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Thanks to its 301 acres of restored 18th-century buildings and its enormous cast of dedicated reenactors, Colonial Williamsburg is widely recognized as the world's largest living history museum.
But it's far from the only place you can soak up some history in Virginia's Hampton Roads region, a coastal stretch named for the immense natural harbor it borders. Beyond the boundaries of Williamsburg's designated historic district, you'll find the so-called Historic Triangle, encompassing Williamsburg, the original 1607 settlement of Jamestown, and the Revolutionary War battlefield at Yorktown. But you'll have to zoom out even further to see where the story all began: Now a bustling beach resort and the largest city in the state, Virginia Beach is also the site of First Landing State Park, marking the very first spot where British explorers came ashore in 1607.
With history quite literally at every turn, it might come as no surprise that this entire area is sometimes lovingly dubbed "America's First Region". But what makes coastal Virginia so attractive to vacationers is that "first" can refer to so many superlatives beyond the chronological — this is an area that is very used to setting records. Beyond the buzzing boardwalk of Virginia Beach, you'll find the longest pleasure beach in the world. Neighboring Norfolk boasts the largest naval base on the planet with a slew of fittingly grand maritime attractions to match. And when it comes to getting top marks, even Busch Gardens Williamsburg gets in on the action: It's been named the most beautiful theme park in the world for the past 23 years! It seems only appropriate that the birthplace of America is the ideal destination for the pursuit of vacation happiness.
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