Virginia is a state overflowing with charm and history. If you’re planning a trip there soon, there are some can’t-miss attractions to add to your list. Here are the best places to visit in Virginia with the family.
The Absolute Best Places to Visit in Virginia
Going on a vacation is always exciting. It’s even more exciting when you share the experience with your family. And while there are tons of attractions that appeal to adults, Virginia is also home to a wealth of destinations that are suited for kids.
Here are the best places to visit in Virginia.
1. Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns sits just outside Luray and is one of the top things to do with kids in VA. These caverns boast awe-inspiring mud flows, columns, flowstones, stalagmites, and stalactites. There are even mirrored pools that add a mystical touch to the experience.
While you’re at it, take the family for a visit to the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, Toy Town Junction, the Garden Maze, and the Rope Adventure Park. Not only do you get to see a natural wonder, but you also get to learn and have fun.
2. George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Kids likely learn all about George Washington at school, but actually getting to visit his home is an entirely different experience altogether. George Washington’s Mount Vernon is a Palladian-style mansion that houses a historic area and museums. On site, visitors can take a stroll through the gardens, view the tombs, and watch demonstrations at the farm. You can even appreciate a scenic view of the Potomac River from the wharf.
3. Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is a long and narrow national park that surrounds a portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains. To its west, you’ll find the Shenandoah River, while the majestic hills of the Virginia Piedmont stand to the east.
Here, families can take a scenic drive through Skyline Drive, go backcountry camping, and even go hiking. The park is also home to several waterfalls that can take your breath away, including the Overall Run, Whiteoak Canyon, and South River Falls. With nature at the forefront, Shenandoah National Park is certainly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Virginia.
4. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the annex of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The center boasts many exhibits, with the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Boeing 367-80, and the Enola Gay as some of the most popular.
It also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including book signings, lectures, and sleepovers. Depending on when you visit, you might be able to catch their Halloween event, family day, or other events aimed at children. All of these and more make it one of the best kid-friendly attractions in VA.
5. Colonial Williamsburg
Billed as the largest living history museum in the world, Colonial Williamsburg offers all-around family fun. The historic area is dotted with several art museums and gardens. Families can learn about the past by observing demonstrations of historic trades, going on carriage rides, and observing archeological digs. It is one of the best kid-friendly vacations Virginia is known for.
6. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Located in Richmond, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts boasts numerous exhibits with comprehensive collections of African art, American art, Himalayan art, British art, and Fabergé. It remains, to this day, one of the largest art museums in the country.
The museum is also the location of the Margaret R. & Robert M. Freeman Library, which is open to the public on weekdays, as well as the Leslie Creek Theater, a performing arts venue that seats 500 patrons. If you want your kids to gain an appreciation for art, add this museum to your itinerary.
George Washington isn’t the only Founding Father with a place on this list. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is an equally interesting and educational stop. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features a museum, gardens, and a vineyard.
Additionally, visitors can hike the Saunders-Monticello Trail, do some hands-on learning at the Griffin Discovery Room, go on a mobile scavenger hunt, and even meet an actor-portrayed Thomas Jefferson. There’s also a café at the visitor center so you won’t go hungry.
8. Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Kids are always going to love aquariums, and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is one of the best ones. The aquarium is sectioned into different parts, such as the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium and the Norfolk Canyon Aquarium. Visitors are treated to a variety of marine life, including crabs, stingrays, sharks, turtles, and countless fish.
The aquarium also doubles as a marine science museum, with exhibits that will surely entertain and educate. If that’s not enough, you can even take a boat tour to watch dolphins in their natural habitat or take a detour to The Adventure Park. As a two-in-one experience, you won’t run out of fun things to do in Virginia.
9. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
It’s fun to learn about history and animals. But, sometimes, kids just need to be kids and let loose. If that’s the kind of family time you’re after, then Busch Gardens Williamsburg is undoubtedly one of the best places to take kids in VA.
This theme park offers no shortage of wild rides and exciting shows. There are activities for every age bracket, so you won’t need to worry about finding something for your 5-year-old and your 12-year-old. And if you still want to mix in some learning, there’s also a variety of animals right in the park.
10. Natural Bridge State Park
When it comes to the best places in Virginia to visit, it’s hard to leave out Natural Bridge State Park. The park derives its name from the geological formation that forms a natural arch about 215 feet high. The bridge itself is a recognized historic landmark both at the state and national levels.
As for the park, families can hike one of the several trails or spend time at the Children’s Discovery Area. Cedar Creek is also home to sunfish, catfish, and smallmouth bass, though only kids aged 15 and under can go fishing.
To Virginia and Beyond
When in Virginia, it’s hard to just pick one or two activities to do. It’s a gorgeous state filled with natural attractions, historic landmarks, and fun destinations. If you want to know the best places to visit in Virginia, start with this list.