A family vacation is all about memory-making, right? The old saying goes, “The family that plays together stays together,” but I’ll insert a word for the purpose of this vacation inspiration: Dirty. The family that plays dirty together stays together.
ATV: ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLE or AWESOME TEENAGE VACATION?
Many families know that ATVing is dirty, family fun, but many more are missing out on that same fun. We’ll have no more of that. Plot your route for Virginia’s Spearhead Trails in Southwest Virginia. There are outfitters awaiting your arrival with plenty of gear available for rent.
Accommodations for the Mountain View Trail System in Saint Paul:
- Copperhead Road Rentals, Saint Paul
- Mountain View Lodge, Saint Paul
- St. Paul Suites & Cottages, Saint Paul
- Ridge Runner Campground, Saint Paul
- Bruce Funk RV Park, Coeburn
- Riverside Campground, Dungannon
- Bark Camp Recreation Area Camping, Dungannon
- Clinch River Group Retreats, Dungannon
- More Options
ARCHAEOLOGY: CAN YA DIG IT?
Wear your old sneaks to take part in an archaeological dig at Alexandria Archaeology Museum in Alexandria. You won’t be able to take your find, but you can certainly take a #selfie with it. Family Dig Days at Shuter’s Hill are offered monthly. The event includes an intro and tour of the site before everyone gathers around the sifters to see what recently excavated dirt holds. Reservations are required; $5 per person.
— BREAKING NEWS —
Did you hear the recent developments out of Historic Jamestowne? Four graves believed to belong to The Reverend Robert Hunt, Captain Gabriel Archer, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, and Captain William West have been unearthed at the site of the Anglican Church chancel, a space set aside for clergy, government officials, and the altar table during services.
The archaeological work at Historic Jamestowne is too important to allow just anyone to participate, but there are opportunities to go behind the scenes and “In the Trenches” with Dr. William Kelso, and for children to get their hands on found pieces. The Ed Shed just opened this spring and offers kids interactive discovery with real artifacts. Sift your way through the dirt to see what awaits!
Overview of the chancel burial excavations. Archaeologists (from left to right) Mary Anna Richardson, Danny Schmidt, David Givens, Dan Smith, Don Warmke, Jamie May, Dan Gamble, and Dr. William Kelso. Photo by Michael Lavin, Courtesy of Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (Preservation Virginia)
BECOME ONE WITH THE MUD
The Chincoteague Bay Field Station (formerly the Marine Science Consortium) on Wallops Island is a destination for families who want to explore nature together. Special programs are offered at various times of the year, from family camps to “Daddy & Me” weekends, and summer camps just for the kids. Family Day Programs allow kids and their parents to get hands-on with marine life and their habitats.
Marsh mud might be great for your skin, too.
Chincoteague Bay Field Station Family Day Program
VIRGINIA STATE PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST (BUT YOU CAN GET DIRTY THERE, TOO)
Let’s face it, camping can get to be a little grimy. Not everyone is cut out for it. However, for those who rather enjoy the authenticity of nature, Virginia State Parks are a definite “must consider” for your next outing. Not only are many of the camp sites top-notch, but the programming takes family fun to another level. For example …
- Go on a GPS Adventure at Westmoreland
- Explore False Cape and Back Bay from First Landing with a guide
- Find out what inhabits the water at Bear Creek Lake
- Learn to crab at Belle Isle or Kiptopeke
- Become a Junior Naturalist at Hungry Mother
- “Canorkel” on the Clinch River at Natural Tunnel
Bear Creek Lake State Park
LACE ‘EM UP AND RUN DIRTY
Color runs, mud runs, warrior challenges … they’re all the rage these days. Seek out a family-friendly dirty run to make lasting memories (and maybe sweep the medals)!
- Helgamite Hustle Mud Run in Axton (Aug 8)
- VHCC Color X-treme 5K Run in Abingdon (Aug 15)
- Blue Ridge Mountain Mudurance in Luray (Sept 26)
- A-Maize-ing 5K Race in Somerset (Oct 3)
- List of Races
CLIMB A TREE TOGETHER
I know, I know. This sounds basic, right? But hold on. There’s this guy in Meadows of Dan – Bob Wray – who will teach you how to climb a tree. Go out with him for half of a day (he’ll only take two at a time and kids must be eight years or older) and literally “learn the ropes” of the art of tree-climbing.
Bob Wray, Blue Ridge Tree Climbing, LLC
ZIP THE DAY AWAY ON A ZIP LINE
New Virginia zip line opportunities are springing up left and right. From the mountains all the way to the coast and points in between, you can find a zip line and/or ropes course to host your family challenge. They’re perfect settings for highly competitive broods.
Salamander Resort Tree Top Zip Tours
ALSO SEE: 17 Cool Fall Destinations for Kids
Arrange for your family of eight or more (and ages eight or older) to take a guided caving expedition with Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle. Camp sites are available if you’d like to stay overnight and perhaps make a weekend of it. There are plenty of activities available.
THERE’S ALWAYS HIKING AND BIKING
Hundreds of miles (maybe thousands of miles) of trails for hikers and bikers course across Virginia’s terrain. You’ll find epic mountain biking, biking for all abilities, and of course, favorite hikes on well-worn paths. Take in a piece of the Appalachian Trail just to say you did. And you did it together.
Hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Be amazing for your kids. Be unforgettable.
Tell us how you like to make memories with your children in Virginia by leaving a kind comment.