The 81-year-old monarch will be joined by the Duke of Edinburgh for the six-day East Coast tour.
The official state visit will end with two days in Washington DC with President George Bush.
The Queen's last stay in the US followed the first Gulf war when President Bush's father was in power.
The Queen's programme is aimed at forging bonds between Britain and the US and focusing on their shared future.
On Thursday the Queen will pay tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting and is expected to meet survivors and bereaved families.
Cadets from the college will line the steps up to the state capitol, where the Queen will deliver her keynote speech to the Virginia assembly.
The Queen will visit Jamestown on Friday to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the US's first permanent English settlement.
There have already been calls for her to apologise for the introduction of slavery and slaughter of American Indians.
She will also fulfil a lifelong dream by attending the Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs racetrack at the weekend.
The finale will be two days in Washington DC, where she will be entertained by President Bush, visit a Nasa space centre and meet some of GI brides who left Britain for a new life across the Atlantic during the Second World War.
The box-office hit film The Queen, for which Dame Helen Mirren won an Oscar, is likely to have increased interest in the visit.
It will be the fourth state visit to the US by the Queen and the Duke, following tours in 1957, 1976 for the US Bicentennial and 1991. They also visited Ronald Reagan in 1983.
Mr Bush will undoubtedly be trying to avoid the embarrassment Mr Reagan faced once with the Prince of Wales.
It was revealed on Wednesday that Mr Reagan wrote in his diaries how the Prince was, "horror of horrors", served a cup of tea with the teabag left in it.
The Queen is arriving by plane and her carbon footprint will be calculated and offset for the first time for a state visit.
Published: 2007/05/03 06:07:27 GMT