Vibrant Virginia A Guide To The American States Best Kept Secrets

From niche history to interactive art and from the great outdoors to southern fare, Virginia in the US is for lovers of the most diverse tastes. Here's a round-up of all the exceptional experiences the state offers
The vibrant streets of Alexandria, Virginia
The vibrant streets of Alexandria, Virginia

Living up to its tagline, Virginia most definitely is for lovers. However, the spectrum is vast from niche history to interactive art and from the great outdoors to southern fare, Virginia is for lovers of the most diverse tastes. Here's a round-up of all the power-packed state offers travellers.

For Lovers Of Science

Barely over half an hour from the American capital of Washington DC, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre&nbspis a dream come true for space fans. It showcases thousands of aviation and space artefacts and is home to the world's most famous space shuttle, Discovery. Walk through the one-of-its-kind collection of historic planes ranging from the first modes of flight in the world to iconic warplanes, and watch specialists repair and reconstruct these flying machines to help preserve them.

Go up the observation tower, have interactive in-person and virtual sessions with experts to satisfy your curiosity about all things space, and follow it up with a fun simulator ride- walk the moon's surface with a VR headset, or fly jet combat simulators. Finish off with a short film on the big screen, quite literally the massive five-stories-high IMAX theatre showcases large format films on flying, the cherry on the museum cake.

For Lovers Of Nature 

Amid its buzzing cities, world-class shopping centres, and towns that mimic Europe, the extensive Luray cave system is, quite literally, a wonder hidden deep in the bowels of Virginia. The largest cave system in the eastern part of the country takes one through three acres of narrow trails flanked by stalactites and stalagmites, past mammoth stone formations with delightful names, into cathedral-sized rooms, past the enchanting Dream Lake, and the world's largest musical instrument, the Great Stalacpipe Organ that makes stalactites sing by gently tapping them. The cave system is part of the Shenandoah Valley, which also consists of the Shenandoah National Park, perfect for nature and wildlife lovers who can choose to hike its many trails or drive through the stunning forest.  

For Lovers Of Food 

Touching the southern belt, the traditional food of Virginia is greatly influenced by the region, best sampled at the historic Michie Tavern&nbspnear Monticello that also doubled as a haven for political discussions in the 1800s. The family-run inn has been dishing out the best southern fare, from black-eyed peas to cornbread and fried chicken. In contrast to traditional fare, Virginia offers a variety of modern fine dining for global fare&mdashindulge in pan Asian food at Indo Chen&nbspby Hyatt in downtown Alexandria and great cocktails and sit-down dinners at the upscale Kismet, part of the many Indian eateries in the gastronomic state.

For a contemporary local experience, the Dairy Market&nbspmakes for the ideal option to eat and hang out. Pick from sushi platters to ramen bowls and from tiramisus to gelatos in this market housed in a historic, restored building. No visit to Virginia is complete without sampling its apple cider or exploring the Monticello wine trail. The Blenheim winery produces some of the state's finest, with the added bonus of certain labels designed by the owners, the fames Dave Matthews Band.   

For Lovers Of History   

Dotted with historic sites and monuments, Virginia has plenty for those with a keen interest in history. The best of the lot are Monticello&nbspand Mount Vernon, both World Unesco Heritage Sites. Home of Thomas Jefferson, who penned America's Declaration of Independence and founded the state university, Monticello was a 5,000-acre plantation estate that nestles the grand 11,000 square feet house in it. Mount Vernon was home to America's first president George Washington and a place he longed to return to most of his adult life, an estate that speaks volumes of what went down in the country's history. As part of making the narrative more inclusive, the historical accounts here now also contain stories of enslaved people working on these estates.  

For Lovers Of Art 

Virginia has birthed world-famous artists across all fields, from jazz sensation Ella Fitzgerald to poet Edgar Allen Poe. While the state is home to plenty of traditional art museums and traditional art forms, the new-age artwork begets curiosity and attention. At the IX Art Centre&nbspin Charlottesville, empowering communities through creativity, you can go for an immersive experience at the state's first and only interactive art space. The Torpedo Factory Art Centre&nbspin Alexandria is another excellent place to see artwork across various media. Home to the nation's largest collection of working artists' open studios, all under one roof, this place has been a landmark for nearly 50 years on the town's Potomac riverfront.  

Cover photo credits Virginia Tourism Corporation

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