40 or More Free Travels: History Lives Here

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, DullesFort Monroe and Casemate Museum, HamptonRichmond National Battlefield Park, Richmond

    Virginia's rich history includes more than the Civil War. The fight for equality in education was waged in Farmville, air and space is chronicled in Dulles, and Virginia's coal mining heritage is displayed daily in Big Stone Gap. Discover something new in Virginia's diverse history.

    Virginia Civil War Trails – Statewide. More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state – by far. Armies campaigned, fought and camped for four years over the landscape. The Virginia Civil War Trails program marks more than 400 historic sites, most for the first time, telling the dramatic story of what happened on the sites where it happened. Free maps are available in Welcome Centers and visitor centers throughout the Commonwealth.

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – Dulles. This Smithsonian Air and Space Museum facility includes the space shuttle Discovery, Gemini VII space capsule and Boeing B-29 Enola Gay among its incredible collection of hundreds of air and space craft, missiles and equipment. Simulators and theaters provide breathtaking experiences without leaving the ground. Though there is a fee to park, admission to this magnificent facility is free.

    Waterford  – Founded in 1733, the entire village of Waterford is a National Historic Landmark. Many of its buildings still in use predate 1840. Self-guided walking tours indicate historic homes and storefronts and cottages. The Waterford Market has light refreshments as well as crafts made by local artisans.

    Booker T. Washington National Monument – Franklin County. This is the site of famed educator and presidential advisor Booker T. Washington's birth, early life, and emancipation.  The park's visitor center contains exhibits on Washington's life and offers an audio-visual program interpreting his career and accomplishments. 

    Hollywood Cemetery – Richmond. The beautiful, serene landscape makes this cemetery one of Richmond’s most visited places. An astounding 90 foot stone pyramid memorializes the more than 18,000 Confederate soldiers who were laid to rest here. Among famous Americans buried here are Presidents John Tyler and James Monroe as well as Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.  

    Virginia State Capitol in Springtime.

    Virginia State Capitol – Richmond. Virginia’s history helped establish the United States government that we know today.  The Capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson and first occupied in 1788 by Virginia's General Assembly, America's oldest English-speaking legislature. The Bill of Rights was ratified here. Guided tours begin at the new underground Visitor Center.

    Abingdon Historic District – The town of Abingdon is located in Washington County in the Blue Ridge Highlands region of Virginia. It was named after the ancestral home of Martha Washington, and is a Virginia Historic Landmark. The 20-square block Historic District includes historic sites, cultural activities and museums. Abingdon is also one of the towns along The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail.

    Richmond National Battlefield Park – Metro Richmond. As the seat of Confederate government Richmond was a special target of Union military strategy, and some of the fiercest battles of the war were fought around the city. The Visitor Center houses engaging exhibits and artifacts while protected and interpreted battlefields such as Cold Harbor and Malvern Hill let visitors walk where soldiers fought.

    Robert Russa Moton Museum – Farmville. R.R. Moton High School was the site of a walkout by African American students in 1951 to protest the separate but very unequal conditions in which they were forced to study. The resulting legal action became part of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Exhibits housed in the school building tell the story of the struggles of a community to overcome historical segregation.

    Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington. Veterans of every American war from the Revolution to the country's most recent conflicts are buried at Arlington.  Among the more than 260,000 dead are three unidentified service members, buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and John F. Kennedy, whose gravesite is marked by an eternal flame.

    Architectural Walking Tours – Statewide. So many of Virginia’s cities and towns preserve the architecture of historic commercial and residential districts. Stop by a welcome center and ask for walking tour brochures. Ornate downtown facades and dramatic interiors are complemented by the grace and charm of Victorian, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival homes. Surprises abound when looking up from the sidewalk.

    National Museum of the Marine Corps – Triangle. The heroic story of the United States Marine Corps is told here through interactive displays, videos, realistic environments and priceless artifacts. Retired Marine volunteers are on hand to welcome visitors and provide personal stories of their service.

    The campus of Virginia Military Institute. Photo by Nathan Beck.

    Fort Monroe / Casemate Museum – Hampton. Fort Monroe was originally completed in 1834 and has served as an army base since then. During the Civil War escaped slaves flocked to the fort for protection. After the collapse of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis was confined as a prisoner in a damp cell within the casemate. The Casemate Museum tells the story of the fort and its historic occupants within the arched masonry now more than 150 years old.

    Lexington’s Historic Campuses and Museums – Lexington is a small town dream. Located in the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley, Lexington is home to Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. Both campuses are littered with historic buildings and statues – and each has compelling museums. The VMI Museum tells the story of the institute dating back to 1839. Lee Chapel and Museum houses the final resting place of Robert E. Lee, president of the college following the Civil War.

    Harry W. Meador Coal Museum – Big Stone Gap. Mining equipment, tools, office equipment, coal company items and a small dentist office are part of this museum in the heart of Virginia’s coal mining region. Coal mining was and is a critical part of the economy of Southwest Virginia and is reflected in the museum displays.

    Wait! There are more free things to do in Virginia!

Last Updated: 4/1/2015 10:39 AM
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