Looking for luxury? Family fun? Maybe a little of both? Choose from these 12 Virginia resorts that boast plenty of activities to keep families busy or deliver top-notch amenities for couples.
For Kids to LOVE
Massanutten Resort is a four season mountaintop haven. This time of year is perfect for the waterpark! Line the kids up on Rockingham Racer to see who can make it to the bottom first, ride the waves at White Caps or get your aquatic play skills on at Splash-a-Nutten. After you’ve gotten a good soak, head to the Family Adventure Park for zip lining, summer tubing, and wall climbing. Accommodations
Wintergreen Resort is situated on 11,000 acres of the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spaces dedicated to family fun include Discovery Ridge and Ridgely’s Fun Park. The activities included are zip lining, summer tubing, bungee trampoline, a climbing wall, miniature golf, and great indoor arcade and gaming outlets. Archery has been recently been added as a family activity, too!
Something for Everyone
Some of the family loves the beach and some love the mountains. Mash those two worlds together when you stay waterside at Mariners Landing on Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston! The 1,000-acre resort community includes beaches, three pool complexes, gaming center, and of course, water sports for those who wish to rent or bring their own equipment.
The Tides Inn
Situated along Carter Creek near the Chesapeake Bay in Irvington is The Tides Inn. Families love the swimming pools, beach, and the “learn-to” water sports that the marina affords, while couples can partake of golf, the spa, a Cove Cruise, and the serenity of a peaceful waterside reprieve.
Spanning 2,900 acres along the James River is Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg. A full-service spa, 54 holes of golf, tennis, various eateries, and a full-service marina are all at your fingertips. Families will enjoy the lazy river at the River Pool and access to paddle boards, sea bikes, kayaks, and fishing poles.
Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg is a AAA Four-Diamond Award winner, and it’s a great choice for families or couples. Amenities include elegant rooms, a luxurious 12,000 square foot destination spa, and 45 holes of golf, courtesy of designers Robert Trent Jones II and Greg Norman. Families can spread out and splash about in the five-pool aquatic complex or sign the kids up for a day camp.
Cozy for Couples
Southern hospitality reigns supreme at Boar’s Head in Charlottesville. Recently renovated, the AAA Four Diamond resort is known for its Old Mill Room dining and spa.
High up on the mountain in Meadows of Dan is Primland Resort, boasting truly spectacular views. Outdoor enthusiasts will be especially pleased with the Orvis endorsed wingshooting opportunities, hunting expeditions, ATV tours, and more. Primland also has 18 holes of golf and an American Indian inspired spa. Stargazing is quite romantic, and if you’d like to get a better look, head to the Primland Observatory.
Keswick Hall is a Charlottesville area mainstay that will soon boast a brand new Pete Dye-designed golf course. Fossett’s is the signature restaurant that will certainly be your destination after a relaxing spa treatment. Keswick is a two-time Conde Nast “#1 Small Resort in Mainland U.S.” honoree.
Salamander Resort in Middleburg is pure extravagance with lavish suites, an opulent spa with a couples spa suite and poolside cabanas, a full-service 22-stall equestrian center, delectable dining with a nearby cooking studio, and more.
The Omni Homestead Resort
The quintessential Virginia destination for couples is The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, called “the birthplace of Southern hospitality.” Nestled into the Allegheny Mountains, this National Historic Landmark is enhanced with two championship golf courses, shooting, horseback riding, falconry, Jefferson Pools, spa with exclusive adults-only spa garden, Allegheny Springs water recreation area, and carriage rides.
The Berry Hill Resort
The 1728 National Historic Landmark known as The Berry Hill Resort is found in South Boston. History, tradition and charm are abundant at this luxury resort. Book one of the mini mansions for ultimate privacy! Blackberry Spa will be a delicious treat for a weary body.
Which resort destination tops your list? Stay at each one for a different flavor of Virginia hospitality and fun!
Try something new! These unique modern and historic music venues are worth the visit.
The Crooked Road is Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Extending 333 miles throughout the southern part of the state, the trail opened in 2004. Along the trail, you’ll find eight different venues showcasing the roots of America’s music. The songs and tunes of the region told the stories of early pioneer life, immigrant experiences and the day-to-day trials and tribulations. The ballads of the early Scots-Irish and settlers of the British Isles are evident, as are their instruments, such as the fiddle.
Travel to Galax and you’ll find the Old Fiddlers Convention, the oldest and largest such convention in the world! The area’s rich musical heritage has earned Galax its status as the “World’s Capital of Old Time Mountain Music.” Along the trail, tourists can explore communities along the way, offering a fun way to learn about local music, history and heritage. Also included is the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, where its famous Music Sessions took place in 1927 – the “big bang” for country music recording. The Birthplace museum, now under construction, will immerse visitors in the sounds and stories of Bristol’s music history. Bristol’s music continues most nights in restaurants and clubs along State Street and swells to fill the city during the Rhythm and Roots Reunion in September, when three days of concerts, jams and performances bring thousands of music lovers to more than 20 stages up and down Bristol’s main street. Stop along any of the venues and enjoy the many concerts, festivals and jam sessions the trail has to offer.
Check out the nTelos Wireless Pavilion to experience the architecturally striking entertainment venue on Portsmouth’s waterfront. It has already become a landmark and a premier regional attraction. As part of the lush new five-acre Harbor Center Festival Park, the nTelos Pavilion is unlike anything in Hampton Roads – or anywhere else for that matter. With 6,500 seats, the nTelos Pavilion is large enough to attract a wide variety of incredible acts, shows, and performers, yet intimate enough so that every seat is awesome. The intimacy of this venue is one of its greatest assets.
Located on the east end of the historic downtown mall in Charlottesville, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion is the city’s premier outdoor venue for live performances. Open since July of 2005, it features premium seating, a spacious lawn, and a professional stage house; all within easy walking distance of Downtown Charlottesville’s many restaurants and other attractions. The Pavilion provides Charlottesville with a comfortable and convenient venue to enjoy local and national performing artists.
The Virginia Beach Amphitheater is a 20,000 seat outdoor concert venue located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There are 7,500 reserved seats under the pavilion roof and room for 12,500 on the “festival lawn”. Under cover or under the stars on the lawn, it’s a good place to hear a concert. Since opening its doors in 1996, the Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheater has hosted such performances as: Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffett, 311, Aerosmith, Rascal Flatts, Mary J. Blige, Gwen Stefani and tours like Warped Tour and Ozzfest.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
As America’s National Park for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap plays a valuable leadership role in both the local and national performing arts communities. Through a wide range of artistic and education programs, Wolf Trap enhances our nation’s cultural life and ensures that the arts remain accessible and affordable to the broadest possible audience. A typical season at Wolf Trap includes something for everyone with performances ranging from pop, country, folk, and blues to orchestra, dance, theatre, and opera, as well as innovative performance art and multimedia presentations. A facility with a rich history dating back as far as 1632, Wolf Trap is not only a place to experience music, but also a place to receive a great history lesson.
The Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall & Arts Center in Alexandria will treat audiences to a premier performance space with its state-of-the-art acoustics, striking architecture, and wood paneled stage shell complementing the rich burgundy furnishings. Community-wide discussions between the college and local arts groups in the early 1990′s led to the concept for a premier performing arts center on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. As plans for the Center developed, details were added to the design so that the building could accommodate large performance groups and off-Broadway theater companies, yet remain affordable for local non-profit groups. Fundraising for the Schlesinger Center began in 1993 and was led by the Campaign Management Committee for the Alexandria/Arlington Cultural Center. Among the leaders of the Campaign committee was Rachel M. Schlesinger, a violinist and board member of the Arlington Symphony. Mrs. Schlesinger worked tirelessly to raise money for the Center, but never saw the dream become a reality. It was not until 1996 that Schlesinger’s husband made a $1 million donation in his wife’s name, bringing the center to life.
The Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs provides an intimate, informal music experience with a twist. Its name, a Welsh phrase meaning New Home, was the name given to the property in the 1920s. Enjoy music from classical to jazz all the while sipping a glass of wine, or perhaps enjoying a five-course meal. As one of the most active chamber music organizations in the country, Garth Newel’s mission has always been to share, explore and celebrate the infinite variety of chamber music in a setting of natural beauty. In addition to public concerts, educational programs are available, as well as on-site lodging. The Garth Newel Music Center has gone from a half dozen concerts in the 1970s to more than 50 today.
The Washington, D.C. area attracts national acts from around the world. If you’re looking for a musical experience in a more natural environment, travel about an hour northwest to Purcellville and you will find Franklin Park Arts Center. A process more than 10 years in the making, the Arts Center opened in 2008 on the site of Franklin farm, which burnt to the ground in 1997. Today, Franklin Park Arts Center boasts a 263-seat, timber-framed facility. The Center hosts local, regional, national and international artists from all genres of music. The Arts Center strives to promote individual creativity and expression by presenting quality performing, visual and literary arts in an accessible, affordable manner.
The City of Hampton holds one of the true musical landmarks in Virginia, The American Theatre. Originally opened in 1908, the Theatre was designed to provide “clean, wholesome amusement” to the town’s residents and visitors. Tragically burning to the ground barely a year after opening its doors, the Theatre’s owner rebuilt the facility in less than a year. It enjoyed a century of growth and change, all the while becoming The Lee for a while, then The Lee Adult when Phoebus (the town which was incorporated into Hampton) was enjoying its reputation as “little Chicago.” During the 1980s, the Theatre became The New American Theatre, where beer and pizza accompanied a movie and local bands played. Closing in the 1990s, it’s been reopened since 2000 and now hosts more than 50 acts a year, with many well-known artists performing on its stage.
Another rocky story, The State Theatre in Falls Church opened in 1936 and operated as a movie theater until the late 1980s. In November 1988, the State closed its doors. After a multi-million dollar restoration in the late 1990s, The State turned into one of the Washington Metro area’s favorite new venue for live music, hosting dozens of well-known local and national artists.
If you find yourself in the Commonwealth’s capital city, taking in a show at The National is a must. Built in 1923, the now historic venue was a hotspot for the thriving downtown scene in Richmond. At that time, The National was a place for fans to enjoy vaudeville acts on its stage, silent movie screenings and boasted the largest orchestra pit in the state. Today, The National lives up to its name, bringing in dozens of international and nationally acclaimed artists, while providing fans with great views of the stage from any angle. The venue’s original brick walls and hardwood floors will treat fans to the nostalgic feel of the concert hall the way it was more than 90 years ago. Music acts from all genres step on its stage each year, ensuring fans will be in for a great experience.
Adam McPeak and Mountain Thunder at The Lincoln Theatre
A member of the League of Historic American Theatres, The Lincoln Theatre in Marion is one of three existing Art Deco Mayan Revival-style theaters in America. The Lincoln is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Theatre opened in 1929 to nearly 1,000 patrons who experienced the first talking picture. Thousands of motion pictures flickered across the screen unil 1973, when it closed its doors. The Lincoln Center reopened in the mid-‘70s only to close again in ’77. The Theatre sat neglected until the 1990s, when the initiative was revived. The Lincoln Theatre reopened in 2004, now offering year-round musical events for both groups and individual artists.
Everyone knows that Virginia is a state steeped in a rich history. After all, the Commonwealth is home to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, and is known as the “Mother of Presidents,” as eight United States presidents were born right here in Virginia.
Stone Mansion Ruins at The Winery at Bull Run
You probably learned all about Virginia’s history through textbooks and in the classroom – you may have even visited a site or two before. However, Virginia isn’t all Colonial garb and historic homes—if you look closely, you just might find that historic Virginia has an edgy – dare we say it?—cool side that you might never have suspected.
Here’s our guide to experiencing Virginia’s history in an unexpected, fresh, and new way:
Sip Virginia wine…on a national battlefield at the Winery at Bull Run. Enjoy a taste of Virginia past and present at this Fairfax County winery, which adjoins over 5,000 countryside acres of the historic Manassas National Battlefield Park, providing you with a beautiful vista of preserved 19th century farmland. Not only will you get to sip on delicious Virginia wine, but you’ll also get a glimpse into Virginia’s rich heritage with winemaking techniques from the Civil War-era, historical buildings and artifacts.
Play a Revolutionary War spy game – just like on AMC’s TURN—by visiting RevQuest in Williamsburg, Virginia. The thirteen colonies are on the verge of declaring their independence from Great Britain, and fighting has already begun. The fledgling American nation has no professional army or navy while the British have the greatest military force in the world. We must have a strong ally! Does the old saying, that “the enemy of our enemy is our friend” hold true?
Carter Family Fold
Channel your inner Johnny Cash at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons. The Carter Fold is a rustic, 1,000 seat music shed offering traditional music every Saturday night. Johnny Cash (who married Carter family member and country music darling June Carter) played at the Fold many times – in fact, he played his very last concert there in 2003. The Carter Family was discovered in 1927 by Victor Recording Studio in Bristol and recorded 300 songs between 1927 and 1942. Playing traditional Appalachian music, the family has often been credited as forerunners of modern-day country music. Today, A.P. Carter’s old general store acts as a museum. Recent additions include the newly moved and reconstructed original A.P. Carter Homeplace.
Are you a fan of The Following? See where it all began in Richmond. Though the FOX television hit series was not filmed in Richmond, the show’s first season took place in downtown Richmond and featured all things Edgar Allen Poe, the muse of the show’s villain, Joe Carroll. Visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in downtown Richmond if you’re looking for a sinister way to explore Virginia’s capital city.
Drive by the home of the REAL Scarlett O’Hara in Mecklenburg County. Civil War-era author Myrta Lockett Avary penned two books: A Virginia Girl in the Civil War and Dixie after the War, and was one of the major influences for Margaret Mitchell when she wrote Gone with the Wind. This sassy antebellum belle resided at Lombardy Grove just off Route 58 in Mecklenburg County.
See the hoof print of the real Misty of Chincoteague. Remember reading Misty of Chincoteague when you were little? Well, Misty was a real horse, and you can see her actual hoof print in front of the Island Theater in Chincoteague! The premiere of the movie “Misty” on Chincoteague was in 1961, and Misty was led down Main Street by her owner Ralph Beebe. In front of the Island Theater, Misty put her front hoof prints in the cement, and author Marguerite Henry wrote Misty’s name in the cement underneath. Misty’s hoof prints can still be found in the sidewalk in front of the newly renovated Island Theater. A bronze statue of Misty is located at Robert Reed Waterfront Park in downtown Chincoteague. Today, you can find direct descendants of Misty at the Chincoteague Pony Center.
Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve
Enjoy modern cuisine in Old Town Alexandria: The historic district known as Old Town Alexandria takes you back to the time when our nation’s early leaders strolled the streets and partook of grog at pubs and taverns. Today, Alexandria is known for its exquisite culinary scene and its chefs are getting national recognition. Chef Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve has become a foodie darling, earning a nod from the James Beard Foundation earlier this year.
NEW RIVER JUNCTION – CANOEING | Blacksburg
Experience New River Junction, as the New River will draw you, gently and peacefully, as you float over small riffles in your tube. About a mile downstream, the rapids are splashing. Ride the rapids a few times then visit Big Falls Park, where the park grills will be hot and ready for cooking. The free shuttle bus will be available when you decide to go back for another trip down the river. A lazy, inner tube drift down a mile of pristine river cupped in a tree-lined mountain valley provides the perfect escape from a hot summer day.
Canoeing down the New River with Tangent Outfitters
TANGENT OUTFITTERS – GUIDED CANOEING | Radford
Experience the second oldest river in the WORLD, the New River, as you paddle alongside the natural scenery. Varying from flat, slow-moving water to Class III rapids, the historical river provides an enjoyable adventure for canoers of all skill levels. Trips with Tangent Outfitters range from 5-10 miles, so pack a lunch to take a break along any of the river’s beaches!
NEW RIVER’S EDGE – TUBING | Giles
Bring your family and relax while tubing the gentle waters and Class I rapids of the New River. The 20-minute adventure is something you’ll love to take again and again. Tubing from the Pembroke Boat Landing through the shoals and back to New River’s Edge is fun for all ages! New River’s Edge provides a great, refreshing way to cool off this summer.
CLINCH RIVER ADVENTURES – TUBING/CANOEING | St. Paul
Visit Mother Nature’s waterpark at Clinch River Adventures and spend the day floating down the most bio-diverse river in the country! Rent or bring your own canoe and experience one of the many trips available for the whole family; the facility offers trips from 45 minutes to 7 hours. Looking for a more relaxing day on the water? Spend some time tubing for a peaceful float down the river.
JAMES RIVER REELING & RAFTING – CANOEING | Scottsville James River Reeling & Rafting offers great flexibility for those seeking excitement or relaxation. Choose from Class I, II or III rapids, spanning more than 50 miles! Each canoeing trip offers Smallmouth Bass fishing, so be sure to pack the fishing pole and cooler as you spend the day on the James!
TWIN RIVER OUTFITTERS – CANOEING | Buchanan Twin River Outfitters runs trips on the Upper James, Cowpasture, Jackson and Maury Rivers. The outfitter offers its customers fun and safe river trips that range from lazy river to whitewater paddling experiences with true mountain views. Known as the oldest and most experienced outfitter operating on the Upper James, Twin River has been safely running paddle trips since 1978. Why spend just a day on the water when you can spend a week? A variety of single day and multi-day river-based camping trips are available, where visitors can experience the historic Natural Bridge and more.
RIVERSIDE OUTFITTERS – GUIDED RAFTING/CANOEING | Richmond Riverside Outfitters offers three distinct rafting experiences: the falls of the James, the Upper River white water and the Lower River white water trips. Take an adventure trip down the Falls of the James in Richmond’s James River Park System—the only Class II-IV white water rapids running through a major U.S. city. For a more relaxing trip, the outfitter offers guided rafting and canoeing trips, where guests can spot bald eagles, great blue herons, egrets, osprey and other wildlife.
DOWNRIVER CANOE CO. – CANOEING | Bentonville Downriver Canoe Co. offers great canoe and tube floats on the legendary Shenandoah River. The South Fork of the Shenandoah River has long been recognized as one of the premier canoeing rivers in the East. A steady current of normally crystal clear water flows over a solid rock bottom creating many interesting riffles and pools, and even some beginning white water making it an ideal river for novice and experienced paddlers alike. The river is legendary for spectacular mountain scenery and abundant wildlife.
HARPERS FERRY ADVENTURE CENTER – TUBING/CANOEING | Purcellville
Remember the lazy river ride at the water park? The one where you could float away the afternoon in the summer sun? Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is the original Harpers Ferry tubing company and the adventure company who has water tubing down to a science. The Adventure Center has white water or flat water options for both tubing and canoeing. You can bring a cooler or rent one and spend the whole day on the river tubing Harpers Ferry. Tubing is the Center’s most popular river activity and is the perfect way to soak up the sun, laugh with family and friends, and cool off on a hot summer day.
HOWARDSVILLE CANOE LIVERY – CANOEING | Scottsville
Canoe the James River in Virginia or water levels permitting, the Rockfish River. Bring your fishing pole and explore the small mouth bass waters in a canoe from the Howardsville Canoe Livery. The Livery is ready with canoes for you and your family!
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE EXPERIENCES – TUBING | Dayton
Pack your lunch, drinks and sunscreen, and enjoy a day with Outdoor Adventure Experiences tubing down the Shenandoah River. Guests will begin the journey on their own tube, while guides bring a giant tube for all to play on as they float down the deeper, slower sections of the river.
THEODORE ROOSEVELT ISLAND – CANOEING | Arlington
Canoe the Potomac around Theodore Roosevelt Island and take in the natural beauty of this 88-acre bird sanctuary. This easy, flat paddle round the island is the best way to see how the Potomac River shapes its physical form and influences its wildlife. The island is dedicated to our nation’s 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt.
POHICK BAY REGIONAL PARK – GUIDED CANOEING | Lorton Imagine skimming along the smooth waters of an uncommonly beautiful wetland. A kingfisher chatters as it whizzes by you, a Bald Eagle turns a broad circle overhead and a deer gazes at you from the shore. A breeze covers the water with silky ripples. Where are you? On a guided canoe trip on the marshes of Pohick Bay Regional Park. Head out on your adventure and check out the wildlife, also including osprey and great blue herons.
FRONT ROYAL OUTDOORS/SHENANDOAH RIVER TRIPS – CANOEING/TUBING | Front Royal Come experience the “Legend”. Front Royal Outdoors offers self-guided canoe, kayak, raft, and tube trips on the South Fork of the legendary Shenandoah River. The trips are perfect for the individual, family, or group. River trips flow north between the Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest and are designed for your enjoyment on novice to intermediate class waters. Whether you want to lazily float down the river in a tube or just paddle away for an hour or a couple of days, Front Royal Outdoors can provide the expertise and knowledge to help you plan your Shenandoah getaway.
MATTAPONI CANOE & KAYAK – GUIDED CANOEING | Aylett Mattaponi Canoe & Kayak provides guided paddling excursions on both tidal and non-tidal reaches of the Mattaponi, Pamunkey and Chickahominy Rivers, and Dragon Swamp. The trips are geared to take advantage of the rich natural history of the region, giving the participant much more than just another float down the river. Guides will lead guests on an adventurous journey through very remote, wilderness-like passages of the upper Mattaponi River. Or if you’re looking for something a little more leisurely, try a sunset paddle at the Pamunkey Indian Reservation, where wild rice marshes, waterfowl and Native American and Colonial history flourish.
There certainly isn’t a shortage of hiking trails throughout the state; and for those who are looking for a trail that offers ever-changing scenery and terrain, there’s plenty of circuit hikes available for all hikers. Circuit hikes vary in many degrees of difficulty, making for unique experiences around the loops. Here’s some of the trails around the state, with many more to discover along the way.
Tell us about your favorite circuit trail!
OLD RAG MOUNTAIN Old Rag Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in the Shenandoah National Park—it is also the most challenging and dangerous. Recommended for experienced hikers only, a day on the Old Rag is one of Shenandoah’s premier experiences. The circuit is approximately nine miles, with significant elevation changes and rock scrambles. Hikers should allot about 7-8 hours to complete the loop.
MASON NECK WILDLIFE REFUGE LOOP & BEACH WALK
This family and pet-friendly refuge offers an easy 2.3-mile trail, covering the length and flatness of the shore along Belmont Bay. Spotting bald eagles and other bird species, as well as other wildlife make for a great hike! Pack a lunch and take a break at one of the trail’s shelters or snack on the beach! Plan for 1-3 hours for the hike along the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and experience the serene undisturbed land of the refuge.
Stratford Hall’s nature trails are as varied as they are scenic, providing leisurely strolls for the amateur hiker and challenging treks for veterans. Hikers have six trails to choose from, including the Spring House Trail loop. The short and easy hike, approximately a quarter-mile, passes through a natural spring and is home to many species of wildlife—in particular the American Bald Eagle. A bald eagle can be spotted regularly and in rare instances, hikers may see a pileated woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is the only woodpecker that can carve out a nest cavity in a living tree.
SKY MEADOWS STATE PARK Sky Meadows State Park offers more than 17 miles of hiking trails that are accessible for the novice to expert hiker. The park’s long circuit trail is a moderate hike, about 8.5 miles long. Much of the loop meanders across or skirts the edges of rolling meadows and offers up to four vistas along the way. This circuit is a great hike for the entire family.
Hiking the Passamaquaddy Trail on Little Stony Man Mountain
STONY MAN TRAIL
The Stony Man Mountain Trail is one of the most scenic circuits in Shenandoah National Park. Although Stony Man is the second highest peak in the park, the grades are not difficult. The trail offers outstanding panoramas of neighboring mountains and totals 3.4 miles in length.
FIRST LANDING STATE PARK
Take a step back in time at First Landing State Park. More than 19 miles of trails wind through the park, where English settlers established the first elective government in 1607. The South Loop trail allows hikers to explore the rich history of the area, including lagoons, large cypress trees and rare plants.
LAURAL RUN TRAIL
In the heart of Goshen Pass, the Laurel Run Trail makes for a good hike along a beautiful small native trout stream. The trail boasts waterfalls, seasonal rhododendron and mountain laurel displays. The beautiful scenery makes this 3-mile round trip hike most enjoyable. The moderate skill-level trail is great for the beginner hiker who is looking to get a more challenging experience out of their journey.
Located within the Shenandoah National Park, Lewis Falls Trail is a 3.3-mile circuit hike from the Big Meadows amphitheater to the observation point, or 2 miles round trip from Skyline Drive. It boasts an 81′ waterfall, streams and more. The hike is moderate, with steep rocky areas and different variations of terrain throughout.
LOCHER TRACT Locher Tract is an easy, 1-mile loop along the James River, which used to be the site of an old family farm. The U.S. Forest Service now maintains the area for wildlife watching. While you’re trekking the loop, look for beaver, deer, herons, quail, turkey and more. The trail loops past an active beaver swamp, piney woods and grassy openings.
Family hikes along South River Falls trail
SOUTH RIVER FALLS
Hiking South River Falls and Pocosin Mission is a long, historic trek, measuring about 8.5 miles. Venture to the third-highest waterfall in Shenandoah National Park, with a drop of 83 feet. The total climb is about 1,830 feet and hikers should allow 7.5 hours to complete the loop. The hike also includes views such as settler ruins, a cemetery and more.
HUMPBACK ROCKS Humpback Rocks, located within the Blue Ridge Parkway, features three trails (along with the Appalachian Trail) that make great circuit hikes. The complete circuit includes both blue-blazed spur trails and the rerouted Appalachian Trail, which totals just under 6 miles. Enjoy some truly amazing panoramic views of the valley on top of the slanted rock.
LIMBERLOST TRAIL Limberlost Trail, also located within Shenandoah National Park, is often enjoyed by people with mobility challenges. The trail was originally constructed to meet ADA accessibility standards; however, the requirements have recently been revised. Shenandoah National Park has plans to upgrade Limberlost to meet the new standards. This circuit hike of 1.3 miles is for people of all ages and has a 5-foot-wide crushed greenstone walkway on a gentle grade with frequent benches, a boardwalk, and a bridge. The trail passes through forest and a stand of mountain laurel – stunningly beautiful when it blooms in June.
ROCK CASTLE GORGE NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL
This trail starts easy at the entrance to the Rocky Knob campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then descends over three miles into the backcountry camping area in the bottom of the gorge. The strenuous and rugged nature of the trail reveal part of the reason this pathway was given National Recreational Trail status. In the springtime to early summer, nearly 200 varieties of wildflowers are visible along the trail area. The rest of the trail is a 7.3-mile ascent back out of the gorge on the return trail. You’ll see tunnels of rhododendron and other thick mountain foliage, a splashing stream, and high open meadows. The entire loop is 10.8 miles and the elevations range from 1,700 to 3,572 ft. A few small historic structures are visible along the trail, including a Civilian Conservation Corps camp.
GRAYSON HIGHLANDS STATE PARK Grayson Highlands offers five loop trails throughout the park, ranging from 0.3-1.8 miles in distance. These trails lead to panoramic vistas, scenic waterfalls and a 200-year-old pioneer cabin. The park also offers access to the Appalachian Trail and the surrounding Jefferson National Forest.
This 5.5-mile moderate loop into George Washington National Forest is not maintained and not suitable for dogs or young children. Strickler Knob does, however, reward with challenging rock scrambling and stunning 360-degree views of New Market Gap and the Luray Valley.
LAKE KEOKEE LOOP
The Lake Keokee Loop Trail circles Lake Keokee, which is a popular fishing lake near Big Stone Gap. The 3.7-mile, moderate loop features both land and water wildlife.
ROARING RUN LOOP TRAIL
Two trails lead to the falls creating a 1.5 mile loop trail. Most visitors use the Streamside Trail on their way up to the falls and return on the Woodland Trail. On the Streamside Trail, hikers are treated to rustic stone bridges, sheer rock faces and the sound of tumbling water as they walk alongside Roaring Run Creek up to the falls. The trail junctures with the Woodland Trail just shy of Roaring Run Falls. A short, 0.10-mile spur trail leads to the falls. The woodland Trail travels through the forest, passing a scenic overlook and the iron furnace before returning to the picnic area. Both trails are easy with relatively little elevation gain.