20 Historic Sites in Virginia

Fort Monroe

Location: Southern Virginia

This five-point “star” fort is situated in the Hampton area of Virginia. It was an active army base until 2005, when it became a National Park. The fort itself is free and fun to explore, and a small museum covers its varied history thoroughly. Originally settled about the same time as Jamestown, this site is thought to be the first place slaves were brought to America. But that history comes around full circle in the Civil War, when the Union-controlled Fort Monroe became a haven for runaway slaves. Instead of being returned to their owners (as some Confederates demanded), they were kept on the peninsula safe and sound. They even received education at one of the first black schools in the country. Nowadays it’s a very quiet area, but it packs a lot of history, and makes for great walks and wandering.

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White House of the Confederacy

Location: Middle o’ Virginia

Located two blocks north of the Virginia State Capitol, this building was originally constructed in 1818 and used from 1861-1865 as Jefferson Davis’s home during his brief stint as president of the confederate states. Robert E. Lee frequently visited the mansion during that time, and even Abraham Lincoln stopped in for a look after the fall of Richmond. Today, you can join a group tour to see the house preserved in its wartime appearance.

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Monticello

Location: Western Middle o’ Virginia

Thomas Jefferson is a name most Americans will recognize (hopefully?), and Monticello is his house on the “little mount.” Situated outside Charlottesville, Virginia, this neoclassical house is in a beautiful part of the state. While there, you can also visit sights around Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, including outbuildings for specialized needs (like a nailery, slave quarters, gardens…). The house offers timed tours.

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