Virginia offers a wide variety of options for weekend getaways, from national parks to amusement parks and everything in between — beaches, world-famous historical sites, and wild pony sightings. Plus, some of these Virginia weekend getaways are within a few hours” drive of each other, making it possible to see a few places in one trip. Pick your preference and set out on one of these Virginia weekend getaways.
Written by Courtney Elko
The Chincoteague Wild Pony Swim and Auction, which has been occurring since 1925, is held the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July. (The swim actually takes place that Wednesday and the auction is on Thursday). Families should be prepared for a long, hot day on the shoreline (alongside thousands of people) as the exact time of the swim is determined by the tides. But when the tide is right, the wild horses will take the three-minute swim from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island. More than 40,000 visitors ascend on the Virginia islands for the Pony Swim, so it may be a crowded getaway, but it truly is an event to see. Note: There are no restrooms within close proximity of the swim.
Any time is good for a Virginia weekend getaway to Chincoteague, though. Take a nature walk, kayak or boat tour and see the herds of wild ponies in their natural habitat. The picturesque Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent place to explore with the family by hiking, biking or horseback riding.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Chincoteague Island, Va. Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Fairfield Inn & Suites Chincoteague Island
Whether your family is into poetry, the arts or science, you"ll find something in Richmond. The Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Science Museum of Virginia and Virginia Holocaust Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are just a few of the Richmond museums families can enjoy.
Are you a foodie family? Tour and sample some of Richmond's culinary treats on these walking tours that offer food, plus history. The Richmond Arts District tour has visitors sampling from six different restaurants (and bakeries!) while hearing stories about the neighborhood.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Richmond, Virginia Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: The Jefferson Hotel
Thomas Jefferson"s home at Monticello is located in Charlottesville and kids will enjoy the guided tours of his home and gardens on this Virginia weekend getaway. Open year-round, tours are offered daily several times an hour. A behind-the-scenes tour is available too and allows visitors to explore the upstairs family quarters of Monticello.
If parents can sneak away from the kids for an afternoon, there are several wine tours and tastings at scenic vineyards situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And for even higher views of Blue Ridge and Monticello, book a private flight in a hot air balloon. Teens and college students from nearby University of Virginia will love the unique adventurous experience. Take a Charlottesville getaway in the fall and looking down at the red and golden treetops will be breathtaking.
Recommended Hotel: Homewood Suites by Hilton Charlottesville
Massanutten Adventures features river and land tours. Families can take an adventure down the Shenandoah River by canoe, kayak, tube or raft. But if you don't feel like getting wet, hop on a bus and take a Civil War or Washington D.C. tour instead. The bus tours are available year-round. Custom group trips are also available at Massanutten Adventure, so if you're looking for a specific adventure for your family, let them know.
And if that"s not enough to keep kids entertained, families will also find water parks, golf, tennis and an ice skating rink.
Recommended Hotel: Massanutten Resort
For a real treat, kids can rent a colonial period costume and walk among the fellow historic personalities as if they, too, belong in Colonial times. Don"t miss the Fife and Drum Parade that marches up the Duke of Gloucester Street each day. Kids will love to march alongside in their Colonial dress.
Less than a half hour away is Jamestown, where families will find more history, roller coasters, musical shows and beaches. Kids will really love to set sail on a sunset voyage on an authentic pirate ship, too.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Williamsburg Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Williamsburg Inn
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
When you're done with Colonial times, head to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for modern-day fun. Young children, tweens and teens will enjoy a Busch Gardens getaway. The park is not too overwhelming compared to a Disney theme park, which makes it easier for families to do and see it all on a day trip. Or add Busch Gardens" sister park, Water Country USA water park to your agenda and turn your day trip into a Virginia weekend getaway.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg is divided into nine European-themed villages, with rides, shows, events and restaurants in each area. The park has a total of six roller coasters.
Animals and Sesame Street characters are also featured at Busch Gardens. Priding itself as a "kidsiderate" park and awarded the World"s Most Beautiful Theme Park by the National Amusement Park Historical Association, Busch Gardens Williamsburg should be at the top of your list for a Virginia weekend getaway.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Busch Gardens Williamsburg Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Courtyard Williamsburg Busch Gardens Area
Virginia Beach offers a beautiful pathway "boardwalk" that stretches 3 miles for walking, biking and more, with free concerts and other events hosted here in the summer. Head to Atlantic Fun Park for all of your favorite rides, midway games and more or visit Ocean Breeze Waterpark when it's time to cool off.
While in town, be sure to also check out the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge where families can easily get a glimpse of nearly 300 different types of birds in the 8,500 acre nature refuge. Flat walking trails also run throughout and are great for pushing a stroller.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Virginia Beach Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach
Shenandoah National Park
Activities include guided or self-guided hikes, horseback riding, campfires, and scenic drives along Skyline Drive, with views of the famous Blue Ridge Mountains. The campgrounds at Shenandoah are open in the spring, summer and fall and reservations are highly recommended, especially for holidays and weekends. Whether you have an RV or a tent, there are several options for families seeking to sleep under the stars.
Don"t miss a stop at Luray Caverns either -- the giant stalactites and stalagmites hanging from the cave ceilings will leave kids and parents in awe of the natural wonder.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Shenandoah National Park Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Shenandoah Crossing
Families can take a step back in time at Carlyle House, a manor house built in 1753, which features exhibits and daily tours led by costumed guides, or they can visit the Gadsby"s Tavern Museum, Apothecary Museum and Fort Ward Museum on this Virginia weekend getaway.
The Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens is also a must-see on your Alexandria getaway. George Washington"s estate, about a 15-minute drive from Alexandria, features a mansion tour and kids can find Washington"s dentures (sure to give a giggle) and Martha Washington"s jewelry in the museum. Of course, be sure to make a stop at Washington"s tomb (and remember to wear your walking shoes). You might also try touring Mount Vernon by bike and boat.
Looking for a place to stay? Find Alexandria, Virginia Hotels.
Recommended Hotel: Residence Inn Alexandria Old Town
When it"s time to hit the high seas, try a Victory Rover Naval Base Cruise. Board the Victory Rover and enjoy a smooth cruise down the Elizabeth River while spotting real Naval ships along the way. Strollers are welcome onboard so toddlers don"t have to miss out on the fun at sea.
Recommended Hotel: Norfolk Waterside Marriott