Everyone knows that D.C. heralds the title of being one of the most historic areas in the country, but what few people may know is the historical influence of the area surrounding it. Northern Virginia, commonly known as NoVa, offers a mixture of modern fun and historical learning from the mountains of Monticello to the trolleys of Old Town Alexandria.
Moseying through Monticello
Sitting atop a mountain outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, this 5,000- acre plantation, designed by president Thomas Jefferson, inspires locals and tourists alike. You must first take a bus from the main building -- a beautiful wooden structure with a gallery and gift shop -- to this hidden enclave in Northern Virginia. Once you're there, you can tour the house (highly suggested), or just walk around the meticulously cared for and beautifully designed gardens and pathways. The house itself contains many of Jefferson's innovations, including a bed designed within a wall and closets inside the walls, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the eccentric president's life. The combination of nature with the pristine architecture will make any visitor swoon and yearn for a simpler time.
Mount Vernon: Washington's Stomping Grounds
Outside of Alexandria about 30 minutes from the metropolitan D.C., Mount Vernon gains its illustrious fame as being the home of the U.S.' first president, George Washington. This 500-acre plantation still holds the original house where famous 1800s leaders strolled, as well as a museum that holds remnants of the era, from pottery to furniture to beautiful jewelry. You can walk around the grounds after a complimentary tour of the house (there is an admission cost at Mount Vernon's gates) to see the meticulously planned plantation that overviews the Potomac River set along Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
Old time fun in Old Town Alexandria
Located right outside D.C., Alexandria is another example of the monumental and influential history in the greater Northern Virginia area. Within this little city is a famous historic district, Old Town, that prides itself for having Robert E. Lee's childhood home, the alleged oldest weekly market in the U.S., the famous Torpedo Factory and the Lee-Fendall House. But this town offers more that just a history lesson -- it has shopping from vintage boutiques to modern chains, delicious eateries and a nice populace. Old Town just may show you that learning about history can be a little more kinesthetic than you thought.
Nature's Wonder: Great Falls Park
Filled with rapids, waterfalls, rocks, nature and a quaint canal and waterway, Great Falls Park is an escape for the ages. It's been a trading town, a fishing area, and even held an amusement park over the decades. Meander across the wooden bridge that snakes through the rocks and over the waterways and along the ancient canal for a true oasis hidden between Northern Virginia and D.C. Bring a water bottle and a camera because you'll want to remember this hidden gem for awhile.
Arlington National Cemetery
A 612-acre cemetery nestled across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., Arlington is the resting place of over 250,000 soldiers. Home to a number of veteran and military-related events, you can walk the grounds of the cemetery steeped in U.S. esteem, or take a ride on the "tourmobile" trolley, which drives along the pathways. You can visit the graves of former presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Robert Kennedy. You can also see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guarded by pacing military personnel in charge of the 21-gun salute. Despite the somber mood, Arlington's majestic beauty is a sight to behold that will haunt you for years to come.