As Virginia works through recovery phases to return to normalcy from COVID-19, now is a great time to plan an early summer, post-quarantine getaway. Since you and your family may not feel quite comfortable with long haul travel, there are a number of great weekend road trips you can take this summer to make great memories and still stay within your comfort zone. Road warriors, load up and check out these great destinations less than a day’s drive from the New River Valley.
- Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg, TN: Deep in the heart of East Tennessee, live music and entertainment, and good ol’ mountain hospitality awaits you. Name your interest and you will find it here: Dollywood and Dollywood's Splash Country, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Titanic Museum Exhibit, WonderWorks, limitless outlet shopping, Great Smoky Mountains, and for the grown ups -- breweries, wineries, The Island in Pigeon Forge with Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and the renowned Smoky Mountain Distillery right in downtown Gatlinburg! Lodging selections include fully-serviced campgrounds, affordable hotels, multi-family cabins, and the breathtaking Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa. Take a hike. Ride a bike. Then, retire to an evening massage and local wine. Much to do in East Tennessee! (3.5 hour drive)
- Natural Bridge, VA: “Heyyy Boo Boo, pack the picnic basket (and tent). . .” and head to Natural Bridge, VA, home to the historic Natural Bridge, once explored by George Washington. After hiking and exploring this natural wonder, take in the fishing, swimming, and numerous family-friendly activities with a weekend of camping at nearby Jellystone Park. Insider tip: Be sure to wake up early for a good morning greeting of Yogi and Boo Bo, they drive through the park to greet campers each day. However, if hot showers and soft beds are more your sleep style, enjoy a romantic weekend at the Natural Bridge Historic Hotel & Conference Center. Finish out your weekend trip with Sunday brunch and a walk back in time through historic downtown Lexington. (1 hour drive)
- Harrisonburg, VA: Known as the first Culinary District in Virginia, this thriving community surrounds the campus of James Madison University. But, beyond the college’s boundaries of purple and gold, Harrisonburg offers visitors a cornucopia of things to do. Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, the Shenandoah National Park and mile marker 0 of Skyline Drive of the Blue Ridge Parkway are just a short distance outside of the city. For foodies, Harrisonburg’s farm-to-table dining scene is second to none. A great stop for local food and crafts is the Shenandoah Heritage Market. Or, make a non-stop weekend tour of all of the phenomenal farmer’s markets throughout the valley! (2:15 hour drive)
- Snowshoe, WV: Strap on your summer shoes and head for Snowshoe. Known for it’s stunning slopes in the wintertime, Snowshoe is now fast becoming the premier outdoors destination in the summer. Among Snowshoe’s amazing mountain activities, you can choose from eclectic shopping, first-class dining, horseback riding, ziplines, summer festivals, mountain bike tours, off-roading, and exquisite ridge-side yoga and spas. Book your mountaintop lodging reservations now. Summer season is set to open July 2. (3:15 hour drive)
- White Sulphur Springs, WV: If you are into the artsy outdoor vibe, White Sulphur Springs is THE weekend destination. Tucked away in the heart of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Valley, this thriving town is home to “America’s Resort” The Greenbrier. Your weekend here will be jam-packed with activities to please everyone in the family. From “the bunker” Greenbrier Relocation Facility, to Meadows Golf Course, to the Greenbrier Falconry and Greenbrier Outfitters (for a day on the river), indoors or out. . . land or water, White Sulphur Springs is a charming weekend escape from the weekday routine. (1:50 hour drive)
About the Author: A self-proclaimed first-class traveler with an economy budget, Cris Thompson loves and lives travel experiences from snorkeling in Belize to camping at Claytor Lake. Visiting more than 7 countries via land, air and sea in just the past 4 years alone, she always looks to find the best travel deals for herself, her husband, and their daughter and loves sharing her dollar-saving tips with family and friends. She is a frequent contributor to NRV Macaroni Kid and has written many of our helpful guides.
About NRV Macaroni Kid: New River Valley Macaroni Kid is a free resource for parents. We gather local family activities each week and add useful information about camps, classes, small businesses, recipes, crafts & more which we deliver each Thursday morning in an e-newsletter to thousands of local parents. Request yours HERE for the inside scoop- you might never be bored again!
Looking for More Family Fun? Check out our other guides including: