They say Virginia is for lovers, maybe they mean lake lovers! The state has plenty of destinations that are ideal for a water-focused vacation, whether you’re looking for a fun-filled family trip or a relaxing getaway to take in the state’s flora and fauna. Check out our list of Virginia’s top five spots for lakeside fun.
Don't Miss These Amazing Virginia Lake Vacations!
Charming Suffolk has access to a variety of waterways, including Lake Meade, Lake Cohoon, and Lake Kilby, and is ideal for outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts. Especially famous for its stellar fishing opportunities, the lakes near Suffolk are stocked with everything from largemouth bass to bluegills. It’s also a popular spot for birders, who frequent the Suffolk Loop trail in the nearby Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (don’t let the name deter you, it’s not really dismal!) to spy Virginia’s rich variety of warblers and maybe the occasional black bear. Suffolk’s Vintage Tavern is a charmer, thanks to its rustic interior and award-winning Southern cuisine.
Calling itself “Virginia’s only lakeside town” should be reason enough for Clarksville to make our top lakes list and this lakefront hamlet has plenty to offer. Located on the largest lake in the state, John H. Kerr Reservoir (also known as Buggs Island Lake), Clarksville offers quintessential small town Southern charm. You can access the 50,000 acres of lake water from town or hit the beaches at Occoneechee State Park and Staunton River State Park. In addition to some of the best fishing, swimming, sailing and other water recreation in the state, Clarksville has access to plenty of recreation out of the water, like hiking, hunting, and mountain biking. For dinner, don’t miss the surf and turf at Coopers Landing Inn and Traveler’s Tavern.
Stunning South Holston Lake is tucked into the forest-covered mountains of Southern Virginia and stretches into Tennessee. It’s beautiful blue-green waters are prime for boating, swimming, fishing, and plenty of other aquatic activities, making it an ideal spot for a family vacation. Nearby Abingdon is a quaint town full of historic Southern charm. Catch a show at the Barter Theater, originally built as a church in 1830, or explore the variety of Abingdon’s local museums, like the William King Museum of Art or the eclectic Star Museum.
Arguably Virginia’s most popular lake destination, Smith Mountain Lake is the second largest lake in the state with over 500 miles of shoreline. It offers plenty of room for boating and other exciting water sports, like swimming, fishing, and sailing, that will please anyone in the family. Roanoke offers plenty of entertainment and history if you need a break from all that lake fun. Mill Mountain Star and Park is a must-see for the views of the city, Mill Mountain Zoo, and hiking trails, and you and the kids will get a kick out of the quirky Roanoke Pinball Museum (yes, it’s a museum full of pinball machines!) Don’t miss the farm to table fare and hand-crafted cocktails at Local Roots restaurant.
For a peaceful and nature-centered vacation, don’t miss Lake Moomaw in the heart of the picturesque Alleghany Highlands. Lake Moomaw is famous for its fishing and its waters are stocked with everything from rainbow trout to bass to yellow perch. If you’re not an angler, no worries, there is also plenty of boating, swimming, and hiking fun to be had all around the lake. Covington and the surrounding countryside offer a variety of scenic destinations, like the Falling Springs Waterfall or the historic Humpback Bridge, the oldest covered bridge in Virginia.
This article was written by Katie Vaughan.