"b1bob personally carries you back to Ol' Virginny" Top 5 Page for this destination Virginia by b1bob
Virginia Travel Guide: 7,549 reviews and 17,999 photos
Many people assume that Virginia is a Mid-Atlantic or even a Northeastern state. Abandon that idea straightaway because that's not only geographically inaccurate, it's also culturally wrong. While the D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia have a distinct northeastern flavour, much of Virginia has more in common with North Carolina and other southern states than it does with Pennsylvania or New York (other Mid-Atlantic or Northeastern states). Virginia is very much a Southern state because Richmond was the capital of the nation called the Confederate States of America and the lion's share of major battles in that War of Northern Aggression were fought on Virginia soil. I hope these tips will be helpful to you. This is meant to be an overview of things to see and do in Virginia. Also, because the South isn't yet a VT destination, my Virginia page is a repository for cultural tips that are generically Southern.
Virginia has several distinct regions which are unique in terms of culture and livelihood:
The Eastern Shore, for many years was isolated from the rest of Virginia and had closer ties to Salisbury, Maryland than it did to Norfolk, Virginia. That was before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel opened in 1964. The Eastern Shore is made up of Accomac and Northampton counties and includes Tangier Island, one of the few places where an Elizabethan form of English is still spoken. The largest city (Cape Charles) has less than 10000 people (that's roughly 1/4 of the Eastern Shore's population). The rest are small fishing villages. The Eastern Shore's isolation makes it a good place to get away from the daily rush of the city.
Tidewater is a collection of large cities in Virginia's southeastern corner. These cities include Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Poquoson, and Newport News. Not only are seafood catches important here, but Tidewater is a key military base. In the early 1990s, the government had to decide between closing naval installations either here or in Charleston, South Carolina. Tidewater was spared because there was a series of tunnels whereas Charleston has a series of drawbridges which could be sabotaged more easily and strand the naval fleet in harbour. Virginia Beach and Chesapeake are more prosperous in general. Off the military base, Norfolk has typical urban problems. With the exception of the old town, Portsmouth is the poorest area of Tidewater. Suffolk, Newport News, and Hampton are mixed.
The Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck is a largely rural area south of the Potomac River, west of the Chesapeake Bay, east of the Richmond area, and north of Tidewater. It is in dispute by some whether Williamsburg is in this region or part of Tidewater. With the exception of Williamsburg and Yorktown, this area is largely rural. Its economy depends on fishing from the Potomac, Rappahannock, and James Rivers and tourism not only in Williamsburg, but also people rent or own weekend or holiday homes along the rivers and the bay. The Middle Peninsula is everything between Yorktown and the Rappahannock River. The Northern Neck is the smaller peninsula between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers.
Also, southwest Virginia is a good place to go to watch the autumn foliage and is less crowded than Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Valley. Prominent cities and towns include Roanoke, Salem, Covington, Clifton Forge, Radford, Galax, Bristol, Abingdon, Bluefield, and Norton.
The Richmond area is a largely urban area surrounding the city of Richmond. The city is the one urban area in the region. It has a central business district that includes offices of major banks. It is still a vibrant historical centre with the State Capitol and many museums including the White House and Museum of the Confederacy. There is also Monument Avenue with statues of many Confederate war heroes and an oddly placed statue of Arthur Ashe (a famous tennis player). The suburbs comprise the once rural counties of Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield. As the city loses population due to its high tax and urban problems, the surrounding counties are growing smartly.
Northern Virginia more closely resembles the Northeastern United States than any part of Virginia. The cities of Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church have always been close-in suburbs of Washington, DC. Fairfax County, like the suburban counties in the Richmond area, used to be largely rural and Fairfax was once known as "Washington DC's country cousin." Now, Fairfax County has nearly twice as many folks as the nation's capital. The suburbs are sprawling south and west. Witness the growth of Spotsylvania, Stafford, Prince William, and Loudoun counties. There used to be an expanse of rural area between the Richmond area and the core of Northern Virginia, but the two suburban areas will soon meet.
The Shenandoah Valley and Foothills are located north of Roanoke and Southside, south of the Northern Virginia suburbs, and west of the Richmond area. Some prominent cities are Winchester, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, Buena Vista, and Lexington. This area of Virginia is a popular summer destination as it is a little cooler in the higher elevations than in the cities in Tidewater, Central and Northern Virginia. Apples are one cash crop in this region and Winchester has an Apple Blossom Festival every year. Skyline Drive is a scenic route especially in autumn where people flock to watch the changing leaf colours. Also, there are the Luray Caverns, just Off Interstate 81 in Luray.
Southwest Virginia is the most rural and mountainous area in Virginia. It extends from the city of Roanoke and from Martinsville in the east all the way to Cumberland Gap where the states of Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky meet. Many parts of Southwest Virginia are closer geographically to Jackson, Mississippi than they are to Richmond, Virginia. Coal mining was, and still- to some degree- remains a prominent industry in some counties especially in the far west. Mount Rogers, Virginia's highest point, is located at the border of Grayson and Smyth counties.
Southside Virginia is a largely rural area which hugs the North Carolina border from Southampton County and the city of Franklin west to Pittsylvania County and the city of Danville. At first glance, Southside only seems like a collection of small rural towns which more closely resemble the Deep South than any other part of the state. However, in the eastern part- Southampton through to the city of Emporia- peanuts and cotton are the cash crops. West of that in the counties of Brunswick (the home of real Brunswick stew), Mecklenburg, Halifax, Charlotte, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward, and Nottoway grow tobacco. In many ways, Southside is the most beleaguered region of the state. First, the national crusade against tobacco is putting many farmers- some of whose families have grown the crop for 200+ years- out of business. Second, the infinitissemal minority of those with peanut allergies have abnormal political clout to banish peanuts from school lunchrooms and airplanes and that puts pressure on peanut farmers. Third, Tidewater's population growth and limited water resources led them to get the state to build a pipeline from Virginia Beach to Lake Gaston to siphon however much water they need. Lake Gaston and Buggs Island Lake are two premier tourist attractions in the region. Prominent cities and towns include Franklin, Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, South Hill, Clarksville, South Boston, Farmville, and Danville.
For more specific information on cities and towns, click on those individual sites.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED ABOUT VIRGINIA
- Possums will sleep in the road with their feet in the air.
- There are 5000 types of snakes and 4998 of them live in Virginia.
- There are 10000 types of spiders. All 10000 live in Virginia, plus a couple that nobody has seen before.
- Squirrels will eat anything.
- Unknown critters love to dig holes under tomato plants.
- Raccoons will test your crop of melons and let you know when they're ripe.
- If it grows it sticks; if it crawls it bites.
- A tractor is NOT an all-terrain vehicle. they do get stuck.
- "Onced" and "twiced" are words.
- It is not a shopping cart, it is a buggy.
- Fire ants consider your skin a picnic.
- People actually grow and eat okra.
- "Fixinto" is one word.
- There's no such thing as "lunch". There's "dinner" and then there's "supper".
- Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals, and you start drinking it when you're 2.
- "Backwards and forwards" means "I know everything about you".
- "Jeet" is actually a phrase meaning "Did you eat?"
YOU KNOW YOU'RE FROM VIRGINIA IF...
- You measure distance in minutes.
- You've ever had to switch from heat to air conditioning in the same day.
- You see a car running in a store parking lot no matter what time of year.
- You use "fix" as a verb. Example: I'm fixing to go to the store.
- All festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, grain, insect or animal.
- You carry jumper cables in you car for your OWN car.
- You only know 4 spices: salt, pepper, Texas Pete, and ketchup.
- The local newspapers cover national and international news on one page and six pages for local gossip and sport.
- You think the first day of deer season is a national holiday.
- You find 100° (38°C) "a little warm".
- You know all four seasons: almost summer, summer, still summer, and Christmas.
- Going to Wal-Mart is a favourite pastime known as "Goin' Walmartin'" or "Off to Wally World".
- You describe the first cool snap (below 70° or 21°C) as good pinto bean weather.
- Fried catfish is the other white meat.
- We don't have fire flies, we have "lightnin bugs".
- We don't have crayfish in the creeks, we have "crawdads" in the "crick".
- "Taters" are mandatory
- "Y'all" is a pronoun
- Chicken is fried, biscuits come w/gravy, sweet tea is the house wine.
- You never EVER disrespect your elders.
- Pros:The mountains and the sea are within a day's drive of each other.
- Cons:It can get extremely hot in summer and cold in winter.
- In a nutshell:There is something for everybody in Virginia.
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Written Jan 18, 2004
Written May 5, 2004
4th of July in Montpelier
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