Have we mentioned the Old Dominion (as the state is often called) also boasts more miles of the legendary Appalachian Trail than any other state, with a good chunk of it winding through the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park? Throw in 38 award-winning state parks, coastal marshes, sacred grounds, rushing waterfalls and endangered hemlock forests, and you’re only scratching the surface.
There aren’t but a few undeveloped beaches along the Atlantic left, so go find yourself one before it’s too late. False Cape State Park, tucked between Back Bay and the Atlantic, just south of Virginia Beach, still fits the bill. In summer, you can only get there by foot, boat or tram, but the old school journey makes those wild, untouched beaches and free-roaming ponies all the more divine.
On the more popular end of coastal fun, First Landing State Park offers over a mile of wide, clean, sandy beaches overlooking the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. Boardwalks cross over enormous dunes blanketed in sea oats, and you can peep massive ships as they cross in and out of the bay. Hikers and bikers can enjoy the popular 19-mile trail system that winds through the park; or dust the sand off and hit Cape Henry Lighthouse or the nearby Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
Northern Virginia is home to the magical Shenandoah National Park, which stretches more than a hundred miles along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Filled with sparkling waterfalls, lush hiking trails and Insta-worthy summits, the park boasts nearly 80,000 acres of designated wilderness to explore in myriad ways.
Need to give those gams a break? Skyline Drive offers just over 100 miles of scenic overlooks and picnic areas between Front Royal and Rockfish Gap. When you’re ready to move (or gallop) again, you can take a guided horseback ride to Edith Gap; kayak down the Shenandoah River; or hike Big Schloss.
History buffs who bike (is that a thing?) will go gaga for the new Virginia Capital Trail, a paved 52-mile trail that snakes along the historic Route 5 corridor from Williamsburg to Richmond, winding you through 400 years of history. Parking lots are scattered all along the path for those interested in tackling a smaller portion of the trail.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounding Roanoke, are a thrill seeker’s dream. Hikers may want to take a shot at the legendary Virginia Triple Crown, a bucket list hiking experience comprised of three climbs along the Appalachian Trail: Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs. You’ll want your camera handy for the iconic shot at Dragon’s Tooth, a rugged quartzite that spikes 35 feet into the air, but you’ll have to scramble up a steep 2.3 mile trail to get there.
Mountain bikers will find more then 60 miles of trails at Carvins Cove Natural Area Reserve, where more advanced riders can test their mettle at the alternately easy and impossibly steep (hello, 1000-foot descent) Dragon’s Back/North Mountain Loop. Tucked into the far southwest corner of the state, Spearhead Trails offers hundreds of miles of connecting trails in the heart of the Appalachia – and the rugged, mountainous terrain is a natural fit for ATV’s, side-by-sides and dirt bikes.