Virginia’s beaches offer a wide variety of activities and adventures to experience this summer. Whether it’s a relaxing getaway or a journey for the adrenaline junkie, now is the perfect time to plan a trip.
Virginia Beach, offers the best of both worlds for its visitors. Head 15 miles south of the resort area of town and you’ll find Sandbridge Beach. Sandbridge is a peaceful, secluded area, making it a wonderful spot for travelers who are looking for some R&R without the hustle and bustle of Virginia Beach’s resort areas.
Family time spent at the beach
Sandbridge is a fantastic area of Virginia Beach, but let’s not knock the resort area! Toss around a beach ball, kick around the soccer ball. Take in the sounds of laughter and portable radios. It’s a great spot to bring the kids and experience the ultimate family vacation.
Looking for a day of excitement? Swing by Rudee Inlet and take a ride out to sea on a banana boat. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A banana-shaped boat. Rudee offers other traditional water rentals, but why pass up a piece of fruit to wander around?
Paddle boarding is one of the best cardio workouts in the water, all while offering an awesome, yet spiritual experience. Rudee’s offers everything from lessons to floating yoga, catering to all skill levels. Beginners can journey to the calm inland water for instruction, while those more experience can head out to sea to enjoy the ocean wildlife.
While you’re in the area, venture over to False Cape State Park and experience the beach in its most primitive state. The park boasts a 7.5-mile trail, with views of beaches, dunes, maritime forests of oak and pine, wooded swamps, marshes, and the bay—all in one journey. Pitch a tent or rent a cabin and take in the tranquility of nature, gazing under the stars.
Head east to Portsmouth and find the Chesapeake Diving Center. Go below the surface for some scuba diving expeditions. The Diving Center offers 10 different diving options, from boat and night diving, to digital underwater photography, and wreck dives. The Center offers equipment rentals and all the necessary training to head out on an exhilarating adventure.
Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail
The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is a driving trail with loops off the main trail, linking some of Virginia’s best wildlife-watching areas with walking and biking trails. One of those is the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. A premier birding and wildlife site, the 1200-acre refuge provides viewing access to significant stretches of salt marsh, grasslands, loblolly pine forests, bayberry thickets, barrier islands, and freshwater and brackish ponds. The refuge has a bird list that comes close to 300 species.
The Eastern Shore is full of unique experiences, from spots of pure relaxation, to extreme water sports. Kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing water sports in the country and Cape Charles’ SouthEast Kiteboarding School (S.E.E.) is the only full-service kiteboarding center in Virginia. The Cape Charles beachfront is an ideal learning environment, with flat, shallow water and consistent side shore breezes. For more experienced riders, S.E.E. offers kiteboarding expeditions through the shallow bays and barrier island breaks of the seaside of the Eastern Shore. Discover the spot that the Kiteboarder magazine calls “the best kept secret on the East Coast!”
Live the Dream! If you are looking for one of the most exciting things to do, want to fly like a bird, and see some of the most beautiful scenery on the east coast, then take a Discovery Hang Gliding Flight at the Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center. No experience is necessary and all ages 4+ are able to enjoy this pure form of flight. The Center offers Discovery Flights up to a mile high. You and your USHGA certified instructor will soar over the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where you will learn the basics of controlling a hang glider. Your “dream” of flying will come true!
With so many unique experiences available, it’s easy to plan a perfect seaside escape this summer.
Discover nature as you’ve never seen it before. Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore unique wildlife and much more—and we have some of the best adventures in the country.
SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf
For instance, SouthEast Expeditions (SEE) in Cape Charles has been featured in Chesapeake Life magazine, Washington Post and the Denver Post, and everywhere in between. SEE offers a unique kayak winery tour, where it teams up with Chatham Vineyards and each pair of participants receive a bottle of their choosing. SEE also offers tours for first-timers, as they are guided through shallow, sheltered waters. They are perfect for family outings and are a wonderful introduction to both the sport of sea kayaking and the beautiful coastal ecosystems of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Trips are also available for the intermediate and well-seasoned kayaker.
For those looking to get a rise out of their trip to Cape Charles, spend a weekend in a century-old working waterman’s cabin, courtesy of SEE. Recently featured in Garden and Gun magazine, take your winery trip to the cabin, once dotted the Eastern Shore’s marshlands, which were outposts for oystermen guarding their grounds. Upon arrival, dive into a feast of local oysters and steamed clams; and of course, a glass of Chatham’s Chardonnay to pair.
Did you know the second oldest river in the world lies right in our back yard? Contrary to its name, the New River flows through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, beginning in West Virginia, drifting to its end in northern North Carolina.
New River Camping & Kayaking
New River Campground Canoeing and Kayaking, located in Independence, gives visitors a perfect opportunity to explore diverse wildlife. Whether you are interested in a leisurely day of paddling, riding some rapids or an overnight trip on the river, the company can create custom outings for a trip like no other.
Take an eco-tour at Bay Country Kayaking in Williamsburg, where the family owned and operated company’s mission is to educate kayakers on Virginia’s ecological, cultural and historical significance; all while enjoying tours on the James, York or Piankatank Rivers, or Mobjak Bay and the Eastern Shore. Bases are positioned on both the mainland and Eastern Shore.
Head to Kayak Nature Tours in Virginia Beach and experience a trip out to sea. Featured in Southern Living magazine, the company boasts tours for newcomers, all the way to expert level, including a dolphin adventure tour.
Also near the Atlantic, Adventure Kayak Tours feature trips off Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. Personalized trips are available, meeting the unique needs of its clients. Exclusive tours include fishing and geocaching, as well as a paddle under the stars and full moon. For those who are looking for a little something extra, a kayak camping adventure is perfect. Take a two-day, one-night guided tour of the Great Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond. Adventure Kayak Tours has won the Virginia Green Travel Leader award and also offers guided eco-tours for PITO—Paddle In Trash Out—an excellent opportunity for those who a looking to help keep coastal Virginia clean.
Located on the Potomac Shore, Algonkian Regional Park is an ideal spot for a kayak trip. Flow through the upper reaches of the scenic Potomac River and paddle among the islands that are stretched out on this beautiful section of the river. Learn about the natural world around you and the general ecology of the area.
The mighty James River begins its majestic journey in Botetourt County, winding through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. The unspoiled beauty of the river is more accessible than ever through the Upper James River Water Trail. Paddlers, anglers and families can get back to nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of 45 miles of the Upper James, including 14 pristine miles designated as a Virginia Scenic River. See the mountains like you’ve never seen them before on the Upper James River Water Trail. The Upper James River Water Trail was created by Botetourt County to encourage residents and visitors to experience the beauty and history of one of the county’s greatest natural treasures. Class I and II rapids are part of the journey, as the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers converge to form the James.
Visit Virginia’s largest lake! John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake is more than 50,000 acres of fresh water with more than 800 miles of beautiful shoreline. Surround yourself with natural beauty by heading out on the kayak and see where it takes you. Quiet coves are waiting to be explored.
At Great Falls National Park, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Kayaking in this whitewater area is meant to be used by very skilled kayakers.
Also nestled along the shores of the Potomac River, Leesylvania State Park offers many water-related activities, more specifically, kayaking. Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, take in the history of the grounds, while enjoying the tidal, freshwater river.
Massanutten Adventures Canoe and Kayak provides kayaking services to the Shenandoah Valley and Harrisonburg areas. Explore the Shenandoah River and take in the natural wildlife. The facility is a part of the popular Massanutten Resort, with plenty of camping and lodging available to spend a weekend on the water.
White water kayaking at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is the ideal place for guests in good physical condition, looking for a more challenging adventure. You will explore Class I-III (sometimes I-II+) rapids on this seven-mile stretch of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers near Harpers Ferry, W,Va., where two rivers (the Shenandoah and Potomac) and three states (Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia) come together for a thrilling Shenandoah and Potomac kayak experience. For a more relaxing experience, try out the Flat Water tour. Kayakers will enjoy the scenic stretches of the Potomac and paddling at their own pace.
Ride through the most bio-diverse river in America with Clinch River Adventures. Clinch River Adventures offers a wide variety of kayaking excursions for the entire family and adventurists of all skill levels. Choose between sit-in, sit-on and tandem kayaks and enjoy the ride on trips that can last from 45 minutes to seven hours!
The newly developed Southern Virginia Wild Blueway in Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties offer kayaking adventures on four different rivers making many unique trips in the water. The Blueway is surrounded by unspoiled terrain and undeveloped public shoreline. Catch some views of bald eagles and osprey patrolling the area and take in the sights. The Blueway is definitely an adventure to put on the bucket list.
Venture out along the Chesapeake Bay to Mobjack Kayaking. Paddle over to the historic New Point Lighthouse and explore New Point Beach along the way. The lighthouse, originally surrounded by a beach of 100 acres, is now surrounded by water, with frequent dolphin sightings around the area. Mobjack Kayaking offers nine different kayak trips, including horse shoe crab spotting and early morning bird watching.
Got an adrenaline junkie on your hands? Give them an experience like no other through Virginia’s many zip line, canopy and ropes course tours. Whether you’re just starting out or a self-proclaimed expert, these adventures feature an exhilarating experience for those who are up to the challenge!
Virginia Aquarium Adventure Park
VIRGINIA AQUARIUM ADVENTURE PARK – Virginia Beach, Va.
The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium is an eco-friendly zip line and aerial adventure experience in the trees above the scenic Owls Creek, where kids, teens and adults can all enjoy the Adventure Park. Perfect for families or groups, participants will soar through the trees of the Owls Creek Path and will see wooden platforms at different heights. They are connected either by zip lines that climbers “zip” across or fun challenge bridges that climbers navigate in order to get from one platform to the next. The Adventure Park has zip lines for the beginner to expert, as well as an impressive jungle gym, perfect for parties.
BEAR MOUNTAIN – Luray, Va.
Go ahead, get carried away…at Bear Mountain Zip Lines. The Mama Bear zip line tour includes 7 zip lines, for a total of 2,700 ft. line racing through the forest canopy at up to 35 miles per hour. Perfect for all ages, Bear Mountain offers safety gear, training and procedures. Looking to give the kids a challenge? The Baby Bear High Ropes course is designed for children 5+ that will guarantee a fun and safe adventure. And while you’re there, don’t forget about the Bear Scramble climbing wall!
MASSANUTTEN RESORT – Rockingham, Va.
Nestled within Massanutten Resort, lies one of the most thrilling adventures on the property. Located at the Family Adventure Park and Peaked Mountain Express Tube Park, the Zip Line/Canopy Tour boasts a Burma bridge, hanging vines crossing and four zip lines ranging from 90 to 450 feet long. Race down the mountain on a 750 foot-long Mega Zip Line with a friend or family member and experience high-flying on this rope’s course adventure! Located at the Family Adventure Park, Massanutten Resort’s Kids’ Adventure Course and Zip Line features a Burma plank, log crossing, swinging vine bridge, missing plank bridge, net traverse and a 100’ zip line that is sure to thrill!
ADVENTURE PARK AT SANDY RIVER RETREAT – Rice, Va.
The Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat’s ropes course & zip line park is designed with family fun in mind. The park is built on a 16-acre, self-sufficient farm in the town of Rice, just outside Farmville. The Park’s mission is for its guests to enjoy their time, laugh, scream, cheer and build confidence on their challenging course obstacles, while enjoying the exhilarating ride on the zip lines. The Adventure Park includes 16 zip lines and 52 obstacle high ropes.
Go Ape Treetop Adventure
GO APE TREETOP ADVENTURE – James City, Va.
Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is an outdoor experience that provides participants 2-3 hours of outdoor fun and exercise. The course allows participants to explore the park from an otherwise unobtainable vantage point, while navigating through the treetops using zip lines, obstacles and Tarzan swings. Located just minutes from downtown Williamsburg in the historic Freedom Park, Go Ape is a unique and highly interactive treetop adventure.
RIVERSIDE OUTFITTERS – Richmond, Va.
Choose from high-ropes challenges like vertical climbs into the tree canopy, limb walks, high-elevation zip lines, canopy rope bridges, plunging tree swings and much more! The level of challenge can easily be fit to climbers from ages 5 to adult, and from the beginner to the expert. Riverside Outfitters’ mission is to significantly and responsibly increase recreational use of Richmond’s natural landscape by guiding outdoor experiences and inspiring a return to natural fun.
VIRGINIA CANOPY TOURS – Bentonville, Va.
During the Zip the Park tour, participants will enjoy stunning views of the Massanutten Mountains and the gorgeous hardwood forest of the Shenandoah Valley. Guests will learn the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley, native plant species and the wild inhabitants who make the woods their home. Participants will soar through the Shenandoah hardwood forest at speeds which can exceed 40 miles per hour and at heights reaching 90 feet above the forest floor– all while attached to two steel cables. The Tour finale is an adrenaline-pumping 1,035’ zip down the face of the ridge to their rappel.
TREETOP ZOOFARI ZIP LINE & ADVENTURE PARK – Moseley, Va.
The Treetop Zoofari at the Richmond Zoo is designed for the entire family. As you traverse the canopy walk, plus multiple high stakes challenges and large zip lines at 40 feet above the ground, there will be choices given along the route. These choices are the difference between easier and more challenging routes. Fly more than 600 feet across the zoo’s lake and zip by tapirs, rheas, and toucans. Those afraid of heights, balanced challenged and younger kids can enjoy the Junior Explorer course. Participants will be pushed to the limits as they pass over tightropes and Indiana Jones bridges, through barrels and nets, only to top off their adventure with a 60-foot zip line. The challenges are all tree to tree and range from 5-12 feet in the air.
Zip Line at Bryce Resort
BRYCE MOUNTAIN ZIP LINE ADVENTURE – Basye, Va.
Bryce Resort offers an exciting ride, consisting of 10 zip line platform stations, connected by more than 3,500 feet of cable traversing down the ski slopes and through the woods. With speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, riders will experience the thrill of flying through the trees and sailing across the open ski slopes, as high as 80 feet above the ground, as they work their way from the top to the bottom of the mountain. The resort’s adventure features 10 different zip lines. While you’re there, be sure to take an evening cruise down the lines to take in some of the most breathtaking views Virginia has to offer.
LURAY CAVERNS ROPE ADVENTURE PARK – Luray, Va.
This is your invitation to strap on a harness, step out of your comfort zone, and soar to new heights. The Rope Adventure Park at Luray Caverns includes three different levels of ropes course challenges. While fun is always the main focus, Luray’s Adventure Park also wants you to have complete peace of mind by using a sophisticated safety system of belay devices and harnesses, with trained personnel supervising every participant.
MOUNTAIN LAKE TREETOP ADVENTURE – Pembroke, Va.
Ready for an adrenaline kick? Virginia’s newest ropes adventure course is located in the forest canopy at Mountain Lake. Mountain Lake Treetop Adventures is a fun way to get outside, challenge yourself, and experience the exhilaration of climbing through the tree canopy and riding zip lines through the forest. Sky bridges, swings, rope ladders and zip lines offer a range of challenges that are fun for both the novice, the super adventure seeker and everyone in between. The Adventure Park offers a kids course and two adult courses, all varying in height and challenge levels.
Harpers Ferry Adventure Center
HARPERS FERRY ADVENTURE CENTER – Loudoun, Va.
Harpers Ferry Adventure Center has been introduced as the best zip lining in Northern Virginia! Located near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and only one hour from Washington DC and Baltimore metro regions, this tour boasts the best views in the area! This 1.5-2-hour tour is complete with 7 zips and a Sky Bridge! You’ll fly through the tree tops along the Potomac River. Experience 8 elements: Stairway to Heaven, One and Done, Pucker Up, Blue Ridge Bridge, Dew Drop In, Geronimo, Last Stand, and Hunter’s Landing. With heights up to 40 feet, zips up to 425 ft, and a 100 ft Sky Bridge, this is an experience you won’t want to miss!
Lydia Mountain Adventure at Lydia Mountain Lodge & Log Cabins has some great options to get your zip on! Open year round, the Star-Shot Zip Lines is a three-tier zip line, suitable for ages 9+. While you’re visiting, check out the Lydia Mountain Tubing Track for some high speed fun, perfect for the kids and the kids at heart! Several adventure packages are available for reunions, birthdays and more.
VIRGINIA CANOPY TOURS AT SALAMANDER RESORT – Middleburg, Va.
Take a step off the platform and zip through the tree top canopy! The history and allure of Middleburg is not lost in the woods, they are found here, high in the treetops at the Salamander Tree Top Zip Tour. This invigorating adventure provides guests with a bird’s eye view of the historical Virginia countryside. The Salamander Tree Top Zip Tour experience is energizing and inspiring and fulfills the basic human need for adventure. Guided by our professional staff, the Salamander Tree Top Zip Tour experience begins and ends on the resort’s grand lawn. Following a short walk, safety briefing and outfitting, participants enter the course with a staircase walk to the top of the Tower. The course is comprised of a series of rope bridges and zip lines that vary in length from 90 to 670 feet in length. While tethered to an advanced pulley system, guests glide from tree top platform to tree top platform on 5 different zip lines and 2 suspension sky bridges. The course spans over 20 acres and is more than a half mile long.
The Creeper Trail Zipline tour includes 4 cables, with over 3000 ft of cable to ride. The course runs in and out of the forest, with fantastic views of the mountains. Our last cable is 1000 ft and you can reach speeds of 35 mph as you zip your way back to your final platform. We want you to have a great time, but safety is our primary concern. Our course, equipment and procedures are ACCT, (Association of Challenge Course) inspected and certified and our continual guide training ensures you will be in great hands.
More often than some would like to admit, a weekend away would be a welcome salve to the aches and drudgery of everyday life. Make this your year of self-pampering. Take the sick days that you never use and treat yourself to calm and relaxation.
Marriott Ranch. Photo by Tammy McMillan Photography.
Booking quickly and available for just one weekend, the Wellness Rejuvenation Package at Marriott Ranch in Hume includes two nights’ lodging, meals, wine with dinner on Saturday, one yoga session each day, boot camp drill session, a massage, hands-on cooking class, informal wine pairing education with dinner, and a fireside discussion with yoga instructor and fitness trainer, Monica Fernandi. Available March 7-9, 2014. $485 per person plus tax (double occupancy) or $685 plus tax (single occupancy).
Virginia’s newest resort, Salamander Resort in Middleburg, offers a special focus on equestrian activities and the well-being of riders. The Spa includes treatments for equestrians, mothers-to-be and couples, while their specialty programs include Yoga in the Stable and Yoga on Horseback, each 30 minutes long. Yoga in the Stable has you facing the sunrise and working poses to improve balance, flexibility, strength and posture while Yoga on Horseback needs no explanation. Rates from $20 to $150 per person.
Lansdowne Resort near Leesburg boasts its AAA Four Diamond Spa Minerale, an attractive centerpiece of the Pamper and Putt package built for two. Stay a night, swing one round of golf and relax through one 50-minute massage. Rates from $318.
The Spa Garden at The Omni Homestead Resort.
Set in Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains, The Spa at The Omni Homestead offers guests the chance to relax in Virginia’s hot springs through the Spa Garden area. Traditional and Homestead-specific spa treatments are available, as well as daily yoga and other fitness classes. The Omni Homestead has two overnight spa packages, one with a $200 spa credit, and another with a $400 spa credit plus a 15% spa retail discount.
Ultimate girl pampering is yours at The Martha Hotel & Spa in Abingdon. Book the “A Whole New You” package for a gourmet salt glow, 50-minute loosen-up massage, skin deep facial, aromatherapy soak and spa pedicure with your stay for $450. Guys have a package built for them, too. “Gentleman’s Indulgence” is a 50-minute loosen-up massage, facial and foot treatment for $280.
Check into Boar’s Head, Charlottesville’s only AAA Four Diamond resort, and enjoy the Winter Spa Package: an overnight stay and a $125 gift card to be used toward one of six seasonal spa services. Rates from $299. Available through March 31, 2014.
Yoga at Primland Resort
The Spa at Primland Resort in southwest Virginia provides guests with a complete list of spa and wellness services including yoga and meditation classes, a mother-daughter spa package and healing ritual services. Primland’s seasonal spa package, the Winter “Refresh,” is a two-night, mid-week package available Sunday through Thursday. The package includes overnight accommodations, two breakfasts, two dinners, one lunch, a serenity massage, stone of eternal youth facial, secret canyon wrap and float and one yoga class. Available through March 20, 2014. Rates from $1427.
A DAY BREAK
The Spa of Colonial Williamsburg offers a menu of services rooted in five centuries of history. Try the 19th Century African Traditional Bath & Strengthening Massage Spa Experience. It reflects the African healing traditions that combined herbs, roots and fresh waters to enrich life and attract positive energy. The modern-day version is 120 minutes and includes Maize and Herbal Body Brushing, Root and Herbal Soaking Bath, and a Shea Butter Massage. $125 per person or $565 per couple.
The Spa at Colonial Williamsburg
Yoga at Virginia Mountain Vineyard in Fincastle is a 60-minute instructional class followed by healthy foods and wine tasting. A reservation is required and don’t forget your mat or blanket. $35 per person. Available April 13 and August 10, 2014.
The James Monroe Museum in Fredericksburg is the site of Yoga in the Garden, a drop-in class open to all ages and skill levels. Bring your mat and $8 per person to participate. Saturdays May 3 through June 28, 2014.
Historic Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg invites you to join in an Integrated Yoga session the first Sunday of each month from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Posture, deep relaxation, breathing, and meditation are in order, as is a meditative walk in the garden. $20 per person; bring your mat, walking shoes and water.
We can see that the colors are starting to show on the western side of the Commonwealth; keep ‘em coming!
If you’re not up to speed on what we’re looking for (and highlighting here), include #FallinVA as a hashtag on your Instagram photos to show off the view wherever you are in Virginia. We’re collecting our faves and displaying them here, on our Facebook page, and even in our Fall Foliage Reports. We can’t wait to see what you see!
Click the photo for more information about the location.
Pocahontas State Park by @daven10
Crabtree Falls Trail by @samanthabrookephoto
Depot Grille in Lynchburg by @jjriddick
Lynchburg river view by @akpink
Red in Locust Grove by @dizzytaco
Early fall colors in Middleburg by @visitmiddleburg