Virginia has four seasons, and the coastal areas are typically warmer and more humid than the mountains. On average the mountains are ten degrees (Celsius) cooler year-round, and they get some snow in winter as does Northern Virginia. Summer can have extremely hot and humid spells that are usually short but can last several weeks. Spring and autumn are long seasons with mild temperatures and beautiful scenery.
When to fly to Virginia
October is the busiest time for flights to Virginia, when the leaf peepers come for the foliage. The Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive, and Blue Ridge Parkway are especially busy. Summer is the second peak season when visitors come to see the historic sites, theme parks, beaches, and mountains.
Colonial Williamsburg is busy most of the year, particularly in summer and over Christmas. Monticello is very busy on weekends in spring, summer, and October. The last Wednesday and Thursday of July is when the wild ponies of Assateague Island are herded up to swim the channel to Chincoteague.
The best time to visit is spring. Flowers, shrubs, and trees are blooming across the state, and Virginia is the least crowded and least expensive.
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Getting around Virginia
Virginia has regional airports that can get you around the state quickly. Trains run north-south through Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, and Richmond, and east from Richmond to the Historic Triangle (Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown). Buses also provide service to cities and smaller towns.
Two of the major attractions are highways. The Skyline Drive goes along the Blue Ridge Mountains and, once out of Shenandoah National Park, becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway, which continues to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Parkway alone attracts 20 million visitors a year. Driving is also the easiest way to explore the battlefields and plantations. If you prefer tours, there are escorted bus tours of the historic sites.
The Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area is closed to all but a few cars. Shuttle buses get you from the parking areas to the historic district, and the Williamsburg Area Transport is the easiest way to get around outside the historic area.
Throughout the state there is ample opportunity for cycling, hiking, and walking. Colonial Williamsburg is best explored on foot or bicycle, and ten-mile bike path tours the Historic Triangle. Richmond and Charlottesville are easy to explore on foot. Norfolk requires a car, but has free trolleys downtown.
Virginia insider information
- America commemorated the 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown in 2007, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas with 18 signature events and several partner events including a voyage up the James River in the Godspeed, a replica of the ship that sailed in 1607.
- Visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate near Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson – third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence – designed the house himself. The west front of the house is featured on the back of the five cent coin.
- Virginia is often called the mother of presidents as eight of the early US presidents were born there and several of their homes are open to visitors including Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, Montpellier, James Madison’s residence, and Ashlawn Highland, James Monroe’s estate. Staying with dead presidents, visit the graves of John F Kennedy and William Howard Taft in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania is, the national military park website says “the bloodiest landscape in North America. No place more vividly reflects the Civil War’s tragic cost, in all its forms”. Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Centre is open year-round.
- Bristol was the location of the first country music recordings made for national distribution. In 1927, Ralph Peer of Victor Records traveled to Bristol to record local musicians. In 1998, US Congress recognised the town’s contribution to music history and passed a resolution recognizing Bristol as the "Birthplace of County Music".