Can you remember your favorite family vacation memories? I feel we just made our kids’ favorite memories on this recent vacation to Primland Resort in Virginia. We’re still talking about it, and are talking about going back. It’s like a luxury sleep away camp for families. Primland activities range from horseback riding to hiking, and we tried all that we could fit in four days and want to go back to try more.
Orvis, Patagonia, and Garden & Gun got blended in a Vitamix and poured out Primland. Fancy outdoorsy people who like the mountains and wine and food and cool sporting excursions and wear crisp beige fishing shirts gather here. Guests wear their worn Patagonia and not Lilly Pulitzer at this resort.
Buckle up, friends – I have a day by day travel journal with photos AND A VIDEO of this incredible place. It’s truly one of the most incredible vacations I’ve experienced. Y’all know the Greenbrier is my favorite place on the planet and if I become a billionaire or if there is a zombie apocalypse, that’s where I am moving. We were supposed to go the Greenbrier for this trip, and I’m so happy it did not work out so we could experience a new place. Primland is similar to the Greenbrier in that it’s a fancy family resort with activities, but it’s totally different because it’s not as formal. Primland is totally secluded in the mountains, is much smaller, and there is 0% Dorothy Draper.
Activities at Primland
This sums up everything we did in less than 3 minutes.
Day One: Arrival & Dinner at the Primland Lodge
The resort is located in a secluded spot. Secluded like you lose cell phone service on the country roads to get to the turn-off to find the entrance to the property. Fill up your tank before you get there.
As you go through the gate, you’re still about six windy miles away from the Lodge. As I said, this place is secluded!
The friendliest, most attentive staff fill the Lodge and open doors, greet you, give you a quick orientation, take your family photos – by the end of the trip, we knew several of them by name! It truly makes the place welcoming and comfortable.
Two restaurants – the more upscale Elements and the more casual 19th Pub are located on the main floor, along with a large lobby with fun games like the frustrating shoot the moon game on the coffee tables. The long porch offers plenty of comfortable seating to dine or have a cocktail outside overlooking the golf course – and at night, the fire pits are lit and you can make s’mores!! The game room, pool, and spa are downstairs.
A large, tall observatory is situated next to the porch. Nightly lectures and stargazing through a powerful telescope are available. How cool is that!?
Primland has several accommodations options – rooms at the lodge, cottages overlooking the golf course, treehouses, and cabins. According to the descriptions and reviews, the cabins are more rustic. Rustic is not a word I would use to describe our accommodations.
Our whole family gathered for this vacation – grandparents, aunt, uncle & cousins. We stayed in beautiful cottages overlooking the golf course, a short walk from the main lodge. Grandparents stayed in another unit across the road. The entire section overlooks the lodge and golf course. A community grilling area sits in the middle of the little cluster of cottages, which we plan to use the next time we visit. Yes, I’m already dreaming of vacationing here again.
Our cottage, named the Cardinal, was divided into two separate, unconnected units. Each has its own entrance joined by a covered area. It would not be awkward to stay next to people you didn’t know. Since we do know our family, having one cottage with a large gathering space was perfect. One side was a studio with a small kitchenette, gigantic bathroom, two queens, and a comfortable living area – plus, the best part, a covered porch. The larger unit had a large living area with a dining table, larger kitchen, half bath, separate bedroom with a large bathroom and also a covered porch. We had breakfasts and happy hours in the big living area everyday, and it was nice to have that hub where we could be in one place together.
Dining at the Primland Lodge
We ate dinner and several lunches at the 19th Pub, Primland’s casual restaurant / bar located in the Lodge. The menu is superb. We lucked out the first night and had a private dining room since our group of 10 was too large for the full restaurant. Y’all know I judge a restaurant by the wine list, and it passes the test. Newton’s Skyside was the perfect match for everything on the menu from the gigantic burgers to the oversized crab cakes. Seriously, the crab cakes were so large, I split them with my sister-in-law the next night. Even though it’s the casual-er restaurant, the pub’s menu is fine dining. Everything we tried was incredible.
Day Two: Family Hike & Spa
Our room was a CAVE with blackout curtains and absolute mountain silence… perfect for sleeping in! My daughter and I slept in until 9am (!!that’s the new noon when you’re a parent!!) while my husband and son breakfasted at the buffet in the lodge.
The itinerary called for a hike.
📸 note: I brought my GoPro and Fuji X100F on the hike but could have just taken the GoPro. I kept it on the floating handle called the Handler the whole weekend. That little camera is the coolest!
Primland Resort has four main hiking trails, and we opted for a 1.1 mile medium hike. It was not a difficult hike – our 4-year old hiked the whole trail! – but there was a terrifying little section for anyone scared of heights. 🙋♀️
The spa is a spa and what is not fabulous about a spa? I had a pedicure and my daughter got sparkly nails. It was magical.
That night, we had dinner at the casual Saloon. It’s a few minutes’ drive from the Lodge – and you can take a shuttle. A great playground, large field, corn hole, and horseshoes are outside. Grab a glass of wine and let the kids play. Dinner is a buffet. It’s all excellent food – and wine!- served in a fun, laidback atmosphere.
Day Three: Horseback Riding & Hike
I grew up riding horses, so I was excited for this excursion.
When I calculated the last time I was on a horse, which really seemed like not too long ago… I realized it was decades ago. Plural. Decades. However, riding a horse on a trail is no big deal – and the rest of the group had never ridden a horse – so we just meandered along the trail and the horses lumbered along. It was fun… but not as much fun when I rode trails and trotted and cantered and jumped over logs. However, had we done all of that, I’m not certain, but fairly sure, I would not have been able to walk without assistance for a week.
We ambitiously set out for another hike that afternoon and my dear 4-year-old declared she wanted to go, too. “She was so good on the first one!” we reasoned, and took her on the longer, more difficult hike. She decided hiking was not her thing and we ended up with a 30ish-pound backpack for most of the hike. I say we, taking credit for about 10 minutes of her hanging on to my back before my sister-in-law agreed to carry her again. We named our daughter after her aunt, so I felt like they shared a name and could share a back so no guilt there.
We reached the end of the trail a little delirious. The Lodge was nowhere in sight. Later, we deconstructed what we did wrong and saw the sign at the end of the trail pointing to the lodge. At the time, none of us looked too terribly hard for a sign to keep going. So we stopped. We stationed ourselves in the shade and did the most ridiculous thing ever. We called for a shuttle.
Then we did the usual shower / wine happy hour / dinner on the porch of the Lodge. Oh, and we had a family photo session with Carson and we wore matching blue / white / khaki. Christmas card, you’re done!
Day Four: Skeet Shooting & Water Sports
My son’s (he’s 9) new love is skeet shooting. Does it get more preppy than that?
In the afternoon, we went to the reservoir for Stand Up Paddleboards and kayaking.
Getting down to the reservoir was terrifying. It seems to me that guard rails drilled into the side of the mountain next to the fatal drop-off ledge would have been a precaution worthy of consideration. However, the guides drove us down without plummeting off the side of the mountain so the entire excursion was a big success in that regard.
I’d never tried a SUP and I was nervous I would not be able to do it. So many comments like “it’s a great workout for your core!!!” made me nervous. Here’s the thing I learned: it does not seem like you’re working out or working your core while you’re on the paddle board. Later, you hurt with sharp little jabs of pain in odd places so you can say wisely, “it’s a great workout for your core!”
We had dinner again at the Saloon that evening and said “cheers, Primland!” Every single one of us agreed Primland is a special place, and was the perfect family vacation spot.
The next morning, our family packed up our laundry baskets* and headed back to the beach.
*Yes, we packed in laundry baskets instead of fancy instagrammable luggage like the enviable pieces available from Away. Let me just tell you: laundry baskets made packing and unpacking a million times more organized and easier.
Spending time with family in such a special, incredible resort was a gift. I truly checked out from work and focused on family. (here’s the thing to do for a work-free vacation) When we go back, we want to check out archery, the ATV tour (we heard this was the best excursion they offer!), and frisbee golf. What a fun place for families!
If you are looking for a true escape with all of the luxury but none of the fuss, Primland should be at the top of your list.
Join the conversation
“You only get 18 summers” thing is going around the internet… which definitely makes you reflect, right? Where are your favorite vacation destinations? Do you try new places or go to the same places each year to keep building on memories? Comment below!!