13 Favorite Virginia Campgrounds for Summer

by Casey Higgins | Posted: May 28, 2015 | Updated: Feb 19, 2016

Comments: 26 Comments

‘Tis the season to pitch a tent, load up the RV, or hitch up the tag-along! We asked around the office, our friends, our followers on Twitter, etc. to determine which campgrounds are family favorites year after year. Here’s what we gathered. We invite you to add to the list by commenting with yours!



Westmoreland State Park

“From WPA cabins to hiking trails to banks of the Potomac, nothing says serenity and authenticity to me like WSP.” – Taylor S.

This is the life. Westmoreland encompasses more than 1,000 acres, a river to play on, swimming pool, trails, and even fossil hunting (shark’s tooth, anyone?). Bring the whole family for a stay at The Potomac River Retreat. It accommodates up to 16, if you’d rather not camp.



Sherando Lake. Casey Higgins photo.

“Being so remote allows you to turn off everything and focus on your surroundings and the people you are with … the security blanket of Target being close is an added bonus. Perfect spot for first time campers and seasoned veterans.” -Benjamin

“Something for everyone! Swimming, fishing, family friendly, nearby trails, great camping sites.” – Kay H.

Two lakes on 24 acres, trails that connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail, beautiful camp sites, and plenty of serenity await at Sherando.



“Awesome facilities (paddleboats, fishing off the dock, pools, putt-putt, general store, playgrounds, etc.). Very family oriented, right on the Chesapeake Bay. Hot water and great showers in the bathhouses.” – Sharon L.

More than 300 acres on the Chesapeake Bay — that’s your playground! There’s no need to leave Cherrystone as the cafe, general store and bait & tackle will keep you pretty well stocked. Rent a golf cart to peruse the grounds or a boat to enjoy the Bay.



Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park

“I really love Big Meadows. There is a lodge but the only camping is non-electric or hike in. Depends on what kind of camping you’re looking for but the wildlife and flora are not to be beat! Blueberries and gooseberries, flowers, deer, bear, birds, etc!” – Amanda D.

Big Meadows is just one of four campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park. Book up to five months in advance. Camping is an additional fee to Shenandoah National Park entry, but it’s totally worth it. Although a motorhome is pictured, there are no RV hook-ups in the campgrounds.



Misty Mountain Camp Resort

“We enjoyed this campground so much we go twice a year (March & October). We love it because it’s a stone throw away from breweries and wineries. The spots are not huge nor are they small and the scenery is just to die for. The staff is so very friendly and makes you feel right at home. They also provide activities for folks of all ages. My personal favorite part of the campground is the homemade crate stage where they put on bluegrass entertainment.” – Suzanne W.

A babbling stream and pond are sweet highlights of this 50-acre reprieve. Come fish, swim in the pool, and definitely take in the live music. Be sure to inquire about the new adventure tours!



“… family friendly & beautiful lake! I’ve been going every summer since I was a baby.” – Michelle W.

“I love the large and shaded campsites and the beautiful access to the largest lake in Virginia!” – Anne B.

The 50,000-acre Buggs Island Lake is at your toes when you pull into North Bend. Explore the little coves and swim the beach. Fishing is plentiful and so are the hiking and biking trails. Check the schedule to see what’s on deck at the amphitheater.



Bethpage Camp-Resort

Bethpage is very neat and clean. They always have different activities. The waterpark is great for the children. They have an adult only pool for those who don’t wanna get splashed by the kids playing around!” – Carrie D.

Fun is at hand at Bethpage. More than 1,000 RV sites and 30 cottages are at your disposal, and you can choose from a wide variety of fun – too much to mention, as a matter of fact. But know this: the mini golf comes with free ice cream if you’re part of a group of about 10 or more people. It pays to vacation in numbers, people.



First Landing State Park

Photo by Rob Merrill “… on the beach, good accommodations, close to other fun.” – Andy P.

First Landing is so named because on April 26, 1607, 100 English settlers landed at that point in Virginia Beach prior to heading up the James River to establish Jamestown. Andy is right. This state park is just down the sand from the resort area and its live music, night life and electric vibe.



Douthat State Park

“… clean, family oriented, and a good lake for outdoor activities.” – Judy G.

One of the first state parks in the Virginia State Park System, Douthat has been welcoming families for more than 70 years. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, includes the aforementioned 50-acre trout-stocked lake, and more than 40 miles of hiking and biking trails. Take a swim from the sandy beach or join in one of the special programs.



Shenandoah Valley Campground

“… love the location and atmosphere.” – Amy H.

Noted as the only Virginia campground with a “spectacular” waterfall, Shenandoah Valley Campground also has free wi-fi, tubing through the horseshoe bends of Middle River, great fishing in a stocked lake, 18 holes of mini golf, and a couple of pools. There’s more, but that should be plenty to whet your appetite and pique your curiosity.



Rural Retreat Lake. Courtesy Wythe County.

“Located near the intersections of 81 & 77, Rural Retreat campground has proven itself as being a favorite stop for campers throughout the east coast, as well as residents of Southwest Virginia. We’re proud of the many summer memories we have had a hand in making through the years at the lake and camping.” – Jeremy F.

More than 90 acres of lake and land with fishing, an accessible boat dock, and 40 shady campsites, including primitive sites. A zero-entry pool and brand new playground ensure this is a fun place that is family friendly. Hiking trails and a nine-hole disc golf course add to the experience.



Bear Creek Lake State Park

Tucked neatly into Cumberland State Forest, the 40-acre lake is the centerpiece of this popular state park. Rent and launch boats, fish from the pier, or lounge on the sandy beach. Fourteen miles of multi-use trails plus an archery range will keep you busy when you’re not chilling at your tent site on the lakefront.


Belle Isle State Park

You can’t go wrong when you choose Belle Isle and its 733 acres and seven miles of shoreline. It’s great for birding with tidal wetlands, and multi-use trails. Rent a boat or kayak to experience the park from the water, and don’t forget to check out the Bel Air Mansion. The Fresh Prince would be proud.

Leave a Reply


Laura Elkins says:

How can you possibly omit The Breaks Interstate Park?? (Other than it is an interstate park and not simply a state park?) The Grand Canyon of the South has the most amazing views, hiking trails, water park, white water paddling, and more!

Casey Higgins says:

These were favorite campgrounds as mentioned by folks we polled. We give Breaks a ton of love. Just conduct a search of this site and you’ll find Breaks frequently included. It’s a stunning place.

Lucy B WayNo says:

What a horrible photo of Sherando Lake..should be looking through the old trees towards the Island in the middle with the mts round about..We camped there for many many years and your photo absolutely did not do justice to the spectacular view. It is the jewel of the Blue Ridge. I did enjoy all the other photos.

Casey Higgins says:

Lucy, that’s my son fishing at Sherando. I love the angle as it shows the excellent water quality. Sure, an aerial or wide angle of the lake might have been nice, but the only thing we have that shows something like that is a fall view, which I opted to avoid with it being summer and all.

What happened to Fairy Stone , have stayed there many times. Did not like Big Meadows, too many bears. Too numerous to count stays at North Bend on Buggs Island Lake. Many many memories of many camp outs and cabin stays.

Kojo says:

Too many bears is a problem? 🙂

Virginia has so many great outdoor retreats! Our favorite – and we’re probably a little bias – is Newport News Park & Campsite! When visiting Coastal Virginia, it’s a must. Check it out >> http://www.newport-news.org/things-to-do/outdoors.php?id=6