Northern Virginia

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  • 1. Arlington National Cemetery

    More than 400,000 Americans who died during wartime, as well as many notable Americans (among them Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, General...

    More than 400,000 Americans who died during wartime, as well as many notable Americans (among them Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, General John Pershing, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg), are interred in these 639 acres across the Potomac River from Washington, established as the nation’s cemetery in 1864. Prior to 1857, the land was a plantation owned by George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington. Enslaved people built Arlington House, which became the country’s first memorial to Custis’s step-grandfather, George Washington; the house and plantation were later passed down to Custis’s daughter, Mary Anna Custis Lee, the wife of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Arlington was very much a typical working plantation before it was a cemetery, with 196 enslaved individuals living and working on the property when the Lees inherited it. Beginning in May 1864, the former plantation, which had been seized by the U.S. Army in 1861, became a military cemetery. Today Arlington is the most famous national cemetery in the country, with an average of 27 to 30 funerals held every weekday and another six to eight funerals on Saturday for people who did not require or request military honors. You can visit dozens of notable grave sites, monuments, and even an arboretum. Sections 27 and 23, two of the oldest parts of the cemetery, are a particular must for modern-day visitors. Fifteen-hundred African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War and the ensuing Indian Wars are buried here, as are over 3,800 nonmilitary African Americans (including many who were formerly enslaved); they are buried in graves marked only as “citizen” or “civilian.” You should also visit the former site of the Freedman’s Village, which existed from 1863 to 1900. The area was originally designed by the government as a short-term refugee camp for runaway enslaved individuals; it quickly became a robust community, complete with schools, hospitals, and churches (interestingly, records indicate no residents of this village are buried at Arlington). Today that area includes Section 4, the location of the Coast Guard Memorial, and others such as Arctic explorers Admiral Robert Peary and Matthew Henson. Tour-bus services are provided for a fee every 30 minutes (buy tickets in the Welcome Center or at  www.arlingtontours.com). Wheelchairs and strollers are not allowed; handicap-accessible vehicles are available upon request. For a map of the cemetery or help finding a grave, download the cemetery’s app, ANC Explorer, or use the computers at the Welcome Center. Arlington National Cemetery also offers free educational resources and self-guided walking tours. For more information on Arlington National Cemetery and to find educational resources, visit  https://linktr.ee/arlingtonnatl.

    1 Memorial Ave., Virginia, 22211, USA
    877-907–8585-for general information and to locate a grave

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free; parking from $3 per hr; Arlington National Cemetery tours $17.95
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  • 2. George Mason's Gunston Hall

    The Georgian-style mansion has some of the finest hand-carved ornamented interiors in the country and is the handiwork of the 18th-century's foremost architect, William Buckland,...

    The Georgian-style mansion has some of the finest hand-carved ornamented interiors in the country and is the handiwork of the 18th-century's foremost architect, William Buckland, originally an indentured servant from England. Construction of Gunston Hall took place between 1755 and 1758. Buckland went on to design several notable buildings in Virginia and Maryland, including the Hammond-Harwood and Chase-Lloyd houses in Annapolis. It is believed he worked closely with another indentured servant, William Bernard Sears, to complete the house. Unlike other Virginia colonial homes, which tended to be very simple, Gunston Hall was, possibly, the only or one of a few houses known to have had chinoiserie decoration. The interior and the outbuildings have been meticulously restored. While it is alleged that one of the reasons Mason didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence is that it didn’t stop the importation of enslaved people, Mason was himself a slaveholder of at least 300 people in his lifetime, many of whom lived at Gunston Hall. While touring the property, you have the opportunity to learn about the lives of some of these individuals, although there is currently not a permanent exhibit focusing on them. The Riverside Garden currently is being restored; you can view the Potomac from the garden terraces. There are three hiking trails on the 500-plus-acre property. Guided tours are offered daily at 10 am and 11 am, as well as at 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm.

    10709 Gunston Rd., Mason Neck, Virginia, 22079, USA
    703-550–9220

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Closed 1st 2 weeks of Jan.
  • 3. George Washington's Mount Vernon

    The former plantation of George Washington and his wife, Martha, Mount Vernon sits on the banks of the Potomac River about 10 miles south of...

    The former plantation of George Washington and his wife, Martha, Mount Vernon sits on the banks of the Potomac River about 10 miles south of Alexandria. Washington’s great-grandfather, John Washington, was awarded the land grant in 1674 for what would become Mount Vernon. It grew into 5,000 acres with four operating farms by the time the future president inherited it all in 1761. Washington used his wife’s financial wealth and hundreds of enslaved people to transform the main house from an ordinary farm dwelling into what was, for the time, a grand mansion. The red-roof main house is elegant though understated, with quite ornate first-floor rooms, especially the formal large dining room, with a molded ceiling decorated with agricultural motifs. You can stroll around the estate’s 500 acres and four gardens, visiting workshops, a kitchen, a carriage house, a greenhouse, quarters for enslaved African Americans, and, down the hill, the tomb of George and Martha Washington. There’s also a four-acre, 18th-century farm site with costumed interpreters and a reconstructed 16-sided treading barn as its centerpiece. Throughout Mount Vernon, you can learn about the more than 300 enslaved people who lived here, and whose labor you see all around you. Relevant tours include “The Enslaved People of Mount Vernon” tour and the "Through My Eyes" tour, both of which explore the lives and experiences of the people who lived here and the role slavery had in the life of Washington and how he built and ran this estate. Visitors, especially children, tend to enjoy the Museum and Education Center’s 23 galleries and theaters, including hundreds of artifacts, interactive displays, and a 4D theater that brings Washington's story to life. Actors in period dress, General Washington and his wife, welcome visitors at special occasions throughout the year, including President’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and July 4.

    3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon, Virginia, 22121, USA
    703-780–3600

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $28 includes admission to distillery and gristmill
  • 4. Manassas National Battlefield Park

    The Confederacy won two important victories—in July 1861 and August 1862—at this battlefield, also known as Bull Run. General Thomas Jackson earned his nickname Stonewall...

    The Confederacy won two important victories—in July 1861 and August 1862—at this battlefield, also known as Bull Run. General Thomas Jackson earned his nickname Stonewall here, when he and his brigade stood "like a stone wall." When the second battle ended, the Confederacy was at the zenith of its power. Originally farmland, the battlefield bore witness to casualties of nearly 30,000 troops. The Stone House, used as an aid station during the war, still stands. In 1911, 50 years after the first, battle, President Taft led a "Peace Jubilee," a peaceful reunion of thousands of veterans here.. .A self-guided walking or driving tour of the park begins at the visitor center, whose exhibits and audiovisual presentations greatly enhance a visit. Manassas is a 30-mile drive from Washington; from Arlington and Fairfax take I–66 west to Exit 47B (Sudley Road/Route 234 North). Don't be fooled by the earlier Manassas exit for Route 28. The visitor center is ½ mile north on the right.

    6511 Sudley Rd., Manassas, Virginia, 20109, USA
    703-361–1339

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 5. National Museum of the Marine Corps

    The glassy atrium of this 120,000-square-foot homage to the military's finest soars into the sky next to the Marine Corps Base Quantico. The design was...

    The glassy atrium of this 120,000-square-foot homage to the military's finest soars into the sky next to the Marine Corps Base Quantico. The design was inspired by the iconic photograph of marines lifting the American flag on Iwo Jima. Inside the museum, visitors can experience the life of a marine. The museum is an interactive experience and has a staggering collection of tanks, aircraft, rocket launchers, and other weapons. There is even a rifle range simulator, where guests of all ages can learn how to hold a laser rifle and practice hitting targets. Service animals are welcome inside the museum, and pets are permitted on the grounds (look for designated relief areas).

    1775 Semper Fidelis Way, Virginia, 22172, USA
    877-653--1775

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 6. Stone Tower Winery

    Set on a hill overlooking 300 acres of land, Stone Tower is one of Northern Virginia’s largest and most popular wineries. Family owned and operated,...

    Set on a hill overlooking 300 acres of land, Stone Tower is one of Northern Virginia’s largest and most popular wineries. Family owned and operated, the vineyard features a variety of reds and whites, including Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and a sparkling rosé. The views from the outdoor patio and barn-style tasting room make this a popular space for weddings.

    19925 Hogback Mountain Rd., Leesburg, Virginia, 20175, USA
    703-777–2797

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tues. and Weds. by appointment only
  • 7. Torpedo Factory Art Center

    Old Town

    Torpedoes were manufactured here by the U.S. Navy during World War II, but now the building houses eight galleries, as well as the studios and...

    Torpedoes were manufactured here by the U.S. Navy during World War II, but now the building houses eight galleries, as well as the studios and workshops of about 165 artists and artisans. You can observe printmakers, jewelers, sculptors, painters, potters, textile artists, and glass makers as they create original work in their studios (and buy their artworks). The Torpedo Factory also houses the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, which displays artifacts such as plates, cups, pipes, and coins from an early tavern, as well as Civil War soldiers' equipment.

    105 N. Union St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
    703-746–4570

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 8. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

    A major venue in the greater D.C. area, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts hosts a wide variety of performances throughout the year...

    A major venue in the greater D.C. area, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts hosts a wide variety of performances throughout the year in a beautiful outdoor setting. In warmer months popular and classical music, opera, dance, and comedy performances are given in a partially covered pavilion, the Filene Center, and in the Barns at Wolf Trap—two 18th-century barns transported from upstate New York—the rest of the year. Many food concessions are available; picnicking is permitted on the lawn, but not in the fixed seating under the pavilion. Children's programs are emphasized at the outdoor Theatre in the Woods, including mime, puppetry, animal shows, music, drama, and storytelling. (No food or drink other than water is allowed in the theater.) At any event, allow extra time for parking, and expect a traffic jam after the performance. The 100-plus acres of hills, meadows, and forests here are closed to general use from 90 minutes before to one hour after performances. Parking is free, and on performance nights Metrorail operates a $5 round-trip shuttle bus between the West Falls Church Metrorail station and the Filene Center. The fare is exact change only, and the bus leaves 20 minutes after the show, or no later than 11 pm—but it's almost unheard-of for any show to last longer than that.

    1551 Trap Rd., Vienna, Virginia, 22182, USA
    703-255–1900
  • 9. 50 West Vineyards

    Winery/Brewery/Distillery

    Perched on a hill with some of the area's best views of the Bull Run Mountains, this farmhouse-style tasting room serves Bordeaux-style red...

    Perched on a hill with some of the area's best views of the Bull Run Mountains, this farmhouse-style tasting room serves Bordeaux-style red and white wines. The winery is named for its location on Route 50, in between Middleburg and Aldie. On hot summer days, tastings on the outdoor patio are best paired with a slushy frozen wine-arita.

    39060 John Mosby Hwy., Middleburg, Virginia, USA
    571-367–4760

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.–Thurs.
  • 10. Air Force Memorial

    Easily visible from a distance, this memorial is a tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force. Three curved spires—up to 270...

    Easily visible from a distance, this memorial is a tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Air Force. Three curved spires—up to 270 feet tall—symbolize the bomb burst maneuver famously performed by the USAF Thunderbird Demonstration Team. The memorial is just uphill from the Pentagon, beside the Navy Annex on Columbia Pike.

    1 Air Force Memorial Dr, Arlington, Virginia, 22204, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 11. Alexandria Black History Museum

    Old Town

    This collection, devoted to the history of African Americans in Alexandria and Virginia, is housed in part in the Robert H. Robinson Library, a building...

    This collection, devoted to the history of African Americans in Alexandria and Virginia, is housed in part in the Robert H. Robinson Library, a building constructed in the wake of a landmark 1939 sit-in protesting the segregation of Alexandria libraries. The Watson Reading Room, next to the museum, holds a vast collection of books, periodicals, videos, and historical documents detailing the social, economic, and cultural contributions of African Americans who helped shape the city's growth since its establishment in 1749. The federal census of 1790 recorded 52 free African Americans living in the city, but the town was one of the largest slave-exporting points in the South, with at least two highly active slave markets.

    902 Wythe St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
    703-746–4356

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $2, Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 12. Appomattox Confederate Statue

    Old Town | Public Art

    In 1861, when Alexandria was occupied by Union forces, the 800 soldiers of the city's garrison marched out of town to join the Confederate Army...

    In 1861, when Alexandria was occupied by Union forces, the 800 soldiers of the city's garrison marched out of town to join the Confederate Army. In the middle of Washington and Prince streets stands a statue marking the point where they assembled. In 1885 Confederate veterans proposed a memorial to honor their fallen comrades. This statue, based on John A. Elder's painting Appomattox, is of a lone soldier glumly surveying the battlefields after General Robert E. Lee's surrender. The names of 100 Alexandria Confederate dead are carved on the base.

    Washington and Prince Sts., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
  • 13. Arlington House

    It was in Arlington that the two most famous names in Virginia history—Washington and Lee—became intertwined. George Washington Parke Custis, raised by Martha and George...

    It was in Arlington that the two most famous names in Virginia history—Washington and Lee—became intertwined. George Washington Parke Custis, raised by Martha and George Washington, his grandmother and step-grandfather, built Arlington House (also known as the Custis-Lee Mansion) between 1802 and 1818 on a 1,100-acre estate overlooking the Potomac. After Custis's death, the property went to his daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis. In 1831 Mary married Robert E. Lee, a graduate of West Point. For the next 30 years she lived at Arlington House while Lee went wherever the Army sent him, including the superintendency of West Point. In 1861 Lee was offered command of the Union forces in Washington. It was understood that the first order of business would be a troop movement into nearby Virginia. He declined and resigned from the U.S. Army, deciding that he could never take up arms against his native Virginia. The Lees left Arlington House that spring, never to return. Federal troops crossed the Potomac not long after that, fortified the estate's ridges, and turned the home into the Army of the Potomac's headquarters. Arlington House and the estate were confiscated in May 1864 when the Lees failed to pay $92 and change in property taxes in person. (General Lee's eldest son sued the U.S. government, and after a 5–4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, was eventually compensated for the land.) Two hundred nearby acres were set aside as a national cemetery in 1864. One thousand soldiers were buried there by the end of that year. Soldiers from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 were reinterred at Arlington as their bodies were discovered in other resting places. The building's heavy Doric columns and severe pediment make Arlington House one of the area's best examples of Greek Revival architecture. The plantation home was designed by George Hadfield, a young English architect who, for a while, supervised construction of the Capitol. The view of Washington from the front of the house is superb. In 1933 the National Park Service acquired Arlington House and continued the restoration that the War Department had begun, and in 1972 Congress designated the Custis-Lee Mansion as Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial. It looks much as it did in the 19th century, and a quick tour takes you past objects once owned by the Custises and the Lees. In front of Arlington House, next to a flag that flies at half staff whenever there's a funeral in the cemetery, is the flat-top grave of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, designer of Washington, D.C.

    321 Sherman Dr., Arlington, Virginia, 22211, USA
    703-235–1530

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 14. Athenaeum

    Old Town

    One of the most noteworthy structures in Alexandria, this striking Greek Revival edifice at the corner of Prince and Lee streets stands out from its...

    One of the most noteworthy structures in Alexandria, this striking Greek Revival edifice at the corner of Prince and Lee streets stands out from its many redbrick Federal neighbors. Built in 1852 as a bank, and later used as a Union commissary headquarters, then as a storage facility for the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, the Athenaeum now houses the gallery of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association, which hosts free rotating art exhibitions, classes, and receptions throughout the year. The 200 block of Prince Street between Fairfax and Lee streets is known as Gentry Row.

    201 Prince St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
    703-548–0035

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.–Wed.
  • 15. Boyhood Home of Robert E. Lee

    Old Town

    This childhood home of the commander of the Confederate forces of Virginia is a fine example of a 19th-century Federal town house. The house is...

    This childhood home of the commander of the Confederate forces of Virginia is a fine example of a 19th-century Federal town house. The house is privately owned and not open to visitors.

    607 Oronoco St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
  • 16. Captain's Row

    Old Town

    Many of Alexandria's sea captains once lived on this block, which gives visitors the truest sense of what the city looked like in the 1800s....

    Many of Alexandria's sea captains once lived on this block, which gives visitors the truest sense of what the city looked like in the 1800s. The houses are now all private residences and reflect the style of the Federal period. While the cobblestone pavement is a replica, it accurately represents the original which, according to local folklore, was laid down by Hessian soldiers taken prisoner in the Revolutionary War. Captain's Row is one of only two streets in Alexandria that is paved with cobblestones.

    100--199 Prince St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
  • 17. Carlyle House Historic Park

    Old Town

    The Carlyle House offers a rich, nuanced portrait of both American and Alexandrian history. As one of the largest slaveholders in Virginia at the time,...

    The Carlyle House offers a rich, nuanced portrait of both American and Alexandrian history. As one of the largest slaveholders in Virginia at the time, John Carlyle established himself as a powerful merchant, city founder, and local leader. Built in 1753 by enslaved people, the house hosted many important mid-18th century figures, from a meeting between General Braddock and royal governors on the French and Indian War to the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin for parties and balls. Today, the house serves as a museum where visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Alexandria and the Carlyle family (roughly 1753–1780). Specialty tours and programs focus on other aspects of the Carlyle property's history.

    121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
    703-549–2997

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $7, Closed Wed.
  • 18. Christ Church

    Old Town

    George Washington was a parishoner in this Episcopal church, which remains in nearly original condition. (Washington paid quite a lot of money for pew 5—today's...

    George Washington was a parishoner in this Episcopal church, which remains in nearly original condition. (Washington paid quite a lot of money for pew 5—today's pews 59 and 60). Completed in 1773, it's a fine example of an English Georgian country-style church with its Palladian chancel window, interior balcony, and English wrought-brass-and-crystal chandelier. Docents give tours during visiting hours, during which visitors are invited to sit in Washington's box pew.

    118 N. Washington St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, USA
    703-549–1450

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5 donation suggested
  • 19. Chrysalis Vineyard

    Two miles east of Middleburg is the Chrysalis Vineyard, a 412-acre-and-growing vineyard dedicated to producing both old- and new-world varieties of wine and hoping to...

    Two miles east of Middleburg is the Chrysalis Vineyard, a 412-acre-and-growing vineyard dedicated to producing both old- and new-world varieties of wine and hoping to revive interest in the fabled Norton, a grape native to Virginia. The owner maintains she'd rather grow the world's best Norton than the 400th best cabernet. Wine tastings here emphasize the educational experience, as volunteers present each wine in detail to tasters. The entire experience takes about 45 minutes. Afterward, buy a bottle of wine and snag a picnic table near the tasting tents. Grills are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Chrysalis is also host to a number of music festivals throughout the year, including a jazz festival in May and the Norton Wine & Bluegrass Festival the first weekend in October.

    23876 Champe Ford Rd., Middleburg, Virginia, 20117, USA
    540-687–8222
  • 20. Colvin Run Mill Historic Site

    Located about 3 miles northwest of Wolf Trap, this operating gristmill dates from the first decade of the 19th century, although the country store was...

    Located about 3 miles northwest of Wolf Trap, this operating gristmill dates from the first decade of the 19th century, although the country store was added in the early 20th century. In addition to the restored gristmill, there are two exhibit rooms inside the miller's home. It offers tours every hour on the hour, with the last tour leaving at 3; educational programs; special events; and occasional outdoor concerts. You can picnic on the grounds, feed the ducks, and learn about America's technological roots. The Colvin Run Mill General Store originally served the local community and today offers penny candy, freshly ground cornmeal and wheat flour, and various old-fashioned goods. The mill itself usually operates Sunday afternoon from April to October. Call ahead to see if conditions permit grinding.

    10017 Colvin Run Rd., Great Falls, Virginia, 22066, USA
    703-759–2771

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, tours $7, Closed Tues.

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