While you might associate Lake Anna with swimming and sunbathing, there is also plenty to do when the air turns crisp. Easily accessible from Northern Virginia, the region offers opportunities in the fall for hiking, history, eating and drinking.
“Lake Anna is known as a great summer vacation spot, but it is also an amazing fall destination,” says community engagement and tourism manager Lindsay Leach. “[It] is the perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and sit back, relax and enjoy the great outdoors.”
Here’s how to make the most of a day there:
Start your day at the Lake Anna Visitor Center, where you’ll find maps as well as up-to-date-information and brochures from local businesses, services and attractions.
Catch an early lunch at one of two restaurants at Lake Anna Plaza, adjacent to the visitors center. Billikens Barbecue Company serves up smoked brisket, pulled pork and for dessert, cookies with bacon, while Asian Cafe crafts sushi and sashimi as well as hibachi.
Pick up some snacks and beverages at Dickinson’s Store, then head to Lake Anna State Park, a 2,810-acre park with more than 10 miles of lake frontage. All of its 11 trails totaling more than 15 miles are suitable for hiking, with 12 miles designated as shared, multiple-use trails for hiking, biking and horseback; trails pass over moderate terrain through mixed hardwood and pine forests. The lake itself is known for its largemouth bass, crappie and bream; there is a public boat launching ramp and many areas for bank fishing (valid Virginia fishing license required.)
If American history is more your thing, the area is steeped in Civil War history, including the site of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Spotsylvania and Battle of the Wilderness. There is a 45-minute walking tour that covers the May, 1864 Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, featuring the “Bloody Angle” where the battle lasted two weeks and included hand-to-hand combat.
Mid-afternoon, pick your own pumpkin at Miller Farms or Belvedere Plantation, and select some crisp apples, vibrant mums and more at the area farmers markets, before exploring the region’s craft beer scene with a Barnfire Saison or Bank Down Vanilla Brown at Maltese Brewing Company in Fredericksburg or Washington’s Hare Honey Porter at 1781 Brewing in Spotsylvania Courthouse. If you find wine more divine, there are four vineyards in the region: Lake Anna Winery (their 2017 tannat was a Gold medal winner at the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup), the American Indian Mattaponi Winery, Eden Try Estate Winery, which is situated amid walking paths and gardens, and Wilderness Run Vineyards, whose offerings include a red that’s a field blend of Italian varietals sangiovese and barbera.
Drive to The Boardwalk on Lake Anna in time for sunset, then have dinner at Tim’s at Lake Anna, a restaurant and crab house on the waterfront. Start with fried pickles and bacon-wrapped scallops, then tear into a dozen steamed blue crabs and a pound of spiced shrimp. Before tackling the drive back home, grab a scoop or two of caramel or cinnamon ice cream at Moo Thru, also on The Boardwalk.
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