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Now let’s get serious about Virginia. The charm of Colonial Williamsburg, Newport News’ mariners’ tales, and the Naval Air Station and aquarium in Virginia Beach add to the sense of adventure, while Suffolk’s peanuts and trains, and Petersburg’s museums bring your trip to an interesting conclusion.
We think the capital city of Richmond is a worthy starting point for a fabulous vacation. Tour the restored State Capitol Building designed by Thomas Jefferson. For another slice of local history, visit the Richmond National Battlefield Park Civil War Visitor Center that commemorates the Peninsular Campaign of 1862 and General Grant’s 1864 Cold Harbor offensive. The center is affiliated with three other Richmond-area National Park Service sites, each memorializing a different Civil War confrontation. Be sure to make a phone appointment to tour Historic Hanover Tavern. This Richmond inn’s noteworthy history includes visits by George Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, and Charles Dickens, among others.
In a more contemporary setting, Paramount’s Kings Dominion focuses on family-friendly entertainment. The 400-acre amusement park whitens the knuckles with a dozen meaty roller coasters, a water park that’s ideal for chilling out, and the frightfully fun and interactive Scooby-Doo’s™ Haunted Mansion.
From Richmond, go south on US-60 all the way to Virginia Beach with stops at Williamsburg and Newport News. Early American times are depicted in Colonial Williamsburg, the reconstructed site of Britain’s most productive 18th-century New World settlement. Within Williamsburg’s ‘interactive museum’ setting, costumed guides show-and-tell what everyday life was like for the original colony’s founding families. To see statues of all U.S. chief executives since George Washington (and who wouldn’t?), visit Presidents Park. And to bounce back to the present, spend some time at the world-famous Busch Gardens Williamsburg, acclaimed as the world’s most beautiful amusement park. The Euro-themed park features exhilarating rides, skilled entertainers, and internationally-inspired dining options.
Are you fascinated by maritime history? The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News boasts an international collection of small watercraft, ship models, and objects recovered from the USS Monitor, America’s first ironclad warship. Hey, as long as you’re in the area, you might as well treat yourself to leisurely views of roses, roses, and more roses at Huntington Park Rose Garden.
The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center just down Hwy 60 in Virginia Beach delivers visually appealing aquariums full of fish and other sea life, plus eye-popping IMAX theatrical presentations. Virginia Beach’s Naval Air Station Oceana/Master Jet Base may be visited seasonally on the city’s HRT Tours and Trolley system. Tour guests get to see more than 200 aircraft, including an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet.
From Virginia Beach, take US-58 west to Suffolk. At Planters Peanut Center in Suffolk, stop to view (and smell) peanuts cooking in their shells in a vintage 1936 roaster. The refurbished 1885 Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum presents a genuine locomotive caboose plus exhibits of HO-scale model trains.
From Suffolk, take US-460 northwest to Petersburg, where the Army Women’s Museum awaits. This is the only such center devoted to female members of the U.S. Army, from the Revolutionary War to the present. Another nice stop is Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, a comprehensive, well-respected historic site and memorial to all those who fought in the Civil War.