It’s been too long since I’ve done a proper guide to Hot Springs – a beautiful area of Virginia my family and I have been visiting since I was a kid and that I’ve now gotten to share with my husband and young son. You might be familiar with the Omni Homestead, the sprawling historic resort located here. However, we’ve discovered this area has so much more to offer beyond the famous hotel. It’s our favorite place to unplug, unwind, and get out in nature, and there are great places to eat and stay at, as well. Below you can find a list of our area recommendations.
Where to Stay
- Omni Homestead – Honestly, I could do a whole post about the resort alone. The abundance of activities the resort provides is one of the things that drew my family to the area in the first place. And we got married here so the Homestead will always hold a very special place in my heart. We always try to visit the pool, spa, golf course, or dine at one of the on-site restaurants at least once when we visit. There’s lots to offer for families or couples alike!
- Natural Retreats – A local vacation rental company with loads of upscale options near hiking trails, fishing spots, or the Homestead. Added bonus that many of the houses include access to the fitness center, whirlpool, sauna, game room and pool at the Warm Springs Dairy Community Center.
- The Inn at Gristmill Square – A cute historic mill converted into a boutique inn, this charming getaway features rooms in a number of outbuildings including a Blacksmith Shop and Hardware Store. A breakfast picnic is delivered to your room every morning and the on-property Waterwheel Restaurant is one of our favorites for brunch and dinner!
- Vine Cottage Inn – A charming Victorian Inn just steps from the Omni Homestead, the Vine Cottage Inn is a great affordable option in the heart of Hot Springs. The owners are very welcoming and made lots of updates since taking over the property a few years ago. We love stopping by for fresh ice cream treats, which they offer Fridays and Saturdays on their spacious wraparound porch!
What To do
- Hike – Hiking is our favorite thing to do as a family and every time we come here we try to explore at least one new trail. One of our favorites is the Hidden Valley Trail – an easy hike, which follows the Jackson River, ending at a cool suspension bridge you can cross to the Jackson River Gorge Trail. Nearby is the Cobbler Mountain Trail, which, after rising over a small mountain leads you to the surprisingly secluded Chimney Run with moss-covered rocks and bubbling falls. If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, try the Flag Rock Trail, which begins behind the Milk House Market in Warm Springs – your efforts will pay off with a breathtaking view from Flag Rock at the top! More beautiful views can also be found on the Ingalls Overlook Trail. We recommend going on a clear day to see the valley below. For waterfalls, we recommend Blue Suck Falls Trail at Douthat State Park – very picturesque and well-maintained!
- Bike – One of the most beautiful bike trails I’ve ever ridden, the Jackson River Scenic Trail follows the path of a former railroad, making it an enjoyable ride no matter what your level of ability. There are numerous points of entry and picnic tables along the way, so you can make a whole day of it or just a leisurely hour ride.
- Swim and Boat– Since we haven’t been able to take advantage of the Homestead’s pool during the pandemic, we’ve made it our mission to find secluded spots for our son to splash around. One is the beach at Lake Moomaw – a picturesque location with a sandy beach and picnic tables if you want to bring lunch like we often do. Douthat State Park also boasts a nice beach and multiple boats for daily rentals. We rented motor and paddle boats last summer and had a great time exploring the lake. If you’re looking for a spot to put in a canoe or take a leisurely inner tube drift down the river, check out Alleghany Outdoors, which offers numerous outdoor activities on the Jackson River.
- Fish – The waters around Hot Springs are some of the clearest I’ve ever seen, so it’s not surprising that fishing is popular in this area. I’m not the greatest fisherwoman, so I like to bring my sketchbook and draw the scenery while the boys try to catch a few things. Our regular favorite is any of the spots along the Jackson River off Hidden Valley Trail. We also love to take my son and his friends to a little dock by the Bolar Flat Marina on Lake Moomaw – the kids have good luck catching little fish there and it’s a great picnic spot, too! Another picturesque place is Blowing Springs Campground – trails lead to multiple well-stocked fishing locations and swimming holes, as well.
What to Eat
- Les Cochons d’Or – My husband and I are “fine dining specialists,” as my droll father would say, so believe me when I tell you this restaurant easily rivals some of our favorites in DC. Offering a constantly changing seasonal menu, Les Cochons d’Or offers the most delicious soups (seriously, always order the soup!), wood-grilled entrees, and fabulous cocktails, too!
- Water Wheel Restaurant – A cozy spot built into the historic mill at the Inn at Gristmill Square, the Water Wheel has been one of our favorites for years. Make sure and try any of their locally-sourced trout dishes!
- Milk House Market – We love to bring picnics on our daily adventures and the Milk House Market is a regular stop for us. Their gourmet sandwiches never disappoint and they offer a great selection of snacks and sundries too.
- Bacova Beer Company – I’m not a beer snob, but my husband is, so I feel comfortable recommending the brews here, because my husband loves them. It’s also family-friendly and offers and great selection of board games and wood-fired sandwiches and pizzas from the neighboring kitchen.
There’s so much more I wanted to include in this guide, but I wanted to curate this to a manageable list of our absolute favorites. I hope this inspires you to plan a trip of your own to Hot Springs and fall in love with the area just as we have!