The holidays are supposed to be a time of family, traditions and friends. We are supposed to be taking time to reflect on our blessings and experience gratitude for all that we have, right? Then why do we tend to get so stressed out?
Virginia is special in that we have incredible seasons that allow us to get out and explore the beauty of our surroundings, even in the winter. So we’ve put together a list of some of the things that you can do this holiday season to relax. From big things to little things, Virginia offers countless ways to slow down and remember the reason for the season.
1. Head to the hot springs.
The Jefferson Pools are, by far, the most well known hot springs in Virginia. While the pools were discovered by Native Americans in the 1700s, it was in 1818 that Thomas Jefferson visited (and didn't leave for 3 weeks) that they became famous. Now part of the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, the pools continue to offer relaxation with continuously warm temperatures, crystal-clear water and high mineral content for easy flotation -- and zero chemicals.
2. Take a winter walk.
Virginia is full of amazing trails – perfect for any season. From walks along the water to proper hikes in the mountains, check out some of our favorite trails
3. Drive the Skyline.
The Skyline Drive, beginning in Front Royal, is only 105 miles through the Shenandoah National Park, but the views along the way make it feel like another world. In addition to 75 scenic overlooks, the drive offers access to hikes like Compton Peak, Hogback Mountain, Big Meadows, Hawksbill, Rose River Loop and Doyle’s River Falls.
4. Or the Blue Ridge Parkway
Take a slow meander through some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Virginia and find out why the Blue Ridge Parkway is called "America's Favorite Drive." The parkway picks up where Skyline Drive ends and carries you a few hundred miles through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to North Carolina. Enjoy dozens of scenic overlooks, like Raven's Roost pictured here, and sites like Humpback Rocks, Peaks of Otter and Mabry Mill.
5. Or any of Virginia’s beautiful back roads and scenic byways.
There is no shortage of beautiful scenery in Virginia– and sometimes the best way to see it is to skip the daily commute, bypass the cities and shops and head out just for the sake of the drive. Some of
our favorite Virginia drives
are all about the journey, not the destination.
6. Treat yourself to resort and spa.
With all of the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget about relaxation. And if a weekend away for a little luxury seems extravagant while you're shopping for others, maybe it’s the perfect thing to add to your wish for Santa? Try a few of Virginia’s premier places like the Martha Washington Inn and Spa in Abingdon, the Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg (pictured here) or The Spa at Keswick Hall in Charlottesville. They’re perfect, even in the winter weather.
7. Head to a cabin in the woods.
What could be better than getting away from the mainstream with a long weekend in the woods? If you’re looking for some suggestions, some of our favorite cabins getaways are listed
. Pictured above is one of the many beautiful cabins at Lydia Mountain Lodge and Log Cabins in Stanardsville.
8. Visit our State Parks.
Virginia State Parks offer some of the most incredible scenery, history and education that you can find, not just in Virginia, but in the nation. With nearly 40 parks throughout the state, each showing a unique region and many with interactive programs and tours, there’s NEVER a wrong time to visit Virginia State Parks. See some of our favorites
. The breathtaking scene above was captured at Grayson Highlands State Park.
9. Find your favorite “local” and stop in for a coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
Sure, you can have a cup of coffee at home, but there’s something about sitting in a cozy little coffee shop that makes it that much better. Join friends or just take a good book along and visit one of Virginia’s many wonderful coffee shops like Land of a Thousand Hills in Daleville. See our list of other great coffee shops
10. Make some new traditions.
The holiday shopping crowds are anything but relaxing. But that doesn’t mean that we have to avoid holiday crowds altogether in order to relax. Gather with friends and family and make a special event out of seeing Christmas lights or going to one of Virginia’s many other special holiday events. Check out
our favorite holiday events
holiday light displays
to get some ideas.
11. Head out to the water for a getaway…any water will do.
Virginia offers countless waterfront getaways. From lakes to rivers to beautiful oceanfront beaches, the winter can be one of the best times to visit the water with fewer crowds and sunsets that are every bit as stunning. Perfect example? This sunset on Gwynn’s Island in Mathews County.
12. Hit the slopes.
If you’re like me, falling down a snowy mountain is not the most relaxing thing in the world, but if you’re like more coordinated people, then skiing can be one of the most peaceful and relaxing things to do in the winter months. For prime skiing this winter season, check out Wintergreen Resort near Nellysford, Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, The Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs or Bryce Resort in Basye.
13. Visit one of the many historic homes in Virginia, maybe even by candlelight.
From presidential homes to frontier cabins, Virginia is full of structures that offer incredible architectural and historic significance. Take the opportunity to see traditional Christmas decorations, learn about life during a Virginia winter (BEFORE central heating) and learn about historic traditions and practices. Try Montpelier, the home of James and Dolly Madison (pictured here) for candlelight tours during the holiday season.
What are your favorite ways to relax during the holiday season in Virginia? If there are special traditions or activities that you enjoy, we would love to have you add to the list in the comments below!