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Virginia in Pictures: 21 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Anietra Hamper
Updated Feb 15, 2022

The state of Virginia has unforgettable landscapes, from the shores of Virginia Beach to the sprawling mountain range of Shenandoah National Park, which are beautiful places to photograph.

The small towns in Virginia have color and character and are fun to capture with a camera. The Potomac River is a popular subject because of its changing formation, from a wide flowing waterway to a rushing, fragmented series of waterfalls by the time it hits Great Falls Park.

The picturesque locations in Virginia have plenty of leeway for creativity. You can catch a sunrise from higher elevations on McAffee Knob along the Appalachian Trail or go 260 feet below ground in Luray Caverns to capture fascinating natural crystal formations. Discover some of the best places to photograph life in Virginia.

1. Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach at sunset
Virginia Beach at sunset

Virginia Beach is perhaps one of the most visited and photographed places in the state. The Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay meet in Virginia Beach, making it a top vacation spot and an ideal location to catch a sunset on the beach or on the pier.

This is also where you can find some of the best beaches in Virginia. Look for action packed places where you can find a game of beach volleyball and parks that offer tranquil scenes of nature.

Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Virginia Beach, VA

2. Shenandoah National Park

Fall in Shenandoah National Park
Fall in Shenandoah National Park

The Shenandoah National Park is one of the best places to photograph in Virginia because of its broad and colorful landscapes, which are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The peaks and valleys surround the Shenandoah River, which explodes with vibrant colors in the fall.

3. Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns

The sights below ground in Virginia at Luray Caverns are just as beautiful as above ground. Luray Caverns near the city of Luray is the largest cavern system in the eastern United States and one of the best caverns in Virginia. The caverns have cathedral rooms that are 10 stories high and natural crystal and calcite formations, like the elaborate Titania's Veil and the 47-foot-tall column in Giant's Hall made from the meeting of massive stalagmites and stalactites.

3. ACL Bridge

ACL Bridge
ACL Bridge

The ACL railroad bridge, which crosses the James River in Richmond, has beautiful architecture that creates a nice reflection in the water in the evening light. The bridge has a series of concrete arches that support the double-track railroad system.

4. Lynchburg

Lynchburg at dusk
Lynchburg at dusk

The skyline in Lynchburg is unlike others you will find in Virginia. The historic city has small buildings and a church steeple that extends into the colorful skyline at dusk, making for a charming image of this town that sits on the edge of the James River.

5. Potomac River

The Potomac River at Great Falls Park in Virginia
The Potomac River at Great Falls Park in Virginia

The Potomac River is majestic in the way that it winds through Virginia, and there are many vantage points from which to capture it. One of the best pictures of the Potomac is from a higher elevation point looking down into the valley. To make the river even more dramatic, shoot at sunset.

6. McAfee Knob

McAfee Knob
McAfee Knob

The picturesque spot on McAfee Knob along the Appalachian Trail in southwest Virginia has some of the best landscape views in the state. McAfee Knob is also the place to go for nature shots of delicate wildflowers and pictures of a section of the Appalachian Trail.

7. Manassas Farmers Market

Manassas Farmers Market
Manassas Farmers Market

Nothing says summer in Virginia like the Manassas Farmers Market in the historic downtown of Manassas. Artistically designed vendor stalls selling fresh fruits and vegetables make deliciously colorful images of the summer produce season.

8. Natural Bridge

The Natural Bridge in Virginia
The Natural Bridge in Virginia

The Natural Bridge located in Natural Bridge, Virginia is a 215-foot-high natural limestone bridge. The tall stone bridge in east-central Virginia spans Cedar Creek and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Natural Bridge State Park that surrounds the bridge has other natural features like waterfalls, a creek, and mountains.

9. Maymont Park

The Japanese Garden at Maymont Park
The Japanese Garden at Maymont Park

Maymont Park is a Victorian estate in Richmond with more than 100 acres of parkland with animals and gardens. One of the most tranquil and picturesque gardens in Maymont Park is the Japanese Garden, with water features, small foot bridges, statues, and stones that combine two garden styles and is more than 100 years old.

Accommodation: Best Hotels in Richmond, VA

10. Old Town Alexandria

Alexandria waterfront at dusk
Alexandria waterfront at dusk

The vibe and imagery in Old Town Alexandria is reminiscent of 1700s America when the town was founded. The town has more than 200 small boutique stores and restaurants along its cobblestone streets. The Old Town Waterfront area on the Potomac River is the place to be at sunset, with anchored boats and cottages reflecting the evening light. This is a wonderful destination for a weekend getaway in Virginia.

12. Cape Henry Lighthouse

Cape Henry Lighthouse
Cape Henry Lighthouse

The National Historic Landmark of the Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach is one of the most photographed images in the state. It marks the site where English settlers first arrived on land before making their home in historic Jamestown.

13. Great Falls

Kayakers in Great Falls Park
Kayakers in Great Falls Park

Great Falls is where the mighty Potomac River meets with the natural rocky landscape, creating a wide crescendo of flowing water. The water flows into the narrow passage of Mather Gorge in Great Falls Park in McLean, Virginia with dozens of vantage points to see fierce rapids and waterfalls.

14. Raven's Roost

Raven's Roost at sunset
Raven's Roost at sunset

The Raven's Roost Overlook, which is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, is one of the best spots to photograph the Blue Ridge Mountains. The outlook combines the rocky outcroppings of the region with the mountains, valleys, and lush forests that are especially picturesque in the fall and during sunset.

15. Friendship Pagoda

The Friendship Pagoda in Norfolk
The Friendship Pagoda in Norfolk

You expect to see mountains, waterways, and historic images in Virginia but not an Asian pagoda, which is why the Friendship Pagoda in Norfolk is such a standout photo op. The elaborate and colorful pagoda was a gift from Taiwan to the city of Norfolk, and it has become a notable location along the waterfront in Freemason Harbor. The Pagoda & Oriental Garden has a marine observation tower, koi pond, fountains, and gardens to photograph.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Norfolk: Best Areas & Hotels

16. Richmond National Battlefield Park

Richmond National Battlefield Park
Richmond National Battlefield Park

One of the best spots in Virginia to capture imagery of the Civil War is the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Walk the battlefields to see historic cannons, barricades, and other military procurements that played an important role in the Civil War battles. The park has 13 sections.

17. Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive

A road trip along Skyline Drive in Virginia is one of the most scenic experiences you can have in the state. The National Scenic Byway runs 105 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains, with a stretch that meanders through Shenandoah National Park. There are 75 overlooks, where you can stop for photos or information at visitor centers. The best time to travel Skyline Drive is during the fall foliage season, from late September to mid-November.

18. Norfolk

Milepost at Oceanview Beach in Norfolk, Virginia
Milepost at Oceanview Beach in Norfolk, Virginia

A popular image at Oceanview Beach in Norfolk, Virginia is this milepost sign that points you to adventures in every direction. From the beach scene to seaside restaurants, museums, and parks, it is a place with endless images of iconic summer vacations.

19. Dogwood Flowers

Dogwood flowers in Caledon State Park
Dogwood flowers in Caledon State Park

The delicate white dogwood flower is the hallmark of spring in Virginia. It is the state's official state tree and flower, with variations of it in bloom from March through June. One of the best locations to photograph the dogwood flower is in Caledon State Park in northern Virginia.

20. The Jefferson Monticello

Jefferson's Monticello
Jefferson's Monticello

The home of founding father Thomas Jefferson, also known as Jefferson's Monticello is an image synonymous with Virginia. As the third United States President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson designed his Monticello estate near Charlottesville. Today, visitors can take tours of the home and 5,000-acre estate.

21. James River

The James River
The James River

The James River flows across the entire state of Virginia and runs 340 miles into the Chesapeake Bay. The river is a popular spot for water recreation, especially for the Falls of the James near Richmond, which drops for seven miles, drawing avid white-water enthusiasts to the state. The James River in Norfolk is home to one of the most active harbors in the world.

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