Welcome summer with a trip to Virginia in June! Not sure where to go? As temperatures begin to heat up, a great way to cool down is a waterfront getaway. And while beaches are always a popular choice for summer retreats, Virginia’s lakes provide a different coastal vibe. Enjoy a peaceful retreat along the water when you plan a trip this June to one of Virginia’s lovely lakes.
Photo Credit: Chad Williams, @echadwilliams
There are more than a dozen notable lakes found throughout the Commonwealth, so if you’re not sure where to look for your next lakeside summer holiday, consider checking out Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the second-largest freshwater lake in Virginia. This picturesque lake has over 500 miles of shoreline and stunning mountain backdrops, so it’s no surprise Smith Mountain Lake is nicknamed the "Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains". Book a cabin along the shores and head to one of the marinas, where you can rent everything from sailboats, pontoons, and speed boats to Jet Skis and paddleboards.
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson
Another lakefront destination worth a visit is Buggs Island Lake, a.k.a. the John H. Kerr Reservoir. The largest lake in Virginia, Buggs Island is one of three notable lakes in Southern Virginia where you’ll find family-friendly campgrounds, excellent fishing (particularly for bass and catfish), and outfitters renting boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and other water sports equipment.
If you’re looking for a lake vacation in Southwest Virginia, plan your trip to Claytor Lake State Park. Although technically part of the New River, the park has everything that the previous lake destinations offer, from paddleboard, kayak, and boat rentals at Mountain 2 Island at the Rockhouse Marina to campsite, cabin, and yurt rentals along the shore. Trails wind along the riverbanks and a sandy beach is open to visitors to sunbathe and swim in the cool waters of Claytor Lake State Park.
The Newest Attractions for Virginia’s Lake Country
About 35 miles from Smith Mountain Lake, Downtown Roanoke’s The Liberty Trust Hotel reopened in April 2022 after undergoing a full historic renovation, transforming the 1910 landmark into a 54-room luxury hotel. The property adds a food & beverage concept into the lobby of the building in the summer of 2022.
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Additionally, Roanoke and the surrounding Blue Ridge community hosts the 2022 USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships from June 29-July 2, 2022. Hundreds of athletes from around the United States compete for a chance to win national titles in several cycling categories, including road races and individual time trial.
Blevins Family Vineyard, located about 30 minutes from Buggs Island Lake, is scheduled to open in May 2022. In addition to the tasting room and beautiful vineyard, the property will also serve as an events space in Halifax County.
Where to Stay
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos
Buggs Island Lake has several campgrounds along the shoreline that allow you to wake up with beautiful waterfront views, such as Occoneechee State Park and North Bend Park. Occoneechee State Park features a splash park for the kids, an archery range (guests must bring their own equipment), boat rentals, and more recreational opportunities, while North Bend Park has hiking and biking trails, a disc golf course, and all sorts of waterfront family fun.
For more luxury lodgings, stay at the nearby Berry Hill Resort in South Boston or Cooper’s Landing Inn in Clarksville. Both offer on-site fine dining opportunities for guests looking to enjoy impressive meals during their stay.
If you’re looking at staying near Claytor Lake, consider booking one of the dozens of cabins along the waterfront. With a wide range of options that go from cozy one-bedrooms to family reunion-sized chalets, there’s something for every traveler. Another lodging option is the Jackson Park Inn in Pulaski, about 12 miles from Claytor Lake State Park. Finally, for a vineyard stay close to the waterfront, Iron Heart Winery has multiple cabins on the property that start around $155/night and sleep 6-8 people.
Photo Credit: Karen DeBord
Vacationers heading to Smith Mountain Lake can relax with a stay at Bedford Landings Bed & Breakfast (fun fact: the B&B also has airplane hangers for guests looking to fly in!) or Shirley’s Bed & Breakfast. A truly unique overnight experience is available through Parrot Cove, whose 39’ and 53’ houseboats sleep 6-10 people and rent for as low as $1,050 for four nights mid-week or three nights over the weekend.
Where to Eat
Grab a bite at Bridgewater Bar & Grill or Traveler’s Tavern at Cooper’s Landing Inn after a day on the water at Buggs Island Lake, or head into Halifax (close to Berry Hill Resort!) to get dinner at Molasses Grill, one of Southern Virginia’s best-kept secrets when it comes to fine dining. Berry Hill Resort has its own on-site restaurants, the casual yet delicious Darby’s Tavern, and the more upscale Mansion Restaurant, located in a historic building that dates to 1839 and is designated a National Historic Landmark. For breakfast and lunch, South Boston’s Southern Plenty Cafe serves up homemade quiches, pastries, sandwiches, desserts, and more.
Drop into Thee Draper Village when visiting Claytor Lake State Park and eat at The Village Coffee Shoppe, which offers breakfast and lunch as well as suppers to go Thursday through Sunday. Afterward, spend some time browsing the boutique shops in the Village before heading back to your home base.
For Mexican food lovers visiting Smith Mountain Lake, Mexico Viejo Tequila Bar at the Bridgewater Marina is a must. Drifter’s is an option often favored by locals, with waterfront views, live music performances, pet-friendly seating, and of course, incredible food and drinks. Finally, check out Jake’s Place on the northern end of Smith Mountain Lake for a wide-ranging menu filled with seafood and steaks, burgers, pizzas, a kid’s menu, and even a few dog dishes for your four-legged traveling companions.
What to Do
Photo Credit: Scott K. Brown
Since you’re heading to the lake, water sports should definitely be on your agenda! Claytor Lake State Park, Buggs Island Lake, and Smith Mountain Lake all have outfitters that supply boats, kayaks, paddleboards, and various water sports rentals. Clayton Lake’s Mountain2Island Outfitters has kayak, canoe, paddleboard, and boat rentals, while Buggs Island’s Clarksville Water Sports offers kayak, paddleboard, pontoon, and fishing boat rentals, and Smith Mountain Lake Boat Rentals rents kayaks, paddleboards, tritoons, and fishing boats.
Photo Credit: Adam Fariss, @ironheartwinery
If you’re staying near Claytor Lake, visit Iron Heart Winery to sample some of Virginia’s award-winning wines. Another fantastic hidden gem in the area is Thee Draper Village (mentioned above in the “Where to Eat” section), where you can shop, dine, catch live music, and take in a little bit of history, all in one place.
Photo Credit: Keith Lanpher
About 30 minutes from Claytor Lake State Park, New River Trail State Park is a 57-mile-long linear park that follows the New River. The park’s trail system is open for mountain biking, hiking, and even horseback riding. Don’t have your own equestrian rides? New River Retreat in Draper provides guided horseback rides along the New River. New River Trail State Park also offers canoe and kayak rentals, tubing, fishing, and boating.
Photo Credit: Lovicarious, @lovicarious
When planning a trip to Smith Mountain Lake, book a tour at Smith Mountain Lake Alpaca Farm to cuddle adorable alpacas, learn about these unique animals, and even purchase artisan goods made from alpaca fiber. The Bridgewater Plaza Marina not only has boat rentals and restaurants but also Harbortown Miniature Golf, an 18-hole course built right on the docks, providing hours of family fun and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountain landscape.
Craft beer fans visiting Buggs Island Lake should visit Buggs Island Brewing Company, named Virginia’s Best Brewery in the 2022 Virginia Living Magazine awards. Sample their brews with a flight, then purchase a pint of your favorite craft beer to enjoy outside by the waterfront fire pit.
More Virginia Vacation Ideas for June
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This year marks the 46th Annual Norfolk Harborfest, happening June 10-12, 2022 at Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk waterfront. This annual free event includes live music, local food and drinks, and nonstop maritime events. Don’t miss the sailing parade with towering ships cruising through the port waters, as well as a fireworks show to end the evening.
Photo Credit: Star City Skycams, @starcityskycams
Visit Bedford’s National D-Day Memorial on June 6, 2022, to pay tribute to the Allied Forces that bravely fought in the largest land, sea, and air operation in history–the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, referred to as D-Day.
Photo Credit: M.A.P Drones
There are several noteworthy music festivals happening in June. On June 2-5, 2022, the Graves Mountain Music Festival brings together more than two dozen bands playing Bluegrass, Americana, and Country music. The property has 18 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding trails, hayrides, and more than two miles of streams, where attendees can sign up for flyfishing classes. Festival goers can sample local food, beer, wine, and Graves Mountain cider, relax with guided yoga and massage services, and shop artisan goods from Virginia makers. Camping is just $10 per night and a limited number of glamping sites are also available.
Photo Credit: Joey Wharton, @joey_wharton
Once June arrives, Richmond’s Friday Cheers series is in full swing, bringing an impressive lineup to Brown’s Island along the shore of the James River every Friday evening. A family-friendly event, Friday Cheers features an array of local food trucks and vendors and plenty of space for the kids to run around, while the 21+ crowd can enjoy adult beverages like craft beer and wine.
Photo Credit: Jay Sansone
Another incredible family-friendly festival worth attending is Red Wing Roots, happening June 24-26, 2022 at Natural Chimneys Park & Campground in Mt. Solon.
Now that you’ve got a few ideas for your June vacation to Virginia, it’s time to start planning! Experience all there is to LOVE about the Commonwealth when you book a trip to Virginia’s pristine lake country.