You could spend years exploring Virginia’s Cultural Region and never tire of the journey. Here are a few suggestions for discovering its riches one day at a time.
DAY 1: Pleasures of Field and Farm
You’re in for a day of relaxation enjoying Loudoun County’s scenic landscape, the fruits of its vineyards and the harvest of its fields. Explore some of the 40-plus wineries and tasting rooms that are intertwined along country roads here, nestled between horse farms and historic estates. Try a crisp Viognier while overlooking the mountains. Take a vineyard tour and meet winemakers crafting award-winning wines.
DAY 2: Get a Feel for History
Looking back is no eye-rolling academic exercise in Virginia’s Cultural Region, where hands-on history experiences feel more like outdoor adventure. Spend some time at the Manassas National Battlefield Park to explore the 5,000-acre site of the first and second battles of the American Civil War. It’s not just a budget-friendly way to learn more about history; standing in the mist is a foolproof way to feel its power.
You’ll learn more about uncommon valor than you ever imagined at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, where exhibits cover more than 237 years of inspiring American history – from earliest recruitment efforts during the American Revolution to photographic exhibits that capture the strength and courage of today’s Marine force.
DAY 3: Ready for a Big Rush?
You’ll expand your horizons on a day spent in Fairfax County. Whether you experience the earthly natural rush of Great Falls Park, the goosebumps you get while walking in the same steps of America’s first president at George Washington’s Mount Vernon or the wonders of space exploration at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, there’s a thrill in the air.
There’s inspiration in the air, too. Take in an outdoor concert and picnic on the grounds of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. Check out the galleries and studio spaces of the Workhouse Arts Center, where you can take a guided tour, sit in on a workshop or learn of the history of this former historic prison campus at the Workhouse Prison Museum.
DAY 4: Why Does This Seem So Familiar?
There are certain images in our national consciousness that just seem like something we all should know. The iconic figures striving to raise the American flag in battle. A young soldier making precise steps as he faithfully stands guard. White markers stretched across green hills in heartbreakingly long, tidy rows.
A visit to Arlington National Cemetery makes it all very real, with stories of sacrifice, honor and steadfast resolve. In this one historic place, generations of the nation’s fallen are honored, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded without ceasing and the Eternal Flame burns at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy. The nearby Marine Corps War Memorial captures the dramatic Iwo Jima moment we all recognize.
Take advantage of the spectacular views of the D.C. skyline while you’re in Arlington’s Rosslyn district, where you can raise a pint to history at The Observation Deck at CEB Tower, where in addition to panoramic views at the highest point inside the Beltway, you can also toast the day at the View champagne lounge. Explore Arlington’s public art offerings, including performances at the Signature Theatre.
DAY 5: Is Cobblestone Cosmopolitan a Thing?
Maybe it’s the unexpected pairing that makes Alexandria so extraordinary, from acclaimed dining to compelling history and dynamic arts. Old Town Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan vibe that’s lasted centuries – along with the 18th and 19th century architecture and cobblestone streets still intact from its days as George Washington’s hometown. A stroll down King Street offers boutique shopping and numerous ways to enjoy the city’s food culture.
Alexandria’s waterfront is your portal to exploration, whether it’s on a Potomac Riverboat Co. cruise or the galleries and studio spaces of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. For a look into the past, the Key to the City Museum Pass gives you access to historic homes, sites and museums. Top off your day at the Best Small Brewery in the U.S., Port City Brewing Co. or by enjoying live music at one of Alexandria’s intimate venues like Blackwall Hitch.