Did you know there are over 40 Virginia State Parks? Enjoy family adventure at some of our favorites. And we’ve even included an Interstate Park – only one of two in the nation!
Family Adventure at Virginia State Parks
Pick your family adventure at one of these 9 Virginia State Parks. There are hiking trails, tranquil lakes, campsites and cabins. You’ll also find living history programs, prehistoric fossils and even fairy stones! Spend a day, a weekend, or a week at your favorite place. And before you go, stop by your local library and check out a Virginia State Park backpack. It’s filled with field guides, nets, magnifying glasses and a pass for free admission to any Virginia State Park.
Virginia State Parks on the Kids Trail
Natural Bridge State Park: Located off I-81 near Lexington, the showcase is, of course, Natural Bridge. Thomas Jefferson purchased the bridge and the surrounding 157 acres in 1774. He paid the modern day equivalent of just $200! It was privately owned until transferred to public ownership. Natural Bridge was dedicated as Virginia’s 37th park in 2016. With no campsites or cabins, this is a day use only park.
Seven Bends State Park: Another day use park is this newest Virginia gem located near Woodstock. Access the North Fork of the Shenandoah River via two hand-carry boat launches. Or enjoy a two-mile hike and take in the views of the “seven bends” of the Shenandoah River. Be sure to print out the scavenger and geo-caching hunts before you hit the trails.
More State Parks on the Kids Trail
Shenandoah River State Park: On the South Fork between Front Royal and Luray, this park boasts five miles of shoreline. And while there is no designed swimming area, wading and floating are permitted. A large riverside picnic area, trails, river access, and car-top boat launch make this a popular family destination. Campsites and cabins are available.
Sky Meadows State Park: In the northern part of Fauquier County is Sky Meadows, an International Dark Sky Park. Grab your telescope and enjoy one of the family friendly astronomy programs. There are also a Children’s Discovery Area and Sensory Explorers Trail. Living history programs help visitors connect to the past. And horse enthusiasts can bring their mounts and saddle up for 10 miles of bridle trails.
Find Fossil Adventure at these VA Parks
Westmoreland State Park: Overlooking Northern Neck’s Potomac River, Westmoreland is the home of amazing prehistoric fossils. While shark’s teeth are the most common, hunters have also discovered whale teeth and vertebrae, dolphin teeth, and coprolites – AKA fossilized poop! Westmoreland is also home to American bald eagles, ospreys, kingfishers, great blue herons, common terns, green herons and gulls, as well as wintering waterfowl.
Fairy Stone State Park: Just minutes off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Patrick County is the home of Fairy Stone State Park. The name says it all. They are stone “crosses” composed of iron, aluminum and silicate and are found in only a few places around the globe. Learn the legend behind the naturally occurring stone cross formations. Then travel to a special location to search for your own Staurolite crystal or “fairy stone.”
Family Waterfront Adventure
Smith Mountain Lake State Park: Located between Lynchburg and Roanoke, this is the second largest freshwater lake in Virginia. There are two public beaches and plenty of fishing spots. Seasonal boat rentals include canoes, kayaks, hydro bikes, paddle boats, pontoon boats, ski boats and jet skis. Campsites and cabins are available.
Hungry Mother State Park: This is one of the original six Virginia State Parks. This Southwest park has beautiful woodlands and a placid 108-acre lake in the heart of the mountains. In the 1930’s, the Civilian Conservation Corps developed the park, damming the creek and forming the lake. Canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and paddle boats are available to rent during the summer. Campsites and cabins are available.
First Landing State Park: Beach goers love family adventure here. It’s the most visited State Park and an oasis in urban Virginia Beach. Step back to 1607 with the Chesapeake Bay Center’s historical and educational exhibits. Then enjoy 1.5 miles of sandy shoreline. Twenty miles of trails take you past bald cypress swamps, lagoons and maritime forest. Cabins, yurts, and camping available.
One More Family Adventure for the Road
Remember that Interstate Park mentioned earlier? Breaks Interstate Park in the heart of Appalachia straddles Virginia and Kentucky. Only one of two interstate parks found in the US, Breaks features the “Grand Canyon of the South”. The Russell Fork River carved the largest canyon east of the Mississippi. Rent a mountain bike and hit the trails or sign up for horseback riding. Pedal boats, kayaks and canoes are available seasonally on beautiful Laurel Lake.