When it comes time to plan your family vacation, opt for a week-long getaway at a lake in Virginia. Look forward to fun activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. When you book a waterfront Virginia vacation rental along the shores of a gorgeous lake, you can enjoy your morning coffee while watching the sun rise over the water. That said, here’s a look at the 10 best lakes in Virginia to help you get started.
1. Smith Mountain Lake
In south-central Virginia, Smith Mountain Lake is a manmade lake that was created when a dam was built. This lake sits in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Throughout the year, there are several fishing tournaments to catch the striped bass that call the lake home. With more than a dozen public launches, the lake sees a lot of boat traffic. Rent a boat from Bridgewater Marina and Boat Rentals to take the family out on the water, and then end the day with dinner at Waller’s with outdoor seating and live music.
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2. Douthat Lake
Close to Millboro, Douthat Lake is a hot spot for families that enjoy fishing. You can catch largemouth bass, trout, crappie, and pickerel. In addition to all the fishing, there are numerous hiking trails and bike paths. The lake bans motorized boats but you can rent a Jon boat, canoes, and kayaks at Douthat State Park. Nearby George Washington National Forest is great for a day of hiking or horseback riding. While in town, stop by Waterwheel Restaurants for a family meal.
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3. Lake Gaston
On the border between North Carolina and Virginia, Lake Gaston spans 35 miles and offers 350 miles of shorelines, making it a hot spot for watersports, including jet skis and water skiing. Choose a vacation rental with a dock and bring your own boat for a week of fun. Holly Grove Marina has everything you need for a day on the water, such as snacks, gas, fishing gear, and boat rentals. If you don’t catch any fish, take the family to the Shady Shack Grill for dinner. For older family members, the Rosemont Vineyard and Winery offers tours and a sampling room.
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4. Hungry Mother Lake
With a fishing peir and a public beach, Hungry Mother Lake is popular with families. Located in Marion, this lake features more than 15 miles of hiking and biking paths around the lake and surrounding area. Hungry Mother State Park rents kayaks and canoes since only non-motorized vehicles are allowed on the lake. If you want to float around in a tube, Hungry Mother Adventures offers rentals. Hop in the car for a day at nearby Grayson Highlands State Park for the chance to see the wild ponies.
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5. Lake Anna
Lake Anna offers your family more than 200 miles of shorelines to explore when your not out on the lake fishing, swimming, kayaking, and boating. Lake Anna’s State Park offers a sand beach to spend a day soaking up the sun while the kids splash in the water. Throw out your line for the chance to catch a couple of the largemouth bass that the lake is known for. Zoom around the lake on jet skis rented from Wake Anna Surf and Ski or opt for a paddleboard or canoe from Lake Anna Outfitters.
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6. Claytor Lake
Visit Dublin and spend your family trip at Claytor Lake. With Claytor Lake State Park along the shores, you find a public beach and miles of hiking trails to spend a few hours on land. This lake has a full-service marina for snacks, fishing gear, and gas. Learn more about the lake’s ecology and wildlife at Howe House with its interactive exhibits. Pick up a unique souvenir of your trip at The Draper Mercantile and Trading Company with its one-of-a-kind art.
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7. Philpott Lake
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Philpott Lake features gorgeous scenery and shaded walking trails for an afternoon stroll. Bring your own boat to launch at one of the nine public ramps or hand out on one of the six beaches to work on your tan. Catch a NASCAR race at nearby Martinsville Speedway or take a tour of the track while visiting. Three Rivers Outfitters can provide your group with kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards for a relaxing day on the water.
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8. Lake Fairfax
Find Lake Fairfax in the northern part of the state. It’s a hot spot for families with kids and offers lots of fun activities. As an urban lake, this lake offers visitors a lake and city vacation. While visiting the lake, take one of the guided boat ride tours or catch a couple of trouts in the stocked stream. On the lake, Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole is a pool with water activities for kids including a slide, climbing equipment, and flume. There’s even a kiddie area, Tenderfoot pond.
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9. Sherando Lake
Also in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Sherando Lake is a small but charming choice for your holiday. There is a beach where the kids can build sand castles and wade in the water while you catch up on your summer reading. Afterward, hit the bathhouse to shower off so you don’t get sand in the car. Families traveling with adult children can hit the Nelson 151 Trail that takes you to some of best breweries, wineries, and makers of cider. Families with small kids can score some tasty ice cream at Kline’s Dairy Bar.
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10. John H. Kerr Reservoir
Also known as Buggs Island, the John H. Kerr Reservoir is a massive 50,000 acres of water and 800 miles of shoreline to explore during your time in the area. Race around the lake in your own motor boat or rent jet skis from Roanoke River Water Sports. In the early evening, float by the Clarksville Bridge to see the lights that leave the water awash in glowing beauty. Enjoy a sit-down family meal at The Lake House Restaurant one evening and watch the sunset from the outside patio.
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