Eastern North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland Vacation Ideas Eastern North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland - Road Trip Planner

Places to Visit in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland - Richmond, Williamsburg

Things to do / Travel Guide

The following details the main places in the eastern North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland region, beginning in the north with the Delmarva Peninsula, continuing with eastern Virginia, and ending with the North Carolina shore in the south. The most visited areas on the Delmarva Peninsula are Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, Ocean City in Maryland, and Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in Maryland and Virginia. In eastern Virginia, the fascinating communities of Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown with their well-preserved colonial pasts comprise the Historic Triangle, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. Other popular eastern Virginia tourist sites include the cities of Richmond, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, as well as the Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge, near Suffolk, for excellent outdoor recreation and wildlife adventure. Travel down the North Carolina shore to enjoy the lovely historic towns of Edenton, Beaufort, and the Wilmington/Cape Fear area. Many travelers arrive to North Carolina's shore and head straight to the Outer Banks for a uniquely isolated-yet-upscale vacation experience. Quaint barrier islands, Bodie, Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Roanoke are thin trickles of land suspended in the Atlantic Ocean along the outermost edge of North Carolina shore.

Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Places to Visit

Billed as “The Nation's Summer Capital,” Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, draws visitors from all over the nation. They come for pleasure boating on Rehoboth Bay, shopping boutiques, gourmet dining, and for its sparkling, white-sand beaches and fun and funky boardwalk. Reader's Digest has named the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk “Best of America,” and The Travel Channel concurred, calling it one of the Best American Boardwalks; The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association deemed it one of the Top Restored Beaches in the nation.

Located south of Rehoboth Beach and the Delaware-Maryland state line, Ocean City, Maryland is a center for delicious crab cakes, seafood shacks, and fine dining; the popular resort town is one of the hottest summer fun spots on the East Coast. Boasting superb fishing in the Ocean City Inlet, pleasure boating on the Isle of Wight Bay, ritzy and luxurious shopping, and condominiums and hotels near the bustling Ocean City Boardwalk, Ocean City's beautiful and beloved beaches are full of life for those seeking sand, sun, and sea. Some of the finest Maryland Hotels are in Ocean City.

Places to Visit in Maryland

Located south of Rehoboth Beach near the Virginia-Maryland state line, Chincoteague and Assateague Islands not only offer some of the country's best isolated beach stretches along Assateague Island National Seashore, they are also the site of some of the country's most beautiful and rare opportunities for wildlife observation. Majestic wild ponies graze near the 14,000-acre Chincoteague Island Wildlife Refuge, most of which are on the Virginia side of Assateague Island. People from all over the country pour onto the islands during the last week of July each year to watch as these noble beasts swim across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island, where many are auctioned to the highest bidder. Travelers also value Chincoteague and Assateague Islands for top-notch bird watching and nature exploration. Kayaking enthusiasts paddle the waters surrounding the islands, road bikers explore the islands on two wheels, and seafood-lovers savor the islands' notoriously-delicious oysters and flounder.

Places to Visit in Virginia

Together with Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown comprise Virginia's Historic Triangle. Linked by the scenic Colonial Parkway, many tourists visit these towns for a tour of the region's historical offerings. Jamestown, the first permanent New World settlement, is currently home to the Jamestown National Historic Park and Jamestown Settlement, both of which are popular tourist destinations with a wide range of exhibits and interesting artifacts. Take a ferry to Jamestown to arrive on land in the same manner as the first colonists. Yorktown is where George Washington and the Patriot army brought General Cornwallis to his knees in 1781. At Yorktown National Battlefield Park you can take one of the scenic and informative historic drives and even take a gander at George Washington's actual sleeping and dining tent.

Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge offers some of eastern North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland's top wildlife observation. Interesting flora and fauna abound, and the more than 100 miles of logging roads and sandy double-track within the state park are mountain biking favorites. Kayakers looking for a good time head to Lake Drummond for an afternoon plying the pleasant lake surrounded by swampland.

Richmond Places to Visit

Located inland on the westernmost reaches of the region, Richmond is a veritable treasure trove of tourist attractions. Bursting with American Revolution and Civil War history (these were Thomas Jefferson's favorite haunts), Richmond is home to a startling number of historical attractions from Confederate hero monuments to the burial site of two U.S. presidents. But Richmond is hardly stuck on its past, cultural venues and opportunities for outdoor recreation abound. The James River is a popular place for fishing and pleasure boating, and the James River Park and Forest Hill Park offer some of the best urban mountain biking trails on the East Coast. Richmond also offers top-notch ballet and symphony performances, as well as trendy bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in the neighborhoods of Carytown and Shockoe Slip.

Places to Visit in Williamsburg

Located just east of Richmond along the scenic Colonial Parkway, more than 4 million people visit Colonial Williamsburg annually. This 301-acre historical extravaganza is one of the largest living history museums in the world. Highly-trained, historically-well-versed interpreters lead visitors through daily life in what was once the capital of Virginia and the largest English colony in the New World. In Williamsburg, tourists visit hundreds of impeccably-restored historical buildings, period gardens, and can engage in dialogue with costumed actors who explain life from their perspective. In Colonial Williamsburg, you can even chit-chat with such beloved historical figures as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick Henry, among others. Tourists enjoy period feasts and drinking games in colonial taverns, and shop at stores selling period items. For a more-21st-century-style experience, visitors can head to the area's famous brick-lined dining and shopping district, Merchant's Square, or pay the campus of the College of William and Mary a visit.

Norfolk and Virginia Beach Places to Visit

Located south of the Historic Triangle communities, on the Chesapeake Bay, Norfolk is most widely recognized for the Norfolk Naval Station, the largest naval base in the world. A day along the Elizabeth River will afford you a glimpse of tugs, barges, sailboats, commercial vessels, and navy ships - and you can even take a scenic boat ride yourself, should you so desire. The city also offers top-notch opera, ballet, and symphony performances, and the Waterside Marketplace Festival boasts trendy waterfront restaurants, bars, and shopping. The 155-acre Norfolk Botanical Gardens are another favorite for their gardens and beautiful scenic overlooks. If you're looking for a seaside haven, then Norfolk's eight-mile Ocean View Beach will likely fit the bill.

Located just southeast of Norfolk, Virginia Beach is an Atlantic Ocean oasis of summer sand and sun fun. Sporting the world's longest and largest pleasure beach, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is one of the most entertaining places around. With summer concerts, magic and puppet shows, street performances, festivals of all kinds, and great nightlife, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk attracts vacationers from all over; the beaches attract swimmers and sunbathers, and the coastal waters offer some of the region's best wreck diving.

North Carolina Places to Visit

Edenton is a quintessential North Carolina shore community. Located toward the northern end of the North Carolina shore, Edenton was once described by the New York Times as the “loveliest small town in America.” Shop in the local boutiques for homemade baskets, weavings, and pottery, or take a walking tour of the numerous, restored historical buildings. Pull up a rocking chair and while away an afternoon on the front porch of the Barker House, enjoying serene views of Edenton Bay.

Beaufort, North Carolina - Located around the midway point along the North Carolina shore, between Back Sound and Bogue Sound, Beaufort is home to a fascinating collection of historic buildings and is also one of the region's best places to go wreck diving and snorkeling. Pleasure boating and kayaking are favorite Beaufort pastimes as well; you can tour around the harbor or set out on a jaunt to look at the wild ponies grazing along nearby Shackleford Banks.

Wilmington and Cape Fear - Perched boldly on the banks of the Cape Fear River, Wilmington is the North Carolina shore's largest community. While the area's unusual name was originally derived from the treacherous currents, shoals, and capricious weather that posed a constant threat to seamen, today the Wilmington and Cape Fear area is a fun, worry-free vacation spot. Wilmington is home to the University of North Carolina -Wilmington, which offers mountain biking, Thalian Hall, one of the oldest, most beautiful theaters in the country, and the Cape Fear Serpentarium, which houses one of the world's largest collections of venemous snakes. You can tour the EUE Screen Gem Studios North Carolina where countless film and TV productions were filmed, take a spin through the beautiful Airlie Gardens, or float fearlessly up the Cape Fear River in a historic paddleboat.

Places to Visit in North Carolina

Bodie Island - Many of the Outer Banks' beloved communities line the thin strip of land that is Bodie Island. Home to quaint and quiet Corolla, Duck, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills, along the dune-lined beaches of these barrier islands you will find endless opportunities for pleasure boating, kayaking, wildlife observation, and fishing. Take a drive along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, for a tour of the island. In Corolla you can visit some of the nation's best undiscovered beaches (and upscale vacation homes), and the upscale resort town of Duck offers opportunities for parasailing, boutique-shopping, and eating at gourmet seafood restaurants. Hang gliders and sand boarders take full advantage of the landscape at Nags Head, and regular folks climb to the top for beautiful views of the island. Kill Devil Hills is favored for its beachfront vacation rentals, great restaurants, and general laissez-fair ambience. Kill Devil Hill, four miles south of Kitty Hawk, is also the site of Orville and Wilbur Wright's first successful flight.

Hatteras Island, North Carolina - Bordering the Pamlico Sound (superb for fishing and kayaking), Hatteras Island is just south of Bodie Island. Home to Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, folks head to these wildlife oases to meet the local egrets and piping plovers and to collect shells by the pocketful. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, one of the tallest brick lighthouses in the world, is a signature symbol of the Outer Banks, with its black and white candy-stripe, barbershop-pole coating.

Ocracoke Island, near Hatteras Island, is where Blackbeard the pirate roamed and ultimately met his demise. Ocracoke has been lauded as a great getaway beach, and people also head to this isolated oasis of Outer Banks culture to live it up at the local watering holes and to tour the island by bike or kayak.

Roanoke Island and the town of Manteo are known first and foremost for the Lost Colony, a group of colonists that mysteriously disappeared from the island. But Manteo and Roanoke Island are famous for far more than historical dramas. Howling red wolves and alligators roam the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (you can take a scenic drive, walk, or kayak through the area), and Manteo's Elizabethan Gardens boats a unique Shakespearean Herb Garden complete with herbs mentioned in Shakespeare's prolific works, or herbs used at the time that he wrote.

Places to Visit in Richmond, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, North Carolina's Outer Banks

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Chincoteague, VA
Colonial Parkway
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
North Carolina's Outer Banks
Ocracoke, NC