The Best of Virginia: Cities & Towns

by Casey Higgins | Posted on July 29th, 2014

When you love a place, you rally behind it to make sure everyone knows how great it is. Vote-offs like “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel are annual favorites, and Virginia towns have been included in two of the last three votes. A real pride of place, however, takes over when a publication names the town or city closest to your heart as “best” or “favorite” without any public input. The accolades that these Virginia towns and cities have garnered are well deserved. Do add them to your travel bucket list to see the sweet gems you’ve been missing out on.

Old Town Historic Alexandria. ©Cameron Davidson

Old Town Historic Alexandria. ©Cameron Davidson

Abingdon

  • Best Performing Arts Town -The South’s Most Creative Small Towns, Garden and Gun, 2011

Alexandria

  • Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S., Amazon.com, 2014
  • Prettiest Little Escapes, Huffington Post, 2013
  • Best Small Cities for Art Lovers, Nerdwallet, 2013

Blacksburg

  • #14, The South’s Best College Towns, Southern Living

Bristol

  • Best Music Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
Cape Charles. ©Cameron Davidson

Cape Charles. ©Cameron Davidson

Cape Charles

  • #4, Perfect Little Beach Town, Southern Living

Charlottesville

  • #1, Happiest American Cities, Harvard Gazette, 2014 (per National Bureau for Economic Research)
  • #1, Top 5 College Towns in America, Travelers Today, 2014
  • Top Five Destinations Every American Should Visit, Orbitz Worldwide, 2014
  • #9, America’s Favorite Mountain Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • #1, America’s 5 New Foodie Cities, Wine Enthusiast, 2014
  • #2, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • #1, America’s Best Small Towns for Food, TheDailyMeal.com, 2013
  • #14, America’s Favorite Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • #1, Top College Towns, TravelChannel.com
  • #2, The South’s Best College Towns, Southern Living

Chincoteague

  • #1, America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living, 2014
  • #6, 8 of the Best Small Town Getaways in the U.S., WallStCheatSheet.com, 2014
  • #2, America’s Best Little Beach Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013

Culpeper

  • One of America’s Top 10 Small Towns. Crampton, Norman. The 100 Best Small Towns in America.
Downtown Harrisonburg. ©Elisabeth Bixby

Downtown Harrisonburg. ©Elisabeth Bixby

Floyd

  • 50 Great American Places to Visit this Summer, Men’s Journal, 2013

Fredericksburg

  • #9, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013

Galax

  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2011

Harrisonburg

  • Best Beer Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • #5, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013

Lexington

  • Best Small Towns to Visit, Smithsonian Magazine, 2013
  • #14, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • 10 Coolest Small Towns in America, Budget Travel, 2009

Luray

  • The Next Great Mountain Towns, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2011

Lynchburg

  • 50 Best Places to Live & Play, National Geographic, 2007
Downtown Middleburg. ©Virginia Tourism Corporation

Downtown Middleburg. ©Virginia Tourism Corporation

Middleburg

  • Best Small Town Weekend Getaways, Southern Living
  • #6, 20 Best Day Trips in the U.S., Fodor’s Travel, 2014

Richmond

  • Frommer’s Top Destinations for 2014, Frommer’s, 2014
  • Best Town Ever, Outside, 2012

Roanoke

  • Top 10 Valentine’s Day Getaways, WorldPropertyChannel.com, 2014
  • 10Best: Bike-Friendly Cities, USAToday.com, 2014
  • Best Trail Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2013
  • Best Mid-Sized Mountain Town, Blue Ridge Outdoors, 2012

Smithfield

  • #41, America’s Happiest Seaside Towns, Coastal Living, 2014
Virginia Beach. ©John Henley

Virginia Beach. ©John Henley

Staunton

  • America’s Best Main Streets, Fordor’s Travel, 2014
  • America’s Favorite Mountain Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2014
  • America’s Greatest Main Streets, Travel + Leisure, 2012
  • Best Small Towns in America, Smithsonian Magazine, 2012

Virginia Beach

  • Top 10 Summer Destinations, Priceline.com, 2014
  • Top 20 Destinations for Fourth of July Travel, Priceline.com, 2014
  • Best Cities for Summer Drives, NBCNews.com, 2013
  • Top 10 Art Beaches, Huffington Post Travel, 2013
  • 8 Great Labor Day Weekend Getaways, Budget Travel, 2013
  • 7 Most Beautiful and Underrated Cities in the U.S., EscapeHere.com, 2013

Williamsburg

  • #2, Best Historic Destinations in the USA, US News & World Report, 2014-15
  • #3, 10Best: Best Historic Cities, USAToday.com, 2014
  • #3, 10Best: Places to Explore American History, USAToday.com, 2014
  • 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in Virginia in 2014, Smithsonian Magazine
  • #4, America’s Best College Towns, Travel + Leisure, 2013
  • These Old Towns are the Prettiest Little Escapes, Huffington Post, 2013 (Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown Settlement)
  • #7 Best Weekend Getaways, US News & World Report
  • #8, 8 Affordable Family Vacations, US News & World Report

Which Virginia city or town is your favorite and why? Leave a comment to let us know!

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3 Comments

Katrina says:

Your list forgot to mention that Richmond took first place for happiest city with a population over a million! http://justathriftygypsy.blogspot.com/2014/04/destination-richmond-va.html

Ben says:

It’s a great list. It’s really exciting to read this post. Thanks for sharing.

Stephen Watts says:

Born and raised in Portsmouth area from 1950-1962. Parents relocated to PA. but still believe VA. is one of the cleanest and friendliest states in the US. I visit frequently and enjoy each and every one. Can’t wait to go back. Alot of history and secenery everywhere you go. Jamestown, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, etc. Virginia Beach especially friendy at night. Thank you VA. for keeping it so clean and friendly.

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