Child picking blueberries for healthy eating

Raise your Food IQ with healthy eating on the Virginia Kids Trail. Tour family farms, pick your own produce and celebrate the harvest with special events. Visit farmers markets and enjoy locally sourced meals and healthy beverages. Even children’s museums can educate your family on wellness and healthy eating.

Healthy Eating on the Virginia Kids Trail

Healthy Eating on the Kids TrailDoes your child want to know where food comes from? Whether it’s touring a farm or enjoying a healthy meal, the Kids Trail will direct you to wellness stops throughout the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge. Start your tour by picking up our handy, pocket-sized trail map at Clearbrook Visitors Center on I-81, Throx Market Station in Winchester, or view the map online. Here are some suggested wellness stops on the trail.

Farms on the Kids Trail

The best way to learn about healthy eating and wellness is a farm or orchard visit. Children see farming in action and even pick their own produce. Some farms have animals for petting and feeding and many celebrate with harvest festivals. Ask about Community Support Agriculture (CSA) programs and how to get fresh produce to your family’s table. Mt. Crawford CreameryMt. Crawford Creamery: This working dairy farm, located south of Harrisonburg, offers guided and self-guided tours. Afternoons are the best time to visit Mt. Crawford Creamery so you can help feed the calves and watch the cows being milked. Take home their fresh milk and butter from the store on site.  And cross the parking lot for a scoop of ice cream made from Mt. Crawford Creamery products. Yum! West Oaks Farm Market: This 10th generation family farm offers a “full service” experience. West Oaks Farm Market has pick your own strawberry fields in the Spring and pumpkins in the Fall. Purchase local produce and products or grab a meal from the deli and have a  picnic under the pavilion. West Oaks just opened their farm combine slide in the playground and the Fall Corn Maze has three miles of paths. Lydia’s Fields at Wheatland: In western Loudoun you’ll find Lydia’s Fields at Wheatland. This is farming on a small scale with healthful, locally grown produce. Heirloom tomatoes, bok choy,  hakurei turnips and figs are some of the more “boutique” produce, but you’ll also find zucchini, strawberries, cucumbers and collard greens. Stop by and visit with owner Robert Schubert and learn more about his 10-acre paradise.

More Farm Fun on the Kids Trail

Combine agricultural education and outdoor play with two Loudoun County farms. Amazing Farm Fun at Ticonderoga has 500 acres of woodlands, gardens and recreation areas. Play in the pumpkin patch and then take a hayride. Enjoy a menagerie of sheep, goats, chickens and even peacocks. Fall Pumpkin Festival starts September 21st and runs through November. Picnic sites are available for rent and they’re wheelchair accessible. Pumpkins at Great Country FarmsIn western Loudoun County there’s Great Country Farms, just next door to Bluemont Vineyards. Pick your own produce, enjoy a five acre play area, and meet a barnyard of pot bellied pigs, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, goats and roosters. Try the “Roosteraunt” for grass fed beef along with vegan and vegetarian options. Apple Gala & Cider Fest run through September and then October kicks off Fall Pumpkin Harvest.

Awesome Orchards on the Trail

Mackintosh Fruit FarmThe Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge are synonymous with orchards. Winchester celebrates with the annual Shenandoah Valley Apple Harvest Festival September 21 & 22 at the Frederick County Fairgrounds. Entertainment, demonstrations, an apple themed area and even a pie eating contest make for family fun. If you really want to experience the Fall apple harvest, drive to nearby Berryville and Mackintosh Fruit Farm. The farm offers PYO in both their orchards and garden while their website keeps you up to date on what’s available. Visit October 5th for Apple Butter Day or take the family to a “farm to table” dinner October 12th. If you’re traveling south down the Blue Ridge, then head over to sister orchards Carter Mountain and Chiles Peach in Charlottesville and Crozet. Carter Mountain offers PYO apples while Chiles has both apples as well as pumpkins. You might even be able to catch some end of season produce and flowers from the gardens at Chiles. Be sure to check their website or social media for picking availability.

Fabulous Farmers Markets

Clark County Farmers MarketWhether  you’re looking for a seasonal Saturday market or something more permanent, you’ll find them on the Virginia Kids Trail. In addition to West Oaks Farm Market, check out Paige’s Pit Stop and the Clark County Farmers Market.  Located on Charlestown Pike (Route 9) in western Loudoun County near Waterford, Paige’s Pit Stop sells local produce and proteins, along with goat cheese and honey. The market will be on the Loudoun County Farm Tour October 21 and 22. They are also working on a new play area. And on Saturday mornings May – October, pick up fresh goodness at the Clarke County Farmers Market in the heart of Berryville. This market features vendors from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Learn About Your Food at the Museum

Apple Packing Shed Discovery Museum WinchesterHealthy eating and wellness aren’t limited to farms, orchards, and markets. For younger kids, children’s museums offer hands-on education along with creative play. Explore More Discovery Museum in Harrisonburg features CK’s Kitchen & Farmers Market. Here kids use their imaginations cooking in the kitchen, digging for vegetables and selecting produce at the farmers market. At the other end of the Kids Trail in Winchester, you’ll find Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. Kids play in the Pollinator Plaza (remember, honey comes from bees) and move “apples” around in the Packing Shed where they also learn about simple machines.

Eat Healthy on the Kids Trail

Picnics for Kids Trail WellnessAfter all these activities, you’re bound to be hungry. Finish off your Kids Trail Wellness adventure with healthy eating. In addition to the Roosteraunt at Great Country Farms and the deli at West Oaks Farm Market, try a visit to Throx Market Station in Winchester. Conveniently located off I-81, there’s local food and healthy beverages for breakfast, lunch and casual dinner.  And while you’re in Winchester, pick up some delicious Doc’s Tea at Harvest Moon. This micro-brewed tea is organic with no phony flavors or added sugar and caffeine-free. You can find it at Whole Foods stores as well as on Amazon. If you’re in Purcellville, make dinner reservations at Magnolia’s at the Mill. Chef Erik Fox-Nettnin is a great believer in locally sourced ingredients. And if he’s not too busy in the kitchen, he’s happy to come out and say hello.  Looking for an outdoor dining experience? After a day at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, stop next door and visit the resident food truck at kid-friendly Harpers Ferry Brewing. Or find a spot and make a picnic with your farmers market selections.  You’ll find more Kids Trail experiences on Go Blue Ridge Travel – and be sure to check out Taste of Blue Ridge to learn more about food journeys. Eat well and be well!