On an equal footing with Pennsylvania and Massachusetts - the two other colonies who led the way for independence from Great Britain - Virginia was the site of the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607.
The colony also produced the young country's first political firebrands and leaders, including Patrick Henry, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. A century later, Virginia also became a flash point for the Civil War when Richmond was made the capital of the Confederacy.
Today, Virginia vacationers are attracted to the state's many historical associations such as the home of George Washington at Mount Vernon, the home of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, and a recreated Colonial Williamsburg. Right next door, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is another top summer vacation destination featuring thrill rides and entertainment for kids of all ages.
For tourists entering from the North, getting into Virginia is a thrill ride in itself as you traverse a modern feat of engineering in the 17-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel consisting of two bridges and two mile-long tunnels spanning Chesapeake Bay.
Top tourist attractions in Virginia include thrill rides at Busch Gardens Williamsburg (left); stunning
scenery at Shenandoah National Park
(middle) and the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach.
Besides the Norfolk Naval Station - and fun in the sun in and around Virginia Beach - there are so many other attractions for kids and
families it's hard to know where to begin!
For a fun educational adventures, start with Colonial Williamsburg for visits to the shoemaker, the blacksmith, and other period demonstrations by authentically costumed performers.
Along with multimedia presentations, live entertainment and patriotic street parades help make history come alive for grade schoolers and adults alike.
Also don't miss nearby Busch Gardens for another entire day of splashy fun featuring a water park, amusement park rides, animal exhibits, and a Sesame-Street themed area for toddlers. For more cool fun in Williamsburg, head over to Great Wolf Lodge Indoor Water Park for dip in the giant wave pool.
If you're passing Newport News, also plan for a full afternoon of fun at the Virginia Living Museum, offering a combination of museum, zoo and aquarium and featuring hands-on discovery centers, nature walks, butterfly house, and lots more to explore.
Moving inland to Central Virginia, there's more history to explore at beautiful Monticello, the home, garden and plantation of President Thomas Jefferson
offering a special kids tour that makes it both educational and entertaining. For an entire day (or two!) near Richmond,
also don't miss the very popular Paramount's Kings Dominion, the movie-themed amusement park with more than 200 rides, shows, and attractions.
More information about Virginia travel & tourism around the Web:
Virginia Is For Lovers: Visit Virginia - The official travel site including pictures, maps, information on major attractions in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake Bay, guides to bed & breakfast inns, hotels & restaurants, historic & cultural sites, wineries, driving tours, maps, event calendar.
Virginia Beach Vacation Information - Virginia's most sought after vacation destination, with information on the boardwalk and other major attractions, hotels, vacation apartments & condo rentals, dining guide, event calendar, photo gallery, FAQ, online forum & chat.