The Best of Colonial Virginia
- Old Town Alexandria: Although Alexandria is very much part of metro Washington, D.C., the historic district known as Old Town evokes the time when the nation's early leaders strolled its streets and partook of grog at Gadsby's Tavern.
- Mount Vernon: When he wasn't off surveying, fighting in the French and Indian War, leading the American Revolution, or serving as our first president, George Washington made his home at a plantation 8 miles south of Alexandria. Restored to look as it was in Washington's day, Mount Vernon is America's second-most-visited historic home.
- Fredericksburg: Not only did the Fredericksburg area play a role in the birth of a nation, but it also was the boyhood home of George Washington. James Monroe, who as president kept European powers out of the Americas by promulgating the Monroe Doctrine, lived here before he moved to Charlottesville. The great Confederate leader Robert E. Lee was born near here a generation later. Fredericksburg still retains much of the charm it possessed in those early days.
- Charlottesville: If Washington was the father of the United States, then Thomas Jefferson was its intellectual genius. This scholar, lawyer, writer, and architect built two monuments -- his lovely hilltop home, Monticello, and the University of Virginia -- that still evoke memories of this great thinker and patriot.
- Williamsburg, Jamestown & Yorktown: Known as the Historic Triangle, these three towns are the finest examples of Colonial America to be found. Colonial Williamsburg looks as it appeared when it was the capital of Virginia in the 18th century. The original Jamestown settlement is now a national historical park, as is Yorktown, where Washington defeated Lord Cornwallis to end the American Revolution.
The Best of Civil War Virginia
When the Civil War broke out in 1861 and the Confederacy moved its capital to Richmond, the state became the prime target of the Union armies. Virginia saw more battles than any other state, as Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia turned back one assault after another. Today you can visit the sites of many key battles, all of them national historical parks.
- Manassas: The first battle of the war occurred along Bull Run near Manassas in northern Virginia, and it was a shock to the Union (and thousands of spectators who came from Washington to watch) when the rebels engineered a victory over a disorganized Union force. They won again at the Second Battle of Manassas.
- Fredericksburg: No other town in Virginia has as many significant battlefields as Fredericksburg. Lee used the Rappahannock River as a natural line of defense, and he fought several battles against Union armies trying to advance on Richmond. You can visit the battlefields in town, and at Chancellorsville and the Wilderness, in a day.
- Appomattox Court House: After the fall of Petersburg in 1865, Lee fled for little more than a week until realizing that continuing the war was fruitless. On April 9, he met Grant at Wilbur McLean's farmhouse and surrendered his sword. America's bloodiest conflict was over. The farmhouse is preserved as part of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.
- Richmond: The capital of the Confederacy, Richmond has many reminders of the war, including the magnificent Museum of the Confederacy and the White House of the Confederacy, home of President Jefferson Davis. Monument Avenue is lined with statues of the rebel leaders. The city's eastern outskirts are ringed with battle sites, part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park.
- Petersburg: After nearly 4 years of trying to capture Richmond, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant bypassed the Southern capital in 1864 and headed for the railroad junction of Petersburg, the lifeline of the Confederate capital. Even there, he was forced into a siege situation, but finally, in April 1865, Grant broke through and forced Lee into a westward retreat.