Whether it’s a day trip or a weekend adventure, try some of these 13 fun free family things to do in the Shenandoah Valley. Enjoy scenic beauty and outdoor activity. Experience agricultural heritage and delicious locally sourced food.
13 Fun Free Family Things to Do
According to Virginia Tourism Corporation, “top motivators for travel this year are disconnecting and taking a break from everyday life.” Let these 13 fun free family things inspire a break with the Valley’s outdoor lifestyle.
#1 – The Shenandoah Valley’s scenery and abundance of trails make a winning combination. Hands down, the best hiking resource is Appalachian Trail Conservatory. The staff knows all the area trails and can recommend the right one for your family. Open Thursday – Monday: https://www.facebook.com/ATHike.
#2 – While visiting ATC, take time and explore Jefferson Rock in Harpers Ferry. Named by Thomas Jefferson, this kid friendly hike has beautiful views of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.
#3 – Over in nearby Virginia’s western Loudoun County there’s the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, a 900 acre land preserve. Enjoy 10 miles of hiking trails and celebrate the re-opening of the center’s nature play area July 17.
More Free Family Things to Do in the Valley
#4 – Do you have a future environmental scientist in the family? Then check out Summer Science Seminars on Wednesday evenings at the Blandy Experimental Farm/Virginia State Arboretum in Boyce. Great for older kids, registration is required for this free program. And for younger kids, discover the Cicada Storywalk. Enjoy a good book and learn about periodical cicadas.
#5 – Green space is even available in VA Kids Trail cities. Winchester’s Museum of the Shenandoah Valley recently opened 90 public acres with more than three miles of trails through fields, woods, and wetlands.
Fun Free Family Things to Do at State Parks
If you live in Winchester, visit Handley Regional Library and pick up a Virginia State Parks Nature Backpack. Not only do these packs contain helpful goodies, there’s a pass for FREE PARKING. Don’t live near Handley? Odds are very good that your local library will have these backpacks as well. You’ll find four family-friendly state parks on the VA Kids Trail. With their diversity, you can plan a weekend family adventure around just these parks and their experiences.
#6 Stargazing at Sky Meadows State Park: Located off Route 17 in Delaplane, Sky Meadows is an International Dark Sky Park, so astronomy events are popular. Sky Meadows also has a Children’s Discovery Area and Sensory Trail. Use this link for a full calendar of park events. Many are free!
#7 An Amazing Wonder – Natural Bridge State Park: This Virginia State Park near Lexington combines natural beauty, history, and creativity. Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, a 215-foot gorge forms a “natural bridge.” This summer there’s Art in the Park with featured artist Ron Navroski. And like Sky Meadows, it is also an International Dark Sky Park and has a Children’s Discovery Area.
2 More State Parks on the VA Kids Trail
#8 Fish and float at Shenandoah River State Park: Launch your canoe or kayak at this Bentonville state park. Freshwater fishing (license required). And while there’s no designated swimming area, wading and floating are permitted.
#9 Seven Bends – the newest Virginia State Park on the Kids Trail: This day use only park is located just outside of Woodstock. It’s named after the “seven bends” of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Seven Bends has a car top boat launch, hiking trails, and picnic area. Find kid-friendly hiking with a park scavenger hunt.
Time Travel, Biking Fun, and Something New
#10 Travel back in time with the swinging bridge at Elizabeth Furnace: Located near Fort Valley, this recreation area shows the Valley’s heritage. Walk the Pig Iron and Charcoal Trail and view the historic cabin. And the swinging bridge is just plain fun. If you want to continue the free family outdoor adventure in the George Washington National Forest, then read about these nearby spectacular hikes.
#11 More time travel awaits with weekend outdoor ranger programs at Cedar Creek & Belle Grove. There is no fee for parking or the program. Kids ages 5-13 can also join the Junior Ranger Program.
#12 Experience biking in the Shenandoah Valley: There are trails for all ages. And for mountain bike enthusiasts, Rocktown Trails in Harrisonburg is a good choice for older kids.
#13 Give disc golf a go: Great for tweens and teens, try a new sport at Winchester’s Jim Barnett Park. Need a disc? Rent one for only $2. And the course is free.
Complete Your Family Adventure
Round out your visit with some of these Kids Trail stops. The Valley is Virginia’s “breadbasket.” Experience locally sourced food at the community store or PYO patch of West Oaks Farm Market in Winchester and Mackintosh Fruit Farm in Berryville. Make plans for a “farm to table” meal at Hunter’s Head Tavern in Upperville. A visit to a farmers market is always a great way for kids to learn about “real” food. So if you’re in Harrisonburg, be sure to visit Friendly City Co-Op.
Need a place to stay?
Country Inn & Suites Kernstown/Winchester, as well as the Holiday Inn Blue Ridge Shadows near Front Royal, are family friendly. Shenandoah River State Park has camp sites, while Harpers Ferry Adventure Center has both tent camping and cabins.
Looking to splurge a little? Try the historic George Washington Hotel in Winchester. There’s also the Bavarian Inn Resort near Harpers Ferry. Kids love the Infinity Pool. And check for special offers at Massanutten Resort.
Try these 13 fun free family things as day trips or part of weekend adventures. Take time to “disconnect to reconnect.” And remember, sometimes the best things in life really are free. Like the amazing memories you’ll make as a family. #sharewhatyoulove