There is an exciting vacation waiting for everyone in Virginia…from those adventurous, carefree souls that love to wander and explore the outdoors to the overstressed parents looking to relax in luxury with some excellent food and wine. Not sure what type of vacation suits your interests? Here are 10 amazing getaway ideas that let you discover the wonders of Virginia on your next vacation.
FOR THE MOUNTAIN LOVERS
Where to Travel: Mount Rogers in Grayson Highlands State Park
Photo Credit: Kyle LaFerriere, @laferriere.photography
Mount Rogers is the highest point in Virginia at 5,729 feet, and hiking to this rugged spot inside Grayson Highlands State Park offers pristine views of the lands below. You’ll find a bit of everything in this park when it comes to landscape, including rare spruce-fir forests, wide open meadows, and rocky summits with stunning views. Numerous park campgrounds allow for an overnight stay, and hiking, biking, and horseback riding are just a few of the activities available to visitors. If you’re looking for iconic hiking opportunities, the Appalachian Trail runs through Grayson Highlands State Park, providing the chance to tackle a short section hike on your vacation. Biking enthusiasts can head to the nearby Virginia Creeper Trail for a descending ride on 34 miles of trail that even a beginner will enjoy. The park is both family and pet-friendly, and kids are sure to love the wild ponies (although touching or feeding the ponies is not permitted).
FOR THE OUTDOOR LOVERS
Where to Travel: Shenandoah National Park
Photo credit: Kelly J. Mihalcoe
Known as one of the most breathtaking National Parks in the country, Shenandoah National Park is a can’t-miss destination for outdoor lovers. Roll down the windows as your cruise down Skyline Drive and plan to take breaks at a few of the 75 the scenic overlooks to get unbelievable vantage points right off the road. Within the park, there are more than 500 miles of trails for hiking enthusiasts, including about 100 miles of the storied Appalachian Trail. Take on the trail to Hawksbill Summit, a 2.2 mile hike that ends in a nearly 360 degree view of the picturesque Shenandoah Valley. Like Grayson Highlands, Shenandoah National Park has plenty of camping and horseback riding opportunities to round out your picture-perfect outdoor Virginia getaway.
FOR THE WINE LOVERS
Where to Travel: Early Mountain Vineyards in Madison
Get a taste of Virginia’s award-winning wines at Early Mountain Vineyards, part of the Monticello Wine Trail in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The winery features a full service restaurant in the tasting room, with local food and artisanal products available to pair with the wines, or you can pack a picnic to bring along and eat on the winery’s charming grounds. In addition to offering tastings of their own wines, they have a “Best of Virginia” program that lets you taste the finest wines from around the Commonwealth. On sunny days, grab a seat on the terrace for table service with views of an historic renovated barn, scenic gardens, thriving vineyards, and of course, the namesake of the winery, Early Mountain.
FOR THE OYSTER LOVERS
Where to Travel: Merroir in Topping
Photo credit: Todd Wright, @toddwrightphoto
Whether you’re a first-timer or a lifetime oyster lover, you arguably can’t find a better place to try Virginia’s world-class oysters than at Merroir, a gourmet oyster tasting house on the banks of the Rappahannock River. The restaurant serves oysters from the Rappahannock Oyster Company farms and actually overlooks one of their oyster beds, giving you a front row seat for the freshest oyster experience. The seasonal, ever-changing menu contains a selection of raw shellfish as well as a variety of dishes cooked only feet away on their outdoor grill. For a truly delicious foodie moment, pair your meal with something from the beverage menu, comprised of a balanced selection of Virginia craft beers and wines.
FOR THE CRAFT BEER LOVERS
Where to Travel: Ardent Craft Ales in Richmond
Photo credit: Hannah Armstrong, @hannahelizarmstrong
Virginia’s craft beer scene is exploding, with some of the biggest names in American brewing like Stone Brewing and Deschutes Brewing Company opening East Coast locations around the Commonwealth. But the true reason these larger brewers have taken notice is simple: Our local craft breweries are impressive enough to garner a lot of attention, turning beer lovers’ heads from around the world with outstanding products. Richmond was one of the first places in Virginia to recognize the trend, and now there are a dozen craft breweries within the city, making it the perfect place for a brewery tour. Stop by Ardent Craft Ales in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood for a flight of innovative craft brews. The outdoor beer garden is a popular spot when the weather allows, and during weekends and summer evenings, you can get something to eat on-site from a local food truck. Want to take some with you? Bring a growler and fill it up with your favorite beer of the day.
FOR THE HISTORY LOVERS
Where to Travel: Colonial Williamsburg
As the site of the first permanent English settlement, Virginia is packed with historic destinations, and you could easily spend several weeks traveling to experience even a portion of the state’s full history. Parents interested in a vacation option where kids can learn while having fun should book a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. The city has been reconstructed to resemble its colonial and Revolutionary War roots, adding authenticity through living-history experiences that create an educational adventure. Meet the “townspeople”, who will teach your family about Colonial American history, the common skills practiced during the time period, and true accounts of the earliest residents of Virginia. After checking out Colonial Williamsburg, head over to Jamestown and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown to learn more about what life was like in Virginia for the early settlers.
FOR THE FOOD LOVERS
Where to Travel: Quirk Hotel Rooftop Bar in Richmond
Photo credit: Todd Wright, @toddwrightphoto
Food lovers have a veritable smorgasbord of options for fine dining in Virginia, from Appalachian cuisine to oysters fresh out of the Chesapeake. Richmond’s culinary scene is especially rich, but if you’re looking for the total package of tasty food, excellent beverages, and enchanting atmosphere, consider visiting Quirk Hotel’s Rooftop Bar. Order from their rotating tasting menu as you take in the unbeatable view of downtown Richmond and the James River, and if drinks are on the agenda, the bartenders make some truly sensational craft cocktails that deserve a nod. They even serve a special Quirk Beer, made by nearby Hardywood Park Craft Brewery exclusively for the hotel. Plan your visit for early evening, as the sunsets seen from the rooftop are legendary, but be prepared for a wait. Lines often stretch out the back door, leading to long wait times. Get priority entrance to the rooftop bar when you stay at the hotel during your vacation. Only guests 21 and up are permitted on the rooftop bar, but Maple & Pine in the lobby of Quirk Hotel welcomes guests of all ages.
FOR THE MUSIC LOVERS
Where to Travel: Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music
Live music fills the streets of Bristol on an almost daily basis as bands and performers pay tribute to the city’s musical heritage as “The Birthplace of Country Music”, but travel to Bristol during September 15-17, 2017 and you’ll catch more than just a few performances. Every year during the third weekend in September, the city hosts a three day musical event that closes Downtown Bristol and State Street for Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, a festival featuring 22 stages of live music, with both indoor and outdoor venues so the music doesn’t stop no matter what the weather. On Saturday, there are free events for the whole family on the children’s stage from 9am-1pm. Stop by the Birthplace of Country Music Museum while you’re in town to learn more about the history of country music in the region.
FOR THE UNIQUE VACATION LOVER
Where to Travel: Luray Caverns
Image Courtesy of Luray Caverns
Looking for a travel experience you won’t find anywhere else? Then you need to check out Luray Caverns, the largest and most popular caverns on the East Coast. The Cathedral-sized rooms of the caverns are filled with unique rock formations rising from the floors and hanging from the ceilings, which can reach over 10 stories high. Crystal clear pools reflect the beautiful rock formations inside this underground marvel, and haunting sounds come from the world’s only Stalagpipe organ, a musical instrument created from the varied stone formations.
FOR THE BEACH LOVERS
Where to Travel: Sandbridge in Virginia Beach
Photo credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Many visitors come from hundreds of miles away to stay at Virginia Beach during the summer months, but just 15 miles south of the resort area, Sandbridge Beach offers a more peaceful alternative for beach lovers. The beaches are more relaxing and private than the busy resort area and are great for families interested in renting quiet beachfront houses. Lie out on the uncrowded shores or join the kids for some fun in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Discover the coastal ecosystems at nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, where you can kayak, hike, or simply see the region’s wildlife in the pristine natural surroundings.
Plan your perfect vacation to Virginia today. We promise, you’ll LOVE this!