Whether you have a nonstop work schedule or merely looking for a change of scenery, a vacation steeped in outdoor adventure may be just what you need. Staying active and spending quality time outdoors can be invigorating and refreshing, especially when exploring unfamiliar territory. To no surprise, adventure-focused trips have a unique talent of banishing any burnout weighing on your mind. With these outdoor excursions’ confidence-boosting and stress-level-reducing properties, outdoor enthusiasts often preach on the healing benefits of a weekend camping trip or Saturday kayaking adventure.
Virginia is an ideal vacation spot for the nature-driven tourist due to its distinct seasons, unparalleled mountain scenery, and easy access to outdoor recreation. If you’ll be visiting Virginia for the first time, here are a handful of ideas to jumpstart your vacation plans.
If you’ve never shot a gun before, the thought of visiting a target shooting range can intimidate those tourists unfamiliar with firearms. Fortunately, testing out a new sport is an excellent way to leap out of your comfort zone and build self-confidence. Shooting ranges provide equipment, so first-timers can dip their toes in the water without emptying their wallets.
While shooting range staff will also go over the fundamentals of shooting, it’s a good idea to review these beginner-friendly tips and tricks beforehand. Going with an experienced friend can ease the pressure you may feel. Not to mention, having a shooting buddy at your side will help you ensure you’re following the rules and offer a much-needed confidence boost.
If you’re new to shooting, opting for a pistol such as this may be wise, as these models are more comfortable than their shotgun or rifle counterparts with a more potent kickback. Virginia has an extensive list of highly-reviewed ranges, with indoor and outdoor shooting options to enjoy trying out this new activity no matter the weather. Check out the Bull Run Regional Park Shooting Center in Centreville, Elite Shooting Sports in Manassas, or Blacksburg Shooting Range in Jefferson National Forest.
Kayak the James River
The James River stretches across the majority of the state, beginning in the Appalachian Mountains and emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. At 444 miles, the James River is the longest river in Virginia.
Whether you’re an expert rapid navigator or have never set foot in a kayak, this river will cater to any skill level. Many sections of this water body are easy to maneuver through. as you find your rhythm with the kayak. Other areas, mainly through Richmond, offer exhilarating rapids that will test your skills if you have prior paddling experience under your belt and are up for a challenge. The James even winds through downtown Richmond, letting you experience Virginia’s outdoor scene and city backdrop at the same time.
Shenandoah National Park
When planning an outdoor-centered vacation, national parks are a must-see attraction. Virginia is home to Shenandoah National Park, sprawling through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River. Soaking up the scenery while driving on Skyline Drive is an experience in and of itself, though the park is known for world-class hiking as well. If you’re in the mood to get some dirt on your boots, try hiking Hawksbill Mountain. As the highest peak in the park, you’d expect the trail to be grueling and long, but at only 685 feet of elevation gain and two miles round trip, this hike is accessible to most everyone.
Hike (part of) the Appalachian Trail
Outdoor enthusiasts often view the Appalachian Trail as a final boss for experienced through-hikers. Those daring and prepared enough to complete the entire 544-mile trail have earned part of what’s known as the ‘triple crown of hiking.” After completing the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail, tourists can proudly claim the triple threat title.
You can experience this behemoth of a hike by walking in shorter sections and even completing a smaller “triple crown’” of your own. Complete hikes in Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs, known as Virginia’s triple crown, to experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the Appalachian territory.
Bike rail trails
Like the idea of biking but don’t feel prepared to tackle the steep uphills and technical terrain of mountain biking? Virginia created the perfect solution by transforming old railroad tracks into family-friendly bike paths. There are plenty of options with varying elevation grades that are sure to delight bikers from any experience level. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a suitable choice for beginners since most of the trail slightly declines. The 34-mile route will fly by faster than you expect as you race down the path and take in the breathtaking Virginian landscape.
Ditch beachside vacations spent sunbathing in favor of adventure-packed getaways. As you jet off to Virginia, expect ample opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and biking at your fingertips.