Enjoy Virginia’s Beautiful State Parks
Virginia is well-known for its gorgeous coastline, coastal towns, and beachy lifestyle. But, Virginia has a lot more to offer than just beach vibes. Home to over 40 state parks, this state is a hub for nature lovers of all kinds!
Imagine strolling through majestic forests, standing atop breathtaking cliffs, and embracing nature’s soothing sights and sounds—all while indulging in the charm of Virginia’s state parks.
For the senior adventurer looking to retire in Virginia Beach, you’ll be happy to know that you’ll have your choice of gorgeous state parks that offer a variety of scenic spots and memorable trails.
And even better, Virginia offers The Senior State Park Pass, unlocking a world of wonders to explore!
So, let’s journey through some of our favorite Virginia state parks together. And as always, please remember to leave no trace when visiting any state parks so we can all do our part to keep nature wild and beautiful.
First Landing State Park
Distance from ASRC: 20-25 minute drive
Starting off with the closest state park to Atlantic Shores on the list, it may be biased of us, but it’s definitely one of our favorites!
With a history dating back to the first English settlers’ arrival in the New World, First Landing State Park is a testament to the timeless allure of coastal beauty. The park’s diverse landscape spans from beaches to maritime forests, offering a unique blend of ecosystems to explore.
The park spans over 2,800 acres and has 1.5 miles of beach, providing a unique blend of scenery to enjoy. You can stroll along the serene shoreline, inhale the salty sea breeze, and witness the mesmerizing harmony of land and sea.
For history buffs and nature lovers alike, First Landing State Park is a treasure trove of adventures waiting to unfold.
Kiptopeke State Park
Distance from ASRC: 1-hour drive
Nestled along Virginia’s iconic Easter Shore, visitors can walk the footprints of Captain John Smith, who explored this park back in 1608.
Kiptopeke State Park provides direct access to the Chesapeake Bay and opportunities to search for migratory bird habitats along the Atlantic Flyway. As a haven for birdwatchers, it invites you to witness the great bird migration, where flocks of colorful feathered visitors stop to rest and refuel during their long journey.
York River State Park
Distance from ASRC: 1.5-hour drive
Located 11 miles west of Williamsburg, York River State Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the environment of a coastal estuary.
Know for its extremely rare environment, freshwater and saltwater meet to create a habitat rich in both marine and plant life. Nestled along the historic York River, it is a tranquil retreat that offers a captivating blend of history and natural splendor.
You’ll be able to explore the tidal marshes, discover ancient fossil beds, and watch as bald eagles soar gracefully overhead. York River State Park allows you to reconnect with the rhythm of nature as you hike, bike, bird watch, or paddle along its picturesque trails and waterways. This pristine haven serves as a sanctuary for wildlife and visitors alike, making it a park you don’t want to skip!
Chippokes State Park
Distance from ASRC: 1.5-hour drive
Venture back to a world of antiquity and charm at Chippokes State Park.
As one of the oldest working farms in the United States, this historic gem promises a glimpse into the past, where lush fields, elegant gardens, and rustic architecture exude timeless allure. Immerse yourself in the rich history of the plantation or enjoy peaceful picnics along the riverbanks.
Chippokes State Park stands as a living testament to Virginia’s fascinating historical heritage.
Visitors are also welcome to explore the lush forests and hike along the nature trails or embark on a fishing expedition in search of a bountiful catch. Kiptopeke State Park is a true paradise for nature enthusiasts and a sanctuary for cherished memories.
High Bridge Trail State Park
Distance from ASRC: 3-hour drive
A journey through history awaits at High Bridge Trail State Park—a former railway line transformed into a scenic marvel. Visitors can traverse the majestic High Bridge, the centerpiece of this iconic park, admiring the stunning views from above.
High Bridge, an engineering marvel of its time, is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet high, suspended above the Appomattox River, offering a unique experience for visitors who can walk along this towering structure.
Besides the iconic bridge, there are also trails and wilderness to explore. With its flat terrain and gentle slopes, this park is perfect for leisurely strolls, biking, and horseback riding. Revel in the stories of the past as you tread the paths once traveled by railroad, where history and nature intertwine.
Occoneechee State Park
Distance from ASRC: 3-hour drive
Located along the 50,000-acre Buggs Island Lake and the historic Roanoke River, this park offers many outdoor activities, from fishing and boating to hiking along lush trails. You’ll be able to explore the park’s 800 miles of woodsy, cove-studded shoreline.
If you love fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and boating, this is the perfect park for you!
While enjoying the plethora of activities available at this park, take a moment to breathe in the untamed wilderness and let your soul find solace in the gorgeous nature at Occoneechee State Park.
Sky Meadows State Park
Distance from ASRC: 3.5-hour drive
This unique park is more than just scenic nature trails and forestry.
With its rich history, this park offers recreational opportunities that engage visitors and help connect them with the historically rich farming practices that helped to form its unique pastoral landscape.
Rolling meadows and lush woodlands of Sky Meadows State Park, where nature’s poetry comes alive in every rustle of leaves and song of birds, provide a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day responsibilities. Tucked away in the foothills of the iconic Blue Ridge Mountains, this hidden gem invites you to embark on scenic hikes, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and immerse yourself in the idyllic ambiance of untouched wilderness.
Whether it’s a family picnic or a peaceful stroll through the meadows, Sky Meadows State Park promises a delightful day of rejuvenation.
Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Distance from ASRC: 4.5-hour drive
Located on the second-largest freshwater lake in the entire state, Smith Mountain Lake Park is a water enthusiast’s dream spot!
Imagine an oasis of tranquility where cool, refreshing waters meet the shore—where you can fish, kayak, or enjoy taking a boat out to explore the lake.
With its sprawling lake, abundant wildlife, and picturesque views, this park becomes an outdoor playground for water enthusiasts and nature admirers alike.
Grayson Highlands State Park
Distance from ASRC: 6.5-hour drive
Located in the western portion of Virginia, Grayson Highlands Park is nestled near Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain, Virginia’s two tallest mountains. At this park, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy scenic alpine views over 5,000 feet.
This park boasts breathtaking vistas, mountain peaks, and verdant meadows that beckon you to explore. This park offers easy, moderate, and hard trails so every level of hiker can enjoy the area’s beauty.
The legendary Appalachian Trail meanders here, offering an authentic taste of wilderness. Easily accessible and open year-round, Grayson Highlands Park promises a spellbinding experience to all who venture to its trails.
Natural Tunnel State Park
Distance from ASRC: 7.5-hour drive
Finally, one of the furthest parks from Atlantic Shores, but definitely one we recommend checking out when you have the time, is Natural Tunnel State Park.
Near the borders between Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, Natural Tunnel State Park invites you to marvel at its many geological wonders.
And, of course, the most iconic spot in this park is the Natural Tunnel.
Carved through solid limestone by the force of an ancient river, the Natural Tunnel is a sight to behold—a natural amphitheater that delights visitors with its towering beauty. You’ll have the opportunity to venture along the Lover’s Leap Trail for breathtaking views or take the chairlift ride for a unique perspective of this remarkable geological wonder.
Start Exploring Virginia’s State Parks Today!
In the heart of Virginia’s natural splendor lies a tapestry of state parks—each a testament to the state’s breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and boundless adventures.
Virginia’s state parks offer an invitation to bask in the wonders of the great outdoors, from the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Mountains to the tranquil banks of the Chesapeake Bay and coastal shoreline. And with the senior state park pass, the experience becomes even more rewarding, allowing you to savor every moment of these treasured escapes.
So, gather your sense of wonder and embark on a journey of exploration, rejuvenation, and awe, for Virginia’s state parks await your discovery, and every visit promises a lifetime of memories!