If you’ve ever dreamed of a vacation rental nestled between two picturesque mountains along the banks of a stunning river, you’ll be happy to learn it exists in Shenandoah, Virginia. It’s a small town with several parks along the river. The town, which played a role in the Civil War, features more than 300 buildings on the historic district listing. Enjoy using your smartphones to look for geocache treasures hidden throughout the town.

The Skyline Drive is beautiful all year-round. During spring and summer when flowers and trees are in bloom as well as in fall when the leaves put on a spectacular show of color. Even winter is a great season to visit, as the area offers skiing and winter sports. While you plan your vacation season, here is a list of nine top Shenandoah vacation rental locations.

1. Shenandoah

Source: townofshenandoah.com

Shenandoah is a quaint, friendly town that welcomes visitors and offers you a place to enjoy your vacation, whatever season of the year you choose to visit. The Shenandoah Landing and River Park features picnic tables and grills, swings, a gazebo, and a paved trail. You can go boating, tubing, canoeing, fishing, or jet skiing. For the older kids who want to incorporate their devices into vacation fun, Big Gem Park includes geocache locations, and there is a dog park for Fido.

2. Elkton

Source: Flickr / daveynin

The views in Elkton include the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains and sprawling valley meadows and farms. Active families enjoy hiking the Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail, a 9-mile loop that features a river. It includes some rock scaling and steep grades on the ascent, but the descent is more gradual and ends on a fire trail. Families with younger kids enjoy visiting the Luray Zoo, where the kids can pet and feed friendly goats, give a tiger a snack, and pet a porcupine.

3. Massanutten

Source: Flickr / paulbr75

Massanutten welcomes visitors year-round for active and exciting family adventures. The water park includes 42,000 square feet of indoor water fun, dining, shops, and arcade games, plus over 80,000 square feet of outdoor adventures. Warm-weather fun includes a golf course and the Kids’ Zip Line and Canopy Tour. The zip line company also offers a ropes course. Winter sports include snow skiing and snowboarding. When you want to slow down the pace, the kids can get a special souvenir at the Teddy Bear Factory where they get to choose a teddy bear, panda, cow, rabbit, or other animal to stuff and dress. Can you picture their smiles as they cuddle their stuffed animals when you put them to bed in your vacation rental every night?

4. Harrisonburg

Source: Pixabay / WikimediaImages

If you like a small-town atmosphere in a community that offers plenty of opportunities and activities, Harrisonburg is your ideal vacation destination. From your downtown vacation apartment rental, you can walk to live shows, browse antique stores, and check out specialty shops. Other options include visiting art galleries and taking the kids to the planetarium for shows and exhibits. Museums include the Mineral Museum, Museum of American Jewelry Design and Manufacturing, and the Harrisonburg Fire Department Museum. If you want to get the family moving, Rocktown Trails at Hillandale Park offers a system of stacked loop trails with three skill levels for walkers, runners, and cyclists from novice to expert.

5. New Market

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

It’s easy to satisfy your inner history buff when you stay in New Market and visit New Market Battlefield Park, the site of the famous Virginia Military Institute cadet charge of May 15, 1864. When it’s time to kick things into high gear, you can head over to Blue Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures for a high-flying adventure. If you have never been skydiving, try a tandem skydive with a licensed skydiver.

6. Luray

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Luray Caverns offers an opportunity for your family to see and hear the world’s largest musical instrument, the Great Stalacpipe Organ. It mechanically generates music by tapping stalactites across 3 acres of space inside the caverns. Other attractions at Luray Caverns include a 7-acre recreation of an 1800s farming community and the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum. Families can mine gems and get lost in the Garden Maze. Gift shops give you ample opportunities to browse for souvenirs to take back to your rental cottage in Luray at the end of a fun-filled day.

7. McGaheysville

Source: Pixabay / inverewe

When you stay in McGaheysville, the plethora of family activities includes driving the scenic Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. You can access Skyline Drive at Swift Run Gap which is about 13 miles east of town. If you want to visit Washington, D.C., Massanutten Adventures offers day-trip packages. They do the driving on a tour that features the Arlington National Cemetery, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, the Jefferson Memorial and more. Options include spending a day at the Smithsonian Institution museums. Your fees include a buffet dinner in Manassas, Virginia.

8. Grottoes

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Touring Grand Caverns in Grottoes can be unforgettable. Known as the country’s oldest show cave, Grand Caverns opened for tours in 1806. Confederate and Union soldiers visited the cave. Tour guides point out some of the more than 200 verified signatures from that era. If you find a special souvenir in the gift shop, you can drop it off at your vacation rental cabin before heading out for pizza at the Wood Fired Oven or burgers at the Vintage Kitchen. A great opportunity to hike part of the famous Appalachian Trail exists in the Shenandoah National Park, where it is okay to take your dog on a leash.

9. Stanley

Source: Pixabay / taniadelongchamp

You can spread a picnic by the creek and enjoy some wine at Wisteria Farm and Vineyard in Stanley. In colder months, the fireplace warms the tasting room, and outdoor fire pits offer additional warmth for wine tasting. You’re welcome to use the free Wi-Fi while you sip away, and take some white and red wines back to your vacation rental to enjoy later. For a change of pace, surprise the horse lovers in the family with a trip to Jordan Hollow Stables. They offer trail rides for ages 7 and older, and pony rides for younger children.