10 Places to Visit in Virginia Where You Can Escape to Another World

10 places to visit in Virginia where you can escape to another world

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

By Aila Boyd

January 1, 2024

From its sandy shores to its rolling mountains and everywhere in between, Virginia has its fair share of destinations that unquestionably look a bit out of place. Some of the places are natural while others are human-made, but all look as though they are ready to transport you to somewhere else—be it to Scotland, a training ground for FBI agents, or another dimension. 

We’ve compiled this list of 10 of Virginia’s most intriguing “portals to elsewhere.”

Great Falls Park

Location: McLean

When viewing the falls crashing over the jagged rocks at Great Falls Park, it’s easy to forget that you’re still in Virginia. Surprisingly, the scene looks as though it’s been transported from a western state to just 15 miles from the nation’s capital. The visually stunning path that the Potomac River cuts through a series of steep, jagged rocks along the narrow Mather Gorge is truly a sight to behold. 

Skyline Caverns

Location: Front Royal

10 Places to Visit in Virginia Where You Can Escape to Another World

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

Venturing into Skyline Caverns is like taking a trip to the center of the earth. “Skyline Caverns is one of the few places in the world which hosts anthodite formations. These unique crystals spread in all directions, actually defying gravity,” the website reads. “Measuring at 18 [inches] long, the Chandelier is the largest and oldest anthodite known to man.” Schedule a tour to journey deep into the caverns. One of the highlights of the tour is the Rainbow Waterfall, a 37-foot underground stream. 

Hogan’s Alley

Location: Quantico

If one were to visit Hogan’s Alley, they’d be surprised by just how idyllic it appears to be. Despite looking like many of the small-town main streets scattered throughout the commonwealth, the alley is actually a mock training ground for the FBI Training Academy. It’s used for tactical training, including simulated gun fights. “We built it with the help of Hollywood set designers,” the website claims. “Like many towns, it’s got a bank, a post office, a hotel, a laundromat, a barber shop, a pool hall, homes, shops, and more.” 

You can buy a bite to eat at the local deli, but a closer look shows you’ve entered a false reality. The cars outside of Honest Jim’s car dealership aren’t real, and the Dogwood Inn Restaurant is actually a classroom for agents in training. 

Foamhenge

Location: Centreville 

10 Places to Visit in Virginia Where You Can Escape to Another World

Photo courtesy of Cox Farms

A trip to Foamhenge at Cox Farms will make you feel as though you’ve crossed the pond and ended up in Scotland. Surprisingly, the full-size replica is made entirely of foam plastic. While it was created by artist Mark Cline of Enchanted Castle Studio in 2004, it came to Cox Farms in 2017, having previously stood in Natural Bridge State Park. 

The Presidents Heads

Location: James City County

The iconic Presidents Heads sculptures look as though they should be in the Mount Rushmore National Memorial instead of a nondescript lot next to an industrial recycling facility on private property. While the sculptures by locals Everette H. Newman II and David Adickes were once part of an outdoor museum in Williamsburg, they’ve stood in their current spots for more than a decade, withstanding neglect and decay that has garnished them with a spooky look. No pedestrians are allowed on the lot except during regularly held private tours and photography workshops. 

Dinosaur Land

Location: Virginia Beach

Who needs Jurassic Park when you can go to Dinosaur Land instead? “This roadside attraction features over 50 dinosaurs, inviting visitors to step into the world of the prehistoric past, turning the pages of time to the Mesozoic era, when dinosaurs were the only creatures that roamed the earth,” the park’s site states. Some of the dinosaurs on display include the Velociraptor, Megalosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Stegosaurus. The park is open from March through December each year.

Bacon’s Castle

Location: Surry

A trip to Bacon’s Castle will take you back to the late 17th century, when Arthur Allen and his family called the site home. “Bacon’s Castle is a rare example of High Jacobean Architecture. The home features a reconstructed 17th-century English formal garden restored by the Garden Club of Virginia,” Preservation Virginia’s website reads. To truly get a sense for what the castle was like when Nathaniel Bacon’s men occupied it in 1676, go on a guided tour. 

Historic Jamestowne

Location: Jamestown

A trip to Historic Jamestowne will transport you even further back in the 17th century, when the continent’s first permanent English settlement was still struggling to establish itself in what would eventually become Virginia. Various archaeological sites give visitors a sense of what life was like at the fort in 1607. The best way to immerse yourself in the history of the early settlement is to go on a tour with a living history interpreter. 

Devil’s Bathtub

Location: Blackmore

10 Places to Visit in Virginia Where You Can Escape to Another World

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

Devil’s Bathtub, a naturally smooth swimming hole, looks as though a dip in it could transport you to a mystical land. The hole is a “crystal-clear, aquamarine color that is created by the algae on the bottom,” according to the Explore Scott County website. The waters are even said to be cold enough to quench Lucifer. Located on the Devil’s Fork Loop Trail, it’s a popular place to take a dip during the summer months. 

Sand Cave

Location: Ewing 

10 Places to Visit in Virginia Where You Can Escape to Another World

Photo courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

With its ceiling of gold, red, and green, Sand Cave in Cumberland Gap National Park is a natural wonder that looks as though it’s a portal to a hidden underworld. The eroded rock forms serve as the perfect backdrop for a photo-op.

  • Aila Boyd

    Aila Boyd is a Virginia-based educator and journalist. She received her MFA in writing from Lindenwood University.

CATEGORIES: COMMUNITY | THINGS TO DO

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