As the oldest state in the union with an unparalleled amount of American history, Virginians have no shortage of incredible guided tours at our disposal to explore our roots. The state is home to informative, interesting, and cost-effective tours that will teach you something new. Below are 10 of the all-around best guided tours available in the state of Virginia!
Enjoy the Virginia Beach coastline while paddling next to the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. You’ll meet your guides at the North End Beach before jumping into the kayaks with your small group. Follow their lead as you make your way across the sea and enjoy watching the ospreys, sea turtles, pelicans, and other sea life. The tour takes around two hours and offers you a unique way to enjoy Virginia Beach.
Take a tour through historic Williamsburg, Virginia while your period-dressed tour guide regales you with tales of hauntings and the haunted. Based on researched ghost experiences, each tour guide is an expert of the local legends and lore. You’ll peruse a graveyard, imagine the gallows, and stop by the old jail. The tour is family friendly and reasonably priced for a fun night out.
Winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence last year for wine tours, the Wish Wish Charlottesville tour is a convenient way to enjoy the sundry of vineyards in the Charlottesville area. Plot your own course from over 75 different wineries, or select a recommended route. The Wish Wish bus will take care of the driving so you can focus on the tasting. Under-age guests are allowed to join, but cannot partake in the wine. Tasting prices not included.
Richmond, Virginia, is one of the state’s foodie capitals—what better way to experience the sights, smells, and tastes of the city than on a food tour? Choose from the Carytown food tour or the Arts District food tour. The price, $55, and length, three hours, remains the same. On each tour, you’ll sample food from 5-6 different locations in an intimate setting. Book for a small group or join a bigger one. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
For military and history enthusiasts, the DC Military Tour can’t be beat. Owned and operated by veterans, the tour begins at The Pentagon before stopping by Fort McNair and Fort Myer. Round out the day with a visit to Arlington Cemetery. The company recommends making reservations 65 days in advance, as space is limited and the tours fill up quickly. While on the steeper end of the price scale, for the right person, the Army and Pentagon Tour is the perfect day.
Civil War guided tours are a dime a dozen in Virginia. We recommend the Civil War Tour: This Hallowed Ground, run by Stephen Ambrose Historical tours. Ambrose was a noted historian and best-selling author, having written the classic “Band of Brothers.” This Hallowed Ground is an intense, nine-day romp through Virginian Civil War history. You’ll start at Manassas before heading to The Shenandoah Valley, and then on to Gettysburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Petersburg, and Appomattox, accompanied by your historian guide to interpret the history. While a time investment for sure, you can’t do much better for the Civil War buffs in your family.
Discover the majesty of Lexington’s 19th century roots while enjoying a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Downtown Historic District. The narrator will take you through the history surrounding The Stonewall Jackson House, Lee Chapel, Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute, and the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and Jackson’s Tomb. In addition, you’ll get an overview of the residential district dating from the 1820s to the 1880s. The price is reasonable, especially for a tour lasting just under an hour. Let the Carriage Tours help get you in the colonial mood.
Book a private tour with the 251-acre Legacy Mustang Preservation organization for a chance to see a herd of 50 or more wild mustangs charging in their natural habitat. Sunset tours give you the opportunity to enjoy the picturesque scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance as the sun sets on the wild horses. All proceeds help keep the Preservation afloat, as it is a nonprofit charity. Spend an afternoon in nature and support a good cause.
Patriot Tours and Provisions takes participants on a wild Segway ride through historic Yorktown. Awarded with the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence last year, customers can choose from the two-hour “Historical” tour or the one-hour “Breeze” tour. Even though the two-hour tour is slightly more expensive, the extra thoroughness is worth the price. The “Historical” guided tour takes you through Colonial, Revolutionary, and Civil War periods, taking you back to the days of George Washington, all from the comfort of your Segway.
While Virginia has tons of standing plantations to choose from, the guided tour of Smith’s Fort Plantation in Surry, Virginia is the only place where you can get up close and personal with John Smith, John Rolfe, and Pocahontas. The manor, built in the 18th century, retains many of the original woodwork and examples of furnishings. Now fully restored, the original site from 1609 is within walking distance, as is the manor house and the grounds.