Virginia offers a treasure trove of family vacation experiences for all types of families. Whether you're seeking excitement or education, the multitude of historical landmarks, diversity of landscapes, and one-of-a-kind cultural and entertainment attractions make traveling in Virginia an adventure for all ages. From the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy shores of Virginia Beach, every corner of the Commonwealth promises a unique and unforgettable experience for families seeking quality time together.
Here's our guide to some of the best places to visit for every type of family, from those with toddlers to those with four-legged family members.
Families with Younger Kids
Photo Credit: The Detour Duo, @thedetour_duo
Richmond is brimming with kid-friendly attractions, beautiful parks, and fascinating history, making it a top family travel destination in Virginia. Outdoor activities are plentiful in the city, and you can bike, hike, or kayak along the James River Park System or take a leisurely stroll along the scenic Canal Walk.
Young kids will enjoy immersing themselves in the interactive exhibits at both the Children’s Museum of Richmond and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which has a Children's Garden with a WaterPlay area for families. The Maymont Estate, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Science Museum of Virginia also have engaging exhibits and programs tailored to kids.
Photo Credit: Judy Watkins
A perennial favorite in the Richmond metropolitan area is Kings Dominion, where younger guests can experience Planet Snoopy and the adjacent Soak City water park, which provides refreshing aquatic fun for the whole family, with numerous slides, wave pools, and splash zones.
When it’s time to eat, visit the Daily Kitchen & Bar, a Carytown staple that serves health-conscious meals sourced from organic and sustainable farms, or Baker’s Crust, another great family-friendly dining option in the Carytown area.
For a sure-fire hit with the kids, check out Bottoms Up Pizza, whose menu items include standard pizzas like pepperoni and specialty pizzas like the Southwestern Pizza, topped with roasted red pepper, green pepper, onion, and Italian sausage.
If you’d like to eat and play, The Park offers a variety of food and entertainment options that families will love. For tasty, handcrafted ice creams, sorbets, sherbets, and baked goods, head to Ruby Scoops, located in Northside Richmond.
Where to Stay in Richmond
The Graduate Richmond - $$
The Graduate Richmond has family suites with connecting rooms that can accommodate up to six people, complete with cozy bunk beds for the kiddos. While the kids splash and play in the rooftop pool, parents can kick back and relax with a beverage at Byrdhouse rooftop bar. The hotel also gifts families with Richmond-inspired stuffed animals to take home as cherished mementos of the trip.
The Quirk Hotel - $$$
Photo Credit: Cathy Anderson
The Quirk Hotel stands out for its distinctive fusion of artistic flair and luxury, providing families with a stylish and comfortable retreat after a day of exploring the city. Located in an Italian Renaissance building dating from 1916, the boutique hotel has 75 rooms and suites, including loft suites, as well as a boutique selling art, jewelry, and décor and an art gallery featuring rotating exhibitions.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
From the sands of Virginia Beach to Buckroe Beach, a family getaway to Hampton Roads promises plenty of fun. Take a leisurely stroll or a bike ride along the three-mile Virginia Beach Boardwalk, where you'll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. The region also has numerous historic attractions like Cape Henry Lighthouse, First Landing State Park, Fort Monroe, Jamestown Settlement, and York Battlefield. Kids will enjoy learning about marine life, maritime activities, and aviation at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, the Nauticus National Maritime Center, and the Virginia Air and Space Center.
Families looking for a rush of adrenaline can head to the Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium to zip, swing, and traverse a variety of aerial trails, perfect for all ages and abilities. In addition, Ocean Breeze Waterpark has plenty of aquatic entertainment, from thrilling water slides to a lazy river and a wave pool. If that's not enough, Busch Gardens Williamsburg promises a wild ride, with hair-raising roller coasters like the Griffon, Alpengeist, and InvadR, plus the Sesame Street Forest of Fun for the little ones.
Photo Credit: Kelly J. Mihalcoe LLC
Visit the 175-acre Norfolk Botanical Garden, where children can explore and learn about nature through more than 60 themed gardens like the Children's Adventure Garden. In addition to hands-on exhibits, a splash pad, and a butterfly house, families can participate in the guided tram and boat tours to better understand the garden's history and various ecosystems.
If you’re looking for family-friendly dining options in Hampton Roads, grab a table at Waterman’s Surfside Grille or Chix on the Beach in Virginia Beach. In Norfolk, visit D’Egg Diner and Freemason Abbey, which is located inside a renovated cathedral. Burger Theory, Schooners Grill, and Smoke BBQ are all kid-friendly restaurants in Newport News.
Where to Stay in Hampton Roads
Great Wolf Lodge - $$
At Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, the main attraction is a massive indoor water park, which contains various slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, and splash areas suitable for all ages. The lodge also has an outdoor pool, interactive games like MagiQuest, and other fun activities like mini golf, a ropes course, a bowling alley, and an arcade. One of the most unique amenities of the property is Scooops Kid Spa, where kids can be indulged with ice cream-themed manicures, pedicures, and other spa treatments created especially for them.
Hilton Vacation Club Oceanaire - $$$
Relish the views of the Atlantic Ocean from the private balconies of Hilton Vacation Club Oceanaire, where families can choose between oceanfront and ocean view studio rooms with kitchenettes, and one- and two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens. The property also contains an indoor and outdoor water park that kids will love.
Cavalier Resort - $$$$
Photo Credit: Ashley Lester
Comprised of the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Embassy Suites by Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront Resort, and the Historic Cavalier Hotel & Beach Club, The Cavalier Resort offers more than 500 luxury rooms and suites, nine dining options, indoor and outdoor pools, and prime beachfront access. The resort properties host regular family-friendly events and activities, such as movie nights, scavenger hunts, and arts and crafts sessions.
Families with Older Kids
The Shenandoah Valley
Photo Credit: Jeff Greenough
With endless natural wonders ranging from cascading waterfalls to mountain vistas, venturing through Shenandoah National Park is a thrilling sensory experience and perfect for outdoor-loving families. There are more than 500 miles of hiking trails, with two of the most family friendly being the Limberlost Trail, a 1.3-mile accessible loop, and the 1.6-mile Stony Man Trail.
Photo Credit: Larry W. Brown
A few of the more challenging family-friendly hikes in the Shenandoah Valley are Dark Hollow Falls Trail, a moderately steep 1.4-mile round trip waterfall hike, great for families with older children who can handle the incline. Additionally, Bearfence Mountain Trail is a short but exciting 1.2-mile loop trail that includes some rock scrambling, which can be fun for adventurous kids.
Just outside the park, another perennial favorite hiking spot in the region is Natural Bridge State Park, a scenic trail that features a natural limestone gorge carved by Cedar Creek. For those who prefer a scenic ride, a journey along the 105-mile Skyline Drive provides ample opportunities for picnics and awe-inspiring scenery from your choice of 76 overlooks.
Where to Stay in the Shenandoah Valley
Skyland Resort - $$
Photo Credit: Kelly J. Mihalcoe LLC
One of three lodges operated by the National Park Service, Skyland offers accommodations ranging from premium rooms to small cabins. The lodge is in the heart of Shenandoah National Park, in close proximity to hiking trails and activities such as horseback riding and stargazing.
Massanutten Resort - $$
You could easily spend all your time at Massanutten Resort. This all-season resort situated to the west of Shenandoah National Park has onsite lodging and a wide range of activities, including its Family Adventure Park, an 18-hole golf course, mini-golf, an ice-skating rink, and restaurants like Splash’s Bar & Grill and Campfire Grill.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Southwest Virginia is an incredible destination where families can embark on exhilarating hikes and bike rides in Grayson Highlands State Park and along the scenic 33-mile Virginia Creeper Trail. Other popular family-friendly hiking destinations include Natural Tunnel State Park, an impressive, naturally-carved tunnel within a limestone ridge. The New River provides abundant opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing, while Breaks Interstate Park, known as the "Grand Canyon of the South," combines challenging rock-climbing experiences with wonderful views.
History buffs can delve into the area's rich heritage by visiting historic sites such as the Abingdon Muster Grounds or the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol to learn about the roots of this beloved genre. Older kids will also enjoy exploring the vibrant arts scene in towns like Floyd and Galax, where they can browse local art galleries, participate in interactive workshops, and attend live music festivals and summer concert series at places like the Blue Ridge Music Center.
Abingdon consistently ranks as one of the best small towns for food, with a food scene rooted in Appalachian cooking. Visit Abingdon’s oldest restaurant, The Tavern, which opened its doors in 1779, and head to White Birch Food and Juice for farm-fresh breakfasts, lunches, smoothies, and raw juices.
In Bristol, check out Bloom, which serves a rotating brunch, dinner, and dessert menu with items like hot chicken and waffle sandwiches and braised beef. Located on State Street, the casual restaurant straddles the state line between Virginia and Tennessee.
Where to Stay in Southwest Virginia
The Bristol Hotel - $$
Stay in the center of the action at this boutique property with 65 classic yet contemporary rooms and suites. The property also has an Appalachian-style chophouse restaurant, Vivian's Table, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lumac’s, Bristol’s first rooftop bar, offers live music, handcrafted cocktails, and panoramic city and mountain views, and it was previously named the most beautifully designed bar in Virginia by Architectural Digest.
Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards - $$$
Surrounded by rolling hills north of The Virginian Golf Club, Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards offers a remarkable and relaxing stay with 28 spacious rooms and suites, nine luxury yurts, an outdoor infinity pool, a disc golf course, a soon-to-be-completed fitness center and luxury spa, a wine-tasting room, and Hickory, the property’s farm-to-table, fine-dining restaurant. The property’s accommodations are an impeccable combination of modern décor and amenities, with separate living areas, kitchenettes, rainfall showers, and complimentary bottles of the property’s wine and local snacks. For families seeking unique stays, the property’s yurts truly stand out and are available in two and three-room configurations that have circular skylights and back decks that allow guests to admire the property’s beautiful grounds. Children can engage in various activities, including S’mores by the fire pit, targeting sports, archery, hatchet throwing, farm tours, fishing, guided hikes, live music, and social hours in the living room.
Primland Resort - $$$$
Primland Resort, Auberge Resorts Collection, is a beautiful 12,000-acre mountain estate where families can become completely immersed in the outdoors. Reminiscent of a Swiss chalet, the property contains 26 spacious rooms and suites with terraces as well as a collection of luxury cottages and treehouses dotting the forests overlooking the Dan River Gorge—all of which have gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The property also has three restaurants, a luxury spa, and an indoor pool. Families can admire the beauty of the night sky from Primland's own observatory, which features educational shows led by the property’s resident astronomer. Other onsite activities include guided hikes, ATV rides, hunting, fishing, biking, yoga, and golfing, There’s also a game room for younger kids as well as an activity center.
Eastern Shore of Virginia
Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.
Home to pristine beaches, enchanting wildlife refuges, and quaint coastal towns like Chincoteague and Cape Charles, Virginia's Eastern Shore provides a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Virginia’s cities and more popular leisure destinations. This slower pace makes the region more suitable for both younger and older generations traveling together.
Photo Credit: Bill Crabtree Jr.
Along Virginia’s Eastern Shore, you can kayak through marshlands, visit historic lighthouses, and witness the region’s famous wild ponies at Assateague Island National Seashore. Also worth a visit are the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve, which contain a variety of options for hiking, birdwatching, and fishing or crabbing along the shoreline. Visit the town wharf in Onancock or take a ride back in time on the Tangier Island Ferry to one of the most remote islands in the region.
Photo Credit: Scott K. Brown
Families can indulge in fresh, locally-sourced seafood at waterfront seafood shacks and cozy bistros like The Shanty or Mallards at the Wharf. For those craving traditional American fare, Exmore Diner and Sting-Ray's Restaurant serve up classic comfort food in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. The Cape Charles Brewing Company along with the Bay Creek Golf Course are sure to be a hit with dads and granddads, while kids and grandparents can play at the beach and mom can shop the boutiques.
Where to Stay in the Eastern Shore of Virginia
Kiptopeke State Park - $
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
With comfortable cabins and spacious campgrounds, Kiptopeke State Park offers a tranquil haven for families of all sizes to reconnect with nature and each other, while exploring Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Sunset Beach Hotel - $$
This beachside hotel offers 70 rooms, including six suites overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. Sunset Beach Hotel caters to groups and offers full schedules of live entertainment and activities such as a private beach, two outdoor swimming pools, an onsite restaurant, and a fitness center.
Hotel Cape Charles - $$$
Hotel Cape Charles is a 22-room property comprised of balcony, courtyard, gallery, and loft rooms. Reserve a four-passenger golf cart to cruise around town in one of the few localities in Virginia where golf carts are street legal.
Bay Creek Resort - $$$$
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With an enviable waterfront location, Bay Creek Resort is an ideal setting for multigenerational travelers, providing large, comfortable, and modern vacation homes, most of which have three to four bedrooms. During your stay, you can also sign up for golfing activities as well as visit its Life Center, a 10,000-square-foot recreational center with fitness classes, billiards, and two swimming pools.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Known as America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital and the largest city along the Appalachian Trail, Roanoke is an ideal destination for multigenerational family vacations due to its relaxed pace and diverse activities that family members of all ages will enjoy. The city is full of charming neighborhoods, art galleries, restaurants, and quaint boutiques, and it has more than 1,000 miles of trails for hiking, biking, fishing, paddling and other outdoor recreation activities.
One of the city’s most unique shopping venues is Black Dog Salvage, an upcycle home and garden company with a design center that rose to fame during the television docuseries Salvage Dawgs on DIY Network. Not only can you find furniture in the company’s showroom, but you can also find artwork from local artists, children’s clothing, and collectible toys. The company also hosts hands-on painting classes and live music events.
Photo Credit: Star City Skycams, @starcityskycams
Families can explore the scenery of Mill Mountain Park and the Discovery Center and the Roanoke River Greenway as well as visit many historical and cultural sites within the Roanoke region, including the Virginia Museum of Transportation, Taubman Museum of Art, Booker T. Washington National Monument, and the National D-Day Memorial. With so many options, it’s easy for active family members to participate in mountain biking or hiking, while the grandparents take younger kids to the Mill Mountain Zoo.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
One of the city’s most iconic attractions is the Roanoke Star, an 88.5-foot-tall illuminated star perched atop Mill Mountain, with its panoramic views of the surrounding valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. For families seeking live entertainment, the Mill Mountain Theatre regularly presents family-friendly performances, and Roanoke's vibrant downtown area hosts various festivals and events throughout the year such as the Local Colors Festival, Salem Fair, Beaver Dam Sunflower Festival, and Roanoke GO Fest.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
For family-friendly restaurants in the Roanoke region, head to Mac and Bob’s in Salem to try their famous calzones. Don’t miss the giant pizza slices and whole pies at Benny Marconi’s and Big Lick Brewing Company, a restaurant and brewery that also allows guests to scan QR codes to order and have meals delivered at no additional charge from nearby restaurants like Beamer’s 25 and Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje. Located in downtown Roanoke, Billy’s has large private dining rooms and an extensive menu of seafood, steak, and pasta dishes to suit a variety of tastes.
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
With more than 500 miles of beautiful shoreline, Smith Mountain Lake provides ample opportunities for water-based activities such as boating, fishing, kayaking, jet skiing, and swimming. The area also has several kid-friendly hiking trails and even a beach. Bridgewater Marina is a one-stop shop for your water toy rentals, from pontoon boats to jet skis and paddleboards. Nearby Homestead Creamery & Farm Market is a great place to finish the day with a sweet treat. As evening falls, one of the best things to do is to bask in the warm glow of a beautiful sunset over the lake.
Where to Stay in Virginia’s Blue Ridge
SpringHill Suites - $
SpringHill Suites Roanoke offers an affordable stay in downtown Roanoke. Designed to cater to families of all sizes, the hotel’s spacious suites have kitchenettes, workspaces, and separate living areas to ensure a comfortable stay. The hotel also has an indoor pool and a complimentary breakfast buffet.
Bernard’s Landing - $$
Bernard’s Landing at Smith Mountain Lake is a fantastic choice for large groups of families seeking spacious accommodations, ranging from luxurious condos to charming townhomes. The resort also contains a variety of on-site amenities, including swimming pools, tennis courts, and a fitness center.
Hotel Roanoke - $$$
Photo Credit: Rich Grant, @richgrantdenver
Hotel Roanoke, a 329-room historic property dating back to 1882, offers an array of leisure amenities and activities such as a heated outdoor pool and a luxurious spa. The hotel has four on-site restaurants, including the Regency Room, the region’s only AAA Four Diamond Restaurant, where hotel guests can enjoy live music and a weekend dance floor.
Families with Pets
Albemarle & Nelson Counties
If you and your furry friend are looking to explore the wonderful state of Virginia, Albemarle and Nelson Counties should certainly be on your list. These two counties have several hiking trails like Preddy Creek Trail Park and Crabtree Falls that are perfect for pooches.
Not only are these counties known for their hiking trails, but they’re also known for their wine and craft beverage trails, such as the Monticello Wine Trail and the Nelson 151 Craft Beverage Trail. Pet-friendly wineries and breweries, like King Family Vineyards, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, Hill Top Winery & Meadery, Brewing Tree Beer Company, and Blue Mountain Brewery provide an opportunity for adults to indulge in local wine and brew tastings while their pets frolic in the beautiful outdoor spaces.
Plus, you and your pup can roam the charming streets of downtown Charlottesville and Lovingston. Charlottesville also has some amazing parks, like Chris Greene Lake Park and Azalea Park, with fenced-in off-leash areas for hours of canine enjoyment.
Where to Stay in Albemarle and Nelson Counties
Misty Mountain Camp Resort - $
This pet-friendly campground in Nelson County has a variety of lodging options, including cabins, RV sites, and tent camping spots. Each cabin at Misty Mountain Camp Resort is equipped with modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and fully-equipped kitchenettes, complete with microwaves and mini-fridges. The campground offers live music and hayrides and also has a general store, an outdoor pool, playgrounds, sport courts, a game room, nature trails, and a fishing pond.
Montebello Camping & Fishing Resort - $
Also in Nelson County is Montebello Camping & Fishing Resort, which has seven well-appointed cabins and a variety of camper, RV, and tent camping sites. The resort has plenty of green space for pets to roam, and guests can participate in activities such as eating S’mores by the campfire, seasonal berry picking, fishing, biking, hunting, wildlife spotting, and wilderness exploring.
Residence Inn Charlottesville Downtown - $$
Residence Inn Charlottesville Downtown has designated pet-friendly rooms and thoughtful amenities to make every family member feel at home. With a convenient location near the Downtown Mall, fully-equipped kitchens, and a grassy backyard for pets to run around, the 124-room hotel is one of the best value options in Charlottesville for families traveling with pets.
The Indigo House - $$
Experience a refreshing twist on the classic B&B getaway at The Indigo House, where the great outdoors serve as the inspiration for the property’s interior and exterior spaces. The property goes above and beyond to cater to the needs of dogs, providing custom dog beds, bowls, unlimited treats, pet-friendly recommendations, and no pet fees. The property is conveniently located near some of the region’s finest vineyards and breweries.
The Draftsman - $$$
This 11-story hotel pays homage to the visionary spirits of Virginia's founding fathers. With 150 guest rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and The Ridley restaurant, the hotel offers convenient access to the main attractions of Charlottesville.
Keswick Hall - $$$$
Photo Credit: Ryan Ocker
At the five-star Keswick Hall, pet families will be spoiled by the property’s immaculate rooms and sprawling grounds that provide ample space for dogs to explore and play. Upon arrival, pets are greeted with special amenities such as pet beds, bowls, and delicious treats.
Photo Credit: Todd Wright, @toddwrightphoto
The City of Alexandria has earned a well-deserved spot amongst the most pup-friendly cities in America. Having been awarded a BETTER CITIES FOR PETS certification by Mars Petcare, pets are spoiled with a wide variety of pet-friendly events, venues, restaurants, and retail businesses. Treat your furry friend to a quality grooming session at Olde Town School for Dogs, have a play date at Frolick Dogs Gym, or shop for unique pet gear at The Dog Park.
Alexandria has many pet-friendly restaurants like Barkhaus, which was the DC area’s first dog bar, offering indoor and outdoor off-leash play areas. Both Vola’s Dockside Grill and Virtue Feed & Grain have dog menus that feature items like frozen “bone” pupsicles with apples. Dogs will also love visiting Casa Rosada Artisan Gelato for a special dog-friendly treat: Hungry Henry’s Dog Gelato.
Families with pets can enjoy a leisurely walk along the Mount Vernon Trail, the Alexandria waterfront, and King Street. For off-leash fun, visit one of Alexandria's well-maintained dog parks, such as Founders Park, Duke Street Dog Park, and Montgomery Park, where your canine companion can socialize and play freely. The city also hosts the annual ALX Dog Walk.
Where to Stay in Alexandria
In Alexandria, there are a number of pet-friendly accommodations, and it's essential to ask about the property’s pet policy, including fees, weight limits, breed restrictions, and whether pets can be left unattended in a room.
Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria - $$
Located within a short walk of the King Street metro station, the Residence Inn Old Town Alexandria is a smart choice for exploring Old Town Alexandria at the nation’s capital. The hotel welcomes cats and dogs and even has a dog potty area onsite.
Hotel Indigo Old Town Alexandria - $$$
This luxury 120-room hotel is the only waterfront hotel in Old Town Alexandria and offers wonderful views of the Potomac River. A short walk from the main attractions of Old Town Alexandria, the property allows families to bring up to two pets, either cats or dogs, weighing up to 80 pounds each.