Is your ideal summer vacation a daily picnic on the beach? How about a personal experience with U.S. history? Do you enjoy a glass of fine wine on a summer evening? If your answer to any of these questions is a resounding “Yes!”, then Virginia is your must-visit destination. Book a Virginia vacation rental along the Atlantic coast for plenty of fun on the water, or venture to the Commonwealth’s western hills for excellent hiking and biking opportunities. That said, take a look at the 10 best places to take a summer trip in Virginia.

1. Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is a very popular tourist destination in the state, and that means vacation rentals galore. This large coastal city is perhaps most famous for its miles of sandy beaches. Adults can relax on the beach while their more industrious children construct sandcastles and discover seashells. There is also a 3-mile long boardwalk for walking or biking. If the heat becomes too much, then cool off by going for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.

Want to try some tasty dishes while still feeling the summer ocean breeze? Check out one of the many outdoor restaurants in the area, such as One Fish-Two Fish. This family-friendly establishment features an outdoor patio that puts you right on the water.

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2. Norfolk

Norfolk is another great seaside destination if you are looking for vacation rentals close to the beach. This large city sits on Chesapeake Bay and is home to the World War II battleship USS Wisconsin. Take your family or friends on board this important vessel, and also make time to tour the sea-themed museum on site. Also be sure to check out the works of Cezanne, Rubens, and other greats at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

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3. Richmond

Source: Flickr/Jim

“Give me Liberty or Give Me Death.” Patrick Henry spoke these immortal words in 1775 in Richmond’s St. John’s Church. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also set foot here, and you can follow in their footsteps by touring the church today.

In addition to its historic value, Virginia’s current capitol city is big on art and music. If you prefer to spend a summer afternoon indoors, then stroll from your vacation rental on over to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Here you can view works by masters such as Edgar Degas and Claude Monet.

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4. Williamsburg

A vacation home in Williamsburg is a great way to immerse yourself in one of the most historic communities in the nation. This town does not merely possess historic buildings; men and women here bring history to life by dressing in 18th-century coloniel clothing and engaging in period crafts. If you want history to come alive for your children while they are on school break, then Williamsburg is the place to take them.

It’s not all history here, however. Williamsburg is also home to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. Stay cool in the summer sun by hopping aboard roller coasters and water slides at these two exciting locations.

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5. Charlottesville

If you prefer to spend your summers close to the mountains instead of the beach, head to western Virginia and book a vacation home in Charlottesville. A short driving distance to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor summer fun, including hiking, kayaking, and cycling. Over a dozen vineyards in the area make Charlottesville a hot spot for wine, including Jefferson Vineyards, First Colony Winery, and Blenheim Vineyards.

Charlottesville is also an important historic site. Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful Monticello home is located here, and tours of the house and attractive gardens are available during the summer months.

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6. Alexandria

Alexandria sits in the shadow of Washington, D.C., and several of the founding fathers frequented this former colonial town. Summertime is one of the best times to visit Alexandria, because the old cobblestone streets beckon you to simply stroll outside and admire the historic architecture. Stop by Christ Church, the place of worship for the George Washington family. Also stop in Gadsby’s Tavern to see where Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other big names met and discussed the future of the colonies.

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7. Abingdon

Source: Flickr/Jason Riedy

A National Historic Landmark, the town of Abingdon boasts many historic markers, making it a great place for the history buff to rent a vacation home. View the impressive early 19th-century Martha Washington Inn, the site of rumored ghost sightings. or stop by the Sinking Spring Cemetery to view the burial plots of 18th and 19th century Americans.

The famous Appalachian Trail runs though Abingdon, providing a welcome opportunity for hiking and biking.

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8. Staunton

Source: Flickr/Eli Christman

If you prefer to vacation in a smaller town that still has plenty to do, then pick a vacation rental in Staunton. Car lovers flock here to view the numerous antique cars on display at the Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles. For a fun family day trip, see working farms from the 17th-19th centuries at the Museum of Frontier Culture.

For fine dining, try Zynodoa. This welcoming establishment serves Southern food and uses local ingredients. More locally-grown food is available at Nu-Beginning Farm: The Store.

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9. Bristol

Source: Flickr/Jason Riedy

Country music is king in Bristol, a town that crosses the border between Virginia and Tennessee. Some consider the town to be the birthplace of Country, but whatever your view you will not want to miss the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Here you can delve into the history of this popular music genre by listening to old recordings and viewing photographs and other exhibits.

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10. Roanoke

Source: Flickr/Donnie Nunley

Kids will love getting up close to lynx, snow leopards, and red pandas at Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Zoo. The zoo provides a great excursion for a sunny summer day. Mill Mountain itself offers hiking trails and scenic vistas of the surrounding countryside. Be sure to check out the old locomotives on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

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