50 States in 50 Days: Day 17 Virginia

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In honor of me having achieved my goal of visiting all 50 US States, each day for the next 50 days, I will post a picture of somewhere I have visited in each state and write a paragraph or two about my experience. There is so much to see in every one of them, so I am just selecting one of my best memories,. 

I have always said if you want to understand present-day America, visit Washington D.C.  But if you’re going to learn about America’s past, cross the Potomac and go to Virginia. Four of the first five Presidents were born here. The state was a battleground in the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War. Virginia is an American History nerds dream come true. Even if history is not necessarily your thing, there are miles of beaches, mountain hiking trails, and beautiful architecture like in Alexandria’s old town filled with shops, restaurants, and nightlife.

Alexandria is a suburb of Washington D.C. on the Virginia side. Much of the downtown has been restored and retains a colonial times look to it. This is the city’s town hall.

Much that there is to see in Virginia is an easy day trip from D.C. You can visit the homes of Presidents George Washington (1st),  Thomas Jefferson (3rd) James Madison (4th) and James Monroe (5th).  You can visit Arlington National Cemetery and historic Alexandria, several Civil War Battlefields,  or take an afternoon strolling through the Blue Ridge Mountains and still be back in Washington in time for dinner.


The Iwo Jima Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. War dead from every armed conflict since the Civil War is buried here as well as Presidents Kennedy and William Howard Taft. A drive through these grounds is a moving experience and helps one remember the price paid to preserve this nation.



Monticello near Charlottesville was Thomas Jefferson’s home. He designed the house personally, and his genius is widely displayed. He was a creative and intellectual powerhouse.

As a child, I was a huge admirer of our third president. As I got older and began to read more about him, I began to have a more balanced understanding of the man and both the things he did that we worthy of admiration and his not so good behavior regarding slavery and his fathering of slave children with Sally Hemings.


Some of my favorite memories of Virginia include Mount Vernon,  driving through Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive with my family. Marveling at the Battleships in Norfolk, spending a quiet afternoon by myself at Arlington National Cemetery and finally getting to see Monticello. The image on the back of the nickel turns out not to be actual size.


Mount Vernon was the home of the nation’s first president George Washington. It was a plantation and was maintained by slaves. While we can and should honor those who established and built this country, we shouldn’t overlook things they deliberately chose to disregard. Yes they were products of their times, but they were creating a new state, all things were possible. I wish it hadn’t taken a bloody war to settle something that should have been resolved decades before.


Manassas was the location of one of the Civil War’s most sanguinary conflicts. The park guides are very knowledgeable in explaining the battle.


                                             Further South to Tidewater

The area around Virginia Beach and Norfolk are known as the Tidewater region. Several large cities are glommed together in a vast metropolitan area including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Hampton. Near here you will also find the restored colonial town of Williamsburg, the original English settlement at Jamestown, and Yorktown the place where the British surrendered the colonies to the Americans. If you tire of history, there is also the Busch Gardens Theme Park with roller coasters and various amusement rides.


Williamstown was the colonial capital of Virginia before Richmond. Much of the city is restored, and it is common to see reenactors in period costume.


Jamestown was the first successful English settlement although surviving was difficult and malaria was rampant. The park goes to great lengths to accurately portray life on the colony.


The shipyards at Norfolk are a great way to see some the U.S.’ Navy’s largest vessels.




North and West of Washington are the Shenandoah Valley and the falls of the Potomac River. Both are great for outdoor excursions. Also, close by is the city of Winchester which was the home of singer Patsy Cline and is the site of her grave.


The falls have hiking trails and have several lovely vistas for photographs.


Patsy Cline’s home was as down to earth and unpretentious as she was.
Fans often leave pennies on her headstone. I wasn’t able to get an explanation as to why. Her husband Charlie lived for another 51 years after his wife’s death and instrumental in keeping her legacy living well beyond her passing. She was only 30 at the time of her death but had already indelibly changed country music. She is considered by many to have been one of the finest singers of all time- in any genre.


Skyline drive at Shenandoah National Park drives along the ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has captivating views in any season.

Many International and even domestic travelers who spend much time visiting the United States make a point of coming To Washington, and when you do, make sure to include Virginia on your itinerary. You will be blessed with a glimpse of the people and places that were the impetus of where we are today as a nation.







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