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Virginia is a treasure trove for American history buffs. From the colonial period through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, Virginia was the breeding ground for many of the significant events and key players in U.S. history. Eight presidents were born in this South Atlantic state.

Top tourist destinations in Virginia include Mount Vernon, the restored estate of the first U.S. president, George Washington, located near Alexandria. Alexandria’s "Old Town" boasts over 2,000 registered historic places of the early days of the nation. Elegant Monticello, another popular site near Charlottesville, was the home of third president Thomas Jefferson. After a visit to Monticello, experience a taste of living history at the nearby Michie Tavern and store. Guides in period costumes walk visitors back in time to 1784.

Remain in the past tense with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg, the state’s 18th-century capital. The restored town depicts life before the birth of the U.S. as an independent nation. Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, America’s first lasting English settlement, form part of the Historic Triangle of Virginia. Yorktown, the third part of the trio, is the site of the colonists’ victory in the Revolutionary War.

The Museum and White House of the Confederacy in Richmond (the capital of the Confederate states) is the world’s largest repository of Confederate artifacts. Examine original manuscripts, photos and the personal effects of the enslaved and free, the commander and the soldier. The site reveals the state’s central role in the Civil War. While in Richmond, hear the rest of the story at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center.

Along with its rich history, Virginia offers plenty of natural wonders. Forest lands cover 65 percent of the state, offering plenty of opportunities to encounter wildlife and enjoy the outdoors. Travelers find ample space for adventure in Shenandoah National Park, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roam 101 miles of Appalachian Trail and the scenic Skyline Drive, and 117,000 wild acres in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Meet up with the locals on Assateague Island, home to the wild ponies of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.