Top 15 Northern Virginia Attractions

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    Best Places to See in Northern Virginia

    Mount Vernon
    Mount Vernon Estate. skeeze / Pixabay

    Northern Virginia offers a wide variety of attractions including monuments, museums, parks, historic sites, performance venues and much more. With its varied landscape and close proximity to Washington DC, this region is a prime place to visit with its own unique treasures. From its urban communities to its rambling countryside, Virginia is a fun place to explore. See the following guide to learn all about the top attractions and things to do in Northern Virginia.

  • 02 of 16

    Arlington National Cemetery

    Arlington cemetary
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com

    Arlington National Cemetery is Northern Virginia's most popular attraction and one of the area's "must sees."  More than 400,000 American service members, veterans and their family members are buried at the 612 acre national cemetery, located just across the Potomac River from the nation's capital.  Walk the grounds and see the graves of notable Americans such as Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Robert Kennedy. See the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visit Arlington House, the former home of Robert E. Lee. For a complete guide, see Arlington National Cemetery (What to See and Do)

  • 03 of 16

    Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens

    Mount Vernon dining room
    A small dining room is seen during a holiday tour in George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

    Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, George Washington's family home which is located along the shores of the Potomac River, is the most scenic tourist attraction in Northern Virginia. Visit the mansion, the outbuildings, the gardens and the museum and learn about the life of America's first president and his family. Mount Vernon is one of the prime historic landmarks in the Washington DC area and one to be sure to visit. Throughout the year, there are many special programs and events for all ages. For more information, see a Visitor's Guide to Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens.

  • 04 of 16

    Great Falls National Park

    Great Falls Park
    merdanata / Pixabay

    The 800-acre Great Falls National Park, located along the Potomac River, is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in Northern Virginia and a great destination for outdoor recreation. Visitors enjoy the wonderful views and a variety of activities such as hiking, picnicking, kayaking, rock climbing, bicycling, and horseback riding. Read More about Great Falls Park

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  • 05 of 16

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
    Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Dane Penland / Smithsonian

    The Northern Virginia location of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, located adjacent to Dulles International Airport, displays the massive space shuttle Discovery, the Lockheed SR-71 and numerous aircraft, spacecraft and other artifacts. There's an IMAX theater, simulator activities and a variety of exhibits for children. For more information, see a Visitor's Guide to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

  • 06 of 16

    Iwo Jima Memorial

    Marine Corps War Memorial
    @gs8 / Twenty20

    The U. S. Marine Corps War Memorial, honors the Marines who have died defending the United States since 1775. The 32-foot-high sculpture of the Iwo Jima Memorial was inspired by a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of one of the most historic battles of World War II. The impressive memorial is one of Northern Virginia's most prized attractions. Read more about the Iwo Jima Memorial.

  • 07 of 16

    U.S. Air Force Memorial

    U.S. Air Force Memorial
    U.S. Air Force Memorial

    The Air Force Memorial, honoring the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Air Force, symbolizes flight and the flying spirit with three stainless steel spires that soar 270 feet high and represent contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they disperse in a "bomb burst" maneuver. Read more about visiting the Air Force Memorial.

  • 08 of 16

    Wolf Trap National Park

    Wolf Trap National Park
    Filene Center at Wolf Trap. Courtesy of Wolf Trap Foundation

    America's National Park for the Performing Arts hosts a wide range of performances ranging from pop, country, folk and blues to orchestra, dance, theater and opera. The Northern Virginia concert venue offers performances and educational programs all year long. For more information, see Wolf Trap National Park (Concerts, Tickets & More)

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  • 09 of 16

    Manassas National Battlefield Park

    Manassas National Battlefield Park
    © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    The 5000-acre park preserves the site of the First and Second Battles of Manassas during the Civil War. The Henry Hill Visitors Center features a 45-minute orientation film and a museum exhibiting civil war era uniforms, weapons and artifacts. The Northern Virginia attraction offers a variety of activities, scenic vistas, and walking trails. Read more about Manassas Battlefield.

  • 10 of 16

    National Marine Corps Museum

    National Museum of the Marine Corps
    Marcus Qwertyus / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The state-of-the-art museum uses interactive technology, multi-media exhibits and thousands of artifacts to bring to life the values, mission, and culture of the Marine Corps. It is located on a 135-acre site next to the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia. The museum is a part of the Marine Corps Heritage Center, which is a complex of facilities that also includes a memorial park, parade grounds, artifact restoration facilities, and an on-site conference center and hotel. Read more about the National Marine Corps Museum.

  • 11 of 16

    Torpedo Factory Arts Center

    Torpedo Factory
    © Rachel Cooper

    The Torpedo Factory Art Center is a top attraction in Old Town Alexandria, located along the docks of the Potomac River. Built during World War I as a munitions factory, the building now houses a visual arts center consisting of three floors with 84 working studios, 5 galleries, 2 workshops, the Art League School and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. This is a great place to meet and watch artists at work and to find unique gifts or decor for your home. Read more about the Torpedo Factory.

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    George Washington Masonic Memorial

    George Washington Masonic Memorial
    Aimin Tang / Getty Images

    One of my favorites, and definitely an underrated attraction, the George Washington Masonic Memorial houses a museum about the history of the Freemasons in the United States. The building is located in the heart of Alexandria, Virginia, near the King Street Metro Station. It also serves as a research center, a library, community center, a concert hall, and site for local and visiting Masonic lodges. Guide tours are available.For more information, see a Visitor's Guide to the George Washington Masonic Memorial.

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  • 13 of 16

    Mount Vernon Trail

    Mount Vernon Trail
    © Rachel Cooper

    The Mount Vernon Trail is an 18-mile paved multi-use recreation trail that follows the west bank of the Northern Virginia side of the Potomac River from Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. The trail is a favorite of area cyclists and runners and offers wonderful views of Washington DC’s famous landmarks. Read more about Mount Vernon Trail.

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    Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

    Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
    Tom Stovall / DC Gardens

    The 95-acre gardens is a beautiful and peaceful place to explore with its' walking trails, lakes, cherry trees, irises, peonies, an extensive shade garden, native wildflowers, gazebos, birds, and butterflies. There's an indoor atrium, picnic areas and educational facilities that offer gardening and horticulture workshops, tours, field trips, concerts, and volunteer programs. During the holiday season, Meadowlark host a Winter Walk of Lights, a walking tour with animated lights. For more information about Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, visit nvrpa.org

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    Birchmere Music Hall

    The Birchmere
    Actor and musician Terrence Howard performs at the Birchmere. Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

    The 500-seat music venue offers a variety of live performances of folk, jazz, rock, gospel or alternative music. The Brichmere has hosted top acts like Johnny Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dave Matthews, Ray Charles, the Dixie Chicks and more. The venue’s second stage, the Bandstand, provides standing-room only concerts with space for dancing. For more information, visit birchmere.com.

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    Claude Moore Colonial Farm

    Claude Moore Farm
    tofer618 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Claude Moore Colonial Farm at Turkey Run, is an 18th century living history farm that features self-guided tours through a recreated pre-Revolutionary tenant farm. Costumed interpreters portray tenant farmers, and farm animals roam the grounds. Educational programs and special events are available. The park is located in McLean, Virginia and open April through mid-December. For more information, visit 1771.org