"Virginia is for lovers," claims the Old Dominion’s motto, and this certainly holds true for lovers of architecture. Native hero and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson left his stamp on the state not only in the form of politics, but in the grand neoclassical architecture he pioneered at sites such as the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and his nearby plantation, Monticello. Today, visitors come from all over to tour the estate that Jefferson designed and built for more than 40 years. Its Greco-Roman rotunda and classical pediment are reflected in the White House and United States Capitol building, both of which were built around the same time.
Virginia would go on to play a central role in America’s history. During the Civil War, the border state saw more battles than any other. 150 years later, battle cries still ring out across the fields of Petersburg and Middletown in faithful Civil War reenactments, which allow history buffs to witness famous standoffs and experience a day in the life of a typical soldier. Nearly 800 Civil War sites and national battlefields pay homage to the men who died during America’s bloodiest war.
Other things to do in Virginia present themselves at mountain getaways such as the Massanutten Resort near Harrisonburg, a winter wonderland where skiers and tubers can spend the day surfing down the slopes. The resort even boasts an indoor water park, and the surrounding area is rife with hiking and biking trails best explored in the warmer months.
In a similar vein, the historic Mountain Lake Conservancy & Hotel sits on 2,600 acres of Virginian mountaintop in Pembroke. Fans of the cult classic Dirty Dancing will feel right at home at Mountain Lake, where several iconic scenes of the movie were filmed. Many of the sets remain intact, and the hotel hosts a Dirty Dancing weekend that includes a tour of these sets along with dance lessons and trivia games.