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Virginia is a gorgeous place in late September and early October, during Indian summer when our most settled period of weather gives us warm days and cool nights. It gets even more beautiful later in October, when the turning leaves blaze orange, red, and yellow across the state. The "leaf season" also is the most crowded time in the western part of the state, when throngs of visitors mob the mountains. (You can find out the approximate dates for peak color in the Shenandoah Valley by calling tel. 800/434-5323.)

Otherwise, Virginia is busiest during summer, when the historic sites, theme parks, and beaches draw millions of visitors -- and hotel rates are at their highest. The least crowded -- and least expensive -- time to visit is in spring. That's when the dogwoods, azaleas, and wildflowers are in a riot of bloom from one end of Virginia to the other.

The Climate -- Virginia enjoys four distinct seasons, with some variations from the warmer, more humid coastal areas to the cooler climate in the mountains. Wintertime snows are usually confined to northern Virginia and the mountains. In summer, extremely hot and humid spells can last several weeks but are normally short-lived. Spring and autumn are long seasons, and in terms of natural beauty and heavenly climate, they're optimum times to visit. Annual rainfall averages 46 inches; annual snowfall, 18 inches.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.