The 15 Best Free Things to Do in Virginia!

Virginia is an incredibly varied state with all kinds of fun, free activities for all ages. Whether you’re near the coast or in Appalachia country, there’s always something to do. Shake up your day by checking out one of these 15 free things to do in Virginia! 

1. Visit Virginia Beach

Virginia has many beaches all along the east coast. Try out the Virginia Beach Oceanfront if you like lots of people and a party atmosphere. Prefer quiet solitude? Try Sandbridge or Oceanview. You could always go for a walk at the Chesapeake Bay or Chicks Beach. The beach is open during every season, and each season offers its own reason to go.

2. Go for a nature walk

Virginia has many wonderful parks, including First Landing State Park and the Shenandoah National Park. Take in a day of natural beauty on a nature walk through any of the many paths. Sit by a lake or train under a waterfall. Read a book or paint a painting. The setting couldn’t be more perfect.

3. Hike the Appalachian Trail

Many parts of Virginia provide perfect access to the Appalachian Trail, and hiking is totally free. Make sure you bring a buddy and proper equipment, but an afternoon climbing atop the mountains could give you a whole new outlook.

4. Tour historic districts

Virginia is the oldest state in the Union, and as such has an incredibly long and varied history. Learn more about the history of the Commonwealth by visiting any of the Old Towns in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Alexandria, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown, and more!

5. Visit Maymont Park in Richmond

Maymont Park is one of Richmond’s most incredible sights. The 100-acre park has a nature center, Japanese gardens, a petting zoo, and manicured lawn. There is a suggested donation, but overall the beautiful park is open to the public to enjoy.

6. See a working farm at the Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon

The Frying Pan Farm Park preserves farm life from the 1900s for present day park-goers to experience. There’s a blacksmith shop, smoke house, and various live animals. The park is sure to delight adults and kids with its varied activities.

7. Visit Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area covers 200,000 acres and 500 miles of trails and natural wildlife. The highest peak in Virginia is within its limits. Visits can avail themselves of the hiking, fishing, swimming, and many other activities.

8. See the Great Dismal Swamp

The Great Dismal Swamp is a natural wonder, and unlike anything you’re likely to have seen. Not only does the swamp have an eerie serenity, but Lake Drummond has over 200 species of wildlife. The swamp is on over 112,000 acres, providing a true primordial experience. 

9. Look at the stars at McCormick Observatory

The McCormick Observatory at University of Virginia has public tours and solar education through the high-powered telescope. Make sure to call ahead to learn more about the Public Nights, as weather can affect when the telescope is available.

10. Go to a farmers market

Virginia has a vast number of working farms of all different kinds, and most cities and counties have a farmer’s market on Saturday. We listed some of the best in a different article, so make sure to check those out for the freshest ingredients around!

11. Go to a museum

Many museums have free entry, including the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum. “Located in the historically registered DeWitt cottage built in 1895, the Atlantic Wildlife Heritage Museum displays art and artifacts documenting migratory wildfowl that pass through Eastern Virginia.” Woodcarving demonstrations, decoys, and an impressive collection make for a fun afternoon. Other museums include the Old Dominion Railway Museum, and the Richmond National Battlefield Park Civil War Center.

12. Go on a ghost hunt at Hollywood Cemetery

Ghost stories haunt the Commonwealth in almost every city, but if you find yourself in Richmond, Virginia, you might want to check out Hollywood Cemetery. Legend has it that a vampire from England stills rests in one of the mausoleums. Just make sure you bring a clove of garlic.

13. Check out a historic church

Patrick Henry delivered his famous “give me liberty or give me death” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. The church is one of the oldest in the state and still has an active congregation that meets every Sunday.

14. Visit Foamhenge

Can’t quite make it to Stonehenge? Fear not. Foamhenge is a foam recreation and one of Virginia’s favorite oddities. Visiting the Foam is free, and many spend the early evening gazing at the stars above while surrounded by the foam figures.

15. See where the chips fall

The Route 11 Potato Chip Factory is open to the public for viewing sessions. Visit the Mt. Jackson factory to watch, sample, and purchase. 

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