14 Unusual Virginia Museums with Interesting Claims to Fame

American Celebration on Parade

Virginia is full of sites that relate to the founding of our country, the Civil War, and many other historic moments, including museums housing relics from significant events. But what about the lesser-known, quirkier artifacts of Virginia? Many proud Commonwealth residents have dedicated their lives to preserving interesting objects from the past that you won’t find at other museums. Visit one of these unbelievably odd yet fun museums to get a different take on Virginia’s history.

American Celebration on Parade—Mount Jackson

Ever wonder what happens to magnificent parade floats when they retire from the cheering crowds and flag-waving children of their moment in the limelight? The thousands of hours of hard work, craftsmanship, and artistry was a great passion of the late Earl Hargrove Jr., who owned a large decorating corporation that built floats for Presidential Inaugurals starting in 1949. Today, you can see over 20 of his massive, full-size parade floats from Presidential Inaugurals, Tournament of Roses and other national celebrations at the American Celebration on Parade museum. Seeing these beautifully preserved, detailed floats up close is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum & Model Railroad Museum—South Hill

The concepts of these two museums could not be more different, yet it is this juxtaposition that lends to the success of the Virginia S. Evans Doll Museum and the Model Railroad Museum existing in the same building. Located within the South Hill Visitor’s Center and Historic Train Depot, the doll museum houses a unique display of over 500 historic dolls dating back to the 1800’s. Each doll has a backstory that tells the origins and significance, all painstakingly hand-written by Virginia S. Evans.

The train museum focuses on 200 miles of historic railroad in Virginia, referred to as the “Wiggle, Bump, and Agony”. The most important piece in the museum is the Atlantic & Danville Model R.R. reconstruction, a scale model of the train and town during the 1950’s.

The Roanoke Pinball Museum—Roanoke

If you’re interested in classic games, visit the Roanoke Pinball Museum, an interactive museum dedicated to the history and science behind the invention of the game. One of the first interactive electric games, pinball has a unique role in the rise of gaming in American culture. The museum showcases over 50 machines produced between 1932 and 2012. Jump on one of these arcade machines in the museum and test your skills at any level of pinball play.

Virginia Musical Museum—Williamsburg

With the famous Crooked Road winding through the state, Virginia’s musical narrative is long and interesting. The Virginia Musical Museum pays tribute to that history, housing rare instruments from bygone eras in the Commonwealth, such as the harpsichord, nickelodeon, phonographs, and other early musical memorabilia. Outfits worn by Patsy Cline, Wayne Newton’s car, and other significant pieces of history round out the collection.

Steins Unlimited Museum—Pamplin

German beer steins have been around for centuries, and the Steins Unlimited Museum in Pamplin houses one …read more

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Sporting and Recreation Venues in Prince William and Manassas

Fall - Prince William Forest Park (3A)

Prince William & Manassas covers a large area within the northern region of Virginia. With so much space, it is no wonder that there are plenty of sporting venues that are perfect for competitions. From large forests that provide the perfect amount of shade for running to sporting venues ideal for specific sports, you can have practically any event! Take a look at some of their top sports venues below and start planning your next event!

Prince William Forest Park
This scenic National park holds a lot of geographic interest and is host to many outdoor recreational activities. Its rolling hills and winding turns are part of the nationally recognized Marine Corps Marathon 17.75K. The park’s vast area of land makes it an ideal destination for events and activities, including ending your night snuggling up to a cozy campfire while roasting marshmallows.

Leesylvania State Park
With its unique location near the tidal shores of the historic Potomac River, Leesylvania offers a variety of activities both on land and on the river! Go fishing with some of your buddies or kick up the competition with one of the fishing tournaments that frequent the park. As the day winds down, take advantage of the peaceful environment and have a picturesque picnic during the sunset.

Prince William Ice Center
Prince William Ice Center is one of the largest ice skating complexes in Virginia. Its Olympic-sized rink makes it a perfect venue for skating competitions and hockey tournaments including the 2013 US Junior National Short-Track Speedskating Championship. The Ice Center is also a great place for families to enjoy public skate time after watching a hockey game or a curling competition.

Elite Shooting Sports
Elite Shooting Sports is a state-of-the-art 65,000 square foot indoor shooting range and training facility located in Manassas. It boasts four separate ranges that operate independently, with plans to expand adding a 1,600 square foot, two level live fire shoot house in 2016, it is perfect for large competitions. Offering gun, shooting range, and classroom space rentals, a wide variety of training classes, and much more, this facility appeals to families, gun enthusiasts and professional competitors alike.

Northern Virginia BMX
Nestled in Woodbridge is Northern Virginia BMX, a premier bike riding and racing track. The adrenaline inducing obstacles of the track will be sure to get riders itching for a chance to compete in a race. The facility prides itself on having local weekly amateur and professional races, such as the recent 2016 USA BMX ‘Stars and Stripes’ National Tournament, a prelude to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. The tracks are also available for open ride times, a chance to feel the thrill without the competitive edge.

Post-Event Appeal

Discover History on a Guided Hike at Manassas National Battlefield Park
Manassas National Battlefield Park is the site where Southern victories tested Northern resolve. As the location for two major battles during the Civil War, this national park is an ideal destination for groups of all ages and sizes. The battlefield has …read more

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Eight Romantic Campsites for Couples

Chincoteague Pony Swim

If you and your partner are the type of couple that enjoys the Great Outdoors, consider a romantic getaway staying at one of these campgrounds. In addition to spending quality time together while you camp, you’ll spend time discovering the beauty of Virginia’s natural landscape.

Maddox Family Campground—Chincoteague

What Makes it Romantic: View from the lighthouse; wild ponies

Assateague Island has some of the most gorgeous undeveloped beaches in the state. While you can’t camp on-site, plan your romantic camping getaway to Maddox Family Campground on Chincoteague Island to get access to the adjacent beaches of Assateague Island. Located near the entrance of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, the campground gives you access to the park’s hiking trails. Take Woodland Trail through the park for a chance to see the famous wild ponies of the Eastern Shore. A little over a mile from the campground, the Assateague Lighthouse is the perfect place to take in the surrounding scenery. If you come between 9am and 3pm, you can even climb to the top of the lighthouse to see miles of open sand fronting the Atlantic. Skip the fancy restaurants for dinner and instead try your hand at crabbing, clamming, and oystering while on Assateague Island. The campsite has fire pits where you can prepare your fresh catch!

Campsite Amenities:

Water/electric hookup available
Camp store on-site
Pet-friendly
Bathrooms with showers
Outdoor pool
Laundry Room
Volleyball and shuffleboard courts

Grayson Highlands State Park Campground—Mouth of Wilson

What Makes it Romantic: Wild ponies.

The romantic atmosphere at Grayson Highlands State Park Campground comes from more than just the breathtaking panoramic views. The area’s wildlife connects you to nature in a way that is rare in today’s developed world. You may even wake up to a wild ponies on your campsite, wandering around nonchalantly as they nibble on the native grasses. The park is surrounded by miles and miles of trails that lead to a variety of incredible scenery, including waterfalls, the heights of Mount Rogers, and of course, more wild ponies. Stables are available for those that want to bring their own horses and take on the trails from the saddle.

Campsite Amenities:

Water/electric hookup available
Horse stables available
Firewood for sale
Pet-friendly
Bathrooms with showers
Access to Appalachian Trail and 67 miles of horse trails

Chippokes Plantation State Park Campground—Surry

What Makes it Romantic: Antebellum mansion and grounds take you back to a simpler, more romantic era.

One of the oldest in the country, Chippokes Plantation State Park has been a working farm since 1619. Tour the park’s antebellum-style home, Chippokes Mansion, and the outbuildings on the surrounding estate to get a glimpse of the 17th century lifestyle. Stay on the campgrounds of the historic park, located near the banks of the James River, for simple yet comfortable accommodations. The campgrounds have an outdoor pool and trails encircling the park for hiking or horseback riding. Along the trails and throughout the entire park, you’ll discover an abundance of Virginia wildlife, such as bald eagles, deer, and river otters. Get a little extra romance …read more

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