29 July, 2021
6 road trip ideas for a WanderLove vacation by the water

6 road trip ideas for a WanderLove vacation by the water

Wanderlust is defined as having a strong desire to travel, but here in Virginia we call that feeling WanderLove. When we travel again, planning an epic road trip is a surefire way to explore Virginia’s endless beauty, from its pristine beaches to the picturesque curves of its famous mountains.

When you feel the WanderLove on those steamy summer days, what better way to cool off than to freshen up on Virginia’s pristine waterfront destinations, be it on a sandy shoreline or on the shady banks of a river or lake.

To help you decide which road to take, we’ve rounded up six road trip ideas for a Waterfront WanderLove adventure that will make this summer in Virginia a memorable one.

The road trip idea: Norfolk to the east coast

Begin your vacation in Norfolk, where you can follow the city’s scenic waterfront with a bike ride along the Elizabeth River Trail. Hop in the car and take Route 13 over the iconic Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to the east coast of Virginia. The southern town of Cape Charles has plenty to do, including local seafood restaurants serving Virginia oysters and other fresh catches, boutiques selling handcrafted craft items like unique fish leather jewelry, and of course, a quaint beach on the bay with a Virginia-themed marine-themed LOVEwork . After exploring Cape Charles, continue north on Route 13 and end the journey in Chincoteague, where you can see wild ponies and catch Atlantic sunrises.

Read the full road trip guide

The road trip idea: Fredericksburg to the north neck


Photo credit: The Tides Inn

If you’re looking for a trip that includes Virginia history, outdoor adventures, and seafood straight from the waters of Chesapeake Bay, consider this route from historic Fredericksburg, about an hour south of Washington, DC, to Irvington, a charming little town , consider town on the coast of the Northern Neck. Irvington and the neighboring town of Kilmarnock are part of the River Realm region of Virginia and offer several luxury properties for a relaxing weekend getaway, such as the waterfront Tides Inn. This luxury resort has everything you need for a waterfront retreat, including sunset boat tours, an oyster academy where you can learn all about Virginia’s delicious foods (and even try some with a glass of Virginia wine!), And outdoor activities from An 18-hole golf course built along a 50 acre lake for fishing and crab catching from the docks. During your stay, spend some time shopping in downtown Kilmarnock and Irvington shops. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take the ferry from Reedville to Tangier Island, a small island community in Chesapeake Bay, where you’ll hear locals speak with an accent that still contains a high dose of Elizabethan pronunciation due to its secluded location undisturbed by outside influences for centuries .

Read the full road trip guide

The road trip idea: Williamsburg to Norfolk


Photo credit: Corey Pittman, IG Account: @mainfocusmedia

This road trip starts in the Virginia Historic Triangle and follows the Colonial Parkway from Williamsburg to Yorktown before hitting Route 17 and heading to Smithfield and then Norfolk (if you’re feeling ambitious and want a longer Virginia vacation, you can do that join the Norfolk-Eastern Shore Route for the ultimate coastal road trip). Discover early American history in Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, then try Virginia’s Salty Southern Route with locally grown peanuts and pork products (if you haven’t tried the area’s country ham, miss it!) In Smithfield before your road trip in End Norfolk with some outdoor adventures like paddling through the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge or an adrenaline-fueled jump with Skydive Suffolk.

Read the full road trip guide

The road trip idea: A refreshing retreat by the lake


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG Account: @sdeanphotos

While we’ve given you several road trip routes from Point A to Point B (with lots of fantastic stops along the way), we also wanted to share some ideas for road trips to waterfront destinations in all parts of the Commonwealth. The Lakes of Virginia offer a fun alternative to the coast, and you will find that a lakeside vacation is only a short drive from your location, whether you are in the remote mountains of southwest Virginia or the bustling suburbs of northern Virginia. Virginia live. Check out this Virginia Lake vacation and plan an inland waterfront adventure this summer!

More road trip ideas to the Virginia Lakes

The road trip idea: Exploring the beaches of Virginia


Many Virginians have spent a summer vacation or two in Virginia Beach, the most popular seaside town in the Commonwealth. This oceanfront destination features dozens of incredible restaurants (see our Virginia Beach Dining Guide), blocks of beach along the Boardwalk, and a world-class resort with a rich history that recently featured celebrities like Jimmy Buffett, Gwen Stefani, and P Diddy.


But while Virginia Beach is the most famous beach, there are plenty of other lesser-known beaches waiting to welcome you to an idyllic summer vacation. Sand destinations like Buggs Island, Cape Charles Beach and Chic’s Beach (right next to Virginia Beach) are just a few of the hidden Virginia beaches that make for a relaxing summer road trip.

Here are more ideas for road trips to Virginia’s hidden beaches

The road trip idea: Cool off on Virginia’s rivers


Photo credit: Tyler Darden Photography, IG Credit: @ tyler.darden

Finally, a short break along one of the Commonwealth’s rivers is an excellent road trip idea to Virginia. Follow the James River from Botetourt County in western Virginia via Lynchburg Richmond and Norfolk, and plan stops for tubing trips and waterfront dining, or cruise along the Potomac River to explore remarkable wineries and breweries along the way.


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, IG Account: @sdeanphotos

Our guide to the Dan River has everything you need to plan a road trip through Southern Virginia from Meadows of Dan to South Boston that ends where the Dan River meets the Kerr Reservoir, while this New River Guide is one of the oldest rivers in the world haunted charming little towns in southwest Virginia such as Galax, Pulaski and Blacksburg. From musical heritage to paddling adventures in Claytor Lake State Park, there’s plenty to do on this route to ensure your summer road trip is absolutely memorable!

More ideas for road trips to the rivers of Virginia

The post-6 road trip ideas for a WanderLove waterfront vacation were first featured on Virginia’s travel blog.

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