While winter means less time outdoors (especially during COVID-19), that doesn’t mean all of Virginia’s scenic beauty is gone! Winter brings with it some incredible sights that you won’t find any other time of the year, from uninterrupted views through bare tree lines and impressive frozen waterfalls to coastal towns where the cold air brings clear sunrises every morning and the off-season beaches inviting solitude.
If you need a little inspiration for some of the truly Instagrammable winter destinations in Virginia, read on and plan a few weekend getaways to see some of the most beautiful spots in the Commonwealth this winter.
Crabtree Falls – Montebello
Photo Credit: Beth-Anne Norman Driskill, IG Account: @thecabinsatcrabtreefalls
Hikes to Virginia waterfalls take on a magical atmosphere during the winter months as some of the cascading water freezes into sheets of sparkling ice. One such place is Crabtree Falls, the tallest vertical drop waterfall east of the Mississippi. Prepare for cool temperatures by teaming up for the 3 mile hike. On the positive side, however, the cooler weather means less traffic on the trails.
Beverley Street – Staunton
Photo credit: Warren Faught
Staunton is located in the Shenandoah Valley and is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is the perfect base for outdoor enthusiasts all year round. However, the city’s historic streets are another draw for visitors during the winter months. The buildings along Beverley Street provide examples of stunning architectural styles, while quaint shops and restaurants offer unique shopping and dining. During the holidays, the city streets are decorated with festive lights and garlands, creating a scene straight out of a classic vacation movie.
The Roanoke Star – Roanoke
Photo credit: Creative Dog Media, IG account: @creativedogmedia
The views from Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain are breathtaking year round, but the winter months mean clearer skies and the lack of foliage allows for expansive views of the city. After seeing the sights of the star, enjoy even more epic lookouts on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo credit: Cameron Davidson
Skyline Drive is one of the most popular routes in Virginia during the spring, summer, and especially the fall. In winter, however, this scenic mountain route is much less traveled, so you can take your time and cruise the winding roads at a leisurely pace. Along the way, you’ll have a clear view of the leafless trees and discover frozen springs that cover the mountain’s natural waterways. In the evening, the clear sky of the surrounding Shenandoah National Park invites you to gaze at the stars.
Luray Caves – Luray
The largest and most popular cave system in East America, the Luray Caverns, has a constant temperature of 54 degrees all year round, making it an excellent winter vacation destination. The city of Luray is also known as the “Cabin Capital of Virginia”. Whether you’re looking for a luxury lodge, cozy cabin for two, or a rustic retreat, Luray has dozens of cabins to suit your needs. Would you like to explore some of Virginia’s other caves? There are eight unique cave systems in the Southwest and Shenandoah that offer moderate and formidable destinations for the winter months.
Old town Alexandria
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner for Visiting Alexandria
The historic charm of the old town of Alexandria shines in the winter months between Christmas decorations and numerous restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a warm cup of cocoa and delicious seasonal treats. Don’t miss a stroll along King Street, which has over 200 boutiques and restaurants, all the way to the outdoor public art exhibits along the Potomac River boardwalk.
The boardwalk – Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is one of the top Virginia summer destinations, with many critically acclaimed restaurants, luxury resort accommodations, and of course, gorgeous sandy beaches. This coastal town has its own charm in the winter months. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the promenade in the off-season and enjoy the tranquil view of the Atlantic. The boardwalk is especially alluring at sunrise as the skies are clearer and livelier in the winter months. Spend some time in the shops and restaurants in the ViBe area, where you can see many colorful murals by local artists. Another must-do for Virginia Beach during the winter is a whale watching tour with the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.
Humpback Bridge – Covington
Photo credit: Darren Seay
The only covered humpback bridge in the United States, the Humpback Bridge has become a legendary travel destination in Virginia. However, if you catch them after a fresh snowfall in winter, the bridge is absolutely magical. In addition to this unique wooden structure, the LOVEwork humpback bridge on the banks of the river provides a great photo opportunity, especially when it is decorated for the holidays. While this is a popular LOVEwork, there are now over 200 LOVEworks across the state, many of which are decked out with festive garlands, lights, and seasonal decorations.
Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort – Farmville
The canopy obstacle course and zip lines at Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort have become a popular destination for outdoor adventure seekers in the warmer months. However, this rural retreat just minutes from downtown Farmville is also ideal for a winter vacation. The six luxurious glamping tipis are heated and have underfloor heating so you can stay cozy even on the coolest nights. In the evenings, sit around the personal fire pits to grill burgers and roast marshmallows, and snuggle under the clear sky filled with bright stars.
Red Truck Bakery – Marshall and Warrenton
Winter is a time when you can enjoy all of the delicious foods and drinks. One such place where you can find some really tasty seasonal goodies is Red Truck Bakery, an award-winning bakery with locations in Northern Virginia in the charming towns of Marshall & Warrenton. Head to the bakeries for lunch to sample their hearty soups, breads, and sandwiches, and bring plenty of baked goods home during the holiday season. While this is a popular spot for visitors traveling through Northern Virginia, there are dozens of bakeries in the Commonwealth that are loved by locals. If you need more recommendations, check out some of our top tips:
- Virginia Bakeries’ 7 Most Instagram-Worthy Cakes
- 11 Virginia Bakeries to satisfy your sweet tooth
- Delicious Virginia bakeries for the perfect piece of cake
Grayson Highlands State Park – Mouth of Wilson
Grayson Highlands State Park in southwest Virginia has everything you could want in a beautiful winter scene: mountain hikes through evergreen trees to some of the highest points in the state, the chance to see wild ponies grazing in untamed pastures, and rocky outcrops offer a clear view of both hilly landscapes. On winter evenings, campers also have the opportunity to look up at the night sky. With cities and towns miles away, stargazing opportunities are among the best in Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg
Virginia is known for its rich and storied history, and for visitors who want to explore these historic sites, Colonial Williamsburg is a must-see. In winter, stroll through the old town to see Christmas decorations from the colonial era, such as fresh garlands and wreaths decorated with fruit. You can also take part in seasonal activities such as For example, drink a steaming cup of hot cocoa from the colonial taverns or go skating in the Liberty Ice Pavilion.
The Omni Homestead Resort – Hot Springs
Photo Credit: The Omni Homestead Resort
If luxury is on your list this winter, book a stay at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, where you can get your mini-break to ski, ice skate and relax in their world-class spa. The ski slopes are known for being family-friendly. Take the kids with you for a winter vacation in the mountains.
Shadow Mountain Escape – Luray
Photo credit: Karen Riddle
We can’t think of a better winter vacation than staying in a cozy mountain cabin, and the cabins at Shadow Mountain Escape in Luray are a great option for couples looking for a romantic getaway. These upscale cabins are located just 3 miles from the entrance to Shenandoah National Park. There are several wineries nearby. Spend an afternoon enjoying a scenic hike through the mountains, then reward yourself with a wine tasting in a nearby vineyard. Each cabin has a wood-burning stove or fireplace so you can warm up in front of a blazing fire after a day of chilly winter temperatures (hopefully with a bottle of Virginia wine picked up during your excursion!).
Wintergreen Resort – Wintergreen
Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG Account: @sdeanphotos
For some snowy fun, head to one of four Virginia winter resorts like Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County. Fly down the slopes on skis, snowboards or tubes, where you can refuel adrenaline and enjoy a first-class view of the surrounding mountains under a pillow-like blanket of snow. In addition to snow sports, Wintergreen offers an indoor pool, a full-service spa, and several on-site restaurants. The accommodations range from double rooms to chalets for up to 18 people. The resort has also put in place extensive cleaning and security measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
These are just a few of the myriad of scenic winter destinations in Virginia. Tell us where are your favorite places to take stunning Instagram-worthy winter pics in Virginia?
The post 16 Instagram-Worthy Winter Destinations for a Cozy Virginia Vacation first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.