Virginia and North Carolina are rich with history, from Civil War battlefields to veterans memorials, maritime history and scenic lighthouses. We’ve created a five-day itinerary that takes travel groups through Virginia’s Prince William and Norfolk and North Carolina’s Outer Banks to explore some of the memorials and moments that shaped our history today. Along with plenty of historical facts and fascinations, we’ve included some great options for eating, drinking and other can’t-miss attractions along the way.
Prince William, Virginia
Start the afternoon with a Civil War guide dressed in his military uniform leading you to Manassas National Battlefield Park “where the Southern victories tested the Northern resolve.” This was the first major land battle of the United States’ Civil War. As two armies clashed for the first time, heavy fighting swept away any notion of a quick war. Afterward, visit a Civil War hospital at the Ben Lomond Historic Site. Soldiers were taken to this site to heal after the Battle of First Manassas and left their signatures on the walls to prove it. Learn about 19th century medicine used to care for the injured soldiers.
Afterward, visit Effingham Manor Winery to sample their signature King’s Ransom red blend or enjoy craft beer, craft food and live local music at 2 Silos Brewing Company, a place to bring family and friends together. Get in great spirits at MurLarkey Distilled Spirits when you try one of their signature cocktails made with gourmet gin, vodka or whiskey.
Prince William, Virginia to Norfolk, Virginia
Start your morning with a visit to Quantico National Cemetery, where our nation’s veterans are remembered. Have the honor of helping the Missing In America Project, an organization that aims to find, identify and enter the unclaimed remains of fallen veterans. Experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by participating in placing flags at the graves of these previously forgotten heroes. Travel down the street to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, a lasting tribute to U.S. Marines–past, present and future. Before leaving the museum, have lunch in the Tun Tavern, styled after the original tavern where the Marine Corps was founded in 1775.
Then it’s off to Norfolk to experience naval history, city life, entertainment and great cuisine and spirits. With over 144 miles of waterfront, Norfolk is a city where most attractions, shopping and restaurants are within walking distance of the Downtown area. Come aboard City Cruises Norfolk for a dinner cruise, which offers panoramic views of Norfolk and the Navy’s Atlantic Fleet while cruising on the Elizabeth River.
The journey begins with a tour of the world’s largest naval installation, Naval Station Norfolk. The best way to tour the naval base is aboard the Victory Rover Naval Base Cruise. Two-hour cruises depart daily, taking passengers past the vessels that ensure our freedom—destroyers, cruisers, submarines, aircraft carriers and more. A fascinating fact and fun-filled narration is provided.
Afterward, head Downtown and experience 5,000 years of art history at the Chrysler Museum of Art, home to Walter Chrysler Jr. ‘s world-class collection of more than 30,000 pieces of art. For lunch, sit along the Norfolk waterfront at Waterside District.
Science has never been so fun and exciting at Nauticus, a maritime discovery center exploring the power of the sea. Then step aboard the Battleship Wisconsin, the largest and last battleship ever built by the U.S. Navy.
After a long day of touring, relax, enjoy great food and sip wine made with Virginia grapes at Virginia’s first urban winery, Mermaid Winery. Not time for bed quite yet? Then head to Granby Street to hear local and nationally known bands in Downtown Norfolk. Granby Street is home to more than 20 locally owned restaurants and bars, a hot spot for great nightlife until the wee hours of the morning.
Norfolk, Virginia to Outer Banks, North Carolina
After touring the heart of the Virginia waterfront, it’s time to hit the road for the final destination on your tour. A 130-mile stretch of barrier islands just off the coast of North Carolina, the “OBX” as it’s known by many, is a favorite summer vacation spot for families and couples, with mild seasonal temperatures year-round. The spring and fall seasons are legendary for enjoying the destination at a slow pace.
Start your OBX journey with an air tour of the Outer Banks! Take off from where flight began at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Get a bird’s eye view of islands as you fly down to Cape Point on Hatteras Island and actually see where the Labrador Current and Gulf Stream converge. After the air tour, learn why Orville and Wilbur Wright chose Kitty Hawk to launch their heavier-than-air machine on these very shores. Cap off your day by enjoying the many diverse menus from over 100 local restaurants on the OBX found nowhere else, including regionally and locally harvested seafood, meats and vegetables, craft brews and native wines!
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Start out the day by cruisin’ the NC 12, otherwise known as the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, the only road spanning the entire OBX. Recognized for its scenic beauty, historic maritime landmark, NC 12 is home to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore featuring 70 miles of unspoiled beaches covering 30,000 acres. America’s first seashore is free and has many access points to kick off your day on the beach. After your day at the beach, visit the tallest brick beacon on the American coast, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, standing at 208 feet high.