take a stroll down to Carytown, the "Georgetown of Virginia".

Virginia is also home to two popular amusement parks that regularly draw in many tourists, such as Kings Dominion [16], located just north of Richmond. It is the largest amusement park in the state, comprising of over 450 acres of thrill rides, as well as a combined water park called WaterWorks, which is included in park admission. The park is open seasonally, while WaterWorks is open during the summer months from end of May to September. It also has one of the largest collections of roller coasters in the country, home to 14 of them.

  • The Brew Ridge Trail, [2]. Self-guided, the Brew Ridge Trail is a tour of 6 craft beer destinations. Providing a wonderful opportunity for exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains during a weekend stay.
    Current destinations are:
    - Wild Wolf Brewing Company
    - Blue Mountain Brewery
    - Blue Mountain Barrel
    - Devil's Backbone Brewing Company
    - South Street Brewery
    - Starr Hill Brewery


From the Atlantic Ocean to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia golf promises great beauty and geographic diversity. A mild climate, year-round golf and a variety of package plans adds to the allure of golfing in Virginia.

Throw in some of the best resort courses in the nation and new daily fee courses designed by some of the most noted golf course designers, and you've got the winning combination for an enjoyable golf getaway. Six resorts rank among America’s top 100. Dozens of its courses, crafted by world-famous designers, are part of every list of the country’s finest places to play.

The Richmond region is a popular destination for golfers, it is home to award winning courses, both of the 9-hole and 18-hole variety. The Country Club of Virginia in the western part of the city of Richmond is a premier place to play, as well as Hunting Hawk Golf Club, located in the northwestern portion of Henrico County near the Wyndham subdivision. The new golf course Westham Golf Club is an award winning course featuring a Nicklaus design, serving as the centerpiece to the largest subdivision development in the state, Magnolia Green (5,000+ homes) off of Hull Street in Chesterfield County.

Eat[edit][add listing]

The Virginia Department of Agriculture lists producers on its Virginia Grown website [17] , and there are dozens of seasonal food and drink festivals [18] across the state. Quality processed foods made in Virginia are promoted through the Virginia's Finest [19] program.

Most of the signature dishes of the state are common to Southern/American cuisine. Country ham is a cured specialty frequently served at holiday meals and breakfast with the largest producers based around Surry county. In the Southeast is the county of Brunswick, one of several locations that claims itself to be the birthplace of Brunswick Stew [20]. The Highland County Maple Festival [21] celebrates local maple syrup producers high up in the Blue Ridge mountains, the lines for the Ruritan's pancake breakfast's are super long, though with a friendly atmosphere, and can be avoided by dining in an area restaurant/inn. Do try the maple doughnuts made with nutmeg and fresh maple syrup.

The Chesapeake Bay region produces some of the nation's best seafood, especially crab and oysters.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Tap water is safe to drink.

The legal drinking and purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 21. Under age drinking is taken very seriously so if you are in a club or bar and appear to be under 30 you should be ready to present identification showing your age. However, there are exceptions. Under age drinking is allowed if it occurs on private non-alcohol selling premises with parental presence and consent.

Beer and other alcoholic drinks are available from most restaurants and bars, with purchase prohibited between 2 and 6 a.m.. Variety of what is available differs from restaurant to restaurant and when in doubt people should check menu or with a waiter to see what is available.

Beer, wine, and malternatives/alcopops are sold at most grocery and convenience stores, but cannot be purchased between midnight and 6 a.m.. Certain counties in Virginia prohibit Sunday sale of alcohol, mainly the south west counties. When in doubt, check with local county police department or simply ask store owner.

Hard Liquor is only allowed to be sold by Virginia ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) stores. More information about these stores and other alcohol related information can be found at their website. [22]

Cheerwine, a regional cherry flavored soda, can be purchased in convenience stores in the more southern parts of the state.


Virginia is home to over 130 wineries, spanning from the Eastern Shore to the Heart of Appalachia. Wherever you are in Virginia, there's a winery nearby. Virginia’s many wine trails across the state make visiting wineries easy and fun! Wine events statewide offer wine tasting, food, music, art, shopping and activities, such as grape stomping and hot air balloon rides.

  • Virginia Wine Travel [23]
  • Virginia Wine Festivals [24]

Stay safe[edit]

Certain cities in Virginia have crime problems, in particular, the cities of Richmond and Norfolk. However, most places in Virginia like the rest of US are safe. Check with locals to determine what areas you should avoid. Standard safety rules apply: Stay in groups as much as possible, trust your instincts and do not flash around cash or large value items. If you need urgent medical, fire or police assistance, all areas participate in 911 program.

Get out[edit]

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