Virginia is crammed full of National Park sites. There’s a lot to see, from National Scenic Trails to National Historic Parks, National Monuments and National Seashores. Virginia is located along the Atlantic coast and is one of the 13 original colonies. Because of this, there are a lot of historical sites that reflect the state’s fascinating history.
This list of the top 30 national parks includes National Park Service sites and regular national parks. Here’s an overview of the best Virginia national parks, scenic trails, historic parks, military parks and national monuments.
- 30 Virginia National Parks
- The Best National Park in Virginia
- Other Parks in Virginia
- National Scenic Trails In Virginia
- National Historic Parks in Virginia
- 6- Appomattox Court House
- 7- Cape Henry Memorial
- 8- Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
- 9- Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
- 10- Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- 11- Civil War Defences of Washington D.C.
- 12- Colonial National Historic Park
- 13- Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
- 14- Jamestown
- 15- Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
- National Seashore in Virginia
- Parkway in Virginia
- National Monument in Virginia
- National Historic Trail in Virginia
- National Military Park in Virginia
- Memorial Parkway in Virginia
- National Historic Site in Virginia
- National Battlefield Park in Virginia
30 Virginia National Parks
The Best National Park in Virginia
1- Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is the best national park to visit in Virginia and if you only have time for one of these sites, let it be this one.
This park is a wonderland of nature, with fields of wildflowers, wooded areas, incredible vistas and waterfalls.
The park encompasses 200,000 acres of land home to deer, black bears and so many other species.
If you’d rather not walk (why wouldn’t you?), a road trip along Skyline Drive will reveal many of this national park’s treasures.
This more than scenic drive follows the Blue Ridge Mountains and is also the only public road in the National Park.
With more than 500 miles (804 km) of trails, enjoy an epic experience by bringing your tent and trying some backcountry camping.
For more ideas in Virginia and West Virginia:
Other Parks in Virginia
2- Great Falls Park
The Great Falls Park is a small (800 acres) National Park Service site that sits along the banks of the Potomac River.
The main attraction is the falls, where cascading water flows over jagged rocks down through the Mather Gorge.
Explore the Patowmack Canal, which reflects the region’s early history.
Great Falls Park is at 9200 Old Dominion Dr, McLean, VA 22102.
3- Prince William Forest Park
This is a peaceful place to connect with nature, originally opened in 1936 as the Chopawamsic Recreation Area.
The park was created to host children’s relief camps during the Great Depression.
In 1948 it was renamed Prince William Forest Park and is an excellent place for walks, camping, biking, and exploring nature.
Prince William Forest Park is at 18170 Park Entrance Rd, Triangle, VA 22172.
National Scenic Trails In Virginia
4- Appalachian Trail
Chances are you’ve probably heard of this national scenic trail. The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking route in the world.
It covers 2,200 miles (3540 km) and stretches from Spring Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
Virginia’s section of the mighty Appalachian Trail covers 544 miles (891 km), more than any other state.
You can escape the city and head onto sections of this trail for some much-needed time with nature.
The Shenandoah National Park (keep reading to find out about this beauty) is home to 101 miles (162km) of this trail.
Hop onto the trail in Virginia and you will not be disappointed.
5- Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
This trail has something for everyone. History lovers, nature enthusiasts and mountain bikers will love the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
This trail includes a network of more than 700 miles (1126 km) and traces the history and geology of the Potomac River.
You can try hiking sections of this trial, such as the 18.5-mile (29 km) Mount Vernon Trail within the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
National Historic Parks in Virginia
6- Appomattox Court House
The Appomattox Court House plays an important role in Virginia history.
In 1865 on the 9th of April, the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at the Appomattox Court House.
This was considered the end of the most significant war the nation had ever faced.
While visiting the courthouse, you can gain a deeper understanding of the park’s history and stories.
Take a ranger-led guided tour where you can hear from experienced historians.
Appomattox Court House is at 111 National Park Dr, Appomattox, VA 24522.
7- Cape Henry Memorial
This memorial commemorates the first landfall by colonists at Cape Henry. The colonists landed in 1607 and named the bay area Cape Henry.
While at the memorial, visit the statue of Admiral Comte DeGrasse, who was fundamental in America gaining independence from England.
Visit the Cape Henry Lighthouse nearby.
Cape Henry Memorial is at Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA, 23459.
8- Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park
History lovers will find this historic park fascinating to learn about the Civil War by exploring the Cedar Creek Battlefields.
The park has three trails (1.7 miles in total) to explore and imagine yourself on this ground centuries before.
Take a self-guided driving tour of Cedar Creek to see the sleeping camps that soldiers rested in and the location of some of the 1864 counterattacks.
Cedar Creek is in Middletown, VA, 22645.
9- Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
Robert E. Lee was the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, and Arlington House is a Greek-style mansion that was the former home of Robert E. Lee.
Inside the Arlington House, you can learn about Lee’s life, accomplishments, and family.
Learn about the region’s history with the slave trade and the military efforts undertaken during the Civil War.
Arlington House is at 321 Sherman Dr, Fort Myer, VA 22211.
10- Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Chesapeake Bay Watershed is spread across six states and is a beautiful place to explore.
Discover this incredible coastline to your heart’s content while in Virginia.
Virginia Beach, Fossil Beach, Kiptopeke State Park, and First Landing State Park are some great beach areas to visit.
11- Civil War Defences of Washington D.C.
The Civil War Defences of Washington consists of 68 forts and 93 batteries armed by 800 cannons.
This national historic park shows the complex set of forts used throughout the Civil War.
Virginia’s Battery Kemble played a significant role in the Civil War and the protection of settlements in Virginia.
12- Colonial National Historic Park
At this historic park, you can see the Yorktown and Jamestown Battlefields.
These battlefields mark the location where the Revolutionary War came to a dramatic end.
This historical park can be seen from the 23-mile scenic road that connects Yorktown and Jamestown via the York and James Rivers.
13- Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers is a small town that has been the site of numerous historical events.
It was an important Civil War battlefield, the meeting place for the Niagara Movement, and in 1906 saw civil rights leaders gathered there.
Wander around the town, walk to ‘The Point’, the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, and climb up to Jefferson Rock.
This is a fantastic place to explore for the day when in Virginia.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is at 171 Shoreline Dr, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.
Jamestown is an important part of the Colonial National Historic Park, where you can get a feel of where the English colonisation of North America began.
The remains of the colony on display at Jamestown originate from 1607.
This colony belonged to the Virginia Indians, who were eventually pushed out of their homelands.
This was also where hundreds of Africans were brought as part of the slave trade.
There’s much to see and you’ll need to spend at least a couple of hours (or more) exploring this park and learning about the colonial history that defines much of Virginia’s past.
Jamestown National Historic Site is at 1368 Colonial Nat’l Historical Pkwy, Jamestown, VA 23081.
15- Cumberland Gap National Historic Park
The Cumberland Gap refers to the pass in the Cumberland Mountains that was used by pioneers.
The Cumberland Mountains are also part of the Appalachian Mountains.
By heading to this historic park, you too can walk where 300,000 pioneers passed during the Civil War.
Not only does this park offer key insight into Civil War history, but there are also spectacular views to be enjoyed.
Whether you set out on foot or drive the four-mile stretch from the visitor centre to Pinnacle Overlook, you’ll feel overawed.
National Seashore in Virginia
16- Assateague Island
Assateague Island National Seashore is a beautiful place to explore.
This 37-mile (59 km) barrier island covers both the states of Maryland and Virginia, with the southern part belonging to Virginia.
There are many activities to experience at Assateague Island, such as biking, camping, crabbing, hiking, horse riding, swimming and fishing.
Parkway in Virginia
17- Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles (754 km) through Virginia and North Carolina, connecting Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is an excellent road trip, and riding along Skyline Drive offers some of the most scenic vistas.
The National Bridge at milepost 61.6 is an excellent stop-off destination.
This naturally occurring bridge is made from solid rock and is quite spectacular.
National Monument in Virginia
18- Booker T Washington
Booker T Washington was an important member of the African American community.
He is considered the leading Black educator throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Having survived the cruelty of slavery, he later became the first principal of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School.
This national monument takes you around his birthplace, where you can learn more about this inspiring man.
Booker T Washington National Monument is at 12130 Booker T Washington Hwy, Hardy, VA 24101.
19- Fort Monroe
This national monument is certainly one for history enthusiasts, the USA’s largest stone fort and the only moat-encircled fort still active.
This fort has been used throughout history, and as a result, this is a fascinating place to discover more about local and national history.
At more than 400 years old, this fort reflects an iconic piece of American history.
Fort Monroe is at 41 Bernard Road, Lee’s Quarters, Building 17, Hampton, VA 23651.
20- George Washington Birthplace
Located in Westmoreland County in, Virginia, you can probably guess what this national monument is all about.
The national monument covers 550 acres of what was formerly the Popes Creek Plantation.
Popes Creek Plantation was the former ancestral home of the Washington family. It was also the birthplace of George Washington, America’s founding father.
The Memorial House Museum reflects 18th-century plantation life.
You can also head out on the Nature Trail or the Dancing Marsh Loop Trail. Why not bring or rent bikes and cycle around the park too?
George Washington Birthplace is at 1732 Popes Creek Rd, Colonial Beach, VA 22443.
National Historic Trail in Virginia
21- Captain John Smith Chesapeake
British explorer Captain John Smith played an important role in the establishment of America.
He began exploring the Chesapeake Bay back in 1608, and he documented the widespread American Indian communities who lived on the land.
Today this trail offers a slice of history alongside a stunning natural landscape.
Beautiful flora and fauna await you on your visit to this historic trail.
22- Overmountain Victory
This historic trail follows the footsteps of the Patriots during the 1780 Kings Mountain Battle.
You probably won’t be able to attempt the whole of this route on your visit as it’s 330 miles and goes through Tennessee, North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia, but you can give it a good go!
In Virginia, follow the Commemorative Motor Route, which has 87 miles of walkable pathways.
The Commemorative March is in September or October and this re-enactment is an excellent way to see what happened during the Patriot’s battle.
23- Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
The famous Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail is 560 miles (901 km) long, leading past battlefields and landmarks of the War of 1812.
Some of the best things you can see along the trail include the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum, the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum and Concord Point Lighthouse.
24- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
This historic trail marks the point where General Rochambeau’s army and General Washington’s Continental Army joined forces to fight against the British.
They followed the historic trail to Yorktown, where they secured independence for America.
This route starts in New Hampshire and ends in Virginia.
The trail connects several national parks, historic and scenic trails as well as cities.
National Military Park in Virginia
25- Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania
This national military park saw four key battles take place within its grounds – Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and the Wilderness Battle.
The Battle of Fredericksburg was one of the most catastrophic battles of the Civil War.
There were around 20,000 casualties in this clash alone.
Stop by the visitor centre for the opportunity to learn more about these historic battles.
Afterwards, visit the Confederate artillery and the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.
Memorial Parkway in Virginia
26- George Washington Memorial Parkway
This is the ultimate place for a scenic drive as it was designed specifically for a road trip.
The parkway isn’t just a random drive, it follows the sites that played an important part in American history and places that preserve natural wildlife habitats.
George Washington Memorial Parkway Headquarters is at 700 George Washington Memorial Parkway, McLean, VA 22101.
National Historic Site in Virginia
27- Maggie L Walker National Historic Site
Maggie L Walker dedicated her life to the advancements of the civil rights movement.
She played a pivotal role in the empowerment of African Americans and women throughout the period of the heinous Jim Crow laws.
When visiting this historical site, you can take a tour, which allows you to see the place she lived as well as learn about her incredible and selfless actions.
Maggie L Walker National Historic Site is at 600 N 2nd St, Richmond, VA 23219.
National Battlefield Park in Virginia
28- Manassas National Battlefield Park
This battle, also known as the First Battle of Bull Run, resulted in the death of thousands of soldiers.
This American Civil War battle commenced when around 35,000 troops marched from Washington D.C.
Hike the trails around the battlefield, which today are covered in trees and offer a peaceful escape, unlike during the Civil War.
Manassas National Battlefield Park is at 6511 Sudley Rd, Manassas, VA 20109.
29- Petersburg National Battlefield Park
This battlefield was an important ground in the American Civil War Siege of Petersburg and the site marks the longest military event of the entire Civil War.
The battle lasted nine and a half months and more than 70,000 people lost their lives.
The park has 13 different sites, including three informative visitor centres.
If you want to explore the battlefield, you’ll need to leave the day to see everything.
Start your journey at the Eastern Front Visitor Center off Virginia Route 36 to learn about the battlefield and pick up a map of the area.
Petersburg National Battlefield Eastern Front Unit Visitor Center is at 5001 Siege Rd, Petersburg, VA 23803.
30- Richmond National Battlefield Park
This battlefield was also of great significance during the Civil War and the park represents 13 American Civil War Sites.
The park has three visitor centres – the Cold Harbor Battlefield Visitor Center, Fort Harrison Visitor Center and the Tredegar Iron Works visitors’ centre.
The first of these visitor centres has a great display of Civil War artefacts and an informative exhibition.
At Fort Harrison, you can complete a self-guided 20-minute trail walk from the visitor centre.
You can also head to the American Civil War Museum at the Iron Works.
History buffs will love this fascinating museum.
Richmond National Battlefield Park’s Civil War Visitor Center is at 470 Tredegar St, Richmond, VA 23219.
If you love exploring national parks, you might like to read:
- Wyoming National Parks Guide
- Nevada National Parks Guide
- Michigan National Parks Guide
- 5 Maine National Parks
- New Hampshire National Parks Guide
- 25 National Parks In Canada
- 17 National Parks In Argentina
- Tasmania National Parks
- 20 National Parks In Mexico
- 18 New Mexico National Parks
- 18 National Parks In Massachusetts
- 17 Colorado National Parks
- 4 Indiana National Parks
- 5 Nebraska National Parks
- 30 Virginia National Parks
- 9 New Jersey National Parks
- 11 National Parks In Florida
- 8 Hawaii National Parks
- 6 National Parks In Idaho
- Texas National Parks Guide
- 9 California National Parks
- 11 National Parks In Georgia
- 7 National Parks In Missouri
- 5 National Parks in Minnesota
- 7 National Parks In Kentucky
- 8 National Parks In Montana
- 15 National Parks In Washington State
- 8 South Carolina National Parks
- 12 North Carolina National Parks
- 4 Wisconsin National Parks
- 20 National Parks In India