19+ Best Lake Getaways in Virginia (Lake Vacations)

If you’re looking for a lake getaway in Virginia whether for a day or an entire week, here we’re covering all the best lakes so you can find the perfect one for you. 

Virginia has so much natural beauty and there is nothing like a lake vacation to get you to get you reset and recharged! 

These Virginia lake getaways are perfect for your next vacation.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or simply want to unwind, the gorgeous lakes of Virginia offer an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

From the crystal-clear waters of Smith Mountain Lake to the serene beauty of Lake Anna, we’re covering all the best lake getaways here. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best lake getaways in Virginia, exploring the unique features and attractions of each. 

So pack your bags and get ready to experience the natural beauty and tranquility of Virginia’s lakes.

Source: Claytor Lake State Park

#1 Claytor Lake State Park

Claytor Lake State Park, nestled in Pulaski County, Virginia, offers a serene and picturesque getaway for nature lovers and adventurers alike. 

The park is set on the shores of Claytor Lake, flanked by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the New River, providing visitors with stunning views, sandy beaches, and a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Source: Claytor Lake State Park

Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails, go horseback riding, or discover the New River Trail. 

On this 4,500 acre lake, you’ll have access to boat ramps and a full-service marina with lots of water activities like: 

  • Water skiing
  • Pontoon boating
  • Jet skiing 

Stop by the historic Howe House to see interactive exhibits about the area’s ecology.

Like to Fish?

Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines in Claytor Lake, home to Smallmouth, Largemouth, and Spotted Bass, also known as “black bass.” To protect the fish population, catch-and-release is encouraged for large fish.

The Visitor Center and Gift Shop are also available for visitors to learn more about the area’s history, though their operating hours may vary. 

The park also features: 

  • Beautiful lake views from the gazebo
  • 2 good-sized playgrounds
  • A fire ring for great campfires
  • Spacious and well-maintained campgrounds with gravel surfaces, picnic tables, and fire pits

For those seeking extended stays, vacation rental cabins of varying sizes are available.

Note: Visitors can also bring their own grill and pets, as the park is dog-friendly, with pets allowed on a leash.

Source: Smith Mountain Lake Insiders

#2 Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake State Park home to the the second largest lake in the state, Smith Mountain Lake, a lake near the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

If you’re looking for a beautiful mountain lake, this is your spot!

Smith Mountain Lake is an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers, offering stunning vistas and a wide range of recreational activities.

Visitors can indulge in a variety of water and non-water activities like: 

  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Fishing (also has a fishing pier)
  • 12 sandy beach areas
  • Boat launches
  • Boat rentals
  • Over 13 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails 

You’ll also find a campground with 50 campsites, suitable for both tent and RV camping, making it an ideal destination for an extended family vacation.

This is such a beautiful spot in the Roanoke River Valley to be in nature where you’ll find:

  • Designated wildlife observation areas
  • Interpretive programs
  • Special events throughout the year from bird-watching to stargazing

Visitors can also take advantage of the park’s dog-friendly atmosphere, with pets allowed on a leash.

Local tip: the state park has some nature programs that go out on a pontoon boat.

Source: Lake Anna State Park

#3 Lake Anna State Park

Lake Anna State Park is one of Virginia’s largest freshwater lakes. 

This is definitely a popular destination as it’s family-friendly. Situated in Virginia, the park offers a charming blend of scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and rich history.

Here you’ll find:

  • Fishing pier
  • Playground
  • Picnic shelters
  • Hiking / Nature Trails
Source: Lake Anna State Park

The lake is perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing, with easily accessible fishing ponds and a bathhouse-concessions facility. 

Local tip: there are some nice rentals with a hot tub here!

Did You Know?

Lake Anna even has a fishing pond next to the lake that has been designed specifically for kids and disabled people. You can access the dock from a private dock dedicated for the lake. 

The park also offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and family fun.

Lake Anna State Park offers a variety of accommodation options, from campsites to vacation homes and lodges, many of which offer stunning lake views.

The gift shop is a great place to grab souvenirs or learn more about the park’s amenities and activities.

Source: Kerr Lake Park Watch

#4 Kerr Lake

John H. Kerr Reservoir, also known as Buggs Island Lake, is a sprawling lake that spans across the Virginia-North Carolina border and is the largest lake in the state, covering over 50,000 acres of water. 

It’s actually located in Occoneechee State Park.

Interesting Fact…

Kerr Lake happens to be Virginia’s largest lake

With over 800 miles of stunning shoreline, this outdoor paradise caters to both thrill-seekers and relaxation-seekers alike.

Source: Kerr Lake Park Watch

If you enjoy fishing, the lake is home to a thriving fish population, including largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie. 

There are also plenty of water coves and islands to explore by boating, swimming, or kayaking

Why Visit?

  • Nature / hiking trails
  • Water sports
  • Fishing
  • Campground

Campers have a range of scenic campgrounds to choose from, which are perfect for a peaceful escape or a fun-filled family getaway. The campground and restrooms and clean and well-kept. There’s also a nice playground for the kids.

Local tip: the visitor center is also worth checking out, as it has some water exhibits.

Source: South Holston Lake

#5 South Holston Lake

South Holston Lake, nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, is a true gem waiting to be discovered. 

This picturesque lake offers the perfect blend of Southern charm and outdoor adventure, making it an ideal destination for a family vacation.

Why Visit?

  • Boat ramps for water skiing, pontoon boats and jet skis
  • Fish opportunities including large and smallmount bass
  • Annual fishing tournaments
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Swimming

There is also an annual spring migration of white bass in the South Fork Holston River.

Source: Bear Creek Lake State Park

#6 Bear Creek Lake State Park

Cumberland, Virginia

Bear Creek Lake State Park is a charming 326-acre state park with a 40-acre lake, and is the perfect destination for families seeking a peaceful and picturesque getaway.

The park has a variety of outdoor activities. 

Source: Bear Creek Lake State Park

You can explore the park’s trails, go fishing, or even try their hand at horseback riding, golfing, or archery classes.

Why Visit?

  • Swimming beach
  • Archery range
  • Camping
  • Cabin rentals
  • Picnicking next to the lake
  • Playgrounds

There’s lots for the kids to do and everything is very reasonably priced.

Source: Burke Lake

#7 Burke Lake

What we love about Burke Lake is how it feels like you’ve escaped it all, yet you’re still so close to home. 

We enjoy the huge lake and walking the trail around it. 

The campground is nice enough to stay for a night or two without having to make plans for a big trip away. 

Plus, there are some kid activities they enjoy like canoe rides, the carousel and riding the train. 

Definitely makes for a nice, shorter lake getaway.

Source: James River State Park

#8 James River State Park Lakes

James River State Park, located in Gladstone, Virginia, with 3-miles of water frontage. 

This is actually one of Virginia’s newer state parks so not as many people know about it. It’s a hidden gem for sure!

There is so much natural beauty here!

Source: James River State Park

Why Visit?

  • 3-miles of river front
  • 1500 acres of meadows
  • Cabins and lodging
  • 15-miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding
  • 3 fishing ponds
  • 7 picnic areas
  • Playground

The park was also named an International Dark Sky Park so it’s a great place to see the stars at night.

Local tip: if you come with friends in different cars, park one at Dixon Landing and launch your kayaks, canoes or tubes from Canoe landing to ride the river.

Don’t forget to stop by the park’s visitors center for information and exhibits.

MORE WATER FUN: 15+ Best Beaches in Northern Virginia (& Within 2 Hours)

Source: Fairy Stone State Park

#9 Fairy Stone State Park

As this name suggests, Fairy Stone State Park is the place where you can find fairy stones. Yes, they actually do exist.

These rare geological formations can only be found in a few places worldwide, and Patrick County is home to an abundance of these extraordinary stones, which may take the form of St. Andrew’s or Roman crosses.

Source: Fairy Stone State Park

Legend has it that these stones are symbols of good luck, and historical figures such as presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson carried them for this very reason. 

The 186-acre lake here is beautiful for swimming or taking a kayak or paddleboard ou on the water. 

Why Visit?

  • Beach area with public swimming (lifeguards must be on duty)
  • Hiking trails
  • 2 playgrounds
  • Cabins (you need to bring linens)
  • Fishing
  • Boat house (canoes, paddleboards, kayaks, etc.)

While the park is more remote, that may be exactly what the doctor ordered!

Source: Friends of Sherando Lake

#10 Sherando Lake

Lyndhurst, VA 

Just 45-minutes southwest of Shenandoah National Park is Sherando Lake.

The clear, beautiful water will make you want to swim which you absolutely can. 

Source: Friends of Sherando Lake

Why Visit?

  • Beach area with swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Loop trail around the lake
  • BBQ
  • Fishing
  • Campground

One of the highlights of Sherando Lake Recreation Area is definitely its peaceful and beautiful setting. 

You can also hike the White Rocks Gap and White Rocks Falls trails, which provide stunning views of the area’s natural beauty.

Source: Lake Chesdin

#11 Lake Chesdin

Lake Chesdin is a thriving 3,100-acre water supply reservoir in south-central Virginia. 

The lake is popular for all kinds of fun water activities for adults and kids. There are so many reasons to visit and stay here. 

Source: Lake Chesdin

Why Visit?

  • Sandy beach with swimming
  • Playground
  • Volleyball and basketball courts
  • Boats, kayaks and canoes
  • Great for water and jet skiing 
  • Fishing pier
  • Camping

READ NEXT: 23 Cabins in The Virginia Mountains

You’ll find the public boat ramp and accessible fishing pier are open 24-hours a day.

Source: Philpott Lake

#12 Philpott Lake

Near Martinsville, VA

Philpott Lake, a reservoir in Virginia, has 100 miles of shoreline so you won’t be short on space to spreadout here. 

This lake is simply stunning, with warm waters and a plethora of parks, beaches, and walking trails surrounding it. The clear waters surrounded by beautiful green trees is just the getaway you need.

Source: Philpott Lake

The area is impeccably clean and not overcrowded so you can definitely have a good time. 

The Goose Point Park campground is well off the road so it’s nice and quiet here. The roads are a bit narrow so bring some patience if you have much bigger vehicles or trailers. 

Also make sure to book online ahead of time. 

Why Visit?

  • Picnic areas
  • Beaches with swim areas
  • Hiking trails
  • Fishing (large and smallmouth bass) 
  • Observation platforms
  • Boat ramps
  • Camping
Source: Douthat State Park

#13 Douthat State Park

Millboro, VA

The lake at Douthat State Park is a beautiful place to enjoy a beach area surrounding by greenery. The lake isn’t the biggest compared to the others on this list (although it’s still 50-acres), but it is big enough for a nice tube float and is clean.

This lake definitely doesn’t disappoint. The rangers are so nice, the camping is awesome, the scenes are what you’d hope for and you’ll come back nice and refreshed. 

Source: Douthat State Park

Fun Fact: Douthat State Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and other parks in the nation used it’s design. 

Why Visit?

  • Rent kayaks, canoes and paddleboards
  • Fishing (trout)
  • Lots of trails
  • Several playgrounds
  • Store with snacks and ice cream
  • Quiet cabins and campground
  • Gift shop
Source: Holliday Lake State Park

#14 Holliday Lake State Park

Appomattox, VA

Inside Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest is Holliday Lake. 

This lake is popular for swimming and fishing. 

There are plenty of bass, crappie, and bluegill to fish for.

When it comes to swimming, visit “Critter Hole.” 

Source: Holliday Lake State Park

The lake is tucked away in the woods so it’s like finding a beautiful, undiscovered place.

The park features:

  • Several hiking trails (including a 6.7-mile loop around the entire lake)
  • Boat ramps (you can rent kayaks and paddleboards too)
  • Picnic shelters
  • Playgrounds
  • Snack bar
  • Gift shop

UP NEXT: 3 Hot Air Balloon Festivals in Virginia: Music, Kid Activities, & Food

Note: the swimming area at the beach is unguarded, and there is limited cell service in the park. 

Source: Carvins Cove Natural Reserve

#15 Carvins Cove Reservoir

Roanake, VA

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is a beautiful spot in North Roanoke which has you feeling like you are well out of the city.

If you were hoping to swim, this isn’t the place to go though. 

Fishing, as well as boating (paddleboards and kayaks) are allowed and rentals are available.

Source: Carvins Cove Natural Reserve

Fun Things to Do at The Lake:

  • Relax and take in the views
  • Rent a kayak or paddle boat
  • Take a guided tour with Roanoke Mountain Adventures
  • Take a paddling class with PLAY Roanoke
  • Go birding

This is also a popular spot for birding and there are several trails to enjoy seeing waterfowl, shorebirds, herons and others. 

Source: Cave Mountain Lake

#16 Cave Mountain Lake

The Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area is located near historic Lexington and Natural Bridge State Park, yet it’s not as well known.

This is a great spot to stay if you want to visit Natural Bridge and some other attractions in the area. We like visiting this spot as it’s a short drive especially compared to some other lakes in Virginia.

Source: Cave Mountain Lake

It’s also only about 90-minutes from Luray, the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp, and Shenandoah Caverns.

The small spring-fed lake is cool and refreshing and is home to a few cute otters so keep an eye out for them. 

This is a really nice spot to go camping, especially for families.

Source: Hungry Mother State Park

#17 Hungry Mother Lake

Marion, VA

Hungry Mother Lake is such a peaceful and quiet lake to visit. 

You can spend your time in peace and quiet just relaxing and taking in nature, or head out on the water. Either way, you’ll have a great time here. 

Source: Hungry Mother State Park

The park provides numerous recreational opportunities including:

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Boat rentals including canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and paddleboards

There are also campsites and cabins here to stay at.

Did You Know? Hungry Mother State Park is one of 14 state parks that have Yurt rentals? 

You are also welcome to swim at the lake. They do have lifeguards on duty and when no guard is available, you are permitted to swim within the roped off section of the lake.

Source: Lake Arrowhead Village

#18 Lake Arrowhead

Visiting Lake Arrowhead is one of our favorite things to do in Luray, VA

It has a beautiful sandy beach where the kids love to go swimming and during the summer months they have a food concession booth so you can easily grab something to eat and spend the day.

If you have young kids, you’ll appreciate the shallow and clean water here. This nearly perfect place just doesn’t disappoint!

Source: Lake Arrowhead Village

Why Visit?

  • Fishing
  • Swimming at sandy beach
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking

CLOSE BY: 35 Best Things to Do in Luray Virginia: Not Just Caverns

Source: Lake Moomaw

#19 Lake Moomaw Recreation

I’ll admit the road to get to Lake Moomaw isn’t the most fun. It’s gravel, narrow and rather windy. 

But that doesn’t stop us from going (at least during the day light).

The lake is a bit rocky so definitely bring water shoes if you plan on going in. But even so, this lake is just so beautiful and the surroundings are stunning. This is nature at it’s finest!

Source: Lake Moomaw

If you have kids, the water has places where it drops off suddenly so make sure they were life jackets and you’re out there with them.

You can enjoy all the same recreational activities here including hiking, swimming, fishing, and boating. 

A house surrounded by trees in the fall.
Source: Mountain Lake Lodge

#20 Mountain Lake Lodge

Pembroke, VA

Best known for being the place where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed back in 1986, Mountain Lake Lodge is a fun and more unique place to visit. 

It isn’t, however, the best place to go for a lake, especially if you want to participate in water activities, swim or fish. 

A pool area with chairs and umbrellas next to a wooded area.
Source: Mountain Lake Lodge

The lake here just isn’t what it used to be. 

They do have nice cottages, cabins or rooms to stay in which we enjoyed.

Why Visit?

  • 22-miles of trails to walk/hike
  • Treetop adventure course
  • Escape rooms
  • 3D Archery (and archery tag!)
  • Beach volleyball
  • Outdoor pool
  • Arts and crafts
  • Naturalists programs
  • Bonfire pit

They also have fun activities like movie nights, guided gator tours and special events thoughout the year. 

Your Next Lake Getaway in Virginia

These lake getaways are perfect for lake lovers. Being outdoors and visiting these natural lakes are some of the best ways to spend a summer.

So if you’re looking for a perfect way to spend a week, a visit to the lake house may just be what you need.

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OK Editorial Team

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