From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the winding Atlantic coastline, your group will be awestruck by the postcard-ready views waiting for you in Virginia
The natural beauty of Virginia is hard to compare to any other region in America. Driving along Blue Ridge Parkway, every turn around the winding bends will open up to picture-perfect views of rolling hills, lush forests, calm estuaries, or stunning coastline, all enveloped by the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains. If your group is looking for an unforgettable opportunity to immerse yourselves in scenic experiences, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Virginia’s Dark Sky Parks Offer Clear Night Views
Dark Sky Parks are few and far in-between, with about 60 located across America. The state of Virginia alone has four parks as designated locations where light pollution is so low, visitors can view much of the galaxy’s wonders with a naked eye. Staunton River State Park, James River State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, and Sky Meadows State Park are all located in different regions of the state. Groups can participate in guided stargazing and planet viewing nights, led by local astronomers who come equipped with high-power telescopes, at any one of these parks throughout the year. Or, plan your group trip around a peak day for observing meteor showers, as designated by park astronomers.
Group Activities Along Virginia’s Coast
Virginia’s 70-mile Atlantic coastline is the backbone of the state, providing much of the cuisine, culture, and biodiversity that makes this state a must-visit. During the winter months, Virginia is the peak location to catch a glimpse of migrating whales as they make their way north. Many whaling tours can easily accommodate large groups on their tour boats. Groups will be taken off the coast to try and catch a glimpse of whales feeding or breaching, all while keeping a safe distance from these endangered creatures. Dolphins are in the coastal waters from the spring through Fall. For groups looking to take part in Virginia’s legendary fishing scene, there are a multitude of fishing boat charters located along the coast that can accommodate groups.
Another coastal staple in Virginia is the state’s fabulous oysters. Groups will have no problem locating a restaurant to slurp up these delicacies throughout the state, but for a more immersive experience, groups have to head to the tributaries where these oysters are harvested. Pleasure House Oyster Farm Tours allows groups to see the inner workings of oyster farming. Groups can choose from three experiences of various interaction. The least interactive will have you taking a brief tour with a tasting. Another tour has your group standing in waders, knee-deep in the Lynnhaven River at a table set up in the water at the oyster farm. The most interactive group experience allows groups learning from the farmers to pick their own oysters, ending with a tasting.
Waterfalls Views to Take Your Breath Away in Virginia
Virginia’s rolling hills and mountainous landscape have created the conditions to host an array of breathtaking waterfalls. However, hiking to these cascades doesn’t have to entail a challenging multi-mile trek into the deep forest. In Virginia, waterfalls are so abundant that there are plenty of easily-accessible waterfalls for groups of all ages and abilities.
Waterfalls designated as easy access by Virginia state park – with hikes under one-mile round trip with relatively flat terrain – include Statons Creek Falls, Falling Spring Falls and Dismal Falls. For groups with more extensive ability, there are, of course, a multitude of waterfalls in Virginia with challenging hikes and equally rewarding views.
Spot Rare Wildlife in Virginia’s Natural Parks
Virginia is home to more than 4.18 million acres of protected land, and many have been developed with walking trails and other amenities to increase accessibility to the state’s most scenic views. Many of these trails are designated as ideal locations to view an array of the state’s protected species. Groups can increase their chances of seeing a bald eagle at Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, or Caledon State Park. For avid birders, there are multiple state parks located along the Atlantic flyway, including Matthews Birding & Wildlife Trails and the Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve. At the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, visitors will get incredible coastal views alongside wild pony sightings.
For a guided group experience, Breaks State Park offers elk tours, where groups can hope to spot these majestic creatures, hear their powerful and haunting bugle calls, and learn about the state’s tireless efforts to restore the elk’s natural population levels. For active groups, there are an abundance of guided kayak tours to choose from in natural parks across the state.
Enjoy Wine and Amazing Views at Virginia’s Vineyards
Virginia’s vineyards are located across the state, no longer confined to the well-known and historic wine regions of Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. Groups can book a private vineyard bus tours that are available in every region of the state. Tour leaders will guide your group to a number of vineyards in the area, leading to a relaxing afternoon of taking in the breathtaking views while enjoying world-class wine.
For groups looking for self-guided tours of Virginia’s wine country, there are a few vineyards in particular that go above and beyond to deliver an experience that immerses you in the natural beauty of the region. Chatham Vineyard offers a relaxing 45-minute paddle tour that includes a wine tasting as you float down Church Creek. Greenhill Winery offers carriage rides through their vineyard and often hosts polo matches. Glass House Winery hosts a stunning tropical conservatory on their vineyard, which transports visitors from Virginia to a tropic oasis during their tasting.
Virginia has plenty of natural beauty to experience, but there’s still so much more to enjoy. If you’d like to get even more travel ideas for Virginia and beyond, just Subscribe to Leisure Group Travel magazine for FREE
By Isabella Wilkes