Lakeside Lovin’

Looking for an outdoor oasis that isn’t a crowded beach? Check out these lake getaways surrounded by forested beauty.

By Erica Fairbanks

Looking for an outdoor oasis that isn’t a overdone crowded beach? Check out these lake getaways surrounded by forested beauty. These lakes still give you the escape you’re looking for with added community touches and a secluded, yet adventurous atmosphere. Take your family or just yourself and spend a day or two in these lakeside retreats. 


Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake
Photo courtesy of SML Chamber of Commerce

Vacationers from all over make Smith Mountain Lake their favorite summer destination. You can choose your style of fun, whether it be full days of activities or just relaxing! The natural beauty of this lake is highlighted by the Blue Ridge Mountains, but also by the woods and calm waters. Stay in any number of lodging choices including Bed & Breakfasts, Houseboat Rentals, Vacation Rentals and Campgrounds. Activities are endless for the rowdy crowd, including parasailing, horseback riding, miniature golf, golf courses and even winery tours. When it comes to eating at Smith Mountain Lake, you most definitely will not find a shortage of restaurants. Plenty of lunchtime eateries throughout the lake area are easily accessible and upscale restaurants make for a more memorable meal. You can easily make Smith Mountain Lake a week-long getaway or a weekend excursion! Check out their visitor guide here.

Moneta, VA;; 4 hours from Fairfax.

500 miles of shoreline
12 Rental Shops
1,248 acre park/beach
4-H Center
8 Winery/Vineyards
Water Activities
4 Golf Courses
2 Miniature Golf Courses
10 Restaurants with lake access
Alpaca Farm
Movie Theater


Lake Anna

Lake Anna Beach
Photo Courtesy of Virginia DCR

Spend the weekend in the second largest lake in Virginia. Lake Anna has a picturesque landscape in a rural area for a bit of relaxation while still having many recreational opportunities. Bring the whole family to enjoy all the outdoor and lake activities they could want like watersports, fishing, camping and hiking. With over 200 miles of shoreline stretching 17 miles long, the excitement is endless on the water and on land. Around the area are many historical sites, golfing and Kings Dominion Amusement Park is nearby. Adults can enjoy the local wineries and antique shopping while the kids can take a break from the lake at the movie theater. Dining options may seem sparse, but you just need to know where to look! To stay a few nights, there is a B&B, rental cabins, a hotel and resort condominiums.

Spotsylvania, VA;; 1 hour 30 minutes from Fairfax.


200 miles of shoreline
Rental shops
Water Activities
Movie Theater
Historical Sites


Burke Lake Park

If you’re looking for lakeside fun, but not a full week getaway, Burke Lake is the spot for you. This 218 acre lake gives you just enough room for some laid back water fun like fishing, boating and kayaking. This smaller lake will give you the relaxation you need without having to go far to get it! Right near the lake are a bundle of activities you can participate in like a miniature train, a carousel, outdoor volleyball courts, a golf course, miniature golf, disk golf, horse shoe pits, playgrounds and an ice cream parlor.  Feel free to grill out at one of the many picnic areas near the lakeside too! Burke Lake makes for the perfect day retreat with enough fun on and off the water.  This is a lake you can go back to a few times over the summer and through the fall.

Fairfax Station, VA;; 20 minutes from Fairfax

218 acre lake
888 acre park
Miniature train
Outdoor sand volleyball courts
Golf Course
Miniature Golf
Disk Golf
Horse shoe pits
Ice Cream Parlor
Picnic Areas