Virginia gives new meaning to an out-of-this-world vacation. Try your piloting skills in an official NASA Shuttle Landing Simulator! Or, hover just above the treetops in a hot-air balloon, tandem jump from an airplane with an experienced skydiver and/or gaze into the cosmos from five planetariums!
Coastal Virginia - Hampton Roads
Picture yourself an astronaut at the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, the city where the original Mercury Seven astronauts trained! See permanent exhibits, such as the 3 billion-year-old moon rock acquired on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 and numerous air and space craft.
Also, try your piloting skills on the Shuttle Landing Simulator and see one of many traveling exhibits. The Virginia Air and Space Center is the official visitor center for the NASA Langley Research Center.
In neighboring Newport News, visit the Aviation Pavilion at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum. Other exhibits there include 200 years of Army transportation developments, such as military vehicles, amphibians and experimental craft.
A short distance away, the Virginia Living Museum, better known as a native wildlife park, explores celestial marvels during its daily planetarium shows!
Another planatarium can be found at the Children's Museum of Virginia in nearby Portsmouth, where kids can also enjoy the Moonwalk and Spacelabs exhibit.
And Skydive Suffolk offers certified instructors in tandem, static line and accelerated freefall from the first jump through expert licenses.
Coastal Virginia - Eastern Shore
Virginia's Eastern Shore, situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay and accessible by the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge Tunnel from Norfolk, is the home of the Virginia Space Flight Adventure Camp.
Wallops Island is the place for students 12-15, to enjoy model rocketry, robotics and flight simulation!
Students will visit many operational NASA, NOAA and Navy facilities, too, and can see of F-18s, C-130s, P-3s, research aircraft, and Coast Guard and Navy aircraft taking off and landing every day!
The National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is an extension of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and located near Dulles Airport. This huge facility features a soaring observation tower, flight simulators and exhibits involving everything about flight, from the pioneers of flight to exploring the universe.
Half an hour's drive from the nation's capital, the National Museum of the Marine Corps explores Marine aviation from the dawn of flight through both world wars and Korea as well as a gallery devoted to the War on Terror.
The Leatherneck Gallery features artifacts, vignettes, testimonials, and images honoring the contributions of every Marine. And the Making Marines Gallery immerses visitors in the memorable experiences that forge recruits and officer candidates into privates and lieutenants.
The Indians wandering between the parallel ridges of the Allegheny Mountains named the 200-mile-long valley Shenandoah, "daughter of the stars."
At the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley lies Roanoke with the world's largest neon star beckoning visitors to the "Star City of the South." The 100-foot-high illuminated structure atop Roanoke's Mill Mountain serves as a landmark for night-time aviators.
Celebrate Independence Day in Lexington at Virginia Military Institute for the 4th of July Hot-Air Balloon Rally. Piloted and tethered hot-air balloon rides are just one of the attractions at this event.
Almost as fun as balloon rides are the chairlifts at Massanutten and Wintergreen resorts! Scenic rides are available from Memorial Day through October. What a fun way to see the beautiful fall foliage, too!
Hot-air ballooning is popular in Central Virginia, too, with Monticello Country Ballooning flying out of Charlottesville. Picture yourself flying over beautiful rolling hillsides and Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson.
In nearby Orange, visit Skydive Orange. Many first-timers choose skydiving as a lifetime sport after their first tandem jumps!
Southeast of Charlottesville, go to Troy in Fluvanna County, where Bonaire Charters flies their hot-air balloons. Flying 200-500 feet above ground is the most picturesque.
If you travel southeast from Charlottesville to Richmond, see the Science Museum of Virginia and the IMAX® DOME & Planetarium. The Space Gallery lets you experience near weightlessness as well as walk in a life-sized cross-section of a space station lab!
Last Updated: 1/21/2020