The holidays are here, and you may be looking forward to spending some down time with your friends and family during this special season. But the cold weather can bring winter blues to even the happiest of homes, making your household feel a little stir-crazy. Take your celebrations to-go and plan a memorable day trip or overnighter with one of these ten ultimate holiday vacations in Virginia.
10. Get Cozy at a Winery
Barren Ridge Vineyards Tasting Room
Nothing warms you up quicker than a crackling fireplace, but a great glass of Virginia wine is a close second. With over 300 wineries around the Commonwealth (and at least 30 that boast impressive fireplaces), you’ll forget the bitter chill of winter in no time.
9. See Your Favorite Bands Perform at a Live Music Venue
Hampton Coliseum, Photo Credit: Jordan Childs, @jordanhchilds
Dancing is another way to stay warm during the winter (as well as working off those extra few pieces of Thanksgiving pie), and what better place to dance than a live music venue where your favorite bands perform? Virginia has plenty of live music during the winter months, offering huge headliners at large music halls like Hampton Coliseum or more intimate shows performed at small venues such as the Clementine Café in historic downtown Harrisonburg.
8. Visit a Winter Resort with the Family
Wintergreen Resort, Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
If you are one of those people that actually enjoys the cold weather and the resulting precipitation, embrace it at one of Virginia’s winter resorts or parks. Places like Wintergreen Resort and Massanutten Resort offer skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, with slopes for every experience level. Finish up the day with a cup of hot cocoa at the lodge, and you’re on your way to creating some unforgettable family memories. Smaller parks (albeit still fairly large) like Liberty Mountain Snowflex Center or ice skating rinks throughout Virginia let you get a taste of ice and snow without committing an entire weekend to the winter sports.
7. Take in Iconic History without the Crowds
Colonial Williamsburg, Photo Credit: Wayne Reynolds
Virginia’s rich history draws thousands and thousands of people each year to famous destinations like Monticello, Mount Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg, and James Madison’s Montpelier. Spring, summer, and fall tend to get the largest portion of the visitors, yet winter is prime time to get out to these iconic estates and sites while avoiding the crowds. Many of the historic destinations have indoor buildings that keep you out of the cold, but wrap up in a few extra layers to tour the grounds with plenty of warmth and comfort.
6. Enjoy Breathtaking Mountain Views
Sharp Top Mountain, Photo Credit: Lovicarious, @lovicarious
The mountains of Virginia have been memorialized in well-known poems, songs, and novels, but visiting in winter is your chance to write your own mountain story. Take in magnificent panoramic scenes from monumental peaks after an inspiring hike, or journey up one of Virginia’s epic mountain roadways like Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway to reach scenic views that will leave you breathless. If you plan on taking the hiking route through the mountains, consider following a portion of the legendary Appalachian Trail. Whether you complete two miles or twenty miles, you’ll still have traveled along one of the most illustrious trails in America.
5. Sample the Abundant Holiday Beers
Starr Hill Brewery’s Snow Blind Doppelbock, Photo Credit: Allison Hochman
You may be thinking that traveling for a refreshing holiday beer brewed with the season’s best ingredients sounds like a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it, since most of these beers aren’t sold outside of the brewery locations. Craft beer fans will discover a new “reason for the season” when they try excellent holiday beers from places like Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Back Bay Brewing Company in Virginia Beach, or Crozet’s Starr Hill Brewery, only a few miles down the mountain from Wintergreen Resort (in case you feel like combining several winter trips).
4. Shop in the Big City, or Support Local
Old Town Alexandria, Photo Credit: Kristian Summerer for @visitalexva
Pick up all your holiday gifts when you shop at Virginia’s outlets and malls, or get local and handmade items when you head to one of the many charming small towns in Virginia. From the largest mall to the smallest boutique, these shopping destinations deliver the perfect presents to set out under your tree this holiday season.
3. Eat at World-class Restaurants with Friends or Family
Early Mountain Vineyards, photo credit: Anna Kariel @anna_kariel
No matter where you are in Virginia, you’ll discover a tasty meal is just around the corner, sometimes quite literally! Whether you prefer destination eateries with quirky attractions, waterfront restaurants with unbeatable views, or an establishment that uses locally sourced produce and ingredients to create mouthwatering regional dishes, savoring Virginia’s finest flavors is a great way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family.
2. Go on a Romantic Retreat
Even with all the time spent together during the holidays, it is not always easy to feel the romance at your own home. Plan a romantic weekend getaway with your significant other and head to one of Virginia’s upscale resorts, quaint inns, or charming bed and breakfasts for a break from the everyday. These winter hideaways provide the perfect romantic touches, like secluded fireplaces where you can get cozy, relaxing spas that offer couples massages, and first-class dining options available on-site.
1. Because Every Season in Virginia is Beautiful!
Mary’s Rock, Photo Credit: Nick Palastro, @nickpalastro
Some states boast that it is summer all year round, but even a good thing can get old when you have it every day. We love that Virginia has four distinct seasons, showcasing its natural splendor differently during each. From the mountains to the lakes, rivers, and beaches, the landscapes change with the seasons to create a full year of beauty, which is put on full display at the national and state parks found in every corner of the Commonwealth.
Don’t let the winter blues hit you or your family this year. Visit a few of these Virginia destinations to reignite your holiday cheer and create unforgettable memories of the season.