Virginia's Wide Open Spaces and Secluded Destinations

Hawksbill Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, mountains, sunset, hiker, dogs
View from Hawksbill Mountain in Shenandoah National Park
Appalachian Trail, marker, hikers, Virginia, Shenandoah
With 544-miles crossing the state, Virginia is home to the longest section of the famed Appalchian Trail
standup paddleboard, SUP, paddleboarding, New River, Virginia, USA
Stand-up paddleboarding along the New River in southwest Virginia
Virginia Beach, sand dunes, family, Virginia, ocean
Explore the natural beauty of Sandbridge - one of three distinct beaches in Virginia Beach
Camping on Mount Rogers, Virginia
Mount Rogers is Virginia's highest peak
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, mountains, drive
The Blue Ridge Parkway is known as "America's Favourite Drive"
Hawksbill Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, mountains, sunset, hiker, dogs
Appalachian Trail, marker, hikers, Virginia, Shenandoah
standup paddleboard, SUP, paddleboarding, New River, Virginia, USA
Virginia Beach, sand dunes, family, Virginia, ocean
Camping on Mount Rogers, Virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia, mountains, drive

From the soaring Blue Ridge Mountains in the west to beach resorts along the Atlantic coast, Virginia is diverse enough to feed every passion.  Explore the state’s 22 National Parks and 38 state parks featuring hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, winding rivers, and tributaries. With so much to explore, we’re highlighting the top wide-open spaces to explore across the state.

Northern Virginia

Just outside of Washington, DC, the George Washington Memorial Parkway follows the Potomac River, leading travelers to important historic sites and past nature parks and preserves. Stops along the parkway include the 624-acre Arlington National Cemetery, the soaring US Air Force Memorial, and the US Marine Corps War Memorial (commonly known as the Iwo Jima memorial). Farther west, Loudoun County is home to more than 40 wineries as well as breweries, distilleries, and cideries, earning Loudoun the reputation of “DC’s Wine Country”. Most wineries offer ample outdoor seating for visitors to enjoy the fresh air and scenery while sampling some of Virginia’s finest wines.

Shenandoah Valley

Stretching 150-miles from the top of the state, Shenandoah Valley’s location between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains make it an outdoor lover’s paradise. The Shenandoah River is ideal for fishing, tubing, kayaking, and canoeing while the surrounding mountains have hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Shenandoah National Park alone offers 500+ miles of trails including 101-miles of the renowned Appalachian Trail. The Valley is also an ideal location for horseback riding with stables in and around Shenandoah National Park such as Fort Valley Ranch, Jordan Hollow Stables, or Skyland Stables.

Throughout the Valley, visitors can explore scenic byways leading to charming small towns and cities like Strasburg, Harrisonburg, and Staunton. The Valley’s most famed byway is Skyline Drive, a 105-mile route along the mountain ridgeline in Shenandoah National Park. Where Skyline Drive ends at the park’s southern border, the Blue Ridge Parkway begins. Traveling 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, the parkway is known as “America’s Favourite Drive”.

Southwest Virginia

Southwest Virginia is known for its outdoor recreation and its country music heritage. The 300-mile long Crooked Road – Virginia’s heritage music trail – leads visitors to live music performances at venues large and small across the region. Highlights include The Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, the Carter Family Fold, and Floyd Country Store, host of the Friday Night Jamboree.

Southwest Virginia is home to some of the state’s most treasured natural sites including Mount Rogers, Virginia’s highest peak; Breaks Interstate Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”; Natural Tunnel State Park, once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World”; and Cumberland Gap, a National Historical Park known for being the first great gateway to the western US.

Coastal Virginia

Virginia boasts more than 3,000 miles of shoreline and its largest city, Virginia Beach, is considered by Guinness World Records to be the home of the longest pleasure beach in the world. Virginia Beach’s 35 miles of coastline offers a diversity of experiences, from the popular resort area to the family-friendly waters of Chesapeake Bay Beach to the natural beauty of Sandbridge. 

From Virginia Beach, travel along the 17.5-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Feel the pace of life slow here as you explore quiet fishing villages, nature preserves, and secluded islands like Chincoteague, home to roaming wild ponies, or Tangier, a remote island accessed by air or sea.

Discover the wide-open spaces of Washington, DC and Maryland

Top Camping Spots Near Washington, DC

Explore Virginia

Related: 
Scenic Drives
Outdoors & Nature
Tours & Trails
Wine & Cuisine
History & Culture
Attractions & Family Fun

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