20 Experiences for the Ultimate Virginia Bucket List

From the stunning natural beauty to the abundance of fascinating historical sites, Virginia deserves a place on your travel bucket list.
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on May 18, 2022
From theme park thrills in
to catching a classic movie screening in
and even Civil War Dinosaurs in Natural Bridge, these 25 adventures should definitely make an appearance on your
bucket list.
Virginia is a pretty big state and it’s been around for a very long time, so it might seem like an enormous task to take in all the cool stuff you can find in the Old Dominion. Luckily for you, though,
is more than just a
super app
—we’re also experts at helping people live their dreams. We’ll tell you all about the neat stuff you’ll definitely want to add to your Virginia bucket list!
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Outdoor activities for your Virginia bucket list

1. See what the colonists saw at historic Jamestown

Where: Williamsburg
When: Year-round
was the first permanent English settlement in North America, and it has been meticulously recreated at this historical park. Visitors can see original artifacts, costumed re-enactors, and fun demonstrations like how to load a musket. The Yorktown Museum of the American Revolution is right down the street, as well, so check it out if you’ve got the time!
How much?: $18 for adults, $9 for kids

2. Get your thrills and chills at Busch Gardens

Where: Williamsburg
When: Open throughout the year, but check the
Busch Gardens
is an amusement park inspired by several European countries. Between high-quality roller coasters, fun places to eat, wildlife shows, and public performances, there’s something for just about everybody. If it gets too hot,
Water Country USA
is right down the street.
How much?: Tickets start at $69 and include multi-day and membership options

3. Ponder the hypotheticals at Dinosaur Kingdom II

Where: Natural Bridge
When: 10am–6pm 7 days a week, but check their
for closings first
Why: A silly, funny, and completely unique experience,
Dinosaur Kingdom II
asks visitors a very simple question. What if dinosaurs won the Civil War? We don’t want to spoil anything, so we’ll leave it at that!
How much: $17 for adults, $14 for kids

4. Enjoy a nice day at Maymont Park

Where: Richmond
When: Open daily 10am–7pm (some areas of the park close at 5)
is a 100-acre park and historic estate. There’s a good deal for visitors to see at Maymont, from a lush botanical garden to habitats featuring local wildlife. There are even special events like concerts and family hikes to enjoy. 
How much?: $5-$8 per person

5. Take in the sights from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Where: Begins in
, VA and ends in Cherokee, NC
When: Year-round, but check for
possible closings
ahead of time.
Why: A breathtaking scenic drive, the
Blue Ridge Parkway
takes travelers through some of the most beautiful parts of the Appalachian Mountains. Visitors can see the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon (Linville Gorge), the tallest mountain peak in the eastern US (Mount Mitchell) and all the beautiful plant and animal life along the way.
How much?: Traveling the Parkway is free, although there is a fee if you stop to camp somewhere.

6. Pay your respects at Arlington National Cemetery

When: Open 8am–5pm every day
Why: The final resting place for many of the nation’s military heroes,
Arlington National Cemetery
houses the remains of such icons as John F. Kennedy, John Glenn, and 369 soldiers who were awarded the Medal of Honor. It is still a functioning cemetery, though, so try to be as respectful as possible and check the guide to
visitor etiquette
How much?: Free

7. Feed the ducks at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

When: Open year-round from dawn to dusk
Why: A sprawling natural park with plenty of benches, shade, and quiet little spots, the
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum
is a great place to stop and relax for a little while. Make sure to bring a good book and maybe a little snack for the ducks.
How much?: Free

8. Walk through the past at Manassas National Battlefield Park

When: Open daily from dawn to dusk
Why: The site of not one, but two major Civil War battles,
Manassas Battlefield Park
is a great spot for history lovers or anyone who appreciates a well-maintained outdoor area. There are multiple visitor centers, hiking trails, and even special events on certain days.
How much?: Free

Educational activities for your Virginia bucket list

9. Listen for the Tell-tale Heart at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum

Where: Richmond
When: Open 10am–5pm every day except Monday
Why: Perfect for lovers of all things gothic and ghoulish, the
Edgar Allan Poe Museum
celebrates the life of its dark, mysterious namesake. Nevermore will you wonder what kind of socks Poe wore, because they’re right there on display, along with letters, manuscripts, and other relics from the author’s life and times.
How much: $9 for adults, $7 for kids

10. Journey into the past at the Frontier Culture Museum

When: Open 7 days a week, 360 days a year
Why: The largest open-air museum in the Shenandoah Valley, the
Frontier Culture Museum
is a 200-acre homage to the past. Visitors can shoe a horse, watch costumed reenactors churn butter, or wander around reproductions of traditional rural buildings from Europe, Africa, and the Americas, to name a few options. 
How much: $12 for adults, $7 for kids over 6
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11. Appreciate the finer things at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Where: Richmond
When: Open 7 days a week
Why: If you want to stop and take in a little culture, look no further than the
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
. It was one of the first museums to open in the American South, and features everything from traditional African art to bejeweled Fabergé eggs.
How much: Free, except for special exhibits

12. Walk with the fishes at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

When: Open 9am–5am 7 days a week
Why: With over 800,000 gallons of fresh and saltwater habitats, the
Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
has something for the marine biologist in all of us, with everything from Pufferfish to Komodo Dragons on display.
How much: $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for kids

13. Fire a cannon at Pamplin Historical Park

When: Open 9am-5pm everyday except Monday
Why: Featuring both a historical park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier,
Pamplin Historical Park
is a mostly-outdoor “living history” museum that preserves a small slice of life in the Antebellum South. It’s a fairly hands-on museum, and visitors can learn anything from how to load and fire a cannon to how to play with a hoop and stick.
How much: $12 for adults, $8 for kids

Only-in-Virginia experiences for your bucket list

14. Catch a classic screening at the Byrd Theatre

Where: Richmond
When: Varies, check screenings
Why: A movie lover’s delight, the
Byrd Theatre
has been keeping the show going for over 90 years now. It has been named as one of the country’s Grand Movie Palaces and is both a state and national landmark. The Byrd is a fantastic place to catch screenings of rare, obscure, cult, indie, classic, or foreign films.
How much: Between $5–$8 for tickets

15. Travel through time in Colonial Williamsburg

Where: Williamsburg
When: Open year-round
Why: The largest outdoor museum in the world,
Colonial Williamsburg
is a time capsule of 18th century Virginia, when the state was still a British colony. It features hundreds of restored or re-created buildings from the period with just as many costumed employees that visitors can interact with. With so many shops, demonstrations, reenactors, and museums, you might want to set aside a few days for this one.
How much: Multi day tickets cost $56.99 for adults and $30.99 for kids. 

16. Go underground at Luray Caverns

When: Open 9am–6pm 7 days a week
Luray Caverns
is the largest set of caverns in the eatern United States, although the interior might seem more like another planet than a cave. The caverns are lavishly adorned with stalagmites and stalactites, and is home to the Great Stalacpipe Organ, a giant 3.5-acre lithophone that has been named the largest musical instrument in the world by Guinness World Records. 
How much: $32 for adults, $16 for kids

17. Watch the pony crossing at Chincoteague

Where: Chincoteague
When: Late July
Why: The dual islands of
(Virginia) and
(Maryland) are barrier islands off the state’s eastern coast. They’re home to a unique mix of flora and fauna, most famously the feral ponies that live on Assateague. Once a year, the ponies are rounded up and made to swim across to neighboring Chincoteague, where they take part in a parade and are
to raise funds for the local fire department.
How much?: Free to watch

18. Be amazed by geography at Natural Bridge

Where: Natural Bridge
When: Open daily 9am–dusk, weather permitting
Natural Bridge
is a state park that’s known for the naturally–occurring limestone bridge that spans two cliffs at a height of 215 feet. Visitors are not able to walk on the bridge itself, but there are plenty of hiking trails and footpaths you can use to get a good look at it. The eagle-eyed might even be able to spot George Washington’s initials, which he carved on the bridge during a surveying expedition in 1750. Speaking of the nation’s first President… 
How much: $9 for adults, $7 for kids

19. See where George Washington lived at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon
When: Open daily 9am-5pm
Why: You’d imagine that a guy important enough to be on the $1 bill must live in a pretty big house, and you would be right! The sprawling 500 acres of
Mount Vernon
contain the estate and childhood home of none other than George Washington himself. The property also boasts gardens, museums, guided tours, interactive exhibits, and
much more
for visitors to enjoy.
How much: $28 for adults, $15 for kids

20. Try the peanuts at the Virginia Diner

Where: Wakefield
When: 8am-7m weekdays, 7am-8pm Friday-Sunday
Why: Located right in the heart of peanut country,
Virginia Diner
is a legendary Southern eatery and gift shop famous for its delicious ham biscuits. First opened as a refurbished railway dining car in 1929, this little side-of-the-road joint is a great place to enjoy some comfort food and maybe snag a tin of peanuts for the drive.
How much: Virginia Country Ham Biscuits (3) $9.99

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