Earlier this summer, my fourteen year old son and I took a mother-son trip to Virginia to explore the Shenandoah Valley as part of the state’s “Great Outdoors” month. We certainly made the most of our time outdoors, exploring many of the attractions in this area and enjoying every minute. Here are his choices for the top five things kids will love to do in the Shenandoah Valley.The Shenandoah Valley is a beautiful part of the United States located just outside Washington, D.C. The area is very lush, with lots of trees, mountains, and rivers. Kids who like to spend time exploring, hiking, or having fun filled adventures will love spending time here.
*We were guests of the Virginia Tourism office for the purposes of this trip. This post 100% reflects our thoughts and opinions.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is mainly meant for adults, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have things for kids to do. The main room in the museum goes over the history of the Shenandoah Valley, and contains not only interactive technology to trick kids into learning, but also life size exhibits and models to give people the feel of being in that time period. When my mom and I visited, there was a visiting art exhibit with different styles of art that featured animals. My personal favorite was a drawing of a robin standing on children’s blocks that spelled “early”, just like the old saying ‘the early bird gets the worm’.
Outside the main building, you could visit one of the original owner’s estates (Glen Burnie House). It had a graveyard that dated back to the Civil War. While it might not be as great for younger kids, older kids and adults would find an interest. I thought it was interesting that one of the graves belonged to a War of 1812 veteran. The main estate has models and photographs that tell the history of the home. In the back of the house are some koi ponds and an Asian-style garden. Kids will be able to enjoy the museum as long as they have time to engage in the interactive exhibits and run around outside at the estate and its gardens.
We’ve been to caverns before, but there’s nothing quite like a visit to Luray Caverns. It’s impossible not to appreciate the natural beauty of a structure that has been growing for millions of years. The caverns also have an organ that can be played by sending a vibration through a stalactite or stalagmite whose sound matches that note. But, the caverns aren’t the only thing to do. There are shops to visit afterwards, and even a garden maze where friends and families can race to collect stamps at different stations for clues before exiting the maze.
Canoeing on the Shenandoah River
Canoeing on the Shenandoah River is interesting, but there is only so much you can do. Kids will enjoy going over the rapids along the way. Not only is this a great exercise, but it also forces your family to communicate and work together. Unfortunately, when my mom and I set out to canoe, she had just hurt her shoulder and we were unable to do the full course. But at least we still had fun and got to work together!
Staying at the Massanutten Resort
The Massanutten Resort is entertaining for children in many ways. The resort is massive and has an enormous waterpark with both indoor and outdoor pools and waterslides. The other side of the property has all the adventure park stuff. There’s one main zip line, a tube slide, an adventure climbing course, and climbing wall. It also has great restaurants (two words: skillet s’mores) and awesome views from the top of the ski lift. In the summer, there are biking courses for intense bikers and ski hills in the winter.
Visiting Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is a treasure filled with amazing views, great trails, and bears. My mom and I were lucky enough to see one of the elusive black bears when we saw another car stopped on the other side of the road. We looked into the woods, and we saw a black bear climbing a hill. It really isn’t something you would expect to see. It’s also one of the reasons we decided not to go too far off on any of the trails since we weren’t well prepared.
We stated one night at the Skyline Resort which is at the highest point on Skyland Drive. There’s a restaurant there that serves special dishes unique to the Shenandoah Valley. The meals were local food, and blackberries were a lot more common that anywhere I had ever been before. So, for my dessert I had the blackberry ice cream pie which I thought was delicious. Afterwards, we saw a spectacular sunset view that was the perfect ending to our trip.
Looking for more things to do in the area? Here’s 8 great things to do in Charlottesville which is just down the road.