Summer getaways: Virginia’s best vacation spots, from the coast to the mountains

VIRGINIE — Are you planning a vacation this summer? You don’t have to travel far.

Whether you’re planning a scenic week-long excursion or a relaxing Memorial Day weekend getaway, Virginia has a lot to offer.

Besides Virginia Beach, the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula areas offer plenty of options for boating, swimming, and water sports in the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay area.

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If beach and sand aren’t your style, Virginia offers plenty of places to stay in the mountains and valleys where traffic jams can make for less time. Whether it’s for a weekend or a week-long visit, many resorts and parks in West and Southwest Virginia offer cabins and rooms.


Near the southwestern tip of the Northern Neck is the Tides Inn, which offers 70 rooms and suites and exclusive marina access, full-service spa, Golden Eagle Golf Course, sailing school and more Again.

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Across the southern tip of the Northern Neck is the quaint fishing village of Reedville, where visitors can stay in a bed and breakfast or rent a cabin nearby. Don’t forget to visit the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum and its exhibits detailing the traditions of Chesapeake Bay boatmen and fishermen.

Just north of Reedville, at Buzzard’s Point Marina, cruise to Tangier Island aboard the Chesapeake Breeze, which leaves port daily at 10 a.m. and returns at 3:30 p.m.

After a relaxing 1.5-hour narrated cruise, the ship docks in Tangier, where you are greeted by a friendly guide. During your 2.5-hour tour of Tangier Island, enjoy a meal at the famous Chesapeake House. Picnic areas and sandwich and gift shops are also located on the island. Stroll around this picturesque island or take a mini-bus tour.

The Middle Peninsula of Virginia is a boater’s paradise, with its beautiful waters and miles of coastline.

Deltaville, located on the Chesapeake Bay at the eastern end of the Middle Peninsula, is bounded on the north by the Rappahannock River and on the south by the Piankatank River. Deltaville’s history has been shaped by these waterways, earning the city the name “Nautical Capital of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Book a weekend or an entire week at one of the many homes in the Deltaville area where you can enjoy easy access to the beach.

For those who love history, Colonial Williamsburg features restored buildings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and is staffed by historical re-enactors dressed in period costumes. The highlight of Colonial Williamsburg is the Governor’s Palace, a stately structure that served as the residence of two of the Colony of Virginia’s first governors.

The Williamsburg area also includes Busch Gardens, with its thrill rides, and Water Country USA, with its slides and wave pool.

South of Richmond, follow Interstate 85 in Petersburg to the North Carolina border and you’ll come to Buggs Island, where you can enjoy every water sport imaginable on Virginia’s largest lake.

Choose from five campgrounds on the Virginia side of Mecklenburg County and enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and fishing.

If you’re bored with camp life, visit Occoneechee State Park on Buggs Island Lake. The visitor center has a replica of the Native American lodge and museum, which contains authentic artifacts found near the lake.

Virginia’s East Coast also offers a quiet way to enjoy the Virginia coast. It is a 70 mile narrow piece of land surrounded by water on three sides and is the southernmost tip of the Delmarva Peninsula.

The east coast has several inns and bed and breakfasts where you can stay while enjoying the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and other attractions.


Virginia’s most popular mountain destination, Shenandoah National Park, offers Skyline Drive driving and hiking. Visit the park’s website for hours for visitor centers, restaurants, lodges, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Southwest of Charlottesville is Nelson County in the Blue Ridge Mountains and one of Virginia’s most beautiful areas. Visitors can enjoy outdoor recreation, mountain views, fresh farm and orchard produce, historic sites, artisan products and more.

The county is full of award-winning wineries, cider houses, distilleries and breweries, restaurants, as well as cozy cabins, bed and breakfasts and other accommodations.

While in Nelson County, hikers won’t want to miss Crabtree Falls, the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. The popular attraction is located just 6 miles from the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, near mile marker 27.

Head southwest into Nelson County for about 45 minutes and you’ll come to Natural Bridge, which remains one of the state’s top attractions.

Standing over 215 feet tall with a span of 90 feet, Natural Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the 18th and 19th centuries, it was one of the two most popular sites for European visitors, ranking with Niagara Falls.

In 2016, Natural Bridge was dedicated as a state park. Walk along the Cedar Creek Trail from Cascade Falls, under the bridge, and to Lace Falls, visiting an exhibit about the Monacans, the local Native American tribe, and a saltpeter mine used during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. U.S. Route 11 passes over the bridge.

The area around Natural Bridge, about a 20-minute drive south of Lexington, offers plenty of places to stay.

Smith Mountain Lake, equidistant between Roanoke and Lynchburg, offers vacationers the opportunity to fish and practice many water sports. Overnight visitors to Smith Mountain Lake State Park will find shelter in one of 20 cabins or are welcome to pull their RV or RV to one of 24 full hookup campsites or pitch a tent in one of 25 sites.

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