Nestled in the heart of the East Coast, Virginia is a state that’s steeped in history and natural beauty. From the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast, Old Dominion is a place that’s sure to delight visitors of all kinds.

And if you’re looking for a way to escape the summer heat, there’s no better option than hitting up one of the state’s many beautiful lakes. With inviting water, stunning views, and plenty of activities to enjoy, Virginia lake house rentals offer the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure. So pack your bags, grab some sunscreen, and get ready for an unforgettable summer vacation!

1. Lake Anna


If you’re looking for the gold standard of summer getaways in the Mid-Atlantic, Lake Anna rentals will be near the top of the list. Located just 72 miles south of Washington, D.C., Lake Anna is a popular summer destination for both locals and tourists alike, and is widely considered one of the best lakes in Virginia. With over 13,000 acres of water and 200 miles of shoreline, there are plenty of places to explore this freshwater inland reservoir.

Fishing is a popular pastime, with anglers flocking to the lake to catch largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish. Boating is also a popular activity, and visitors can rent jet skis, pontoons, and even houseboats. If you’re looking to take it easy, there are several beaches around the lake where you can relax and soak up the sun.

How to Get to Lake Anna

You can get to this lakeside retreat from Washington, D.C., in just over two hours by car — or even less by train if you’re in a real rush to unwind. Lake Anna Airport also has flights that come in from Charlottesville Airport.

Things to Do at Lake Anna

Feasting like a king (or queen) on the local delicacies and wine is practically a royal decree in the town, so there’s no need to feel shy. Thanks to an abundance of fresh daily catches, there are eateries galore. One mouth-watering example is Tim’s Crabhouse, where you can dine by the water and indulge in fresh crab, shrimp, and pulled pork sandwiches. The over 20-year-old Farmers’ Market in Spotsylvania is also a treasure of local produce.

Every royal has their treasured goblet of wine, and you can have yours in one of Lake Anna’s many boutique wineries. Cooper Vineyards, Lake Anna Winery, 1781 Brewing Company, and Mattaponi Winery are high up on the list.

As you go about town, the Spotsylvania County Museum in nearby Fredericksburg will be one cultural stop you’ll gladly check off your itinerary. Here you can get insight into the area’s history, beginning with early Native Americans and continuing through the Civil War.

Where to Stay in Lake Anna

Some of the best waterfront Lake Anna house rentals can be found near the south end of the lake, which has sandy beaches and deep clean water. The reservoir is very wide at the south end, so lake houses and lakefront properties boast expansive views. However, no matter where you stay, most parts of the lake offer gorgeous sunset and sunrise views and quiet places to relax, so you can’t go wrong with north or south waterfront homes.

2. Claytor Lake

A view of Claytor Lake in Virginia.

Nestled in the heart of the New River Valley, Claytor Lake is a hidden gem worth visiting this summer. The lake covers over 4,500 acres and boasts 21 miles of shoreline with plenty of waterfront rentals to fit all kinds of interests. Fishing is a popular activity here, with anglers hoping to catch smallmouth bass, walleye, and musky. If you’re looking to hit the water, there are several boat ramps and marinas where you can launch your boat. Kayaking and paddleboarding are also popular options, and there are several places to rent equipment if you don’t have your own. If you’re looking to stay on land, several hiking trails around the lake offer stunning views of the water and surrounding mountains.

How to Get to Claytor Lake

Situated on the outskirts of Roanoke, Claytor Lake is surrounded by the small towns of Belspring, Draper, Dublin, and Radford. The lake is a two-hour drive from Washington D.C., but a train or bus ride can make for a scenic trip. Roanoke Airport is only a 26-mile ride from this lake town.

Things to Do at Claytor Lake

The town has a plethora of parks and plentiful opportunities for fishing. If you’re a hiker at heart, take to the alpine trails of Wildwood, Bisset, and Claytor State Park. If you’re still feeling restless, you can mountain bike your way across the adventurous terrain. But don’t be surprised if the sight and sounds make you come to an abrupt standstill: it’s easy to get lost in an afternoon of birdwatching.

Claytor has much to offer in the way of food, drink, and live music. Mountain 2 Island at the Rockhouse Marina is a one-stop shop for all three and then some: they also provide boat rentals, water sports activities, and exceptional marine service. Food specialties include Island Salad with Coconut Shrimp as well as their Cauliflower Crust Gourmet Pizza. If you can feel your taste buds coming alive, let your palette light the way to Chattooga Belle Farm Distillery, where you can indulge in a little light whiskey and brandy tasting, only a 30-minute drive from the lake.

Where to Stay in Claytor Lake

If you’re looking for a rustic camping experience, Claytor Lake State Park offers several campgrounds with sites ranging from primitive to full hook-up. For those looking for something a little more luxurious, there are a number of Claytor Lake cabins and house rentals situated on secluded coves and bends along the snaking waterways.

3. Smith Mountain Lake

A sunset on Smith Mountain Lake.

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is the largest lake in Virginia. With over 500 miles of shoreline, there’s plenty of Smith Mountain Lake rentals to peruse. Fishing is a popular activity here, with anglers hoping to catch striped bass, catfish, and crappie. If you’re looking to hit the water, there are several marinas where you can rent boats, jet skis, and other watercraft. Kayaking and paddleboarding are also popular options, and there are several places to rent equipment if you don’t have your own. If you’re looking to stay on land, there are several hiking trails around the lake that offer stunning views of the water and surrounding mountains.

How to Get to Smith Mountain Lake

This gem of a lake is set between Roanoke and Lynchburg, and is less than a five-hour drive from Washington, D.C. You can fly into Roanoke Airport or take the scenic route via train or bus from Lynchburg.

Things to Do at Smith Mountain Lake

The lake is a wonderful opportunity to shine at watersports, as there is no shortage of swimming, power boating, canoeing, sailing, parasailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing to partake in. If you’ve had your fill of showing off, there’s also good old-fashioned fishing to keep that ego at bay. You can also take to the land where there are five major golf courses and a host of hiking trails. Smith Mountain Lake Caving & Climbing is also a hands-on approach to connecting with more of the region’s natural wonders.

The delicacies at The Landing Restaurant — a waterfront, resort-based eatery with a Latin vibe — are a cut above. Starters include Grilled Peaches & Burrata Smores and Beef Marmalade Toast, while a signature entree is the delectable Chilean Sea Bass. Locals love the Portside Bar & Grill, a.k.a the town’s very own tiki bar, for its signature “Wings of Paradise” that comes with a special “No Name Hot Sauce.” There’s also Carl’s Place, which has been serving up quite the home-style scene since 1947.

Where to Stay in Smith Mountain Lake

There are plenty of options when looking for Smith Mountain Lake vacation rentals. Many homes are located right on the water, and some even with a dock, so you can bring your boat or rent one at one of the many facilities in the area. However, if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, consider booking a stay at one of the many cottages and cabins in the area. These rustic homes offer all the amenities of a traditional rental, but with the added bonus of being closer to nature — sometimes right on the water!