Just Add Water

Three family vacations close to home. 

Cherrystone Family Camping Resort

For many Virginia families, sunny summer days are best spent on or in the water. Choose a nearby vacation destination that is relaxing, free of crowds, and offers plenty of H2O to beat the summer heat. From the mountains to the shore, these three options are excellent for families who thrive on sunshine and splashing.

Cherrystone Family Camping Resort

Coastal waters are a natural lure for those looking to stay cool, and Cherrystone Family Camping Resort on the Eastern Shore is an unexpected delight. Tall trees shade many of the camp sites, and a Chesapeake Bay breeze keeps life light and relaxed. Tow in your own camper or rent one, and a variety of cabins and cottages are also available; just bring the necessities. 

Lounging and fun come easy at Cherrystone. Early morning fishing or crabbing at one of the piers is what family traditions are made of. Expect the children to flock to the wet zone for hours of afternoon splashing. Adventurous vacationers may opt to rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards for a few hours on the water, but everyone’s favorites are the sunset and fireworks cruises aboard the Miss Jennifer. At $20 or less per person, there’s no reason not to see the Chesapeake Bay in her evening glory.

Nearby musts for Eastern Shore visitors include a stop at NASA Wallops Flight Facility, a ferry trip to and from Tangier Island, and keeping an eye peeled for wild ponies on Assateague Island National Seashore. Cherrystone.com

Omni Homestead Resort

Omni Homestead Resort

The mountain streams of western Virginia are cold, making them a perfect habitat for rainbow trout and an alluring place to dip your feet. Guests at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs can fish Cascades Stream with an Orvis-trained guide or fish while floating on theJackson River.

Children of all ages revel in the two-acre water park powered by the natural springs of the resort. The zippy water slides, lazy river, and splash zone of Allegheny Springs provide hours of entertainment. And parents?We celebrate the convenience of poolside cat naps in a private cabana. 

Parents vacationing with teenagers 14 and older can take advantage of spa services. Without a doubt, an afternoon of aromatherapy massages ensures everyone returns home refreshed, refocused, and relaxed.

Woody’s is the ideal place to dine with small children at The Homestead. Their favorites—chicken nuggets and cheese pizza—are on the menu alongside grown-up burgers and sandwiches. Be sure to add a milkshake for each of you; “adult” versions are available.

For an epic cool-down and unforgettable experience, zoom along the Red Tail Racer, a 1,300-foot-long stretch of parallel zip lines. Children ages 8 and older are encouraged to challenge their folks and each other to a zip-off through the trees. May the best family member win. OmniHotels.com/Hotels/Homestead-Virginia

Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake

With more than 500 miles of shoreline, Smith Mountain Lake is Virginia’s second largest lake. Three counties claim a portion of the manmade lake, and Smith Mountain Lake State Park makes the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge” easily accessible to anyone who will relish its glistening waters.

Perhaps one of the most unique accommodations on Smith Mountain Lake is a houseboat. As equipped as any hotel suite, a houseboat from Parrot Cove Marina in Moneta includes a kitchen with all of the necessities, linens, a patio grill, one or more bathrooms, sleeping space for six to 10 people, and a daredevil slide from the roof to the water. Captain your ship to a private cove, and set anchor for a night or a week. Consider the lake your own private paradise for refreshing morning swims, lazy afternoons of floating, and ultimate evening sunsets. 

For a day on solid ground, visit Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy. It’s the birthplace of the slave who became a noted orator and advisor to United States presidents. Later, play a few rounds at Harbortown Miniature Golf before snagging a table at Mango’s Bar & Grill. The signature cocktails and tacos pair perfectly with live music and dancing under the stars. ParrotCove.com

Splish Splash
Our favorite water parks.

Water Country USA, Williamsburg Try the new hybrid water coaster at Virginia’s largest water park.

Soak City at Kings Dominion, Doswell The expanded park includes a wave pool, slides, a lazy river, and more.

Pirate’s Cove, Lorton Shallow pools, kid-friendly slides, and a sand pit make this park perfect for under-10s.

SplashDown, Manassas A NoVa family favorite, this park features five water areas, a four-story slide, and plenty of play space.

Splash Valley, Roanoke Keep cool with several slides, a lazy river, and splash zones.

• Maui Jack’s, Chincoteague Island Slide, splash, and float at this brand-new Eastern Shore park.


This article originally appeared in our WaterLife 2019.  

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