Summer is here and with it comes endless dreams of vacation, sun, ice cream and poolside lounging. But instead of planning a long-term summer vacation—one that requires time off from work, a specific budget and loads of logistics—spend these next few months whisking off to weekend destinations. Short weekend trips allow you to really explore the area in which you live and challenge you to be creative with the time you have. Plus, instead of using up all of your vacation time at once, you’ll have an entire summer of adventure and exploration to look forward to.
Start with a trip to Smith Mountain Lake. This manmade reservoir covers over 20,000 acres and its shores contain everything you need for a weekend, or even a day, away.
We’ve compiled two helpful itineraries to jumpstart your travel planning. Whether you’re spending the weekend with your family or are taking a day trip with your significant other, Smith Mountain Lake will deliver endless memories and adventures.
A Day Trip for a Couple
11:30 a.m.—Take a lunchtime cruise on the Virginia Dare. This legendary cruise will take about two hours and allow you to see many of Smith Mountain Lake’s best sights, including private islands, osprey nests and even an antique carousel!
2 p.m.—Once you’ve docked, hit up a local brewery or vineyard. Depending on your beverage fancy, you can visit Sunken City Brewing Company (try their popular Dam Lager!) or one of three vineyards: Ramulose Ridge Vineyard, Hickory Hill Vineyards and Winery, or Brooks Mill Winery.
4 p.m.—Catch a matinee movie at Westlake Cinemas. Guys, bonus points if you let her pick.
6:30 p.m.—Enjoy a romantic waterfront dinner at The Landing at Bernard’s Landing. Here’s a tip: Try the fresh clam linguine! You may even find a wine or beer you sampled earlier in the day on their menu.
An Overnight Trip with the Family:
10 a.m.—Arrive at Bridgewater Plaza and head to Bridgewater Marina to rent a pontoon boat (or, if your crew is particularly adventurous, a Wakeboard Boat or a few Waverunners!). Enjoy a few hours out on the water.
12 p.m.—Anticipate a few grumbling stomachs after a morning on the water. Head back to Bridgewater Plaza, dock your boat and visit the Pizza Pub for a delicious slice of pizza. Here’s a tip: Get the Boardwalk Fries with malt vinegar!
1 p.m.—Look right off of the deck at the Pizza Pub and onto the miniature golf course at Harbortown Miniature Golf. You’ve found your next stop. Play an 18-hole round.
2:30 p.m.—Treat the kids to an ice cream cone at the Ice Cream Cottage, right in the plaza. While they’re savoring their sweet treat, walk down to where you docked your boat and pay a quarter to feed the fish. The kids will love it!
3:30 p.m.—Drive to Halesford Harbour Inn and check in to your room. You’ll love the lake access, complete with a beach to relax on and boats to rent. Spend some time on the beach. Read a book or soak up the sun while your children play.
6 p.m.—Wash up and grab dinner nearby at Jake’s Place, a local favorite. It’s built out over the water and dining on the deck will be an incredible experience for the entire family.
9 a.m.—Visit Old Oak Café for breakfast. The kids will love all of the short stack options!
10:30 a.m.—Check out of Halesford Harbour Inn, but rent a boat from them for the day. Spend a few more hours relaxing (or playing!) on the water before you head home.
12 p.m.—Point your boat in the direction of Bridgewater Plaza and visit Moosies for a lunchtime sandwich. (Here’s a tip: Try the Bridgewater Bagel!)
1:30 p.m.—After lunch, work off the calories at the Fun-N-Games Arcade. Parents will find some beloved classics and the kids will love the goodies they can get with their tokens.
3 p.m.—Take your boat back to Halesford Harbour Inn and head home with a weekend full of memories.
By Megan Norcross