Bring the family to Northern Virginia for a trip that is packed with activities that both children and adults alike will enjoy. From museums and monuments to parks and farms, this vacation will sneak in some great history lessons along with recreation opportunities and culinary treats your whole family will love.
Day 1: Prince William County
Begin your adventure at the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk exploring the ¾-mile boardwalk that traverses Neabsco Creek, allowing you access to wetlands where the tall grasses and marsh filter pollution from the river and provide a rich habitat for great blue herons, wood ducks, mallards, sparrow and red-winged blackbirds, just to name a few of the winged wildlife known to populate the area. The walkway is part of the Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail, which was established by Congress in 1983 designating an 800-mile trail network stretching from the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania to the Potomac River, winding through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. The boardwalk is also part of Neabsco Regional Park which is ADA compliant too!
After, grab lunch at the Lazy Pig BBQ and spend the afternoon at Prince William Forest Park. This National Park not only offers fishing, hiking and camping, but a rich history as some of the cabins on site were used as a spy training camp during World War I & II.
Visit Stonebridge Potomac Town Center for a plethora of dining options, stop into Sweet Society candy shop for a sweet after dinner treat and enjoy the center’s outdoor concert series, happening on select summer nights.
Day 2: Fairfax County and City of Alexandria
Start the morning bright and early in Fairfax County at the home of America’s first President, George Washington. During your visit to Mount Vernon, explore the mansion and restored gardens then spend time in the interactive Education Center or with the reenactors presenting 18th century demonstrations throughout the day. Don’t miss the “Be Washington” game that puts you in the boots of Washington himself as he made crucial decisions during various battles of the Revolutionary War. If time permits, take the shuttle to the nearby George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill, a working reconstruction of two of the General’s most profitable business endeavors.
Dig into the past at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center in historic Old Town Alexandria, a nationally designated historic district founded in 1749. View the museum’s most recent exhibit “Preserving Alexandria’s Maritime Heritage,” featuring a 1:12 scale model of the Hotel Indigo Site ship and an artifact case showing Alexandria’s links to the world. The exhibit tells the story of the vessel from excavation to preservation and contextualizes Alexandria’s role within the broader 18th century maritime world.
Grab takeout at one of Old Town’s many kid-friendly restaurants, many located in historic buildings. Bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America, is lined with hundreds of independent shops and chef-driven restaurants to enjoy. After picking up to-go delights, enjoy some fresh air with a picnic in one of Alexandria’s parks. After dinner, if the kids are ready for a thrill, take them on a lantern-led outdoor ghost tour through Old Town with Alexandria Colonial Tours.
Day 3: Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties
If your child is looking to be an agent one day, give them a head start with a visit to the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum and Visitors Center where kids can become DEA Junior Special Agents (Currently closed for renovations. Look for an exciting new exhibit in early 2021). After, get outside and explore places like Long Branch Nature Center and Long Bridge Park. Need an energy boost before afternoon activities? Savor a King Kong sundae fit for a dozen people at Sugar Factory or try ice cream that’s flash frozen before your eyes at Nicecream in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington.
Both young and old will be inspired at Fairfax County’s Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This free museum adjacent to Dulles International Airport gets you up close and personal with major air and space craft, including the iconic Space Shuttle Discovery, the record-breaking Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, and a Concorde airliner. If open while you’re there, head up to the observation tower to watch the planes landing at the nearby airport or try one of the flight simulators.
After an afternoon filled with aviation history, continue to your final destination— Loudoun County. Challenge the whole family to a game at TopGolf. This entertainment center offers a unique twist on the classic game as players shoot microchipped balls onto various targets.
Enjoy dinner at TopGolf or head to other local, family favorites including Ford’s Fish Shack for seafood lovers or The Conche, a chocolate-themed restaurant featuring chocolate-infused sweet and savory cuisine.
Day 4: Loudoun County
Finish your getaway with a morning at Great Country Farms. This pick-your-own family operation immerses visitors in farm life and Loudoun’s rich agricultural history. Visit the animals at the petting zoo, try some catch-and-release fishing, take a wagon ride and grab fresh produce, homemade jams or delicious cider donuts from the country store for your trip home.