Virginia’s State Parks are continually rated among the highest (if not the highest) in the country, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be with the the diversity of landscape, activities, artifact and historical features, and wide range of festivities available. Check your calendar against ours and plan a vacation to enjoy one of our 36 amazing state parks this summer.
— ANNUALLY IN MAY —
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Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Raid at Martin’s Station at Wilderness Road State Park in Ewing is a commemoration of the 1776 raid. Highlights include tours of Cherokee warrior and colonial militia camps, a special Sons of the American Revolution program, first-person account from Mad Anne Bailey about women warriors, and frontier battle reenactment between the Cherokee and settlers. $10 per vehicle Friday and Saturday; $4 per vehicle Sunday. Always the second weekend in May.
The Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park is a full Memorial Day weekend of fun with hayrides, dancing, music, old fashioned field games, antique cars and tractors, bake sale, crafts, petting farm, corn hole tournament, special hikes, and of course, plenty of strawberry delights to fill the tummies. Pizzas, wraps, hot dogs and more are available for purchase, or bring your own picnic. $25 per vehicle.
In Big Stone Gap at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park you’ll find the long-standing Gathering in the Gap Music Festival, always occurring the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Bring your lawn chair and relish in Virginia’s rich old-time, bluegrass, blues, and Americana music performed by regional and national artists. There are also instrument competitions, songwriting workshops, and of course, impromptu jam sessions. A kids area makes it a well-rounded event. $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Children 12 and under are free. Buy Now
Another hot Memorial Day weekend event is Jubilee in the Breaks at Breaks Interstate Park in Breaks. It’s three days of gospel music featuring some of the best southern and gospel bluegrass you’ll hear anywhere. Bring a lawn chair and a few dollars for concessions; admission is free.
— ANNUALLY IN JUNE —
Bear Creek Lake State Park
As the temperature climbs, the water of Claytor Lake in Dublin looks all the more appealing. Don’t miss out on their Summer Festival, which is a big all-day party that concludes with evening fireworks. Food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, wine tasting, car show, live entertainment and much more fill your day with fun. $10 per vehicle OR $5 + five cans of food will get you in, too. Held the second Saturday of June.
Beginning the second Saturday in June, Mountains of Music Homecoming Festival is a week-long musical experience across Southwest Virginia with a performance held at each Breaks Interstate Park in Breaks, Grayson Highlands State Park in Mouth of Wilson, and Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield.
Always the third Saturday in June, the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival & Guitar Competition is held at Grayson Highlands State Park in Mouth of Wilson. 2015 is the 21st year for this festival and competition that awards scholarships to local young musicians. $5 per vehicle and tickets are $20 per person.
Many of the Virginia State Parks participate in the Great American Backyard Campout, a national event led by the National Wildlife Federation that encourages connection with nature and wildlife while raising funds for the protection of both. The Campout is held annually on the last Saturday of June in conjunction with June’s status of Great Outdoors Month.
— ANNUALLY IN JULY —
Chippokes State Park
The 40th annual Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival at Chippokes State Park in Surry will feature the best of the region’s agricultural products. More than 225 artisans will be on hand, not to mention a delectable spread of Virginia foods, specifically, pork and peanuts! $5 per person; children 10 and younger are free. Always the third weekend in July.
Also the third weekend in July is the Hungry Mother Arts and Crafts Festival at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion. Come for the juried arts and crafts featuring artisans from around the region. More than 100 will display. Live music and other entertainment will make it a fun day for the entire family. $6 per vehicle.
Now in its third year, Railroad Day at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield is the third Saturday of July. It’s a great way to engage with the Norfolk & Southern Railroad engines and enjoy the stunning natural tunnel. You can even see it via skylift! $4 per vehicle; chairlift rides are $3 per person and children 6 and under ride free.
— ANNUALLY IN AUGUST —
Check out the early way of doing things in the wilderness, just as the first settlers did, when you attend the Early Pioneers Settlers Weekend at Breaks Interstate Park in Breaks. It’s held the first weekend in August every year.
The Papa Joe Smiddy Music Festival is held the Sunday before Labor Day at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield. It’s the place to be if you love a cool almost-fall evening with traditional bluegrass music dancing on the air. $15 at the gate. Children 12 and younger are free.
— ALL SUMMER LONG —
Natural Tunnel State Park
If you love great live music, you’ll be thrilled to learn that several parks host a summer concert series. Plan a trip around these:
- Music at the Marina Series at Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge
- Pocahontas Premieres at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield
- Pocahontas Live Concert Series at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield
- Music on the Cliffs at Westmoreland State Park in Montross
- Music by the River Series at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster
- Music in the Park Series at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion
- Pickin’ in the Park at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield
- The Reynolds Homestead Concert in the Park Series at Fairy Stone State Park in Stuart
Also check out the very special opportunity that only occurs every so often: Lighting of the Tunnel at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield.