Civil War Trip Ideas
Appomattox - A Civil War Journey
Day One - Visit the Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park - where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, leading to the end of the Civil War. Visit nearby Clover Hill Village, a living history village showcasing life in the 1800's.
Day Two - Wander past grand homes, historic buildings and Civil War era markers on our "Turn of the Centruy" walking tour. Visit the Appomattox County Museum highlighting local Civil War history. Stroll Monument Circle, also in Courthouse Square.
Day Three - Day trip to nearby Civil War sites such as Sailors Creek Battlefield, Point of Honor, Old City Cemetery, and the Lynchburg Civil War driving tour.
Fredericksburg Virginia Trails (Civil War)
In this area, on the direct route between Washington and Richmond, four major battles of the Civil War were fought. Two of the battles - Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville - are considered to be among Confederate General Robert E. Lee's most brilliant victories. Yet after the battles of Wilderness and Spotsylvania, Union General U. S. Grant gradually destroyed the offensive power of the Confederates in the relentless push, "On to Richmond!"
Day One – Visit various sites of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park including Chatham Manor, the site of Union headquarters. Take a short walking tour along the Sunken Road at Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center, where Robert E. Lee earned his most one-sided military victory. Then head to Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center, the site where Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded by his own troops. Finish the tour at the White Oak Civil War Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Civil War artifacts, representing both Union and Confederate troops.
Day Two – Head to Wilderness Battlefield where the beginning of the Overland Campaign, the bloodiest campaign in American history and the turning point in the war in the Eastern Theatre, took place. Next visit Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield, the site of a two week engagement marked by bitter hand-to-hand fighting. Then, head to nearby Caroline County to visit the "Stonewall" Jackson Shrine, the plantation office building where General Jackson spent the final six days of his life. Finish with the Civil War Life Museum which tells the story of soldiers and civilians during the Civil War Period.
Lexington Weekend on the Hunter's Raid Civil War Trail
Take a journey into Virginia's Civil War history. Visit one of Virginia’s great small towns, where Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson lived and where they are buried.
Day One - Tour downtown Lexington on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage. See the Virginia Military Institute, where Jackson taught before the War, and visit the VMI Museum. Enjoy a picnic at Jordan’s Point Park, where Union troops crossed into Lexington after shelling it. Tour the Stonewall Jackson House, the only home ever owned by General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and the Lee Chapel and Museum, the final resting place of General Robert E. Lee, members of his family, and his beloved horse, Traveller. In the evening, join Haunting Tales of Lexington for a candlelight tour of Lexington's haunted history.
Day Two - Experience the Natural Bridge of Virginia, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Union troops marched through on their way to Lynchburg. In the evening, don't miss the Natural Bridge's "Drama of Creation" music and light show-a bridge tradition since 1927.
Marching with Heroes - Manassas
Day One - Begin your visit with a morning at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Through film, interactive exhibits, displays, aircraft and tanks experience boot camp like a recruit, the long cold battle for Korea and more.
Eat lunch at the museum’s mess hall where students and seniors get a real taste of the Corps. Or get cozy at Tunn Tavern with optional dining delights.
Stop at Brentsville Courthouse Complex where county residents voted in 1861 to affirm secession and Confederate troops trained and prepared for the war to come.
Visit Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park. “Tragedy in Camp and the Battle of Kettle Run” guide students through the 1 ½ miles of trail with 11 stops.
Enjoy a range of choices for dinner at Potomac Mills Food Court or the group-friendly Silver Diner for American favorites, then enjoy an active evening at LaserQuest.
Day Two - Begin the morning with Manassas National Battlefield Park, site of the first major battle of the Civil War. More than 5,000 acres are preserved where “Stonewall” Jackson earned his nickname. The Visitor’s Center houses a small museum with uniforms, weaponry, field gear and battle maps.
Proceed to Old Town Manassas for a visit to the Manassas Museum and a historic walking tour. Enjoy a box lunch at the Harris Pavilion.
Visit the Ben Lomond Manor House, used as a Civil War hospital. Recuperating soldiers left their names on the walls. The house includes original slave quarters and an antique rose garden.
Spend the afternoon at SplashDown Waterpark, a great spot to cool off with a Lazy River, waterslides and entertainment.
Civil War and More in Newport News
Day One - Visit the world of the 19th-century at Young’s Mill, Warwick Court House, and Battle of Dam No. 1.
Day Two - Journey back in time at the Monitor and Merrimack Overlook, the Victory Arch and the Virginia War Museum. Now, explore maritime history in a whole new way at The Mariners’ Museum, America’s National Maritime Museum, home to the USS Monitor Center. See the turret, guns and other artifacts of the USS Monitor, one of America’s most famous warships.
Day Three - Tour Lee Hall Mansion, one of the last remaining antebellum homes on the Virginia Peninsula, and Endview Plantation, with its living history programs and re-enactments. Finally, tour Fort Monroe and Casemate Museum located in Hampton.
Day Four - For a change of pace, visit the Virginia Living Museum, where you will stroll the boardwalk along a wooded lake for an up-close safari into the lives of many native animals.
Richmond Region - Civil War Central
Steeped in Civil War history, the past comes to life as you experience the Richmond Region’s struggles and reconciliation of the Civil War through the area’s many attractions and historic sites. Richmond is a great place to begin your journey down the Civil War trails.
Virginia’s Capitol building also served as the Confederate Capitol, and Robert E. Lee accepted his commission as General in the Confederate Army here. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee worshipped at St. Paul's Church, located next door to the Capitol grounds.
The Museum & White House of the Confederacy houses the largest collection of military artifacts in the nation. The White House of the Confederacy is presented today as it was when Jefferson Davis and his family lived there. Hollywood Cemetery is the final resting place of Jefferson Davis and his family, 25 Confederate Generals and 18,000 Confederate soldiers along with two U.S. presidents. Chimborazo Medical Museum is on the grounds of what was the largest military hospital in the world from 1861-1865.
The Virginia Historical Society holds an outstanding collection of Civil War artifacts and uniforms. Monument Avenue is the nation’s only avenue designated a National Historic Landmark and contains monuments to notable Confederate leaders as well as tennis legend Arthur Ashe, a Richmond native.
Richmond National Battlefield Park Civil War Visitor Center houses two floors of museum exhibits, maps and audiovisual programs that introduce the story of Richmond during the Civil War and the battlefields that surround the city. Walk hallowed ground at Cold Harbor Battlefield, Gaines Mill and the Glendale/Malvern Hill battlefields.
Visit The American Civil War Center at Tredegar Iron Works, the first museum to tell the story of the Civil War from the Northern, Southern and African American perspective. The Overlook, located across from Tredegar Iron Works, tells the story of the burning of Richmond as the Confederate Capital fell.
Civil War Tours of the Shenandoah Valley
Day One - Start with Belle Grove Plantation and Cedar Creek Battlefield and lunch at the Wayside Inn. Spend the afternoon following in the footsteps of Stonewall Jackson in his Valley Campaign.
Day Two – In Lexington, tour Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute, the VMI Museum, General George Marshall Museum and National Library and the Stonewall Jackson House. Then head to Staunton to visit the Frontier Culture Museum and Woodrow Wilson Birthplace.
Day Three – Begin with a visit to the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in Shenandoah County. Take the New Market Walking Tour. Stop by Crystal Caverns, the oldest documented cavern in Virginia.
Civil War Tour, Virginia Beach and the Peninsula
Enjoy three days and two nights in the Tidewater, Hampton Roads area on an exciting Civil War tour with attractions including plantations, museums, historic sites and more.
Begin the tour with Norfolk’s many maritime attractions. Visit the remains of one of the most famous ships in history, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, touted as one of America’s premier Civil War attractions, at The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News. Check out Nauticus, a maritime science museum that is home to the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, which introduces visitors to over 234 years of U.S. Naval history in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
Next stop by Fort Norfolk where Confederate forces seized the fort and used its magazine to supply the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) during its battle with the USS Monitor. In 1862 the fort was recaptured by the Union Army and used as a prison. Then head to West Point Monument at Elmwood Cemetery, the South's unique tribute to African-American veterans of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. The Armed Forces Memorial rounds off the sites in Norfolk.
Other stops along this tour include Endview Plantation in Yorktown - a Confederate captain's home and a hospital for the Confederacy during the Civil War; Yorktown Battlefield; Berkeley Plantation, where Lincoln reviewed 140,000 Union troops, and Fort Monroe’s Casemate Museum in Hampton, an active military installation famed during the Civil War as "Freedoms Fortress" by blacks escaping from slavery.
The Battle for Winchester; A Civil War Tour
Day One - Winchester, Virginia changed hands 70 times during the Civil War; 13 times in one day. You'll learn why the area was fought over by both sides during this comprehensive trip.
Begin your tour at the Civil War Orientation Center, located in the Winchester-Frederick County Visitor Center. The Civil War Center, operated by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, features a brief film and an interactive kiosk.
Learn more about Stonewall Jackson's time in Winchester by touring his headquarters, located in Old Town Winchester. This 1854 Gothic Revival style house includes his prayer book and camp table.
The Old Court House Civil War Museum is just down the street and features over 3,000 relics from the war. A unique feature of this 1840 Court House is the graffitti left on the walls by soldiers who were housed there as prisoners of war. The Court House was also used as a hospital.
Enjoy lunch on your own at one of the many cafes or restaurants located on the pedestrian mall. A period dress guide will join you after lunch for a walking tour of Winchester. This tour is a perfect way to learn more about the war's effects on the residents, mostly women and children, who remained at home.
The Kernstown Battlefield, where Stonewall Jackson suffered his only defeat in 1862, is the sight of a 1862 battle and a 1864 battle. Well-preserved, this tour is a must for Civil War enthusiasts.
Day Two - Begin your day touring Belle Grove Plantation and Cedar Creek Battlefield, the site of a large re-enactment every October. The Union victory here in 1864 was a blow to the Confederate forces.
Many churches in the Shenandoah Valley were used as hospitals. St. Thomas Chapel was no exception. Located near the Cedar Creek Battlefield, the 1834 church was used as a hospital and heavily damaged. Union troops burned the pews and shutters and knocked out windows. Dedicated members rebuilt the church and it remains today.
* These itineraries were submitted by local tourism offices across Virginia.