Looking to fill your weekend with a truly memorable experience? There’s nothing quite like a little adventure to thrill your spirit and create amazing memories. And the great news is that there are endless activities right here in Virginia that will fit the bill. Waterfalls? Check. Breathtaking vistas? We got ’em. Something else completely out of the ordinary? You bet!
So if you’re ready to experience Virginia like never before, you’ll want to check off as many of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures as possible.
1. Explore the James River like never before.
Whether you're looking for a peaceful float down the river or a thrill-seeking kayaking trip, you'll want to check out James River Reeling and Rafting. You can rent equipment and even a cooler to bring a picnic lunch along with you. Keep on the lookout for some amazing wildlife in addition to the picturesque Blue Ridge foothills.
2. Go for a hot-air balloon ride.
There's nothing like a hot-air balloon ride to give you a whole new perspective on things - quite literally. If you've always dreamed of soaring above the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, you'll want to sign up for a ride with Blue Ridge Ballooning. Located just outside of Charlottesville, these rides leave twice a day and can accommodate both couples and small groups.
3. Try your hand at deep sea fishing.
Fishing enthusiasts can set sail from White Stone in a 35-foot charter boat known as the "Miss Linda." Fishing guides will have expert advice on how to catch flounder, cobia, spade fish, and more. Even if fishing doesn't appeal to you, there will be plenty of gorgeous sightseeing to enjoy.
4. Embark on a good ole fashioned trail ride.
For anyone who's ever wondered how horseback riding might have felt back in Colonial days, Lakewood Trails offers the answer. Trail rides set out just 15 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg and in the manner of English style riding, meander through orchards, beautiful lakes and the surrounding peaceful countryside. There's also a "Hoofbeats Through History" tour for an immersive and authentic historical experience.
5. Spot whales and dolphins off the coast of Virginia Beach.
On this excursion, seeing a fin circling the water is nothing to fear. Dolphins will surround the Rudee Flipper tours and show off with their playful jumps for all to see. The tour boat also offers whale watching tours and fishing excursions that are equally educational and exciting.
6. Go on a quest for the elusive Fairy Stone.
Fairy Stone State Park is beautiful in its own right, although the existence of these mesmerizing little stones make it an intriguing place to visit. The tiny staurolite crystals are in the shape of a cross and can make for an exciting treasure hunt. (Although it's always a good idea to keep them in their natural environment for other to enjoy!)
7. Experience a safari adventure...from your very own car!
It's a bizarre and fascinating concept: Virginia's very own drive-through safari park. Located near Lexington, the safari park allows visitors to stay in their cars and feed some exotic animals. Who knew moose, giraffes, and kangaroos were just a short drive away?
8. Hike up Crabtree Falls.
Only in Virginia can you hike up one of the tallest cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi. If you've never been to Crabtree Falls, this should be on your immediate to-do list. The hike is a bit challenging, but the falls themselves are easily accessible. Just be sure to stay on the paved path because the slippery rocks nearby can be fatal.
9. Relax in natural hot springs.
After all this adventuring, you'll definitely want to take a soak in the natural healing springs of the Jefferson Pools. These waters are named after Thomas Jefferson, who frequented them himself nearly 200 years ago and described the experience as "first merit." Your worries will melt away after a little time spent at this gorgeous natural spa.
10. Marvel at the Grand Canyon of the South.
With a majority of the site located in southwestern Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park is a must-visit. It's the deepest gorge you can find east of the Mississippi River and is the site of both the Russell Fork River and Clinchfield Railroad. The canyon itself is five miles long and reaches up to 1,600 feet in depth. 25 miles of hiking trails and 12 miles of biking trails in addition to water activities ensure that you'll find plenty of ways to enjoy this beautiful area.
11. Hike McAfee Knob.
There's a reason this particular overlook is one of the most notable on the entire Appalachian Trail. This distinguished ledge is part of Catawba mountain and shows off breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. For those up for the adventure, the hike is a little over four miles and gains 1,700 feet in elevation. It'll be an exhilarating climb and a view to remember for years to come.