Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (Photo courtesy Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau)
As the storied site of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, history abounds in Charlottesville — but the city also has a distinctly modern side. Located approximately one hour from Richmond at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville boasts a bustling downtown pedestrian mall with dozens of stylish boutiques, galleries, music venues and eateries. Choose from more than 100 independent restaurants, with options ranging from the James Beard-nominated Alley Light to South African pub The Shebeen. And don’t forget to visit one or more of Virginia’s award-winning wineries. 434-293-6789 or visitcharlottesville.org.
Pamplin Historical Park near Petersburg (Photo Courtesy John Henley, Courtesy Virginia Tourism Corp.)
History buffs will find plenty of attractions devoted to Petersburg’s important role in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War — the Petersburg National Battlefield Park, the Siege Museum and Centre Hill Museum are just a few must-see stops. Just outside Petersburg is Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. This 424-acre national historic landmark features four award-winning museums, four historic homes, demonstrations, tours and more. For a taste of modern Petersburg, head downtown to experience a growing assortment of restaurants offering cuisine from classic Southern to South American. On the second Friday of each month, Friday for the Arts features gallery shows, wine tastings, live music and more around Olde Towne Petersburg. 877-730-7278 or petersburgarea.org.
Virginia’s Historic Triangle
Just an hour east of Richmond, Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown offer more than four centuries of history presented in engaging, interactive ways. Colonial Williamsburg, the nation’s largest outdoor living-history museum, has 500 restored or reconstructed public buildings, homes, stores and taverns. At Historic Jamestowne, visitors can explore England’s first North American colony. At nearby Jamestown Settlement, costumed historical interpreters demonstrate daily life in the 17th century. In Yorktown, quaint waterfront streets offer shopping and dining options, while the Yorktown Victory Center allows visitors to participate in Continental Army military drills, load a real cannon and tour a working 1780s farm. Two theme parks, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, offer thrilling rides, roller coasters and slides, while Great Wolf Lodge boasts a 67,000-square-foot indoor water park. Williamsburg: 888-882-4156 or
visitwilliamsburg.com. Colonial Williamsburg: 888-965-7254 or colonialwilliamsburg.com. Historic Jamestowne: 757-229-4997 or historicjamestowne.org. Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center: 888-593-4682 or historyisfun.org. Yorktown Battlefield: 757-898-2410 or nps.gov/colo. Busch Gardens: buschgardens.com/va.