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Easily accessible from various places in the Mid-Atlantic states and the Southeast, Virginia isn’t just a state for lovers…it’s a state to be loved! Whether you’re looking for a change of pace from your busy life in D.C, wanting to learn something new, or craving a healthy dose of natural attractions, Virginia’s big cities, small towns, and picturesque countryside has lots to offer.
These are our top picks for weekend getaways in Virginia!
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Many people think of Florida and California for their beach vacations, but there’s an amazing beach that’s accessible and affordable right here in Virginia. To spend as much time as possible at the beach, plan to camp at First Landing State Park in a tent or RV. There are also lots of amazing resorts right along the beach if you don’t feel like roughing it. In addition to the water and sand, there’s also a nice boardwalk at Virginia Beach with restaurants, amusement rides, and shops as well as a range of wintertime activities such as whale watching. Don’t miss the Virginia Aquarium, the Military Aviation Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art while you’re here too.
Take a step back in time with guided tours and fun hands-on activities from the 18th century. Colonial Williamsburg is a place to experience life in the early days of America in the world’s largest living history museum. There are hotels nearby, such as the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge, and the Griffin Hotel. Also, Colonial Williamsburg is considered to be one-third of Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown. Consider visiting all three destinations on an extended weekend trip to learn about the history and have a ton of fun while doing it.
Virginia’s natural landscapes make it easy to get outside and experience the beauty of the environment. One of the best places to do this is George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. In addition to peaceful hiking through the tall trees, there are also great opportunities here for fishing, camping, caving, and hang gliding. The forests extend along the Appalachian Mountains and into West Virginia and Kentucky as well. In the winter, skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are popular options. For camping, there are over 50 developed campgrounds and three cabins in these state forests for your weekend stay.
You don’t need to travel all the way to Tuscany or Napa Valley to try delicious wines with incredible views. There are many vineyards and wineries in Virginia, largely located in Loudoun County. This Northern Virginia region has around 40 wineries and tasting rooms that are grouped together in six clusters. There’s the Loudoun Heights cluster, Waterford cluster, Potomac cluster, Mosby cluster, Harmony cluster, and Snickers Gap cluster. Pick one cluster and focus on visiting a few wineries there to sample and perhaps take a bottle home with you to enjoy later.
Another historical spot on that makes a great weekend getaway is Mount Vernon. This historic estate offers a glimpse in the American past and also lovely views of the Potomac River. Learn about George and Martha Washington’s lives here in Virginia by taking a tour with a friendly guide. Tickets for general admission typically include admittance to the estate and George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill. Plan to spend at least three hours here before moving on to your other weekend plans.
It surprises many first-time visitors to Virginia that there are underground caves here just waiting to be explored. Inside the mysterious and fascinating Luray Caverns, you’ll find stalactites, stalagmites, stone columns, crystal-clear pools, and mystifying rock formations. There is also a Luray Valley Museum and a Car and Carriage Caravan Museum here to learn about the people who once lived here, and the museums are included in your Luray Caverns general admission. Toy Town Junction is another fun attraction here, as well as the garden maze and the rope adventure park.
Shenandoah is an amazing place to go hiking for your weekend getaway because it has over 500 miles of trails to explore. The park is open year-around, and this is also a popular place for fishing, taking a scenic car trip or biking along Skyline drive, and camping. There are four campgrounds in the park, and three of them are RV accessible. Other lodging options here include the Skyland Resort, the Big Meadows Lodge, and the Lewis Mountain Cabins. While most national parks in the U.S. don’t allow pets on trails, Shenandoah National Park is one that actually does. You can bring your four-legged friend along to hike as long as you keep him on a leash of six feet and avoid the handful of trails that aren’t pet-friendly.
If you’re looking for more of a city adventure for your weekend getaway, consider a trip to Richmond. This is a great place to learn about history by visiting the Virginia Historical Society, Hollywood Cemetery, and Monument Avenue. There’s also St. John’s Episcopal Church, the American Civil War Museum, and the Edgar Allen Poe Museum to get your history fix. The Carytown neighborhood is a lively place to go out for dinner and walk around for the evening. And you can find some great breweries scattered throughout the city, such as the Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Strangeways Brewing.
If you love strolling through quaint streets, popping into shops and restaurants, and people-watching, then the charming Old Town Alexandria is the perfect place to go for your weekend getaway. It’s close to D.C but packed with over 200 independent boutiques and restaurants that sit alongside history museums and a beautiful waterfront. Hop on the free King Street Trolley to take it all in.
For a taste of small-town life that still offers lots to do, make a weekend plan to visit Lexington, Virginia. History buffs should check out the Virginia Military Institute, Lee Chapel and Museum, and the Stonewall Jackson House. It’s also fun to stop by the Devil’s Backbone Outpost Brewery, Boxerwood Garden, and maybe catch a performance at the Theatre at Lime Kiln while you’re here.