If you’re looking for a vacation that’s equal parts culture, relaxation and fun, Virginia’s Cultural Region should top your list.
The beautiful Northern Virginia region near Washington, D.C., offers many museums and historic sites to visit as well as fantastic contemporary shopping, dining and entertainment options.
A US History Lesson
This trip was a great hands-on way to learn US history. The museums in the area are truly phenomenal. I learned so much at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico. It’s a stunning site to visit, with the most impressive interactive exhibits that tell US history through the eyes of the Marines. In Arlington, I continued my studies by visiting the US Marine Corps War Memorial – or Iwo Jima, as it’s also called – and I took a moment to reflect at Arlington National Cemetery, a beautiful tranquil site right on the sparkling Potomac River where 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families are buried.
My Civil War knowledge improved as I visited Prince William County’s Manassas National Battlefield Park, the site of the first Civil War battle, and Ben Lomond Historic Site, where a hospital perfectly complements the battlefield and shows how people coped with the effects of the war.
In Fairfax County, I felt like I stepped back in time visiting the beautiful Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens, which is George Washington’s historic home and the most visited historic estate in the USA. The estate grounds overlook the Potomac River and instantly immerse visitors into life in the 18th century. I visited the tomb of the nation's first president and learned about his life from the gorgeous estate, the interactive theaters and exhibits, and the pioneer farm.
Taking Time to Unwind
My visit to Virginia’s Cultural Region wasn’t all educational. I had fun catching shows, shopping and, of course, eating.
I loved Old Town Alexandria, home to charming galleries, such as the famed Torpedo Factory Art Center. If you’re looking for a charming place to enjoy local boutiques and sit and have a fabulous meal, King Street is a must on your itinerary. If you’re more into the wine than food, visit Loudoun County, also known as DC’s Wine Country, where you can explore dozens of wineries. I loved my glass of Syrah at Greenhill Winery and Vineyards.
At the end of the day, keep busy with shows at both Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Fairfax County and the Signature Theatre in Arlington. Wolf Trap has a variety of outdoor shows year-round, so you’ll want to plan ahead and get tickets to its opera, folk and jazz performances. When you visit Signature Theatre, it’s the perfect opportunity to make a night of seeing a Broadway-style show and exploring the fun neighborhoods of Arlington like Clarendon and Shirlington, which are all easily accessible on the region’s Metro system.
Another stop to make is the Salamander Resort in Middleburg. You can stop in for spa treatments, horseback riding and dining, or you can stay a while in the gorgeous accommodations.
Amazing Shopping Options
Of course, I always love to go shopping when I’m in a new destination and see the region’s trends, and there were many options here. Tysons Corner and The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City were huge and had excellent upscale brands. I found some great deals at both Potomac Mills and Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets.
I left Virginia’s Cultural Region relaxed, well fed and entertained with some new clothes and new knowledge of US hjistory, making this a perfectly diverse and fantastic vacation.