Camping can be about getting away from it all, but it can also be about thrifty travel. If you save money on your accommodation, that savings can then be applied to nearby attractions and dining. Give it a try at one of these campgrounds that have great fun nearby.
Williamsburg KOA was built for family fun with many on-site special events and tons of fun nearby, too. The campground can accommodate RVs and campers of all sizes, but boast deluxe cabins with linens provided, too.
Ed Allen’s Campground and Cottages in Lanexa rests along the shores of Chickahominy Lake. It’s 85 acres of hardwoods, which equals stunning foliage. The lake sunsets rival the best you’ve seen anywhere, and the fishing is good, too.
One of Virginia’s most beautiful seasons is upon us, and you must get out and enjoy the view. Take your scenic drive, but also incorporate one or two of these 10 free things to do this fall. Your weekends are going to be amazing!
1. What a destination Waterford, Virginia is. Founded in 1733, the entire village is a National Historic Landmark and a majority of the buildings predating 1840 are still in use today. October 4-6 is the 70th Annual Waterford Homes Tour & Craft Exhibit. This should be a bucket list item for those who enjoy a walk through history. There are plenty of fun activities for kids, traditional music and dance, Colonial militia encampments, a fife and drum corps, and much more. ** Note: We’ve learned that there IS a fee for this event: $16 in advance; $20 at the gate. In light of that, an additional freebie!
1B. The Callands Festival in Callands, Virginia was named a Local Legacy of American Folk Life and Culture by the Library of Congress in 2000. Join in the fun with reenactors representative of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, musicians, artisans, and guided tours of the historic buildings. Traditional foods will be available, as will beautifully handcrafted items. It’s happening October 5!
2. The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy marks the birthplace, early life and emancipation of educator, esteemed orator and presidential advisor, Booker T. Washington. September 21 is a special event, Harvest Time of 1863, which will portray tobacco plantation life during the harvest. Interpretive programs, craft demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides and fun for the children are all included in this free event.
Fall Farm Fest on the Blue Ridge Parkway
3. Visit Westmoreland Berry Farm in Colonial Beach. Acres of Rappahannock River frontage are perfect for picnics and bird watching. The kids will enjoy a play area just for them, as well as the antics of the skywalking goats. Give the goats a nibble from the pulley feeder system; they love it! Westmoreland is a pick-your-own farm offering fall raspberries and pumpkins. Hitch a ride on the hay wagon to head to the fields. The only fee incurred at the farm is the rate for pick-your-own products or any cafe purchases you choose to make.
4. A beautiful drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway delivers you to the Fall Farm Fest at Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Pioneer Farm on September 15. The fun begins at 10 a.m. with mountain crafts workshops and live music.
5. Day at the Point is a free fall festival now in its 16th year. Held October 5 in Lynchburg at Point of Honor, an 1815 Federal style mansion, the festivities include living history, kids games and activities, craft vendors, period music, candle making, beekeeping, blacksmithing, open hearth cooking, farm animals, and free tours of the 1815 historic home. Delicious food will be available for purchase, including Brunswick stew, barbecue, hot dogs, and homemade baked goods. Green thumbs may want to purchase special Point of Honor bulbs ready for fall planting.
Richmond Folk Festival
6. It’s rare to find a free three-day music festival, but Richmond has one. Check out the Richmond Folk FestivalOctober 11-13. Seven stages will host more than 30 music and dance groups – ballet, reggae, bluegrass, Vietnamese, Scissors Dance, polka, salsa, gospel, Cajun … the list goes on. And there’s a place for kids with make-and-take crafts and special performers.
7. How about a hayride? The 60-acre Bluebird Gap Farm in Hampton offers the Bluebird Country Hayride once a month at noon. For fall, head that way on September 14, October 12 or November 9. It’s a leisurely ride around the farm, the pond, through the woods and back again. Before or after your hayride, find a picnic area to enjoy lunch, walk the nature trail or let the kids loose at the playground. 150 domestic and wild animals are on site; bring your quarters to feed farm animals. Hayride is weather dependent.
Bluebird Gap Farm
8. Burke’s Garden is often referred to as God’s Thumbprint thanks to its aerial appearance – a giant thumbprint on the landscape of southwest Virginia. Visit this beautiful mountaintop valley during the Burke’s Garden Fall Festival on September 28, an annual event dating to 1987. “Handmade, homegrown and hands-on” is the feel of this festival that reflects farm living in the Heart of Appalachia.
10. Check out the two-day Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour through Virginia’s beautiful Culpeper County on October 5 and 6. Take your time touring through 18 farms and farm related businesses to get involved with some hands-on activities and demonstrations, as well as mingle with llamas, horses, cattle, and buffalo. Expect to see both traditional and unique farm experiences during this free weekend that really does have something for everyone – even wine and moonshine!
The kids are back in school and already longing for a break. What to do? Head to one of these golden opportunities we call fall festivals, of course!
In no particular order, here are 15 of Virginia’s best fall festivals for families. Get out your calendar and let’s go.
Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon
1. October 26-27 – Don’t miss the Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon for wagon rides, a straw bale maze, corn husk doll demonstrations, apple roasting, and plenty more 18th century shenanigans. Festival is included with Mount Vernon admission: Adults $15; children 6 to 11 $7 and children 5 and under are free. Buy Now
If you think you’d like a riverboat ride with that, the Potomac River sightseeing cruises are half price during this time, too! Purchase your tickets through the Potomac Riverboat Company and admission to Mount Vernon (and the festival) is included!
2. October 5 – The AT&T Virginia Children’s Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Norfolk, and you should be part of the fun! Geared completely toward kids ages 10 and younger, this festival includes more than 100 activities, storytelling, lots of hands-on fun, costumed characters, and fun shows. Food vendors are on hand. $3 per person.
Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival
3. Sundays September 21 – November 3 – Head to Fredericksburg for the Belvedere Plantation Harvest Festival, featuring acres of pick-your-own pumpkins, hay rides, a maize maze, zip lines for little ones, a jumping pillow, pig races, barnyard animals and more. Fresh cider, pies, local honey and other wares are available, too. Children under two are free. Friday nights: $12/person. Weekends: $17/person. All-You-Can-Carry Pumpkins: $29.99 Buy Now
4. September 21 – If you love apples, you’re going to love the Apple Butter Celebration in Shenandoah National Park. From hot pots of boiling apples and apple foods to apple crafts, this is your place to be. Both you and the kids will enjoy live music, cloggers, face painting (yes, even you!), crafts and pony rides (okay, maybe not you). The event is free, but Skyline Drive access fee is $15 per vehicle.
New Town Art Festival
5. September 21 – The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville is hosting the Reptile Day Family Festival that will include more than 200 snakes and other reptiles. It’s the perfect place for kids who like to see and learn about cobras, rattlesnakes, alligators and other cool critters. $5/adult and $3/child.
6. September 28 – Have a budding artist in your midst? Head to the New Town Art Festival in Williamsburg. $10 will get you the 4×4 creative space and sidewalk chalk, too! Prizes will be awarded for the theme “Take Flight.” It’s a great place to browse accomplished artists’ creations as well as create your own as an individual or family.
7. October 10-13 – The Suffolk Peanut Festival is celebrating its 36th anniversary this year and it promises to be bigger and better than ever. Check out the demolition derby and tractor pulls in addition to the amusement rides, fireworks and, of course, peanuts. Free admission; $10 parking.
Harrisonburg International Festival
8. September 28 – Give your kids a sense of appreciation for diversity when you attend the Harrisonburg International Festival together. Harrisonburg is comprised of many ethnic groups, bringing their traditions to you through dance, culinary arts, language and hand-crafted treasures. Taste foods from Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Thailand, Europe, Puerto Rico, and Central America, while performing arts are representative of the Aztec, Filipino, Indian, Irish, Chinese, and Kurdish communities. Free admission; plenty of food and crafts available for purchase.
9. October 11-13 – The Richmond Folk Festival brings more than 30 diverse performing groups to seven stages over the course of three days. Check out the family area that boasts special characters and performers of its own, not to mention unique pirate-themed craft stations. Make-and-take an eye patch, a pirate hat, a telescope, a pirate flag, and maps. Free admission.
Bland County Festival of Leaves
10. October 11-13 – Have a knight or princess in your house rather than a pirate? If so, go to Newport News for the Harvest Faire. Medieval-themed family fun awaits! Visit the 15th century encampment, witness combat between knights, watch archers master their mark, and participate in pumpkin tossing and other period games. Feel free to come in costume! $15/adult Saturday, $10/adult Sunday or $20/adult for the whole weekend. Kids 6 to 12 are $10 for the weekend or $5/day. Buy Now to save on admission. Camping available.
11. October 19 – The Harvest Festival in the Village of Aldie was Loudoun County’s Tourism Event of the Year in 2010 and it’s a great event for families. Historic Aldie Mill is the gorgeous backdrop for face painting, moon bounces, pony rides, blacksmith demonstrations, and the highly anticipated Firequacker Duck Race. Civil War reenactors from the 17th Mississippi Regiment will be on hand, and you can also look forward to grinding demonstrations inside the mill. This is a free event with an optional $5 parking donation recommended.
12. October 12-13 – The Bland County Festival of Leaves is a free event that spreads across the fairgrounds and Court House lawn in Bland. It’s everything you’d expect a fall festival to be – great food, beautiful crafts, hayrides, entertainment, and many opportunities for kids to have a great time.
13. October 12-13 – Arborfest is the annual fall festival of the State Arboretum of Virginia in Boyce. The grounds will be absolutely stunning (photo op!), but a cool draw or two for the kids? Make their own scarecrow ($5) and enjoy hay rides. For you? Nearly 40 vendors will be on hand with native plants for sale, as well as home and garden decor. Free guided tours. Admission is $10/vehicle.
14. October 19 – Head to another beautiful arboretum – the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at James Madison University – for the Children’s Harvest Festival in Harrisonburg. Built for kids, the entertainment includes dance exhibitions and lessons, crafts, singers, instrument performances and lessons, story time, trail tours, seed collection activities, free horse-drawn wagon rides and more!
Ashland Train Day
15. November 2 – Ashland Train Day is a railroad destination event for the whole family. Expect railroad music and songs, a miniature children’s train ride, games, tons of model trails from LEGO to wooden and electric, model train racing, a moon bounce, and a whole lot more. Feel free to wear your engineer bibs and a bandana! This is a free event.
Fall is one of the most – if not THE most – beautiful seasons in Virginia. The air turns cool and the leaves turn vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow. The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains are a stunning tapestry of color, beckoning weary souls to come and relax.
Don’t miss out on your chance to steal away. Accommodations book quickly and now’s your chance.
Blue Ridge Highlands
The Main Street Inn in Blacksburg is offering 10% off a Tuesday night stay. If you can escape mid-week, this is a beautiful location and a savings for your wallet. Thirty-two guest suites include modern amenities while downtown Blacksburg’s dining, shopping and theater are just a stroll away. Offer valid through October.
Head to Stephens City where you can “find peace in the valley (Shenandoah Valley, that is)” during the week. Travel to The Inn at Vaucluse Spring any Sunday through Thursday and receive 20% off your room rate. Spin that savings into a date when you also book the Dinner with the Chef on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night. Offer valid through December 19.
Book the Natural Bridge Fall Escape for a stay between September 2 and November 30 and save $80. The deal is one night for two at the Natural Bridge Hotel with breakfast and the Natural Bridge attraction passes included for $99. Or a family of four starts at just $149 per night. Book Now
Clarksville is Virginia’s only lakeside town and your stay at Cooper’s Landing Inn is reduced by 50% if you stay on a Wednesday or Thursday night. Add to that dinner at Traveler’s Tavern, breakfast and the beautiful sunrise of Kerr Lake and you have one really beautiful getaway. Offer valid through December 23.
How about a little fun on the farm? Stay at Comfort Suites Leesburg and your family will enjoy a studio suite, four tickets to Great Country Farms and guest passes to Bluemont Vineyards. While at Great Country Farms, you’ll receive four feed cups for the barnyard animals, a family-sized bag of kettle corn and four slushies. Wine tasting for the adults is included with the farm passes at Bluemont Vineyards. Offer valid through November 23.
Enjoy camping? Head to Williamsburg KOA sometime between September 26 and October 31 to get your Thursday night free when you book a Friday and Saturday night. Great events are planned every weekend, and this deal includes cabins! Book Now
These 10 Virginia attractions meet your kids on their level, making history fun and enjoyable.
Live like it’s 1607 when you visit Jamestown Settlement, America’s first permanent English colony, located in Williamsburg. The replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia in 1607 – the Godspeed, Discovery and Susan Constant – are on-site and ready for you to board! Other highlights include the colonial fort and galleries depicting the Powhatan, English and African cultures of the time. $16/adult and $7.50/ student aged 6 to 12. Buy Tickets
Write with quill pens, try on clothes, learn to weave and more at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville. The Griffin Discovery Room in the Smith Education Center is all hands-on for ages 6 to 12. In addition, family friendly tours are available through September 2, plus the first three weekends in October. They’re 35 mintues long and offer a hands-on opportunity in each room. $24/adult; $16/student aged 12 to 18; $8/student 6 to 11. Buy Tickets
At the Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton, children can toy with flight controls, consider wing walking, ride in a World War II bomber and become an air traffic controller. The Apollo 12 Command Capsule is on display along with historic planes, a Mars meteorite and a moon rock. $11.50/adult; $9.50 children 3 to 18. Buy Tickets
Take a tour of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s Estate and Gardens by way of the Kids’ Adventure Map, a sleuth’s tool to solve nine puzzles (free with each child admission). Children aged 3 to 8 will enjoy Hands-on History, a room dedicated to creative play with 18th century clothing and more. The paddock pen is a popular place for kids, too. Meet the Ossabaw Island hogs there. $17/adult; $8/student aged 6 to 11. Buy Tickets
More than 500 years of seafaring adventure awaits at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News. Kids love the cool figureheads and miniature ship models, and they can watch the conservation of real artifacts from the Civil War’s ironclad USS Monitor, brought to the surface from its watery grave in the Atlantic Ocean. The collection at The Mariners’ Museum is more than 35,000 pieces strong. $12/adult; $10 ages 13 to 18; $7 ages 6 to 12.
The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton features life on five different farms — German, Scots-Irish, English, American, and the newest – West African. Meet the farm animals and homesteaders living life in their Old World tradition just as they would have prior to coming to America. $10/adult; $9/student aged 13 through 18; $6 per child aged 6 to 12.
Rent a costume and blend into 18th century Colonial Williamsburg, a 301-acre historic area comprised of orginal and reconstructed buildings, homes and shops. Children and adults can interact with a variety of characters in an informal, intimate setting all day long, plus fill up on 18th-century style meals at one of four taverns. $41.95/adult; $20.95/child; under age 6 is free (online rates). Buy Tickets
The National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly features several flight simulators as well as an observation tower to watch flights come in and out of Washington Dulles International Airport. Above and beyond the simulations and the thrill of huge birds coming in for a landing is the collection of planes and space objects.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay” – This bomber dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat – Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945.
Lockheed Vega 5B – Dubbed “Little Red Bus” but its one-time owner (Amelia Earhart), this plane sent Earhart soaring into the history books as the first woman to fly nonstop and alone across the Atlantic Ocean (May 20-21, 1932).
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird – To cap off its 24 years of active U.S. Air Force service, this jet-propelled aircraft set a speed record on March 6, 1990 during its last flight – LA to DC in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
Space Shuttle Discovery – A vehicle of firsts, Discovery was flown by the first African-American, the first female spacecraft pilot, and ushered the first non-astronaut to space. Discovery was also the longest-serving orbiter with 39 flights, spending 365 days in space.
Civil War Adventure Camp at Pamplin Historical Park
Called one of “Virginia’s Best Places to Visit” by the Travel Channel, Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg is your destination to live the life of a Civil War soldier. Sign up for Civil War Adventure Camp to don the clothes and experience camp life, but be prepared to leave the iPods and other technologies behind. Today’s luxuries are unknown and unwelcome in the 1800s. General Admission is $12/adult and $7/student aged 6 to 12. Camp has additional fees; book now.
In Danville, find the American Armoured Foundation, Inc., also affectionately known as The Tank Museum. The most extensive collection of tank and cavalry artifacts in the world resides here. Dating from 1509 to present day with all nations represented, the Museum has more than 100 tanks and artillery pieces, 150 mid size weapons, 1500+ tank and cavalry uniforms, and 1300 pieces of headgear, pins, patches, and other military memorabilia. Spend plenty of time acquainting yourself with these rare pieces. $10/adult; $9.50/student aged 5 to 12.
Looking for a bigger list? We’ve got that. Check out Virginia’s Cool Places for Kids for even more inspiration.