10 Summer Vacation Ideas for Families

by Casey Higgins | Posted: Apr 29, 2015 | Updated: Apr 13, 2017

Comments: 22 Comments

The great thing about Virginia is how many options there are when it comes to family travel. As cliche as it sounds, there really is something for everyone. These 10 ideas for a family vacation are just the tip of the iceberg, and we know you have some great ideas yourself. Go ahead and leave a comment with your favorite Virginia vacation memory. Who knows? You may inspire someone else!



The term “the beach” is somewhat deceiving in Virginia, as there are many. Even within the city of Virginia Beach, there are three distinct beach experiences, and moving from one to another is a great way to enjoy a little bit of everything.

The Resort Life – Here, visitors can “live the life” along the iconic three-mile oceanfront boardwalk lined with hotels, museums, bars, restaurants and shops. There’s always live entertainment, too.

The Island Life – Virginia Beach’s southern shore, Sandbridge, offers a secluded island-like environment full of breathtaking views bordering the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, along with local shops, restaurants and outdoor outfitters.

The Bay Life – For a quieter beach vacation, the Chesapeake Bay Beach is preferred for its tranquility along the scenic, calm and shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

More Beaches to LOVE

Virginia Beach Boardwalk

Virginia Beach Resort Boardwalk



Much like “the beach,” “the lake” begs the question, “Which one?” Choose one of the bigger lakes or hit up a Virginia State Park for lake adventures, too.

The Largest Lake – John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake in Clarksville is more than 50,000 acres of fresh water and 800+ miles of shoreline. Two state parks border it, and it’s been dubbed “the best crappie lake in the world” by In-Fisherman magazine.

The Second Largest Lake – Many believe Smith Mountain Lake is the largest in Virginia, but alas, it only boasts 500 miles of shoreline and spans three counties. Choose from a range of accommodations and find water sport rentals easily available.

The Third Largest Lake – Lake Anna is bordered by Lake Anna State Park on its north side, has 200 miles of shoreline and encompasses 13,000 acres of water surface.

More Lakes to LOVE

Smith Mountain Lake from Sans Souci B&B

Smith Mountain Lake from Sans Souci B&B



Spend some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway or in Shenandoah National Park. Many trails lead you to beautiful outcroppings, waterfalls, historic ruins, and other special places. The Appalachian Trail courses through them both, so pick up a leg and walk for a while. To say you’ve even step foot on the AT gives you the right to brag.

Mountain Experiences to Consider:

More Mountains to LOVE

Hiking at Raven's Roost on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hiking at Raven’s Roost on the Blue Ridge Parkway.



The Chesapeake Bay is vast and approachable from many river and coastal points. Fishermen love the Bay for its blue crab, Spanish mackerel and croaker. However, it’s the revitalization of Virginia oysters along the Chesapeake Bay that many seafood lovers relish. Exploring the Bay on land is a big adventure. Learn more about Virginia’s maritime history in places like Irvington, home of the Steamboat Era Museum, or watch the bald eagles soar above the Potomac River at Caledon State Park in King George. From the Eastern Shore, ferry out to Tangier Island for an entirely different perspective of Chesapeake Bay life.

More of The Bay to LOVE

Tangier Island

Tangier Island



Will it be bayside campsites at Cherrystone on the Eastern Shore, oceanfront campsites at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, or perhaps wooded campsites at Sherando Lake in the Shenandoah Valley? There are many places to pitch your tent and you can do it primitively or glamorously, if you wish. Pull your tag-along into a KOA like Williamsburg or another fantastic family campground. The memories of camping (good or bad) will last forever.

More Camping to LOVE 

 Williamsburg KOA

Williamsburg KOA


Tap into the fun amenities available at a Virginia resort this summer. Great opportunities like the Unlimited Activities Package at The Omni Homestead Resort, the Ultimate Family Fun Package at Kingsmill Resort, and the Family Vacation Package at The Tides Inn make it affordable and loads of fun to live a sweet suite life this summer.

More Resorts to LOVE

The Omni Homestead Resort

The Omni Homestead Resort



If you’re looking for the most roller coasters in Virginia, Kings Dominion is your go-to. If it’s well-rounded family fun with a little of this and a little of that, Busch Gardens is the place. Each has a distinct vibe. Perhaps the best thing to do is BOTH!

At Kings Dominion, WaterWorks is already included with admission, so maybe add Water Country USA into your Busch Gardens trip and then you can say you’ve done the best of Virginia’s theme park fun while sprinkling in Colonial Williamsburg and Richmond along the way.

More Waterparks to LOVE 

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens



Make your trip to discover the fun side of Virginia’s history a historic one your family will never forget when you visit the homes of our United States Presidents. Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s primary home and is the only U.S. presidential and private home on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Visit his other home, his Poplar Forest retreat, about 90 minutes away in Forest, and see his “Academical Village,” the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

In Northern Virginia, George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens is a treasure with many kids’ activities, the gristmill, and trails. If you’re traveling between the two, also stop at James Madison’s Montpelier.

More Presidents Homes:

More Presidential Sites to LOVE

University of Virginia Rotunda

University of Virginia Rotunda



Mud is fun and you should experience it outside of a spa. No, really! Get your feet wet (probably literally), by renting an ATV and hitting the Spearhead Trails (Mountain View or Original Pocahontas, for now). Pair your mud with some Clinch River rafting, fishing or kayaking, and that’s a great vacation.

Additional Mud & Water Pairings:

More ATV Fun to LOVE

 Spearhead Trails

Spearhead Trails


In Coastal Virginia there’s an imaginary triangle that connects some of the most historic sites in the United States of America. Within that triangle is Historic Jamestowne, the first colony, which was settled in 1607. There is also Colonial Williamsburg, the first capital of Virginia and the launching pad for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and their contemporaries to pursue public service. Lastly, Yorktown is where the last great battle of the American Revolution was waged and won in 1781. These three points are not only Virginia’s historic triangle, but America’s.

More Historic Triangle to LOVE

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg


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Pennsylvania bed and breakfasts

Yes i really heard about Virginia its peaceful and awesome place with dynamic weather my one friend is also lives there, she told me about there beauty with lots of greenery… and i would like to say who feels unsafe there.. safety is in our hands we have have to decide where to go, where to not if traveling alone or can take local guys with-you for more guidance…also would like to visit Pennsylvania and view beauty of nature


I will not visit your state again, including historical places, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Lake Anna State Park, etc. until the State of Virginia lifts its decision to not honor out of state concealed carry permits. I am a law-abiding citizen with a concealed carry license in Ohio. I carry hoping to never have to use my gun but want it there in case of emergency to protect myself, my family and my friends. I will not travel without that option and since your state is taking away my right to protect myself and others, I will not travel to… Read more »


[…] 10 Summer Vacation Ideas For Families […]

best summer vacations

Great ideas! Me and my friends will actually have fun and get more memorable memories. Looking forward to book some activity this summer.

Anisha Goel

Hi Casey! Thank you for the inflow!! These places are a real find. You have done a great job compiling them all! I’m already day- dreaming about Smith Mountain Lake don’t know if it’s the place or the way its captured in here, but it’s all together enticing and impeccable for a quiet family evening.

Donna Smith-Seeley

It gets no better than Lake Anna VA. Come check out the lake water, beautiful sunsets, and nature. A wonderful place to relax and make many memories with family and friends. http://www.lakeannavacationrental.com


My favorite place to vacation is blueridge parkway, jeffersonnational forest….mountain biking trails, waterfalls…..I am from orlando and I never sleep bettet than when iam in the mountains…most beautiful spots I have ever seen, and the people are real !!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 can’t wait to get up there


[…] ALSO SEE: 10 Summer Vacation Ideas for Families […]


Great options of different family vacations you can take during the summer! I am definitely a fan of the beach, but exploring different areas can also bring some wonderful memories.


[…] ALSO SEE: 10 Summer Vacation Ideas for Families […]