Are you looking for interesting Virginia day trips? Then you’ve come to the right place! This list is full of some of the best day trips in Virginia. Virginia is a gorgeous Southern state that is full of fun and unique things to do. It is especially awesome if you are a history buff. So much of Virginia’s history is tied into the history of the forming of the United States of America and some of the country’s earliest presidents.
Even if American history isn’t really your thing, we guarantee there is something fun in Virginia for you to enjoy. Some of these day trips in Virginia are centered around its natural beauty, while others highlight the unique history of the state. We’ve also included some fun day trips in Virginia for families as well as fun day trips in Virginia for couples.
We’ve also made sure to include interesting and fun Virginia day trips for the history buffs, outdoor lovers, and thrill-seekers. Virginia truly does have something for everyone! So, let’s take a look at 15 interesting Virginia day trips!
15 Interesting Virginia Day Trips (Hidden Gems, Small Towns And More!)
Assateague Island National Seashore
For those looking for Virginia day trips that are fun for the whole family, consider taking a trip to Assateague Island National Seashore. Assateague Island is a portion of National Park that is in both Maryland and Virginia. If you want to make this an extended trip and go camping at Assateague, you’ll need to go to the Maryland portion of the park. Assateague Island is best known for its abundance of wild horses roaming the park.
However, if you are just going for a fun day on the National Seashore, you’ll find plenty to do in the Virginia portion of the National Park. If you are thinking of visiting during the summer months you can expect to see wild foals along with wild horses. You can also go swimming, kayaking, and canoeing. When you visit the seashore during the colder months, you’ll still be able to see wild horses, and you may even still be able to enjoy some watersports. There are also hiking and biking trails and you can of course walk along the seashore. It’s easily one of the best day trips in Virginia for families
Monticello is one of the best day trips from Williamsburg. It is also one of the best Virginia day trips for history buffs. For those that don’t know, Monticello was the primary home and plantation of Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was a founding father and also served as the third President of the United States. It is important to remember when visiting Monticello that it was a plantation and Jefferson did have enslaved peoples working on the property. Please be respectful of that history if you go to tour the home.
When you visit Monticello, you’ll find that they do not try to hide the plantation’s dark past. Instead, you will learn about slavery at the time and how Jefferson profited immensely from this dark practice. As you tour Monticello, you will be reminded that it was built on the backs of enslaved peoples.
This is set against the backdrop of learning about Jefferson and his family life while living in the home. It is often an eye-opening way to look at the history of one of the Founding Fathers. You’ll see how that history has shaped the United States of America as a whole. We guarantee you will leave Monticello having learned something new and impactful.
If you are looking for one of the best day trips from Richmond, head to Luray Caverns. The Luray Caverns have been a popular tourist attraction in Virginia since the cave system was found in 1878. Now, it is one of the most popular attractions in Virginia for those who want to walk down into the depths of Virginia’s underground cave systems. Because it is so popular, you’ll want to make sure you plan to get tickets ahead of time, or have a flexible schedule so you can get tickets for whatever time slots are still available the day of your visit.
The tickets range in price and depend on your age. The caverns also offer various discounts. Luray Caverns are the largest caverns in the Eastern United States and you’ll find some truly spectacular underground rock formations.
The walkways along the tour are all paved and lighted. You’ll walk through a cavern room with a ceiling that is ten stories high, optical illusion rooms, and layers of folded rock. It is called the Geologist Hall of Fame, and once you step foot in the caverns you’ll easily see why.
One of the coolest historical places in Virginia is Colonial Williamsburg. It is also one of the best day trips from Virginia Beach. When you need a break from the sandy shores, you can’t go wrong with a quick trip to Colonial Williamsburg. At Colonial Williamsburg, you’ll find the World’s Largest Living History Museum. As you walk all through the Colonial town you’ll find reenactors posing as people who would have originally lived there.
It is a full-scale working village with a blacksmith, potter, baker, brickmaker, farms, and other shops that would have been included in a typical Colonial town. At each one, you’ll find a skilled reenactor who will tell you about the process for creating their goods and wares during the Colonial period. There are also shops where you can purchase the products that are made right there in town. You’ll also find restaurants with delicious period-accurate food, guided walking tours, and even guided ghost tours. It’s one of the coolest places to visit in Virginia in one day and a really fun day trip from Virginia Beach.
The Poe Museum
Edgar Allan Poe lived in a few Southern cities and one of those is Richmond Virginia. In Richmond, you can learn more about Poe’s life in Virginia at The Poe Museum. It is where Poe started his literary career and he spent a lot of his life in Richmond writing. Although he moved to Baltimore at the end of his life before his mysterious death, Richmond is where he called home the longest.
The Richmond Poe Museum is one of many Poe Museums in the United States. What makes it different, and one of the most interesting Virginia day trips, is its collection. The Poe Museum in Richmond has the largest collection of Poe artifacts in the world. Inside you can see Poe’s childhood bed, several articles of his clothing, and personal letters. You can also see the famous image of Poe known as the Cornwell Daguerreotype. You can even see a lock of Poe’s hair! It is one of the best day trips from Richmond and is a really cool way to learn about one of America’s most famous authors.
Shenandoah National Park And The Skyline Drive
The Shenandoah National Park is one of the best day trips from Northern Virginia. You’ll also be close to Charlottesville, so it’s a great option for day trips from Charlottesville as well. It is one of Virginia’s most beautiful landscapes full of waterfalls, iconic mountains, and gorgeous fields of wildflowers and grasses. If you don’t have a lot of time on your day trip in Virginia, take Skyline Drive. The Skyline Drive takes you through Virginia’s section of the Appalachian Mountains through Shenandoah National Park and eventually meets the Blue Ridge Parkway.
As you travel on Skyline Drive you’ll be able to stop into cute Virginia small towns, admire the view at scenic overlooks, and even go hiking. It’s one of the best National Parks in Virginia. It easily welcomes millions of visitors all year to enjoy its stunning views and landscapes. One of the best times to go is during the Peak Season. This is when the Fall foliage in Shenandoah is at its peak. It’s a beautiful time to visit, but because of that, it can get very busy. So keep that in mind when you plan your Shenandoah National Park drive.
Busch Gardens is one of the best day trips from Richmond for families and thrill-seekers. For those that don’t know, Busch Gardens is a fun amusement park that is very popular. Busch Gardens is also a great option for day trips from Williamsburg. It is technically in Williamsburg, but it’s a bit outside of the city center.
There are a few Busch Gardens parks in the US, and the one in Virginia has a European theme. So as you walk from ride to ride you’ll feel like you’re walking through quaint European villages. A lot of the food vendors and souvenir shops are also full of European influences.
It is also one of the best day trips in Virginia for families. There are plenty of rides and cool things to do in the park that the kids will love. There is also a waterpark, a petting zoo, and throughout the park, during the day you’ll find animal exhibits. For the adults, there is plenty to do as well. Every year the amusement park hosts an epic Oktoberfest celebration.
It is also one of the few amusement parks in the US where you can buy alcohol throughout the day, all year. That’s because the park is owned by Anheuser-Busch, the beer bottling company. No matter your age, you’ll find that Busch Gardens is one of the best places to visit in Virginia in one day.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
If you are close to Charlottesville and looking for something fun to do, consider taking a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a stretch of road that starts in Virginia and continues down into North Carolina. It follows the Appalachian Mountains, and in particular, the Blue Ridge Mountains within the Appalachian Mountain range. It’s one of the best day trips from Charlottesville if you want to see some spectacular views.
Depending on where you hop onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s also a great place to add to your list of day trips from Roanoke. All along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll find scenic overlooks, easy to difficult hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, and so much more. Depending on how much time you have, you can even venture into North Carolina and drive the parkway for a bit before heading back towards Richmond. As you drive the parkway you can stop in some cute small towns if you’re not up for a more adventurous day trip in Virginia.
Mill Mountain Star And Park
One of the most famous attractions in Roanoke is the Mill Mountain Star. The Mill Mountain Star can be found in Mill Mountain Park and is easily one of the best things to do in Roanoke when you visit. It also makes for one of the best day trips from Roanoke since it’s not necessarily right in the city center.
The Mill Mountain Star is a 90-foot star-shaped structure that lights up. It’s sort of like the Hollywood sign of Roanoke. It has been lighting up the mountainside since the 1950s, so it’s become a pretty iconic piece of Roanoke history. At the Star, you’ll get to see some beautiful views of the city of Roanoke.
Because the Mill Mountain Star is located in a public park, you’ll find other things to do there as well. At the park, you can go hiking, and you’ll need to do a little hiking if you want to get up close to the Star. But there is also a zoo, playground, Discovery Center, and a native wildflower garden. It is one of the best day trips in Virginia for families, but it’s also fun for all ages.
George Washington National Forest
The George Washington National Forest is one of the best National Parks in Virginia. It is also one of the best options for day trips from Richmond if you’re looking to escape the city. It’s a popular camping weekend getaway in Virginia, but it can easily be a fun day trip in Virginia as well. Because it is close to Richmond, it’s one of the more popular National Parks in Virginia, so keep that in mind when you are planning your day trip. Depending on the season, you may encounter more crowds.
The park includes miles of hiking and biking trails and there are also lakes and rivers. In the Summer months, you can enjoy watersports in the lakes in rivers, like swimming, kayaking, and boating. There are also certain trails where you can go horseback riding. One of the coolest things to do in the National Forest is going hang gliding. It’s the perfect activity for the thrill-seekers looking for just a little extra jolt of fun at the George Washington National Forest. Of course, the forest is gorgeous in the Fall and you can still enjoy a ton of activities in the forest in Winter and Spring.
Barboursville Ruins And Winery
Barboursville was once one of the finest are largest private residences in Virginia. But on Christmas Day in 1884, a devastating fire ripped through the home and almost completely destroyed it. Since that day in 1884, Barboursville has been preserved as ruins and is one of the best day trips from Charlottesville. What makes it so special is that is the only known structure in Orange County, where it is located, to be designed by Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States and a prominent member of Virginia society, both before and after his presidency.
The ruins are registered as National Historic Places and are actually one of the day trips in Virginia for couples. That is because the ruins are now home to one of the best wineries in Virginia. The Barboursville Winery was established on the ground in 1976 and has since become a well-recognized winery by wine connoisseurs. You’ll find the tasting room and visitors center just steps from the Barboursville Ruins.
On the grounds, you’ll also find a restaurant that is perfect for one of the prettiest romantic day trips in Virginia. You and your partner can enjoy a day exploring the historic grounds, taste award-winning wines, and enjoy a delicious meal. In the Summer, you can also catch ‘Shakespeare in the Ruins’. A local Shakespeare performing company uses the ruins of Barboursville as a stage. The play changes yearly, so you can come back for a different experience every year. The Barboursville ruins are definitely one of the best day trips in Virginia for Couples and easily one of the most romantic day trips in Virginia.
Historic Jamestown and Yorktown
On your list of day trips from Williamsburg, you absolutely need to add a trip to Historic Jamestown and Yorktown. You can drive about 30 minutes outside of Williamsburg and end up in Historic Jamestown or Yorktown, which is part of the ‘Historic Triangle’ in Virginia. Because they are all so close together, we suggest making this a historic tour day trip from Williamsburg. Start in Historic Jamestown, which was originally founded in 1607 by European immigrants.
Jamestown was the first permanent settlement in America for those making the journey from various countries in Europe. You’ll find a living history museum, similar to Colonial Williamsburg, but on a smaller scale. There is also a reconstructed Native American village alongside a Colonial fort, so you can see how Native Americans and European immigrants would have lived in the early 1600s in the area.
In Yorktown, there is another similar site. However, Yorktown wasn’t founded until 1691, over 80 years later. You’ll notice some similarities, but also plenty of differences as generations learned what did and didn’t work in the area. The town is probably best known as the site of the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. It’s where the American Revolution is said to have finally ended, with the surrender of English General Cornwallis. While you are in Yorktown, you can tour the battlefield as well as the American Revolution Museum. A journey to the two historic cities is one of the best day trips from Williamsburg.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is actually in three states; West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Depending on what you’re interested in, the different states offer different experiences. The Maryland section is mainly hiking trails and scenic views along the Potomac River.
West Virginia and Virginia share the section of the park that has some really cool historic buildings. Harpers Ferry is truly one of the best small towns in West Virginia that you should explore.
Because of its location, it’s a great option for day trips from Northern Virginia.
Just like so many other places to visit in Virginia in one day, the National Historic Park is bursting with history. You’ll find a historic town with 19th-century buildings and see what it was like to live in a port town. There are living history events, local artisans, and more. You’ll also find hiking and biking trails as well as enjoy watersports like swimming, kayaking, and boating.
Keep in mind that when you are planning your trip, you may find that the trailheads or destinations you have in mind may be across the border in either Maryland or West Virginia. Either way, it’s still one of the most fun day trips in Virginia.
Make sure to check out our list of things to do in Harpers Ferry!
Mariners’ Museum And Park
If you’re looking for interesting day trips in Virginia for families, consider a day at the Mariners’ Museum and Park. It is close to Virginia Beach, so it’s one of the best day trips from Virginia Beach. The Mariners’ Museum is in Newport News which is just about an hour inland, so you won’t have to travel too far to learn about Virginia’s interesting maritime history.
Throughout the museum, you’ll find exhibits that are interesting to both the youngest and oldest members of the family. On certain days of the week, kids can enjoy storytime with a maritime theme. There are also hands-on exhibits, crafts, and more that they can do while they are learning about Virginia’s maritime history.
There are also plenty of more in-depth exhibits for the older members of the family. One of the coolest areas of the museum is the gallery of Ship Models that show popular ship designs through the centuries. The Mariners Park is free to the public and is considered to be a beautiful woodland oasis. Inside the park, you can stroll along the popular Nolan Trail, admire nature, or stop for a picnic lunch at the Lions bridge. Mariners’ Museum and Park are absolutely one of the best day trips in Virginia for families!
Cape Henry Lighthouse
Thanks to popular novels, lighthouses have become an almost romantic iconic image along the sandy shores of any beach town. If you’re looking for some romantic day trips in Virginia, you and your partner can spend the day exploring the historic lighthouse at Cape Henry. The Cape Henry Lighthouse is within 15 minutes of Virginia Beach, which also makes it one of the best day trips from Virginia Beach for you and your partner to take.
At the Cape Henry Lighthouse, you can take a tour of the lighthouse, climb up to the top, and explore the grounds around the lighthouse as well. The lighthouse is one of the oldest in the country and was commissioned by George Washington with Alexander Hamilton overseeing its building. It was built close to where European immigrants first landed before establishing the Jamestown colony. If you are looking for day trips in Virginia for couples who like a little bit of history and the beach. It’s also one of the most interesting Virginia day trips.
With so much history and culture in the state, it is easy to make a list of fun places to visit in Virginia in one day. We hope you enjoyed this list of unique historic sites, hidden gems, and small towns that are spread throughout the beautiful state. You can’t go wrong taking a day to explore these amazing spots on your next Virginia day trip.