Steeped in history and blessed with natural beauty, Virginia oozes tradition and charm. Located in a remarkably compact area are dozens of carefully preserved sites that tell the stories behind America’s birth and fight for independence as well as its bloody Civil War. From the Revolutionary War to the War Between the States, Virginia has seen more battles on its soil than any other state. With majestic estates of America’s first presidents with the hallowed grounds of its national cemetery to the most significant fields of battle, Virginia is a fascinating place to explore for anyone with an appreciation of history.
10. University of Virginia
Many other universities can claim a long and prestigious history, but what school other than the University of Virginia can boast it was designed by Thomas Jefferson? The third U.S. president, who lived just outside Charlottesville on his Monticello estate, spent the last years of his life designing the university as a model academic institution. Today, the thriving, picturesque campus that opened in 1825 remains a remarkable architectural showcase, dotted with large trees and stately historic brick buildings. Jefferson’s crowning achievement is the domed Rotunda library. Designed to resemble Rome’s Pantheon, the Rotunda serves as the center of a majestic pavilion lined with student dorms that are still in use. A vibrant college town, Charlottesville bustles with energy. Its pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown has dozens of shops and restaurants complemented by street musicians. The mall’s Paramount Theater, opened in 1931, hosts concerts, plays and other special events.