There are many reasons for families to vacation in Virginia. Major cultural attractions like Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Mount Vernon help bring classroom history lessons to life in an entertaining fashion. Families looking for an urban getaway can explore Richmond or Norfolk, which both have plenty of big city verve, festivals galore and revitalized downtowns. There is tremendous geographical variety, from the sandy shores of Virginia Beach to the lush Shenandoah Mountains. Outdoors enthusiasts have plenty of options, from hiking and biking to white water rafting and surfing. Those looking for manmade thrills gravitate towards Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion, where they can enjoy dozens of amusement rides.
If you are planning a Virginia vacation, there are several resorts that cater to families who want to see the sites and attractions, while enjoying the activities and amenities of a large, family-oriented hotel. The following six resorts offer so much to do that you could never leave the grounds and still have a great vacation.
Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the area is loaded with recreational possibilities combined with jaw-dropping scenery. On-site activities offer families options in all seasons. There is a huge indoor waterpark, fishing, hiking, biking and golf. In winter try ice skating, downhill skiing and snowboarding. Accommodations range from motel units to comfy condos with kitchens. If you are at Massanutten on a Tuesday night, parents might want to hire a sitter and partake in the weekly Beer Lover’s Dinner. It’s an informative five-course meal with beer pairings, co-hosted by Chef and the resident beer sommelier. It costs $45, inclusive of tip and tax. There are many dining choices at Massanutten that should satisfy all budgets. If you venture two minutes off-property, you’ll be treated to one of the best breakfasts in the state at the inexpensive Skyline Café and Art. It is family owned and operated and everything on the menu is simple, fresh and homemade. It doubles as a gallery that features local arts and crafts, so it’s a wonderful place to pick up a handcrafted gift.
This resort’s 11,000 acres are nestled high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a bucolic respite from urban and suburban life. There are over 300 different types of accommodations, ranging from a tastefully furnished studio to a nine-bedroom home. The emphasis here is on having fun in the great outdoors. The property offers numerous hiking possibilities for every age and ability and all exploit the scenic vistas. There are golf and tennis clinics for the entire family. The most unique feature at Wintergreen is the indoor-outdoor Discovery Ridge Adventure Center. You will find a bungee trampoline, zip-line, climbing wall and more. This is a great resource if you’re traveling with hard-to-please teenagers. There is skiing and snow tubing in winter, plus a kid’s camp program in summer. The resort strikes the perfect note between nature-oriented activities and adrenaline-pumping adventures. The food here is very good and features locally sourced products. Do try and have a meal off-site, as Nelson County is rich in dining possibilities. The area is awash in family-friendly breweries that offer good food. If the weather is fine, head over to Blue Mountain Brewery. They serve ten handcrafted beers, several produced with hops grown in their own garden. Kids should enjoy pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, served in an outdoor garden where they can romp safely.
With 301 family-sized rooms that all have access to Virginia’s largest indoor water park, even the worst weather won’t put a damper on your child’s fun. Like all Great Wolf Lodge resorts, there is lots of wet and slippery fun for kids. There are calm kiddie pools for toddlers and sky-high daredevil slides for teens, so no one will be bored. After everyone is dry, indoor games include mini-golf, a huge arcade and MagiQuest. Little kids should enjoy a nightly bedtime story in the lobby, and those who like pint-sized pampering will go nuts for the full-service kid’s spa. Great Wolf Lodge is certainly not a culinary destination, but no one will go hungry with the variety of dining options available, from a casual slice of pizza to a full service restaurant with tasty gluten-free options. Williamsburg has lots of dining options, if you can manage to get the kids out of their swimsuits.
This is a good choice for sporty families visiting Williamsburg. Kingsmill boasts 54 holes of championship golf and a respected junior golf camp. They also have a 15-court tennis center and a full-service marina. Boating, kayaking and fishing are popular here. The 425 rooms range from standard motel-style units to large suites and luxurious houses, excellent for multi-generational vacations. There are five varied dining options on premise. The grounds are massive, but a shuttle transports tired guests around the grounds. The shuttle also takes guests to popular local attractions such as Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens. Kingsmill is the perfect launching pad for all that your family wants to see and do in Williamsburg.
Primland’s remote location a couple of hours south of Roanoke assures peace in this distant corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a very upscale place and certain activities here have a decidedly blue-blooded overtone. Things to do on the 12,000 acres include horseback riding, clay pigeon shooting, turkey hunting and an 18-hole golf course. But this is also a place where kids can enjoy simple pleasures, like climbing a tree, stargazing or fishing. The main building looks like a Chateau that wouldn’t be out of place in the Loire Valley of France. Gracious and old-world doesn’t mean snobby, and kids are welcomed here with open arms. There is a children’s camp in summer and babysitting services available year-round. The Lodge has 26 guest suites that are all comfortably elegant or you can rent a roomy cottage. The dining options all promote farm-fresh products. Guests are fiercely loyal to Primland, with many returning annually.
This historic resort screams Southern from the moment you step foot on the property. Twenty-two United States Presidents have visited, so you are in prestigious company. The 483-rooms and suites are loaded with old-world charm, yet still contain every conceivable creature comfort. There is golf and tennis, plus downhill skiing, tubing and ice-skating in winter. The unique draw is the crystal clear mineral springs that are said to have medicinal healing powers. The entire family can have a relaxing soak in the always-warm water. For a different type of wet fun, the two-acre water park, Allegheny Springs, has a lazy river and a 100-foot water slide. There is an indoor pool as well. A Canyon Ranch SpaClub has just opened on premise, with a list of services, especially for teens. There are many dining options, several with a formal air and a dress code for guests over 12.
For more information on planning your visit to Virginia, go to www.Virginia.org.