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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Kayaking Adventures To Explore This Summer

by Stefanie | Posted on May 30th, 2014

Discover nature as you‚Äôve never seen it before. Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore unique wildlife and much more‚ÄĒand we have some of the best adventures in the country.

SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf

SouthEast Expeditions at Onancock Wharf

For instance, SouthEast Expeditions (SEE) in Cape Charles has been featured in Chesapeake Life magazine, Washington Post and the Denver Post, and everywhere in between. SEE offers a unique kayak winery tour, where it teams up with Chatham Vineyards and each pair of participants receive a bottle of their choosing. SEE also offers tours for first-timers, as they are guided through shallow, sheltered waters. They are perfect for family outings and are a wonderful introduction to both the sport of sea kayaking and the beautiful coastal ecosystems of the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Trips are also available for the intermediate and well-seasoned kayaker.

For those looking to get a rise out of their trip to Cape Charles, spend a weekend in a century-old working waterman’s cabin, courtesy of SEE. Recently featured in Garden and Gun magazine, take your winery trip to the cabin, once dotted the Eastern Shore’s marshlands, which were outposts for oystermen guarding their grounds. Upon arrival, dive into a feast of local oysters and steamed clams; and of course, a glass of Chatham’s Chardonnay to pair.

Did you know the second oldest river in the world lies right in our back yard? Contrary to its name, the New River flows through the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, beginning in West Virginia, drifting to its end in northern North Carolina.

New River Camping & Kayaking

New River Camping & Kayaking

New River Campground Canoeing and Kayaking, located in Independence, gives visitors a perfect opportunity to explore diverse wildlife. Whether you are interested in a leisurely day of paddling, riding some rapids or an overnight trip on the river, the company can create custom outings for a trip like no other.

Take an eco-tour at Bay Country Kayaking in Williamsburg, where the family owned and operated company’s mission is to educate kayakers on Virginia’s ecological, cultural and historical significance; all while enjoying tours on the James, York or Piankatank Rivers, or Mobjak Bay and the Eastern Shore. Bases are positioned on both the mainland and Eastern Shore.

Head to Kayak Nature Tours in Virginia Beach and experience a trip out to sea. Featured in Southern Living magazine, the company boasts tours for newcomers, all the way to expert level, including a dolphin adventure tour.

Also near the Atlantic, Adventure Kayak Tours feature trips off Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. Personalized trips are available, meeting the unique needs of its clients. Exclusive tours include fishing and geocaching, as well as a paddle under the stars and full moon. For those who are looking for a little something extra, a kayak camping adventure is perfect. Take a two-day, one-night guided tour of the Great Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond. Adventure Kayak Tours has won the Virginia Green Travel Leader award and also offers guided eco-tours for PITO‚ÄĒPaddle In Trash Out‚ÄĒan excellent opportunity for those who a looking to help keep coastal Virginia clean.

Located on the Potomac Shore, Algonkian Regional Park is an ideal spot for a kayak trip. Flow through the upper reaches of the scenic Potomac River and paddle among the islands that are stretched out on this beautiful section of the river. Learn about the natural world around you and the general ecology of the area.

The mighty James River begins its majestic journey in Botetourt County, winding through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains on its way to the Chesapeake Bay. The unspoiled beauty of the river is more accessible than ever through the Upper James River Water Trail. Paddlers, anglers and families can get back to nature and enjoy the sights and sounds of 45 miles of the Upper James, including 14 pristine miles designated as a Virginia Scenic River. See the mountains like you’ve never seen them before on the Upper James River Water Trail. The Upper James River Water Trail was created by Botetourt County to encourage residents and visitors to experience the beauty and history of one of the county‚Äôs greatest natural treasures. Class I and II rapids are part of the journey, as the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers converge to form the James.

Buggs Island

Buggs Island

Visit Virginia’s largest lake! John H. Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake is more than 50,000 acres of fresh water with more than 800 miles of beautiful shoreline. Surround yourself with natural beauty by heading out on the kayak and see where it takes you. Quiet coves are waiting to be explored.

At Great Falls National Park, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. The Patowmack Canal offers a glimpse into the early history of this country. Kayaking in this whitewater area is meant to be used by very skilled kayakers.

Also nestled along the shores of the Potomac River, Leesylvania State Park offers many water-related activities, more specifically, kayaking. Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, take in the history of the grounds, while enjoying the tidal, freshwater river.

Massanutten Adventures Canoe and Kayak provides kayaking services to the Shenandoah Valley and Harrisonburg areas. Explore the Shenandoah River and take in the natural wildlife. The facility is a part of the popular Massanutten Resort, with plenty of camping and lodging available to spend a weekend on the water.

White water kayaking at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is the ideal place for guests in good physical condition, looking for a more challenging adventure. You will explore Class I-III (sometimes I-II+) rapids on this seven-mile stretch of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers near Harpers Ferry, W,Va., where two rivers (the Shenandoah and Potomac) and three states (Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia) come together for a thrilling Shenandoah and Potomac kayak experience. For a more relaxing experience, try out the Flat Water tour. Kayakers will enjoy the scenic stretches of the Potomac and paddling at their own pace.

Ride through the most bio-diverse river in America with Clinch River Adventures. Clinch River Adventures offers a wide variety of kayaking excursions for the entire family and adventurists of all skill levels. Choose between sit-in, sit-on and tandem kayaks and enjoy the ride on trips that can last from 45 minutes to seven hours!

The newly developed Southern Virginia Wild Blueway in Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties offer kayaking adventures on four different rivers making many unique trips in the water. The Blueway is surrounded by unspoiled terrain and undeveloped public shoreline. Catch some views of bald eagles and osprey patrolling the area and take in the sights. The Blueway is definitely an adventure to put on the bucket list.

Mobjack Kayaking

Mobjack Kayaking

Venture out along the Chesapeake Bay to Mobjack Kayaking. Paddle over to the historic New Point Lighthouse and explore New Point Beach along the way. The lighthouse, originally surrounded by a beach of 100 acres, is now surrounded by water, with frequent dolphin sightings around the area. Mobjack Kayaking offers nine different kayak trips, including horse shoe crab spotting and early morning bird watching.

 

 

 



Destinations, Family, Outdoors, Travel Ideas, Uncategorized, Virginia Destinations | Comments Off

Take on some Thrilling Zip Line, Canopy and Ropes Course Tours this Summer

by Stefanie | Posted on May 21st, 2014

Got an adrenaline junkie on your hands? Give them an experience like no other through Virginia’s many zip line, canopy and ropes course tours. Whether you’re just starting out or a self-proclaimed expert, these adventures feature an exhilarating experience for those who are up to the challenge!

 

Virginia Aquarium Adventure Park

Virginia Aquarium Adventure Park

VIRGINIA AQUARIUM ADVENTURE PARK РVirginia Beach, Va. 

The Adventure Park at¬†Virginia Aquarium¬†is an eco-friendly zip line and aerial adventure experience in the trees above the scenic Owls Creek, where kids, teens and adults can all enjoy the Adventure Park. Perfect for families or groups, participants will soar through the trees of the Owls Creek Path and will see wooden platforms at different heights. They are connected either by zip lines that climbers “zip” across or fun challenge bridges that climbers navigate in order to get from one platform to the next. The Adventure Park has zip lines for the beginner to expert, as well as an impressive jungle gym, perfect for parties.

 

BEAR MOUNTAIN ‚Äď Luray, Va.

Go ahead, get carried away…at Bear Mountain Zip Lines.¬† The Mama Bear zip line tour includes 7 zip lines, for a total of 2,700 ft. line racing through the forest canopy at up to 35 miles per hour. Perfect for all ages, Bear Mountain offers safety gear, training and procedures. Looking to give the kids a challenge? The Baby Bear High Ropes course is designed for children 5+ that will guarantee a fun and safe adventure. And while you‚Äôre there, don‚Äôt forget about the Bear Scramble climbing wall!

 

MASSANUTTEN RESORT ‚Äď Rockingham, Va.

Nestled within Massanutten Resort, lies one of the most thrilling adventures on the property. Located at the Family Adventure Park and Peaked Mountain Express Tube Park, the Zip Line/Canopy Tour boasts a Burma bridge, hanging vines crossing and four zip lines ranging from 90 to 450 feet long. Race down the mountain on a 750 foot-long Mega Zip Line with a friend or family member and experience high-flying on this rope‚Äôs course adventure! Located at the Family Adventure Park, Massanutten Resort’s Kids’ Adventure Course and Zip Line features a Burma plank, log crossing, swinging vine bridge, missing plank bridge, net traverse and a 100‚Äô zip line that is sure to thrill!

 

ADVENTURE PARK AT SANDY RIVER RETREAT ‚Äď Rice, Va.

The Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat’s ropes course & zip line park is designed with family fun in mind. The park is built on a 16-acre, self-sufficient farm in the town of Rice, just outside Farmville. The Park’s mission is for its guests to enjoy their time, laugh, scream, cheer and build confidence on their challenging course obstacles, while enjoying the exhilarating ride on the zip lines. The Adventure Park includes 16 zip lines and 52 obstacle high ropes.

 

Go Ape Treetop Adventure

Go Ape Treetop Adventure

GO APE TREETOP ADVENTURE РJames City, Va. 

Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course is an outdoor experience that provides participants 2-3 hours of outdoor fun and exercise. The course allows participants to explore the park from an otherwise unobtainable vantage point, while navigating through the treetops using zip lines, obstacles and Tarzan swings. Located just minutes from downtown Williamsburg in the historic Freedom Park, Go Ape is a unique and highly interactive treetop adventure.

 

RIVERSIDE OUTFITTERS ‚Äď Richmond, Va.

Choose from high-ropes challenges like vertical climbs into the tree canopy, limb walks, high-elevation zip lines, canopy rope bridges, plunging tree swings and much more! The level of challenge can easily be fit to climbers from ages 5 to adult, and from the beginner to the expert. Riverside Outfitters’ mission is to significantly and responsibly increase recreational use of Richmond’s natural landscape by guiding outdoor experiences and inspiring a return to natural fun.

 

VIRGINIA CANOPY TOURS ‚Äď Bentonville, Va.

During the Zip the Park tour, participants will enjoy stunning views of the Massanutten Mountains and the gorgeous hardwood forest of the Shenandoah Valley. Guests will learn the rich history of the Shenandoah Valley, native plant species and the wild inhabitants who make the woods their home. Participants will soar through the Shenandoah hardwood forest at speeds which can exceed 40 miles per hour and at heights reaching 90 feet above the forest floorРall while attached to two steel cables.  The Tour finale is an adrenaline-pumping 1,035’ zip down the face of the ridge to their rappel.

 

TREETOP ZOOFARI ZIP LINE & ADVENTURE PARK ‚Äď Moseley, Va.

The Treetop Zoofari at the Richmond Zoo is designed for the entire family.  As you traverse the canopy walk, plus multiple high stakes challenges and large zip lines at 40 feet above the ground, there will be choices given along the route. These choices are the difference between easier and more challenging routes.  Fly more than 600 feet across the zoo’s lake and zip by tapirs, rheas, and toucans. Those afraid of heights, balanced challenged and younger kids can enjoy the Junior Explorer course. Participants will be pushed to the limits as they pass over tightropes and Indiana Jones bridges, through barrels and nets, only to top off their adventure with a 60-foot zip line. The challenges are all tree to tree and range from 5-12 feet in the air.

 

Zip Line at Bryce Resort

Zip Line at Bryce Resort

BRYCE MOUNTAIN ZIP LINE ADVENTURE РBasye, Va. 

Bryce Resort offers an exciting ride, consisting of 10 zip line platform stations, connected by more than 3,500 feet of cable traversing down the ski slopes and through the woods. With speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, riders will experience the thrill of flying through the trees and sailing across the open ski slopes, as high as 80 feet above the ground, as they work their way from the top to the bottom of the mountain. The resort‚Äôs adventure features 10 different zip lines. While you’re there, be sure to take an evening cruise down the lines to take in some of the most breathtaking views Virginia has to offer.

 

LURAY CAVERNS ROPE ADVENTURE PARK ‚Äď Luray, Va.

This is your invitation to strap on a harness, step out of your comfort zone, and soar to new heights. The Rope Adventure Park at Luray Caverns includes three different levels of ropes course challenges. While fun is always the main focus, Luray’s Adventure Park also wants you to have complete peace of mind by using a sophisticated safety system of belay devices and harnesses, with trained personnel supervising every participant.

 

MOUNTAIN LAKE TREETOP ADVENTURE ‚Äď Pembroke, Va.

Ready for an adrenaline kick? Virginia’s newest ropes adventure course is located in the forest canopy at Mountain Lake. Mountain Lake Treetop Adventures is a fun way to get outside, challenge yourself, and experience the exhilaration of climbing through the tree canopy and riding zip lines through the forest.  Sky bridges, swings, rope ladders and zip lines offer a range of challenges that are fun for both the novice, the super adventure seeker and everyone in between. The Adventure Park offers a kids course and two adult courses, all varying in height and challenge levels.

harpers_ferry_zip

Harpers Ferry Adventure Center

HARPERS FERRY ADVENTURE CENTER РLoudoun, Va. 

Harpers Ferry Adventure Center has been introduced as the best zip lining in Northern Virginia! Located near Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and only one hour from Washington DC and Baltimore metro regions, this tour boasts the best views in the area! This 1.5-2-hour tour is complete with 7 zips and a Sky Bridge!  You’ll fly through the tree tops along the Potomac River. Experience 8 elements: Stairway to Heaven, One and Done, Pucker Up, Blue Ridge Bridge, Dew Drop In, Geronimo, Last Stand, and Hunter’s Landing. With heights up to 40 feet, zips up to 425 ft, and a 100 ft Sky Bridge, this is an experience you won’t want to miss!

 

LYDIA MOUNTAIN LODGE & LOG CABINS – Stanardsville, Va.

Lydia Mountain Adventure at Lydia Mountain Lodge & Log Cabins has some great options to get your zip on! Open year round, the Star-Shot Zip Lines is a three-tier zip line, suitable for ages 9+. While you’re visiting, check out the Lydia Mountain Tubing Track for some high speed fun, perfect for the kids and the kids at heart! Several adventure packages are available for reunions, birthdays and more.

 

VIRGINIA CANOPY TOURS AT SALAMANDER RESORT – Middleburg, Va.

Take a step off the platform and zip through the tree top canopy! The history and allure of Middleburg is not lost in the woods, they are found here, high in the treetops at the Salamander Tree Top Zip Tour.  This invigorating adventure provides guests with a bird’s eye view of the historical Virginia countryside.  The Salamander Tree Top Zip Tour experience is energizing and inspiring and fulfills the basic human need for adventure. Guided by our professional staff, the Salamander Tree Top Zip Tour experience begins and ends on the resort’s grand lawn.  Following a short walk, safety briefing and outfitting, participants enter the course with a staircase walk to the top of the Tower.  The course is comprised of a series of rope bridges and zip lines that vary in length from 90 to 670 feet in length.  While tethered to an advanced pulley system, guests glide from tree top platform to tree top platform on 5 different zip lines and 2 suspension sky bridges.  The course spans over 20 acres and is more than a half mile long.

 

Creeper Zipline

Creeper Zipline

The Creeper Trail Zipline tour includes 4 cables, with over 3000 ft of cable to ride. The course runs in and out of the forest, with fantastic views of the mountains. Our last cable is 1000 ft and you can reach speeds of 35 mph as you zip your way back to your final platform. We want you to have a great time, but safety is our primary concern. Our course, equipment and procedures are ACCT, (Association of Challenge Course) inspected and certified and our continual guide training ensures you will be in great hands.

 

Check out some adventures for team building!



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Mountain Biking Trails For Everyone

by Stefanie | Posted on May 19th, 2014

Liberty Mountain Trail System

Liberty Mountain Trail System

Mountain biking season is here! It‚Äôs time to bring out the ‚ÄúHurt Enforcer.‚ÄĚ Or at least that‚Äôs what my bike‚Äôs nickname is. Check out some great biking trails this summer that welcome novice and experts alike. What‚Äôs your bike‚Äôs nickname? Find out here.

 

SHENANDOAH MOUNTAIN TOURING ‚Äď Harrisonburg, Va.

Offering rentals and custom tours, Shenandoah Mountain Touring boasts beautiful scenery and trails for all skill levels. You might want to pack a swim suit under your biking gear; swimming holes are located throughout the trails and are perfect for taking a break from the heat. Special events are held throughout the year, including backcountry mountain bike races. Both mountain bike and road rides are available on the tours.

 

THE HOMESTEAD ‚Äď Hot Springs, Va.

The Omni Homestead is located in one of the country’s most scenic settings. That’s good enough reason to take advantage of the 100 miles of hiking and biking trails all within steps of the resort. The resort is home to 100 miles of biking and hiking trails throughout the resort. That is certainly enough options to cover bikers of all skill levels. Covering 3.5 miles, the easiest trail takes a little over one hour to complete. The resort offers bike and helmet rentals.

 

BRYCE MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK ‚Äď Basye, Va.

Perfect for a weekend getaway or vacation, Bryce Mountain Bike Park has six life-accessed trails, suitable for beginners and those who are learning terrain biking, and advanced difficult terrain. The Park offers a learning center for those who are wanting to learn proper biking techniques, as well as classes for the advanced biker who is looking to upgrade their style and performance. Rentals are available, including all the pads and equipment you will need for your day. TRAIL MAP

 

Massanutten Resort

Massanutten Resort

MASSANUTTEN RESORT – McGaheysville, Va.

It no longer has to be ski season to enjoy the terrain at Massanutten Resort. Riders of all ability levels may rent mountain bikes to explore the mountain. The resort has mountain biking for every level of rider. The blazed trails are recommended for intermediate to advanced riders, perfect for those who are looking for a challenging mountain biking experience. TRAIL MAP

 

RADFORD MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK ‚Äď Radford, Va.

If you’re looking for a serene day on the trails with the family, Radford Mountain Bike Park offers 12 trails spanning 8-10 miles, with plenty of wildlife and scenic views to match. TRAIL MAP

 

POCAHONTAS STATE PARK TRAILS ‚Äď Chesterfield, Va.

Featuring 52 miles for biking and hiking, Pocahontas State Park’s trails have several single-track mountain bike trails ranging from easy to expert levels. Included in the trail is the Spillway Trail for those with disabilities. TRAIL MAP

 

DOUTHAT STATE PARK ‚Äď Millboro, Va.

At any one time of the year, Douthat State Park’s trails are open to more than 40 miles of wooded trails, perfect for bikers of all ages and skill levels. TRAIL MAP

 

LAKE ANNA STATE PARK ‚Äď Spotsylvania, Va.

With 11 trails spanning 15 miles, Lake Anna State Park‚Äôs trails are the perfect option for those bikers who are planning to bring the kids along. All trails within the park are designated as ‚Äúeasy,‚ÄĚ with the exception of the Big Woods, Pigeon Run and Gold Hill trails. TRAIL MAP

 

Virginia Creeper Trail

Virginia Creeper Trail

VIRGINIA CREEPER TRAIL – Abingdon, Va.

Ride along the 34-mile Creeper Trail, from Abingdon to just before the North Carolina border. During the ride, you will pass through Damascus, along the Whitetop Laurel River and up to its highest point, Whitetop Station, near the trail’s North Carolina border. The scenic and historic trail is an easy ride that offers food, lodging and shopping along the way. TRAIL MAP

 

HUCKLEBERRY TRAIL ‚Äď Blacksburg, Va.

Huckleberry’s paved, 6-mile, relatively flat trail reaches points such as the Blacksburg Library, River Valley Mall and the Virginia Tech Campus. Perfect for an afternoon family ride or for those who use the trail for transportation. Huckleberry Trail is in the process of expansion, with a completion date of 2015. TRAIL MAP

 

BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK ‚Äď Breaks, Va.

Breaks Interstate Park offers breathtaking scenery. The trail is a stack loop trail system offering up to nearly 12 miles of riding, from moderate to difficult. Depending on the route chosen, bikers may plan rides of varying length, with the possibilities of good climbs and long downhill runs. TRAIL MAP

 

FALSE CAPE STATE PARK ‚Äď Virginia Beach, Va.

False Cape State Park offers five trails, including the Barbour Hill self-guided interpretive trail, total 15.3 miles. The park’s location on a barrier spit allows visitors to observe beaches, dunes, maritime forests of oak and pine, wooded swamps, marshes and the bay all in one visit. TRAIL MAP

 

KIPTOPEKE STATE PARK ‚Äď Cape Charles, Va.

With more than four miles of trails, bike through upland hardwood forest along Baywoods Trail and look for tracks of foxes, deer and many birds. The upland Baywoods Trail and southern beach are connected by extensive boardwalks so that visitors may explore Kiptopeke’s dune formation. Bicycle trails are available along the park’s entrance road and the Raptor, Songbird, Chickadee and Mockingbird trails. TRAIL MAP

 

OCCONEECHEE STATE PARK ‚Äď Clarksville, Va.

A one-mile self-guided interpretive trail takes visitors through a terraced garden and land where Occonneechee Plantation once was. The park has a 15-mile round trip multi-purpose linear trail for biking, which is relatively flat‚ÄĒperfect for the whole family to enjoy. TRAIL MAP

 

LIBERTY MOUNTAIN TRAIL SYSTEM ‚Äď Lynchburg, Va.

The Liberty Mountain Trail System includes 65 miles of cross country and gravity-fed trails spanning nearly 5,000 acres through Liberty University’s Camp Hydaway. Conveniently located trail guides and directional signs make the trails easy to navigate for all visitors. TRAIL MAP

 

Check out some additional biking in Virginia, including state park trails.

For more resources on mountain biking, visit the International Mountain Bicycling Association website.

 



Family, Outdoors, Travel Ideas, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

10 Places to Saddle Up in Virginia

by Casey | Posted on March 28th, 2014

The vantage point is a little different and the experience is¬†entirely different from the back of a horse. Saddle up and explore Virginia’s countryside and seaside with these unique opportunities.

Marriott Ranch

Marriott Ranch

Offering the only service of its kind in Virginia and seemingly, the country, Virginia Beach Horseback invites you to the Virginia Beach oceanfront for a horseback ride on the sand or a swim with the horses. Corralled at 31st Street, come down between noon and 6:30 p.m. until June for a ride down to the pier and back. In summer, try their new Swimming on Horseback option Wednesday through Thursdays at North Bay. All riders are prepped on how to control the horses; no experience required. Rates from $40 to $100. Reservations are not required, but suggested.

The 4,200-acre working cattle farm known as Marriott Ranch is located in Hume, not far from Washington, D.C. Make a reservation for their popular 90-minute trail ride offered every day except Monday or take advantage of their special rides and overnight packages, such as the City Slicker package that includes horsemanship skills, cattle handling techniques, meals, and overnight at The Inn at Fairfield Farm (from $385/person). Or perhaps the Dinner Ride of a 90-minute trail ride and a cowboy steak dinner ($99/person) sounds nice? Additional rides include day-long rides, river and mountain rides, and cattle drives.

Shangrila Guest Ranch

Shangrila Guest Ranch

In South Boston you’ll find tucked away the Shangrila Guest Ranch, an all-inclusive horseback riding destination. Couples and families alike will appreciate the variety of accommodations (a three-bedroom homeplace, a sweet little log cabin, or the packhouse lodge). The ranchers at Shangrila will also work with you for corporate retreats at The Rusty Spur, and there’s a special Cowgirls Week in May that may be perfect for a bridal or reunion retreat. If you don’t have long to stay and play, reserve your spot for an hour-long ride or the full day; they’re happy to oblige. Rates from $40/hr for a trail ride to $125/person for a daytime excursion with lunch. Inquire for lodging rates and other opportunities.

Additional Places to Saddle Up:

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17 Places for Kids to Get Hands-On with Virginia History

by Casey | Posted on March 24th, 2014

Connect the dots with your children’s interest in history¬†by allowing them to explore the Virginia sites that let them get their hands dirty and in the mix. Visits to the following 17 locations are perfect for spring break, weekends, and the summer season.

Jamestown Settlement. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Jamestown Settlement. Photo by CameronDavidson@CameronDavidson.com.

Located in Yorktown, the Yorktown Victory Center puts the struggle for America’s independence on display with exhibits pertaining to the Revolution and¬†the Declaration of Independence, plus, there is¬†also¬†a Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm. Kids will enjoy their time here because¬†they may be invited to join an artillery crew or drill with wooden muskets at the aforementioned encampment,¬†help plant and water the garden, or¬†”break” and “comb” flax at the¬†farm.

Jamestown Settlement invites you to explore America’s first permanent English colony. Literally step back in history as you and your children steer with a tiller or whipstaff aboard a re-creation of one of the three ships that brought¬†the first¬†English colonists to Virginia or¬†try on 17th-century-style armor and play quoits at the re-created colonial fort. Want to get your hands dirty? Grind corn, weave plant fibers into cordage and use oyster shells to scrape out a dugout canoe at the Powhatan Indian village.

The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton introduces you to life in West Africa (1700s), England (1600s), Ireland (1700s), and Germany (1700s) before these cultures settled in America, bringing their traditions, trades, customs and animals with them. Crops and animals representing each country live at each of the interpretive farms. A special upcoming event that allows you to get especially hands-on is Wool Days, when the sheep will be sheared. Take part in weaving on the Irish farm, carding and spinning wool on the 1820 American farm, sorting and scouring wool at the English farm, and processing flax on the German farm.

Nauticus is the home of Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk, and is a maritime science museum. Among the things you can get involved with here are the shark and horseshoe crab touch tanks, experiencing a Category 1 hurricane (fee), exploring an historic World War II battleship, raising the signal flags, packing a sea bag,  and more.

Gunston Hall in Lorton was the home of George Mason, the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights upon which the United States Bill of Rights was based. The home and expanse of land are fabulous to tour as the property backs up to and overlooks the Potomac River. Daily between July and August is a program called History’s Mysteries, an interactive, hands-on search of the grounds and mansion featuring a special clue book and a prize for solving the 18th-century mystery.

Virginia Sports Hall of  Fame & Museum.

Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum.

See who the Virginia Hall of Famers are and then maybe try your hand at their sport when you visit the¬†Virginia Sports Hall of Fame¬†in Portsmouth. Baseball, football, golf, and basketball areas are all waiting for your best shot. Also check out the Redskins Skybox and the Media Center for simulations of what it’s like to be on the other side of the sports.

The second Saturday of each month is Family Day at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle. Kids of all ages can explore the interactive museum, venturing through a gallery scavenger hunt and trying on period uniforms. The whole family can experience the weight of a pack as you each go through boot camp, or feel the ground shake as you land on Iwo-Jima in 1945. End the day with a meal in the Mess Hall.

Let your kids travel back in time and experience the life of a solider during the Civil War at the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center in Bristow during special Civil War camp opportunities. Hands-on activities include “Enlist in Virginia’s Army” and “Civil War Medicine.” The camp also features a field trip to Manassas National Battlefield Park. Upcoming camp dates include April 14-18, July 21-25, and¬†August 18-22.

The Rapidan Camp: President and Mrs. Hoover’s “Summer White House” in Shenandoah National Park has recently been restored to its 1929 appearance and is an excellent reflection of not only its era, but also of President Hoover. Kids can board the “Hoover Mover” at Byrd Visitor Center and start learning the history of Rapidan Camp, told by a Park Ranger. Upon arrival at the camp, children explore the restored “Brown House” and nearby Prime Minister’s House, which is a living museum. Visitors are encouraged to wander the camp, and discover why it was the perfect location for the President’s summer getaway.

Join in the living history aspects of Patrick Henry’s Red Hill in Brookneal. A variety of activities are available,¬†from pottery making, tin punching and blacksmithing to spinning, weaving, and¬†processing flax to linen. The children that attend the living history program spend the day immersed in what life would have been like in Patrick Henry’s day and time. They will get to try their hand at a multitude of activities that would have taken place years ago at Red Hill.

Touch Tank at Virginia Living Museum.

Touch Tank at Virginia Living Museum.

The Virginia Living Museum in Newport News depicts Virginia’s natural heritage from the mountains to the sea.¬†Kids will especially enjoy the Touch Tank with its sea stars and horseshoe crabs, not to mention other opportunities to touch live spider crabs and fossilized dinosaur tracks!

Head to Hampton and the Virginia Air & Space Center where you can launch a rocket, pilot a shuttle and try on wings to feel the lift that makes things fly.

Kids will love the chance to experience their own “Night at the Museum” with the sleepovers offered at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. Special hands-on activities are offered on these themed nights. Pizza, an evening snack and breakfast are included as part of the fun!

If you have a little train lover in your midst who has never gotten to board one, head to the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke and climb aboard a steam locomotive.  Summer camps are available if your child would like an immersive daytime experience.

Civil War Adventure Camp at Pamplin Historical Park.

Civil War Adventure Camp at Pamplin Historical Park.

Called “the new crown jewel of Civil War History destinations in America” by Pulitzer Prize historian James McPherson,¬†Pamplin Historical¬†Park¬†in Petersburg¬†has four world-class museums, four antebellum homes and is the site of the Breakthrough Battlefield of April 2, 1865, where Union forces broke through Petersburg’s defense lines. Here kids can get their hands on uniforms to try on (just their size!), and be prompted to perform other activities throughout the park. Go big or go home with the opportunity to participate in a Civil War Adventure Camp – perfect for all ages, so parents can attend, too.

The National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly welcomes you to check out their staff-led roving Discovery Stations. The stations may be different in topic each time you encounter one. For example, the Animation Station allows you to generate a stop motion animated film with toys while the Rats in Space Station demonstrates gravity. Flight simulators are also on site along with the hundreds of aircraft and space exploration vehicles.

Perhaps the quintessential hands-on history opportunity in Virginia is¬†found at Colonial Williamsburg where the¬†entire Revolutionary City is interprets¬†18th century life.¬†Try brickmaking, try the daily chores on for size at the James Geddy House or the Powell House, and get caught in the¬†stocks for a photo opportunity. There are opportunities to see how things were made and done during the 18th century and sometimes you’ll be invited to join in; watch for your chance!

At which Virginia attraction have you had an unexpected hands-on learning opportunity? Share your story with a comment!

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