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Air Force Memorial near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia© Jason GrowerAir Force Memorial near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia
© Jason Grower
Want to get in touch with the past? There are few better places to do it than Virginia.

Many people start at the state's leading tourist attraction, Colonial Williamsburg. There, you can immerse yourself in the 18th-century world around the clock if you so choose, as there are several inns on the grounds of this living history museum. Chat with a wheelwright, watch a blacksmith making horseshoes, or even play a role as a defendant or witness in the re-enactment of a trial.

The Jamestown Settlement on Jamestown Island takes you even further back in time to 1607, when this was the site of the first permanent English colony in North America. Today, reconstructions, interpreters and a museum help visitors learn about the people who once lived here.

Virginia was also home to two leading figures of the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. Today, you can visit Jefferson's estate of Monticello in Charlottesville, or Washington's Mount Vernon digs in Alexandria.

For Civil War buffs, there are almost too many sites to count. Richmond was the rebels' capital, and you can find out about that period at the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. Manassas National Battlefield Park was the site of the Battles of Bull Run, and Appomattox Court House National Historical Park preserves the site where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.

Carriage outside Governor's Mansion in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia© Matt McClainCarriage outside Governor's Mansion in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
© Matt McClain
If all this history gets a bit overwhelming, head for Virginia Beach, where you can stroll on the boardwalk, golf, watch dolphins, go kayaking or surfing, or simply catch a few rays. In the western part of the state, take a road trip along scenic Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. And in Richmond, the whole family can enjoy the Children's Museum of Richmond, the Science Museum of Virginia, and Paramount's Kings Dominion, a popular theme park.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF