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Here’s A List of Our Favorite Fun and Sober Activities In Virginia

While it may seem daunting to find new sources of fun when you’ve spent so long defining “fun” as a drinking-adjacent activity, an essential part of your recovery journey is to cultivate alternative sober activities.

As one of the oldest states in the US, Virginia has hundreds of years worth of culture, architecture, food, leisure, dance, folklore, and history to keep you busy. You’ll find activities from visiting museums to hiking through national parks to immersing yourself in Virginia’s musical history on a special road.

There is plenty to do in Virginia. Here are 15 of our favorite options:

Sober Activities In Virginia

Hike the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (AT) extends from Maine to Georgia and winds through 544 miles of Virginia backcountry. Virginia has more mileage than any other state on the trail.

While some people attempt a thru-hike of the entire trail, which lasts 5-7 months, plenty of people split it up into shorter segment hikes. These can be a few hours or even a few days long. Best yet, since the AT goes through countless small towns, you can grab a warm meal and lodging to help you refresh and refuel.

Some days, you’ll see multiple hikers on the trail, whereas on others, you might see no one. This experience should be an invigorating one during your recovery journey.

Reflect at Arlington National Cemetery

This sacred space in Virginia is the final resting place for more than 14,000 soldiers who have served in America’s military. Between 27 and 30 funerals are held each weekday with pomp, circumstance, and pageantry, befitting the honor that accompanies getting laid to rest inside the grounds.

Arlington National Cemetery also houses the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” It’s a monument dedicated to the unidentified remains of soldiers from every war the United States fought in. It’s guarded by elite Sentinels from the US 3rd Infantry Regiment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, regardless of weather conditions.

As part of the tradition, the soldier faces north, east, south, and west for 21 seconds as they follow a routine around the tomb. This symbolizes the 21-gun salute: The highest honor the military can bestow on fallen soldiers.

Soak In The Warm Springs Pool

Deep in the Appalachian Mountains, there is a resort with two bath houses on a hot spring, which produces 1.7 million gallons of crystal clear, 98° water every day. The water is so clear you can read a book underwater (if you ever want to try it, of course). It averages 5-6 ft in depth.

First built in 1761, two octagonal stone basins were constructed over a natural hot spring in the Appalachian mountains. By 1820, an enclosure was added above them. They were closed in 2017 to begin rehabilitating the nearly two-century-old enclosures and reopened to the public in 2022.

It sits on the grounds of the Omni Homestead, so reserve your ticket in advance to enjoy a 50-minute soak in one of these amazing pools.

Take a Drive Down the Crooked Road

The “Crooked Road” isn’t particularly dangerous or difficult to drive. It’s a musical road that takes travelers on a musical heritage tour throughout Virginia.

Originating from instruments as diverse as the Scotch-Irish fiddle and the African banjo, the musical heritage of Virginia can still be heard echoing off the walls of country churches in harmonies handed down over centuries. This road comprises festivals, cultural centers, clubs, and music barns that tell a different story of Virginia’s musical heritage.

Live music, bluegrass picking, harmonizing, and dancing are just a few activities you’ll get in spades if you drive down the Crooked Road.

Experience The Steven F Udvar-Hazy Aviation Center

Part of the Smithsonian museum system, the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center is an aviation museum that spans the history of flight.

They have hundreds of small aircraft, including a Concorde jet, SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, and the Space Shuttle Discovery. Many planes are suspended from the ceiling as if in a mock dogfight. In two breathtaking hangars, you’ll witness some of the most special aircraft ever produced.

The best part is that admission is free, and no tickets are required. Check out this fantastic museum the next chance you get.

Slather on The Sunscreen at Virginia Beach

It doesn’t get a lot of advertising, but Virginia Beach is a fantastic place to play in the waves and get a nice tan. It’s got everything from the bustle of the 3-mile ocean boardwalk to the quiet solitude of spots like Sandbridge Beach.

You can collect sea shells, build sand castles, spot dolphins, and ride waves onto shore. Join the fun happening along the coast at Virginia Beach today.

Take a Colander to Fossil Beach

A very long time ago, the area that is now Westmoreland State Park on the Potomac River was the birthplace and resting ground for different species of sharks (including megalodon sharks).

You can bring a colander to strain sand, but no other excavation tools are allowed inside the park. The odds are pretty low that you’ll find a tooth, but it will be pretty fun, just the same.

The high bluffs of the river also offer a great opportunity for bird-watching. American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, green herons, and seagulls can all be found in the park. This activity-based adventure could be a great alternate sober activity for the weekends. Head over to the park soon to try it out.

Go On A Backcountry Hike in Shenandoah National Park

Go On A Backcountry Hike in Shenandoah National Park

 

Shenandoah National Park was established in 1935 as an area of recreation for all Americans–particularly the 40 million Americans who lived inside or near eastern cities, including the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

The single greatest feature of the park was a “skyline road,” which stretched 105.5 miles across the park’s length. Even though you’re only 75 miles from Washington, DC, you can have an exceptional stargazing opportunity in the Big Meadows area of the park.

You can hike mountains, camp in seclusion, and revel in all that nature has to offer.

Connect With Your Food at a Regenerative Farm

Few things immediately gratify more than sticking your hands in the soil your food grows in. Smelling humus and relocating earthworms are just a few activities you can enjoy.

Regenerative farms use few to no industrial inputs because they believe in farming with nature rather than against it. This means you’ll see animals in their natural habitats in wide open spaces rather than confinement barns.

One such regenerative farm is Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA. It’s been run by the Salatin family for over 60 years, and they maintain a strict open-door policy. Anyone can come from anywhere (probably just daylight hours, though) from Monday through Saturday to see anything on the farm.

Visit Immaculate Monticello

Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. His hilltop estate, “Monticello,” was built and rebuilt in neoclassical style for over 40 years starting in 1768. The inspiration came from Roman and Greek architecture he glimpsed during his time spent as US Ambassador to France, later becoming one of the most instantly recognizable homes in American history.

Thomas Jefferson was a man of many contradictions, and his many contradictions are on display at his estate. Among many others, he fought for liberty yet enslaved over 600 people during his lifetime. If you come to Monticello, you’ll learn this complicated history.

Your entry fee will pay for further upkeep, research, and excavation into Monticello’s past, as well as education about what lessons we might learn in the future.

Navigate the Great Channels

The Great Channels are a 20-acre sandstone maze atop a mountain in southwest Virginia. They are one of Virginia’s best-kept secrets. While they used to be off-limits to even the hardiest hikers, they are now accessible through two routes.

It’s still a minimum of a 6.6-mile out-and-back hike with over 1200+ feet of elevation gain, so make sure your physical fitness is commensurate with the task at hand. In recovery, it’s good to make goals for yourself. One fun goal could be getting in good enough shape to accomplish the hike through the Great Channels. Here is a description of how to get there.

Take a Bath in the Devil’s Bathtub

Rather than being fiery hot, the Devil’s bathtub is icy cold. If you’re planning on getting wet, make sure you leave no trace!

Devil’s Bathtub is a popular hiking destination that doubles as a natural swimming pool. The water has worn away the rock until it becomes smooth, which also makes for a great natural swimming pool. Be careful. Flash-flooding could make the area dangerous, so take precautions to avoid getting hurt.

It’s a 7.2-mile hike, so make sure you are physically capable of sustaining yourself on the hike.

Visit Giant Abandoned Busts of US Presidents

When the Presidential Pet Museum closed its doors in 2010, the 42 giant busts of US presidents weighing 22,000 lbs apiece had to be destroyed for the land to be developed.

Howard Hankins volunteered to move them a few miles away to a 600-acre concrete recycling plant he owned. While it’s been an unofficial tourist attraction for years, they now plan on adding a winery, brewery, amphitheater, and horse trails to the site.

Once they officially open their doors, this will make for a unique experience that can be enjoyed sober. Let’s hope they carry zero-proof options!

Move the Grand Kugel

An impressive feat of engineering, the Grand Kugel in Richmond, Virginia, is a 29-ton block of granite that a child’s touch can move.

A perfectly circular ball is set into a matching concave cup, and pressure is applied to a thin fluid that forces its way between the ball and the cup. This creates a frictionless environment that allows anyone to move the massive granite block. It takes a surprisingly low pressure (0.1atm above sea level) to get it to float.

This sculptural science experiment can be appreciated free to anyone who wants to see it.

Struggling With Substance Abuse? Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Solutions

An alcohol addiction is more than just a nuisance, and recovery is not easy. It requires course correction and immediate professional attention. Untreated alcohol use disorder can shorten your lifespan by 24-28 years.[1]

Alcohol can damage your liver, brain, gut, kidneys, heart, lungs, and even your memory. It’s a toxin and also a known human carcinogen that can negatively impact your quality of life.[2]

At Recovery Unplugged, we have a variety of treatment programs and music-based therapies that promote restoration and healing for both your body and soul. We integrate music into every facet of our programming because we know it’s easier to embrace treatment that way.

Your needs are best met when you have a team of supportive advocates by your side cheering you on your journey. If you’re struggling with alcohol or substance use, seek treatment immediately.

Our staff are compassionate and enthusiastic about your prospects for recovery. They are going to walk with you through the dark days of recovery until you can confidently resume your recovery journey in the outside world.

Find a treatment center near you with compassionate care providers who want to be your biggest cheerleaders. Surround yourself with a supportive community. Don’t take the journey alone–accept help when you need it most.

Contact us today to see what our tried and tested world-class recovery program could mean for your future.

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There are a million different opinions online, but when it comes to your life, health and wellness only peer reviewed reputable data matters. At Recovery Unplugged, all information published on our website has been rigorously medically reviewed by a doctorate level medical professional, and cross checked to ensure medical accuracy. Your health is our number one priority, which is why the editorial and medical review process we have established at Epiphany Wellness helps our end users trust that the information they read on our site is backed up my peer reviewed science.


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Sources

[1] Westman, J., Wahlbeck, K., Laursen, T. M., Gissler, M., Nordentoft, M., Hällgren, J., Arffman, M., & Ösby, U. (2015, April). Mortality and life expectancy of people with alcohol use disorder in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402015/

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, March 13). Alcohol and Cancer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/alcohol/index.htm