Everyone talks about their next trip to DisneyWorld, renting an RV and heading out west, or taking a tour of Europe — and that’s all fine and good. But fortunately for those of us lucky enough to call Virginia home, we can have the trip of a lifetime, without ever leaving the state. Here are just a few examples of the amazing sites, resorts, activities, and adventures that await you in Virginia.
1. Shenandoah National Park
If you're looking for natural beauty and pristine wilderness, this is the place to get it. Encompassing nearly 80,000 acres and a large portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park offers countless hikes, waterfalls, scenic views, and the iconic Skyline Drive.
Where to stay: Skyland Resort, Luray
This historic (c.1888), 16-acre resort is in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley and just minutes from the Appalachian Trail. Featuring rustic cabins (shown above) and traditional and premium rooms and suites, the resort offers family-friendly entertainment in the main lodge, as well as dining options. But trust me, the scenery will sell you even before the accommodations do.
While best known for its Colonial area, Williamsburg is so full of offerings, you could easily spend a week and still not see them all. But it's worth the try. Take in your fill of history with Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, have an adventure at Busch Gardens, try your hand at sailing, take in some arts and culture at the Kimball Theatre, or relax with some golf and spa services at one of the many nearby resorts.
Where to stay: Kingsmill Resort
This world-class luxury resort offers something for everyone and is perfectly situated along the James River. This family-friendly resort features 2 premium golf courses, spa services, a River Pool complex, game rooms, playgrounds, and water sports, including: kayaking, fishing, jet-skiing, and paddle boarding.
3. Wintergreen Resort, Nelson County
If skiing is your thing, than Wintergreen should be your first stop. However, the fun at this all-seasons resort doesn't stop when the snow melts. With year-round cabin, house, lodge and condo rentals, there is something for the whole family, including: 45 holes of championship golf, seasonal skiing, and snowboarding, a 12-lane snow/summer tubing hill, a Terrain Park, swimming, hiking, tennis, a full-service spa and a wide array of dining options.
4. The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs
Truly a destination getaway, The Homestead serves up good ol’ southern elegance with luxurious accommodations, spa services, a 2-acre water park and pools, 2 hot springs, and 45 acres of outdoor activities. No wonder U.S. presidents have been coming here since 1818.
It's no surprise that this small city in Central Virginia shows up time and again on best places to visit and live lists. Highlighted by the University of Virginia, Charlottesville offers world-class restaurants, nightlife, architecture, and small town charm. Surrounded by great hiking, award-winning vineyards, and an endless supply of natural beauty, Charlottesville is a great place to take the family or just get away for a weekend.
Where to stay: The Boar's Head Inn
Offering luxurious rooms and suites, award-winning golf and tennis, swimming, trails, fine dining, and hot air balloon rides, the Boar's Head Inn delivers a one-of-a-kind experience. Located just minutes from downtown Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, everything you could want or need is within reach.
6. The Northern Neck
As the northernmost of the three peninsulas (or "necks") on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, this is one of Virginia's best kept secrets. Hemmed in by the Potomac River on the north and the Rappahannock River on the south, the Northern Neck is a haven for boaters, fishermen, beach goers, crabbers, birdwatchers and those who want a peaceful getaway. Filled with history (including George Washington's and Robert E. Lee's boyhood homes), antiques, fabulous seafood, vineyards, and more, you'll only be bored if you choose to be.
Where to stay: Tides Inn, Irvington
This waterfront resort is a one-stop shop. Featuring a luxurious inn, golf courses, tennis, a spa, water sports, local expeditions like oyster harvesting, and wine tasting and a marina, The Tides is quickly becoming hot spot for family vacations and romantic getaways alike.
7. Old Town Alexandria
Sitting just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C., Old Town Alexandria offers an exquisite taste of city life combined with old world charm. Old Town has been nationally recognized for its preservation of history and architecture, both of which date back to pre-Revolutionary times. The city blends world-class restaurants, boutiques, arts, culture, and history, to create a unique vacation experience for everyone.
Where to stay: The Morrison House
For a true Colonial experience in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, The Morrison House combines the intimacy of a bed and breakfast with the comforts of a boutique hotel. Featuring 45 guest rooms, each room is decorated with Federalist style elegance and mirrors the hotel’s overall historic charm.
8. Natural Bridge
Located in Rockbridge County, Natural Bridge has been called one of the seven wonders of the world and is a National Historic Landmark. With a history dating back centuries, it was called "The Bridge of the Gods" by the Monocan Indians who discovered it, was surveyed by George Washington, was once owned by Thomas Jefferson and was used as a route by Civil War soldiers. While you're there, be sure to visit the Natural Bridge Caverns, which extend 34 stories into the earth and are the deepest caverns on the East Coast, as well as the Monocan Indian Living History Museum. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, hiking and endless exploring, Natural Bridge is an absolute bucket-list experience.
Where to stay: The Natural Bridge Hotel
Choose from Standard or Mountain View rooms at this beautifully appointed historic hotel, or select one of the pet-friendly cottages on the hotel grounds. With a wide variety of excursion packages available, from family fun to dining to adventure, The Natural Bridge Hotel offers something for everyone and every budget.
Richmond is one of those places that we THINK we've been to until we realize just how much we haven't seen. Full of history, arts, culture, gourmet dining, and entertainment, Richmond is worth a second look…and a third. Get to know the city on an organized tour or just get out there and explore places like the Canal Walk, Hollywood Cemetery, and the countless museums, parks and monuments. Located on the James River with the only Class IV rapids in any urban setting in the U.S., Richmond is the perfect place for thrill-seekers, artistic explorers and casual travelers alike.
Where to stay: Hilton Garden Inn Richmond Downtown
Listed as one of TripAdvisor's Top Richmond Hotels, the Hilton Downtown is located in the historic Miller and Rhoads Department Store building. With historic charm and modern amenities, this hotel is the perfect staging place to plan your Richmond adventures.
Nestled down in the far Southwest corner of the state, Abingdon is one place you won't want to overlook. From Broadway quality performances at the historic Barter Theatre to breathtaking views along the Virginia Creeper Trail, Abingdon offers a taste of everything. Enjoy small town charm with a great big personality and take advantage of nightlife, entertainment, dining, and gallery shopping in town, as well as hiking, biking and outdoor adventures just outside town.
Where to stay: Martha Washington Inn and Spa
The Martha Washington Inn and Spa combines a fascinating history with modern comfort. Built in 1832 as a private residence, the inn went on to serve as a women’s college, a Civil War hospital, and eventually a lodging house for actors from the nearby Barter Theatre. Over the years, “The Martha” has hosted guests such as Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, Lady Bird Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Elizabeth Taylor. Today, it remains a timeless institution, welcoming guests with premium services and timeless charm.
11. Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads and Norfolk
"The beach" has hidden treasures at every turn. Maybe you've been to the boardwalk - and it's a great central place to stay - but don't forget to explore the surrounding areas, as well. From First Landing State Park where the first colonists touched Virginia shores to naval bases in Norfolk and great shopping, entertainment, and parks in Hampton, the entire area is full of exciting discoveries.
Where to stay: Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront
Named #1 Virginia Beach Hotel by US News Travel, this 4-star hotel serves up prime oceanfront real estate and luxurious amenities like a rooftop infinity pool and bar during the warm months and a heated indoor rooftop pool for off-season stays. With 3 on-site restaurants, stunning ocean views, and balconies for oceanside rooms, the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront has it all.
12. Leesburg and Loudoun Wine Country
In the past decade, Loudoun County has become one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. Although often blurred into the "Northern Virginia" suburbia column, towns like Leesburg still stand apart. With a quaint historical downtown, an abundance of parks, gourmet dining, and plenty of shopping available, Leesburg offers a perfect vacation spot - especially if you are traveling with a group who wants a little of everything. Near enough to the DC sites, but nestled in the middle of some of Virginia's finest wine country, a day of sightseeing can easily be followed by a day of wine tasting in the countryside.
Where to stay: Lansdowne Resort, Leesburg
Located along the Potomac River in the heart of wine country, this 550-acre resort offers luxury amenities for the whole family, including: a spa and fitness center, 5 pools, golf courses, tennis courts, and 4 on-site restaurants. It's easy to see why this stunning destination resort has received the the AAA Four Diamond Award every year since it opened.
With so many place to choose from, this list is only a fraction of the amazing vacation opportunities available in Virginia. But, now it’s your turn. Please tell us about your favorite places to vacation in Virginia in the comments below!