In 1864 Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton designated Gen. Robert E. Lee's 200-acre estate as the federal military cemetery. Now 624 acres divided into 70 sections, the grounds contain more than 300,000 gravesites, including those of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, guarded by the eternal flame, and President William Howard Taft. A short walk west leads to the Tomb of the Unknowns, where the changing of the guard ceremony occurs on the hour, the Spanish-American War Monument, and the USS Maine Mast Memorial.
This 1753 Palladian stone home was built by British merchant John Carlyle for his wife, Sarah Fairfax, and later became Gen. Edward Braddock's headquarters during the French and Indian War. Fifty-minute guided tours of the home include the master quarters, study, parlor, and bedroom. Visitors can tour a historic 18th-century boxwood parterre.
Robert E. Lee and George Washington worshipped in this Georgian red brick Episcopalian church, which has been in continuous use since 1773. Docents guide visitors through the original structure, which contains Washington's original pew and hand-blown glass windows depicting religious scenes.
Opened in 1749, the tavern provided the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with food, drink, and rest. Visitors today can dine in colonial rooms and choose from a variety of early American menu options, including Washington's favorite, glazed duckling. Exhibits inside the two adjacent buildings feature a pair of looking glasses and a portrait of English founder John Gadsby.
(703) 838-4242 (museum), (703) 548-1288 (restaurant)
Home to George Washington between 1759 and 1799, the 21-room Georgian mansion sits on a bluff overlooking the Potomac. Self-guided tours of the interior showcase original Washington family pieces, including George's dressing table and Martha's china tea service. Two new visitors facilities a quarter mile from the house contain 25 galleries and theaters, lifelike wax models, and personal items, such as family jewelry and clothing. The four-acre Pioneer Farm Site is a re-created working farm with the original 16-sided treading barn and brewery.
Originally part of President Washington's Mount Vernon estate, this Federal-style mansion was built by U.S. Capitol designer William Thornton as a wedding gift for George Washington's nephew, Maj. Lawrence Lewis, and his wife, Nelly Custis. Guided tours lead through the two levels of re-created 19th-century period rooms, which feature examples of Lewis's needle-work and his American Empire sofa.
Author of the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, which predated the Declaration of Independence, George Mason IV owned this 5,000-acre wheat and tobacco plantation and 1755 Georgian mansion from 1759 to 1792. The home contains intricate English Rococo carvings by Mason's indentured servant William Bernard Sears, a 1770 walnut bookcase, and 38-piece flatware set used by the Mason family, which visitors can see on a 30-minute guided tour. Self-guided tours of the grounds include the kitchen, dairy, and smokehouse, as well as historic gardens with original gravel walkways and a boxwood allee.
The 100,000-square-foot museum celebrates 234 years of U.S. Marine history in "Making Marines," "Legacy Walk," and eight other extensive galleries. Four important "Leatherneck" aircraft—a Curtiss "Jenny," two Corsair fighters from World War II, and an AV-8B Harrier "jump jet"—hang from the glass ceiling. A Korean War-era exhibit has a room chilled to mimic winter weather. Retired marines conduct three 90-minute tours daily that leave from the front entrance desk.
This 1837 Federal plantation home was used as a Confederate field hospital during both Manassas battles. Visitors can tour the home, see soldier graffiti on the walls and bloodstains on the floors, and learn about some famous patients treated here, including Robert E. Lee's cousin, Lt. Col. William Fitzhugh Lee. Self-guided tours of the surrounding grounds include a dairy, smokehouse, and slave quarters.
On July 21, 1861, the first major land battle of the Civil War occurred here at the junction of two rail lines. Thirty-two thousand Confederate troops under Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard defeated Gen. Irvin McDowell's 35,000 poorly trained Union soldiers in a brutal 10-hour battle witnessed by hundreds of picnickers from Washington D.C. The town again was a hot point from August 28 to 30, 1862, when Gen. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia overran Gen. Pope's Army of Virginia. The Henry Hill Visitors Center features a 45-minute film and battle map program.
Founded as a wheat plantation by John Carter in 1798, this 3,408-square-foot estate became the center of a flourishing agricultural enterprise, surrounded by a mill complex, and acres of vineyards and fields. The Greek Revival-style home features a library, breakfast room, and octagonal drawing room that contain the Carter family's original furniture and portraits. Visitors can also walk the terraced formal gardens of boxwood, lilies, irises, and roses.
In 1941 George C. Marshall and his wife, Katherine, purchased this Federal-style manse as a weekend retreat. Guided tours start with an 18-minute video on Marshall's military career, followed by a 45-minute walk through the restored home, which is furnished with Marshall's red leather chair, bed, and Chinese artwork.
Home to George Washington's sister, Betty, and her husband, Virginia merchant Fielding Lewis, their 1775 Georgian mansion has retained its lavishly appropriate period furnishings. Intricate plasterwork ceilings adorn most rooms, and the carved over-mantel in the dining room depicting Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Crow" was reportedly suggested by Washington. The Bissell Gallery at the visitors center houses some of Kenmore's original artwork. Visitors can also walk through the three-acre 18th-century gardens.
Based on drawings and archaeological evidence, Wakefield National Memorial Association has re-created the main house in which George Washington lived until age three when fire burned it down. Tours also visit several outbuildings, including the kitchen, and the Washington family burial ground.
This brick Georgian home, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, is now a 1,900-acre working farm. The cultivated fields surrounded by outbuildings include an 18th-century kitchen and recreated mill. Guided tours of the Grand House reveal American and English decorative art and elaborate furniture, such as the drop-leaf table. The visitors center features audiovisual exhibits on Lee family history.
Virginia's first governor, Patrick Henry, his wife, Sarah, and their six children lived in this colonial home between 1771 and 1778, harvesting tobacco on the 41-acre plantation. On a 30-minute tour, visitors can view an 1820 map, a Charles Peale Polk portrait of George Washington, and period restored rooms.
Encompassing four major Civil War battlefields—Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Wilderness, and Chancellorsville—this 8,374-acre military park contains a visitors center at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, shelters with informational material staffed by park historians, and Historic Ellwood and Chatham Manor, the latter having served as the Union headquarters and hospital. Audio guides for driving tours of all the battlefields are available for purchase in the visitors centers.
(540) 373- 6122 (Fredericksburg), (Chancellorsville)
Thomas Jefferson designed the University of Virginia because "it is safer to have the whole people respectably enlightened than a few in a high state of science and the many in ignorance." He situated 10 pavilions around a common area known as "the Lawn," each containing a classroom on the first floor and the professors' living quarters upstairs. The campus, opened in 1825 to 123 students, also included a library housed inside a three-story Palladian Rotunda inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Free guided tours of the Rotunda and Lawn are offered daily.
Founding father Thomas Jefferson spent half his life building and modifying Monticello, his 43-room mountaintop Palladian masterpiece, with its 6,700-volume library and elegant, columned Southwest Portico. Visitors can book a 30-minute guided tour of the house's first floor and a 45-minute walking tour of Mulberry Row, home to the more than 150 slaves who operated the 5,000-acre plantation. A new visitors center displays interactive exhibits on Jefferson's transformational ideas on liberty and a bronze model of the plantation.
(434) 984- 9822
Built in 1784 as a country inn, the tavern building was relocated to Charlottesville in 1927. Visitors can tour a meeting room, smoke house, root cellar, and ladies' parlor. A log cabin dining room serves a Midday Fare colonial meal. Costumed interpreters give interactive tours during which visitors can play period games, such as Shut the Box, and dance an 18th-century reel.
America's fifth president, James Monroe, built his family estate two and a half miles from Jefferson's Monticello in 1799. The 30-minute tour of the farmhouse leads through Monroe's bedchamber and study, containing a Louis XVI desk and other 19th-century mahogany furniture designed by Duncan Phyfe, a well-known Scottish woodwork craftsman. Visitors can also explore ornamental gardens and plantation grounds that feature a restored 18th-century slave quarters and overseer's cottage. The 535-acre site hosts craft demonstrations and summer music festivals.
Apart from his two presidential terms, James Madison and his wife, Dolley, lived in this 22-room manor house, which is currently under restoration. The visitors center features Madison portraits, the Madison/Monroe flintlock pistols, and a 10-minute video presentation, while the education center contains the exhibit "James Madison: Architect of the Constitution and Bill of Rights." Hour-long guided tours take visitors through the manor home, while self-guided audio tours lead visitors throughout the 2,650-acre grounds, including a visit to the two-acre Annie duPont formal gardens.
(540) 672-2728 x140
Although the prominent Randolph family built this plantation in the early 18th century, it is largely remembered as the boyhood home of President Thomas Jefferson. Self-guided tours of the grounds include the one-room schoolhouse in which Jefferson studied math. Sixty-minute guided tours of the home start in the parlor and provide overviews of the plantation's residents, architecture, and furnishings.
High on bluffs overlooking the rapids of the James River, this 135-acre cemetery was designed in 1847 by Philadelphia architect John Notman to commemorate the spot where Capt. Christopher Newport planted a wooden cross weeks after settling Jamestown in 1607. Historical walking tours guide visitors to the graves of Virginia's favorite sons, including Presidents Tyler and Monroe and Confederate leader Jefferson Davis.
Virginia's first plantation, founded by English settler Edward Hill in 1613, has been home to 11 generations of Hills and Carters, including Gen. Robert E. Lee, and still operates as a private working farm. Thirty-minute tours of the Georgian home focus on its unusual three-story walnut "flying staircase" and Queen Anne forecourt. Original out-buildings on the plantation grounds include a stable, smokehouse, and dovecote.
In 1726 Benjamin Harrison IV, grandfather of future President William Henry Harrison, built his 1,000-acre plantation on the site of North America's first Thanksgiving celebration. Although occupied by armies during the Revolutionary and Civil wars, the estate remained intact as the family seat and served as the birth-place of President Harrison in 1773. Visitors can watch a 10-minute video on the plantation's history in the museum, take a 45-minute guided tour of the Georgian manor whose great rooms are furnished with 18th-century antiques, and walk among the boxwood flower gardens planted on five terraces cut into the bank of the James River.
In 1842 President John Tyler purchased the 18th-century Walnut Grove and renamed it for the forest in which Robin Hood had operated. During his 20-year residence, Tyler added a colonnade that connected the main house with its 19th-century Greek Revival-style kitchen, along with a series of porches, pilasters, and cornices. Descendants of Tyler still occupy the home, but guided tours of the 300-foot-long house, currently the longest wooden frame house in the United States, are available by calling ahead.
Housed within the original walls of the 1861 Tredegar Gun Factory on the Richmond riverfront, this new center offers interactive exhibits on the Civil War, including a film outlining the causes of the war. Displays explore the lives of common infantrymen, antislavery advocates, and northern industrial workers. The center also contains a large collection of photographs, uniforms, and armaments.
Designed in 1785 by Thomas Jefferson, who modeled it after the Roman temple Maison Carree in Nimes, France, this newly renovated building continues to serve as the state legislative center. Seven marble busts of Virginia-born presidents, including James Monroe and Zachary Taylor, are located in the rotunda as well as a life-size Houdon statue of George Washington. The Old Hall of the House of Delegates, where Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason by Chief Justice John Marshall, features intricately carved woodwork and a 1938 English silver mace.
Located in downtown Richmond, the 1812 Wickham house now serves as a museum that features 10 displays on the city's history, including "Settlement to Streetcar Suburbs" and the Edward V. Valentine sculpture studio.
The fourth chief justice's 1790 brick Federal-style home remains one of the last buildings from the colonial period that still stands within downtown Richmond. Forty-five-minute guided tours take visitors through Marshall's law office, bedchamber, and dining room, which contain the original porcelain service. The 18th-century garden features an assortment of flowers and herbs such as spring irises, summer perennials, and fall asters.
This 100-square-mile park encompasses 13 different sites related to four major campaigns, including the 1864 Overland and 1864—65 Richmond-Petersburg actions, where Grant and Lee clashed for the first time after three years of conflict. The visitors center at Cold Harbor Battlefield features an electric map, which narrates the 13-day battle. A self-guided two-mile walking trail at Malvern Hill winds past historical markers and Civil War-era cannons.
Lasting from June 1864 to March 1865, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's nine-month assault on Petersburg, the strategic Confederate supply hub 25 miles south of Richmond, was the longest siege in American warfare, exhausting Gen. Robert E. Lee's ragged troops and forcing his surrender at Appomattox. Today the 2,646-acre park contains Grant's headquarters at City Point, where Abraham Lincoln visited shortly before his assassination, and the Crater Battlefield, now a 30-foot-deep, 80-foot-wide depression left from an attempt by Union army engineers to break the Confederate defenses by detonating explosives underneath enemy lines. Visitors can tour a replicated siege encampment and Fort Steadman, the location of the last Confederate offensive in the war. The Eastern Front visitors center features exhibits on siege history and extensive displays of period uniforms, medical kits, cannon balls, and swords.
This 422-acre living history site contains eight museums and historic buildings, including the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier and the 1812 Tudor Hall Plantation. Park rangers offer a "Lay of the Land" guided tour of the plantation and an interpretive walk through the Breakthrough Battlefield, the spot at which Grant finally drove through Lee's defenses at Petersburg. Open to visitors are the Field Quarter, which separated homes of slaves from the former headquarters of Confederate Gen. James Lane at the Banks House. A 45-seat theater located at the Battlefield Center showcases a multimedia presentation on the April 2, 1865, battle.
On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in the parlor of Wilmer McLean's house, now a national park facility and open for self-guided tours. Adjacent is the Appomattox Court House, which houses the two-floor visitors center and contains artifacts and informational panels documenting the buildup to the April 9th surrender. Two slide programs are shown at the 70-seat theater, located next to the visitors center. The park also includes 25 other period structures.
Not far from the original Jamestowne site lies this living history park, which contains a reconstructed 1607 fort, an armory, church, and Powhatan Indian village. A 30,000-square-foot museum exhibits educational panels, films, and 17th-century muskets, swords, and Indian armaments, as well as artifacts from the African slave trade. Costumed interpreters operate throughout the settlement. Visitors can climb aboard the fully operational 17th-century reproduction vessels Discovery, Godspeed, and Susan Constant, docked onsite.
The remains of the 1607 fort, England's first permanent colony in the New World, sits on a 22-acre island in the James River. A new 7,500-square-foot "Archaearium" enables visitors to look through special viewers and see a virtual 17th-century landscape. Some of the more than 1 million artifacts recovered from the site, including tools and musical instruments, are also on view. On the grounds, visitors can see the ruins of the first glass furnace in North America, as well as a 1690s brick church. Costumed interpreters guide living history tours of the site in the summer.
Chartered by King William III and Queen Mary II of England in 1693, this state university is the second oldest of its kind in the nation, as well as the alma mater of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. General admission tours take two hours and explore the founding of the school and its historic structures, such as the 1695 Sir Christopher Wren Building, designed by the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.
Eighty-eight 18th-century structures crowd historic Colonial Williamsburg's 301 acres, including the Governor's Palace, where Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson worked; Bassett Hall, the former home of John D. Rockefeller Jr; and the King's Arms Tavern, where Revolutionary elites dined. Great Hopes Plantation, a living history reproduction of a southern tobacco farm, features dramatic and interactive presentations on the African American slave experience. Themed walking tours and special programs include "Historic Trades," a look into 20 types of 18th-century trades, and "Revolutionary City," which explores life in Williamsburg during the American Revolution. Several advance pass options are available for purchase online.
This 25,000-square-foot museum examines the successful patriot siege of British forces at Yorktown, the Revolutionary War's decisive final battle. The "Witness to Revolution" gallery presents 10 primary-source war accounts, while the "Yorktown's Sunken Fleet" exhibit features artifacts from the Betsy, sunk during the siege. Costumed interpreters fire muskets and tend to crops in an outdoor Continental army encampment and 1780s farm.
On October 19, 1781, Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered his British army to American and French troops under Gen. George Washington after unsuccessfully trying to establish a British port at Yorktown. The Encampment and Battlefield Road tours pass through original redoubts and Washington's headquarters. The visitors center features a 16-minute film and a reconstructed section of a gun deck.
This 1769 colonial plantation served as a training ground during the War of 1812 and later as a Confederate hospital. Valued for its onsite freshwater spring, visitors can explore a Civil War-era battlefield and cemetery and take a 30-minute guided tour through the home, which has been restored to its 1862 appearance, complete with period furniture and a reproduction of former owner Humphrey Harwood Curtis's doctor's office.
Virginian tobacco planter Richard D. Lee completed this Italianate mansion in 1859 only three years before Confederate Gen. John Magruder seized it for his headquarters during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Thirty-minute guided tours lead visitors through seven period rooms furnished with 19th-century decorations.
As a lieutenant in the Federal Company of Engineers, Robert E. Lee helped to supervise this fort's final three years of construction in 1835, although the site's earliest fortification dates back to 1609 and the settling of the Jamestown colony. The fort's imposing six-sided ramparts rise above the only moat remaining in the United States, protecting the entrance to Hampton Roads in the Civil War. Inside, visitors can explore casemates and bombproof chambers that once contained the cell where Confederate president Jefferson Davis was imprisoned for treason after the war. Ninety-minute guided tours lead through military exhibits, ramparts, and the Chapel of the Centurion, the Army's oldest wooden structure still in use for religious services.
Sitting on a five-acre manmade island in the Chesapeake Bay, formerly known as Rip-Raps, the fort controlled the entrance to the harbor of Hampton Roads and the James River during the Civil War. A passenger ferry, Miss Hampton II, transports visitors from the Booker T. Washington Bridge to the island, where interpreters discuss the crucial role played by the fort during the war. Visitors can climb through open ramparts and view the bay and Virginia coast.
www.virginia.org/site/description.asp?attrid=12149 (757) 727-1102
The only harbor fort remaining of the 19 authorized by George Washington in 1794, it protected Norfolk during the War of 1812 and Civil War. The four-acre site includes the "Black Hole" dungeon, where soldiers awaited court-martial, officers' quarters bearing Confederate graffiti, a restored carpenter's shop, a navy magazine with four-foot brick walls, and a guardhouse.
Norfolk's maritime science museum features exhibits spanning more than two centuries of naval history in the strategic Hampton Roads region. Moored on the grounds of the museum, the 887-foot, 20th-century battleship Wisconsin's "Wisky Walk" has displays that explore its three tours of duty from 1943 to 1991 and such artifacts as a 16-inch shell.
Founded in 1767, America's oldest and largest shipyard peaked with more than 43,000 workers during World War II. The museum features exhibits of 19th-century model ships, military artifacts, and displays highlighting the history of Portsmouth. Visitors can board and explore the 1915 lightship Portsmouth, which served as a navigational guide along Hampton Roads for 48 years.
Sitting on a 550-acre park, this 60,000-square-foot museum celebrates sea-faring history with extensive galleries, displays, and exhibits featuring more than 35,000 international maritime artifacts, including navigational instruments and maps. Visitors can also see a full-scale replica of the Civil War ironclad at the USS Monitor Center. The “Defending Seas” gallery contains five re-created sections of U.S. Navy military ships, including the helm of an Axis submarine. The Crabtree Collection of 2,000 miniature ships illustrates the evolution of boat-building.
Patrick Henry, the Revolutionary War patriot who became governor of Virginia, lived here from 1794 to 1799. The simple home, reconstructed on the original site using paintings and plans, is furnished with authentic 18th-century pieces and features a portion of Henry's original law office. Visitors can also see a carriage house, smoke-house, slave cabin, and the kitchen and cook's quarters, in addition to a museum that has exhibits on the man who proclaimed, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
In 1806 Thomas Jefferson laid the foundation for this unusual octagonal Palladian house, which he designed as a personal idealistic architectural delight and a refuge from bustling Monticello. In 40-minute guided tours, visitors can travel through the dining room and bedrooms, later exploring the kitchen and lower wing on a self-guided tour.
Author and statesman Booker T. Washington spent the first nine years of his life as a slave on James Burroughs's 207-acre tobacco farm. Visitors can see the reconstructed plantation buildings, including a slave cabin, smokehouse, and kitchen, on 30-minute guided and self-guided tours.
This four-story, sandstone and limestone mansion in Big Stone Gap was built in 1888 for Virginia Attorney General Rufus Ayers, who hoped to exploit the area's rich iron ore and coal deposits. The museum features exhibits on the pioneer stories of westward migration and life during the early boom and bust era of the late 1880s.
(276) 523- 1322
Eastern Woodland Indians lived in the Wolf Creek Valley during the early 13th century. Visitors can tour the excavated original site as well as a 24-acre re-created village, featuring wigwams, a lodge, and a museum. Costumed guides demonstrate how these Indians lived and worked.
Built by Revolutionary War veteran William Preston in 1773, this colonial plantation home served as a nexus of the area's social and political scene for nearly 200 years. On 60-minute guided tours, visitors can see the winter kitchen, children's bedroom, school-room, and parlor.
Consisting of the Great Wagon Road, Fincastle Turnpike, and Carolina Road, this 62-mile section of historic Wilderness Road winds over the migration routes used by European settlers as they moved south during the late 18th century. Stops along the way include the Vinton History Museum, featuring World War II memorabilia; Gish's Mill, built in 1838 by early area settler David Gish; the Blue Ridge Institute, featuring exhibits on folk heritage; and the Roaring Run Furnace, which was used to make iron ingots and stoves.
In 1750 George Washington first surveyed this 20-story limestone natural feature, which would become one of the oldest tourist destinations in America. Thomas Jefferson acquired the site in 1774. Visitors can tour through the Monacan Indian Living History Village, wax museum, toy museum, and the Natural Bridge caverns, then take a quarter-mile walk to the bridge.
This 50,000-square-foot museum features 11 exhibit spaces on the art and history of the Shenandoah Valley, including the R. Lee Taylor miniatures gallery and the Julian Wood Glass Jr. collection, which has several of Gilbert Stuart's oil portraits. Visitors can also tour the 1794 Glen Burnie House and the Chinese, parterre, and herb gardens on the six-acre grounds.
Gen. Philip Sheridan's heroic counterattack at Middletown on the grounds of the Belle Grove plantation on October 19, 1864, secured a great Union victory—and built political capital for President Lincoln that helped him win reelection. Visitors can go on 45-minute tours of the 1797 manor, grounds, and garden.
In May 1864, 257 Virginia Military Institute cadets ranging between ages 15 and 21 repelled Gen. Franz Sigel's veteran line of Union troops at New Market. Visitors can explore the Hall of Valor Museum on the institute's grounds, see Civil War uniforms, weapons, and photographs, and watch the 45-minute Emmy Award-winning film, Field of Lost Shoes.
Six working farms dating from the late 1600s are spread across this 296-acre, living history museum. Structures include a fully functional Irish forge brought over from the Old World and two relocated 19th-century Virginia farms. Visitors can observe or assist costumed interpreters as they cook, garden, and work in the fields.
This three-story refurbished chateau-style mansion houses a research library and seven exhibit galleries that document Wilson's life before and during his two terms as president. The adjacent 1846 Greek Revival manse, the birthplace of the 28th president, features his original wooden crib and is open for self-guided tours.
Located at the southern end of the Virginia Military Institute's parade ground, this castellated Gothic Revival museum opened in 1964 to honor its most famous alumnus with a "Soldier of Peace" gallery, documenting his evolution from a young lieutenant to five-star general during and after World War II. Exhibits also include uniforms, a 1942 jeep, a 27-minute narrated map on World War II, and the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Marshall for his postwar work rehabilitating Europe.
While tenured as a professor of artillery tactics and physics at Virginia Military Institute from 1859 until 1861, Thomas Jonathan Jackson and his wife, Mary Anna Morrison, lived in this two-story brick colonial home. A visit opens in the front hall with a video on Jackson's day-to-day life in Lexington and follows with a 40-minute guided tour through the kitchen, parlor, study, bedroom, and dining room.
This museum houses one of the largest collections of railroad cars, engines, and associated artifacts in the country. Visitors can see Hocking Valley Railway engineer drawings, valuation maps, and rolling stock collection pieces including an F-7 diesel locomotive.