Winter weather in Virginia varies greatly, depending on whether you’re in the Virginia mountains or along the coast.
But, as longtime VA residents, we generally find the Virginia climate agreeable– not too hot, and not too cold.
Whether you choose a romantic getaway to a luxury spa in the Blue Ridge Mountains or take a Virginia Beach whale watching tour, the Winter months here are chock full of fun!
READ MORE: The Best Places for Snow Skiing in Virginia
Top Places to Stay in Virginia in the Winter:
Things to Do for Winter in Virginia Guide
- A Christmas Carol in Staunton VA
- Drive The Blue Ridge Parkway
- Explore Assateague and Chincoteague Islands
- Grand Illumination at Colonial Williamsburg
- The Highland County Maple Festival
- Hiking on Skyline Drive
- Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg
- Romantic Weekend at The Martha Washington
- Ski a Virginia Mountain Resort
- Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Whale Watching
1. A Christmas Carol in Staunton VA
Near the top of our Virginia Christmas to-do list is “dinner and a show” in the lovely town of Staunton VA. Specifically Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse.
The talented Blackfriars Playhouse stage crew transforms their Staunton VA stage into a slice of Victorian London, where you can watch Ebenezer Scrooge’s dramatic Christmas Eve transformation.
Audiences young and old will be thrilled as the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future help warm Scrooge’s cold heart, with lots of humor along the way.
Come early to explore the myriad Staunton restaurants and shops, which will all be decorated with holiday flair. For an amazing night, try pairing the play with a stay at Staunton’s grand hotel, Hotel 24 South.
READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Staunton VA
2. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
Running 469 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s longest linear park, providing an incredible way to see the Blue Ridge Mountains in Winter.
It also features many important historic sites, such as the Cataloochee Valley and Mabry Mill.
With less foliage on the trees and less traffic, Winter is a perfect time for spotting all types of birds and other wildlife.
Note that with the high elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the unpredictable Winter weather in Virginia, it’s best to check the official BRP website for info on road closures before heading out on your adventure!
3. Explore Assateague and Chincoteague Islands
The uninhabited barrier island of Assateague has the famous wild ponies, a windswept Atlantic beach, and a diverse population of birds, including Ospreys and Snow Geese.
While in Chincoteague, our lodging of choice is the Snug Harbor Marina & Resort, which offers amazing Winter sunsets and a perfect view of the Assateague Island Lighthouse across the bay.
READ MORE: 20 Beautiful Birds of Virginia
4. Grand Illumination at Colonial Williamsburg
With around 2,500 wreaths on the houses and outbuildings, it’s a festive pleasure to stroll the streets of Williamsburg. We also love Christmas shopping at Merchants Square, especially the Scottish-themed Scotland House.
Holiday festivities begin with a 5PM procession led by the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums, which is followed by a dazzling fireworks show at the Governor’s Mansion. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season!
5. The Highland County Maple Festival
Known as “Virginia’s Little Switzerland,” Highland County has the highest average elevation in the state (2,832 feet). Its warm, sunny days and freezing nights also offer the perfect weather combo for maple sugar production!
The small town of Monterey is the county seat, and also the center of activity when the Highland Maple Festival starts. Since 1959, this beloved festival has been drawing visitors to learn about the syrup-making process.
You can choose one of 10 free sugar camp tours for a sweet educational experience. Then treat yourself to maple donuts, pancakes, or buckwheat cakes with real maple syrup.
The 2024 Highland County Maple Festival dates are March 9-10 and 16-17, and will include local food vendors and live entertainment (such as bluegrass music and clogging).
Note that visitors are advised to dress warmly and wear boots for the sugar camp tours.
6. Hiking on Skyline Drive
Due to high elevation, this National Scenic Byway gets more snow than the Shenandoah Valley. It stretches 105 miles on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with 75 scenic overlooks, cozy lodging, and some of the best hiking trails in VA.
One our favorite things to do in Virginia in Winter is to hike the Dark Hollow Falls Trail, which starts at milepost 50.7.
The closest of all the waterfalls off Skyline Drive, Dark Hollow Falls is a moderately difficult, 1.4-mile round-trip hike. The falls are 70 feet tall, and are transformed in winter with ice crystals and an incredible unobstructed view!
READ MORE: The 15 Best Virginia Waterfalls for Hiking
7. Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg
Our favorite Winter getaway in Virginia is the Kingsmill Resort, a family-friendly resort in historic Williamsburg.
With mild Winter temps, I can play golf while Heather gets a massage at the resort’s luxury spa. With an indoor pool, hot tub, and world-class tennis facilities, there are amenities everyone in the family can enjoy.
Kingsmill is located on the James River, just minutes from historic Jamestown. We book a riverfront condo, so we can sit on the deck and spot birds of prey, deer, and the legendary “ghost fleet” on the river.
While there’s plenty to do at the resort, we always make time to visit Colonial Williamsburg and the greater Williamsburg area. The beautiful College of William & Mary is one of our favorite places to go for a brisk afternoon walk.
8. Romantic Weekend at The Martha Washington
The Martha Washington Inn & Spa in Abingdon VA is one of our favorite romantic getaways in Virginia, with fluffy robes, a saltwater pool/hot tub, state-of-the-art spa, warm fires, and cozy common rooms.
Built in 1832 as a residence, it became a hotel in 1935, with 63 elegant rooms and suites filled with antique furniture.
We like to begin our day with a delicious free breakfast at their Sisters American Grill, then get a couples spa treatment.
Later we’ll hit the indoor saltwater swimming pool, or a soak in the outdoor saltwater hot tub, which is surrounded by beautiful foliage, fairy lights, and a waterfall.
After a date night, we’ll often end the day with a complimentary glass of port by the fireplace in the study.
9. Snow Skiing at a Virginia Mountain Resort
Virginia has four awesome ski resorts to choose from, and one is close to our home in the Shenandoah Valley.
They offer Winter fun for the whole family, with skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snow tubing, and even an indoor waterpark for off-the-slopes excitement.
With several great Massanutten Resort restaurants to choose from, you’ll also find plenty of après ski activities, as well as a full-service spa.
With the state of Virginia’s mild weather and Massanutten’s snow-making capabilities, the kids can have fun on the slopes while I golf with my buddies and Heather relaxes at the spa.
10. Virginia Beach Boardwalk & Whale Watching
After the “boys of summer” are gone, Virginia Beach becomes a magical escape from the doldrums of Winter. With unencumbered views of the ocean, most of the boardwalk shops and restaurants are open, but not at all crowded.
Nature lovers will delight in the opportunity for whale-watching provided by the humpback whale migration in Virginia, which happens in January and February.
Book a guided tour with an experienced captain and crew to see Atlantic coast marine life, such as Dolphins, Seals, and Whales. You can sometimes spot whales in December, depending on water and air temperatures.
Marine lovers will also enjoy climate-controlled comfort at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, which has over 800,000 gallons of marine exhibits and even hands-on-exhibits to explore.
For an outside-the-box Winter vacation in Virginia, we highly recommend Virginia Beach! –by Heather Taylor & Jon Weaver; all photos by Jon Weaver & Heather Taylor unless otherwise noted; lead image courtesy Virginia Tourism.