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Virginia Celebrates History, Outdoor Recreation & Country Music

As one of the original 13 colonies, Virginia is blessed with an extremely rich history. Add to this, significant events of the Revolutionary War, the birth of our nation and the Civil War and the depth of the lesson only grows. Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty to choose from in Virginia.

The backbone of the Appalachian Mountains creates the boundary between Virginia and West Virginia and Tennessee, while the eastern portion of the state is fluid and ever changing. Here the Potomac, Rappahannock, York and the James Rivers, all flow into Chesapeake Bay. A thin peninsula juts down from Maryland to form the Eastern Shore, dividing the Atlantic Ocean from the bay. To the north, Maryland, as well as Washington D.C., are separated from Virginia by the Potomac River. A clean horizontal line along its southern edge divides the state with North Carolina.

Road travelers will find Interstates 77 (I-77), 81 (I-81) and 95 (I-95) as the major north-south routes, while Interstates 64 (I-64) and 66 (I-66) handle east-west traffic.

The Beaches & Eastern Shore
Virginia’s southern coastline begins at the North Carolina border. Here the Atlantic Ocean washes ashore at Virginia Beach, a popular resort destination for families complete with boardwalk, amusement park activities, dolphin watching, watersports such as surfing and fishing, and the Virginia Aquarium.

Virginia’s Eastern Shore, home of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague Island ponies, is accessible via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, a 17.6-mile long engineering feat. For those who wonder why such a bridge was built, travel to the Hampton Roads area - Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News and Hampton - where you’ll discover the largest U.S. naval base, Naval Station Norfolk. This structure allows ships easy ingress and egress to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Hampton Roads
Perhaps the best way to explore the entire Hampton Roads area is via a water tour, cruise or sail. For land lovers, though, here’s a quick overview:
Chesapeake is located near the Dismal Swamp Canal, the oldest operating artificial waterway in America that was dug by hand; it’s listed on the National Historic Register. The swamp and its canals offered a route for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. This was not without challenge as the swamp is said to be a habitat for black bears – one of the few remaining in the state.

In Norfolk, visitors can find the National Maritime Center, home to the U.S.S. Wisconsin at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, as well as Nauticus, a maritime science center; the nationally acclaimed Chrysler Museum of Art; the Norfolk History Museum and the MacArthur Memorial, honoring Army General Douglas MacArthur. Norfolk is also the home of a whimsical parade of mermaids.

The Olde Towne Historic District in neighboring Portsmouth encompasses 300 years of history in a collection of antique homes built in a variety of architectural styles. The Naval Shipyard Museum is a tribute to this seaport, while the Lightship Museum details the methods used to keep seafarers safe from treacherous waters.

The military and sea are interwoven throughout the history of Newport News. Learn about the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War at the Virginia War Museum. The Mariners’ Museum displays Captain John Smith's map of Chesapeake Bay, the turret from the Civil War ironclad U.S.S. Monitor and the world's oldest Chris-Craft. The Virginia Living Museum features local creatures from the mountains to the shores - everything from wolves to fish.

Hampton is the home of the Virginia Air and Space Center with galleries on space, weather, amateur radio, space craft, and more than 100 years of flight. Nearby, the Cousteau Society’s gallery pays homage to Jacque Cousteau and the world of underwater exploration.

Discovering America
Located on their respective namesake rivers, are Yorktown and Jamestown. A quaint, historic village and county seat, Yorktown flourished as a colonial tobacco port in the 18th century. Americans won their independence here during the last major battle of the American Revolution. Discover the Yorktown Battlefield, depicting that siege, and the Yorktown Victory Center, a living history museum of the American Revolution that examines the economic, political and religious motivations for immigration and the creation of the new nation.