From magnificent mountains to beautiful beaches, residents of Virginia are blessed with a diverse landscape that makes every season enjoyable. With winter rolling around, there is no shortage of fun to be had all over the state. Enjoy snow tubing, whale watching, cozy movie theaters and so much more with these 12 excellent winter activities to do in Virginia.
When it’s cold outside, Virginians know to escape to the Great Wolf Lodge and Resort indoor waterpark. Known as “America’s largest family of indoor water parks,” the Williamsburg location offers over 15 different rides and slides. Mascots dressed in costume add to the atmosphere for the kids, while the spa is perfect for mom and dad. Enjoy a Thanksgiving celebration and sweets at the Bear Paw Sweats and Eats. Make a reservation to stay in the resort for a non-stop rollicking good time.
Massanutten has no shortage of wonderful winter activities, but the snow resort is perhaps most famous for its snow tubing. The Washingtonian simply calls it the “best snow tubing.” The resort has a special tubing hill that “features up to 16 lanes that are 900 feet in length and offer a drop of 120 vertical feet.” Make sure to book tickets ahead of time, as it often sells out.
Modeled after paint ball, tactical laser tag “uses the same equipment as paintball, but there is no paint or projectile.” The snow creates for an exciting ambience for you and your friends to get out and enjoy the weather. Running around and dodging lasers should keep you nice and toasty.
The Ashburn Ice House is an indoor skating rink with two sheets of ice that is a youth hockey league go-to. But it isn’t just for the kids. Adults can join the hockey league program geared towards all ages. Of course, the Ice House offers public skating and special event booking as well. Get your Mighty Ducks on this winter with the Ice House.
The Rudee Flipper at Rudee Tours in Virginia Beach offers sightseeing and fishing opportunities year-round, but during the winter it’s all about whale watching. Search for humpback whales as they breach, slap their flippers, and lob their tales. “Captain Jeff, our local whale whisperer, has 30 plus years of experience navigating our coastal water and is sure to give you and your family the experience of a lifetime.” Space is limited, so make sure to book early.
There’s nothing quite like visiting the Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg when it’s all decked out for the season. Your European-style journey starts in London with Dickens-inspired carolers and a beautifully lit-up recreation of Big Ben. Marvel at the displays of Christmas wreathes and smell the roasting nuts on your way to meet Santa. From England, travel to the Irish exhibit for Santa’s Fireside Feast, before heading to the penguin exhibit in the France section of the park. Climb aboard the Nach Tower in the German section to take in the view from above. Busch Gardens can get busy this time of year, so plan accordingly.
It doesn’t often snow in Virginia Beach, and so the natives make use of the decent weather to go on a run. All participants receive a five-piece Santa Suit, which they wear as they run along the boardwalk. Runners get a chance to take in the McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach display, named by USA Today “as one of the top 10 best holiday light displays in the country.”
Loudoun County’s Alamo Drafthouse isn’t your typical movie theater—it’s a whole new cinema viewing experience. “The Alamo Drafthouse is dinner, drinks, movies and events, all under one roof.” With praise such as “Coolest Movie Theater in the World” from Wire.com, “One of the Best Theaters in the Country” from Fandango.com, and more, you can’t go wrong by spending an evening out on the town. The Alamo Drafthouse is all about the movie-going experience, so there’s absolutely no talking and no ads. If you haven’t already checked out the Alamo, get ready for a great time.
Richmond has over 20 museums, all within a short distance of one another. Take a weekend to explore topics as far ranging as the Science Museum of Virginia to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Make sure to not skip over small exhibits, like the Edgar Allen Poe Museum or John Marshall House. Wherever you go, history is always waiting to be discovered.
The rustic wood cottages at Montfair Resort Farm in Charlottesville allow for the perfect get-away from your everyday life. Enjoy the peaceful respite and gentle snowfall on the porch of one of the nine cottages. Curl up in front of a fire with a good book, or make gingerbread houses in this picturesque setting to really get the most out of the season.
In other states, winter might mean the end of fishing season. Not in Virginia! The lower James River just below Richmond offers fishermen the chance to catch blue catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, bream, and smallmouth bass. After you’re done, stop in at a local fresh seafood restaurant to enjoy a plate of cold oysters and brag about the catch of the day.
The annual Grand Illumination Parade in Downtown Norfolk features floats, marching bands, giant balloons, dancers, and Santa himself. The theme, “Winter Wonderland,” will make for a particularly seasonal approach. The parade kicks off a six-week celebration with activities scheduled across Olde Towne Portsmouth and Norfolk. Take advantage of this free parade to get yourself in the holiday spirit.