Virginia: 10 must-sees from the beach to the mountains

To the point Much more than just a seaside destination, from the beach to the mountains, discover 10 must-see places in Virginia.

Much more than just a seaside destination, Virginia offers a host of unforgettable experiences on its majestic roads. From the beach to the mountains, discover these 10 must-see places.

Located on the east coast of the United States, Virginia is a state rich in history, culture and varied landscapes. For a memorable road trip directly from Canada or from one of its cities, Virginia promises exciting discoveries at every stage of your journey.

1. Go swimming in Virginia Beach

Miles of beaches await visitors in Virginia Beach. Untouched or crowded, they offer a variety of landscapes and experiences, including swimming and surfing. It’s best to stay directly in a beachfront hotel, like the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort, for quick access to the ocean. In addition to swimming and lounging on the splendid white sandy beaches stretching for some fifty kilometers, many joggers and walkers choose the boardwalk to stretch their legs. The famous 5 km seafront promenade offers breathtaking views of the coastline, punctuated by stops to indulge in one of its fine restaurants, including Waterman’s Surfside Grille.

Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

2. Kayak with dolphins in Virginia Beach

Enjoying the beach and the sun isn’t Virginia Beach’s only attraction! To soak up the seaside atmosphere of this popular resort, you can also meet the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in their natural environment. In Chesapeake Bay, these magnificent marine mammals swim in packs and can be seen leaping out of the water just a few miles away on guided kayak tours offered by Chesapean Outdoors. No need for any past experience, as sit-on-top recreational kayaks are used.

02-Dauphins- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Image libre de droits

3. Immerse yourself in America's past at Colonial Williamsburg

As you leave Virginia’s sunny beaches and head up into the mountains, one place in particular is worth a stop. This is Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum. This former colonial capital from 1699 to 1780 has been completely rebuilt and renovated to match its origins. Its pedestrian streets allow you to stroll past costumed actors and splendidly restored historical houses.

03-Colonial-Williamsburg- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

4. Sip a good cup of coffee followed by a tour of Yorktown

Still in Virginia’s historic triangle, the town of Yorktown also played a decisive role in the American War of Independence. It’s also well worth a visit for a unique experience combining history and architectural charm. Before venturing down its picturesque streets to discover preserved eighteenth-century buildings and the Victory of Liberty Monument, the ideal place to stop is the Mobjack Coffee Roasters and Petite Café. This charming café, tucked away in the 1726 Cole Diggs House, serves succulent weekly-roasted coffees and is a veritable landmark and meeting place for locals.

04-Yorktown- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

5. Take a romantic sunset cruise on the James River

Soak up American colonial history on a peaceful, romantic cruise to Jamestown, which completes Virginia’s historic triptych. Jamestown Discovery Boat Tours offers boat trips on the James River, especially at sunset, to take in the surrounding scenery while exploring the historic sites in this area, which was the first permanent settlement established by the English in 1607.

05-Croisiere- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

6. Explore Charlottesville's Downtown Mall

Charlottesville boasts the longest pedestrian and shopping street in the United States. This street is commonly referred to as the Downtown Mall and is packed with independent boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and bookstores. Lined with oak trees, this brick-paved street is also home to the famous Paramount Theater, inaugurated in 1931.

06-Charlottesville- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

7. Visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's plantation

The third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence lived at the Monticello plantation, which can be visited today. This historic pearl, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is accessible on a guided tour of its enchanting rooms and gardens opening onto rolling green hills.

07-Monticello- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

8. Wine tasting in a vineyard

Monticello lies in the heart of Virginia’s wine region, renowned for its fine vineyards and grape varieties. To get an idea of their quality, tastings are offered at a number of wineries, including Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard, which boasts a surprisingly welcoming, cabinet-of-curiosities-style setting. The estate’s wines, with characteristics closer to those of Europe than California, can be enjoyed on the terrace or in the tasting room, accompanied by dishes to share.

08-Vignoble- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

9. Drive through Shenandoah National Park

Just a half-hour’s drive from Charlottesville and only 120 km from Washington, Shenandoah National Park is a mountainous jewel of beauty. Rising to the top of the Appalachian Mountains, it extends over a large part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While it includes numerous hiking trails, it’s also easy to cross thanks to the legendary Skyline Drive. This 170 km scenic route offers spectacular mountain views from one of 75 lookouts. Autumn remains the most popular season for this trip, to soak up the vibrant colors of the foliage at this time of year.

09-Shenandoah- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

10. Discover the Luray Caverns

Formed millions of years ago, the Luray Caverns are also a must-see in Virginia. These limestone caves feature an elaborate network of stalactites, stalagmites and breathtaking rock formations. They are explored through striking plays of light and mysterious mirror effects. It also features a unique attraction. The Great Stalacpipe Organ uses stalactites to produce music.

10-Cavernes-Luray- Virginia Beach
Crédit photo : Nathalie Katinakis

Save with points

When it comes to loyalty programs in Canada, Marriott Bonvoy is the most attractive for free hotel nights.

The Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort is ideally located, with breathtaking ocean views and direct beach access.

To earn Marriott Bonvoy points, you must be a member of the loyalty program. Simply visit the Marriott website to register.

There are two Marriott Bonvoy credit cards issued by American Express that allow you to collect points in the blink of an eye.

For the flight, you can use Aeroplan points to purchase your ticket. In economy class, the flight starts at 10,000 points for a one-way trip between Montreal and Norfolk, according to the points predictor.



How do I calculate and earn Aeroplan Points on flights? Aline gives you her tips in her guide.

Bottom Line

Pristine beaches, fascinating historical heritage, awe-inspiring nature, picturesque towns… Virginia embodies a mosaic of enriching and diverse experiences, including these 10 must-sees that give a great overview of the many attractions of this captivating state.

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