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Northern Virginia is a treasure trove of family-friendly activities, especially during the summer. Whether you’re a local or visiting, the region offers a variety of fun, educational, and adventurous experiences that cater to all ages. Here’s a list of the top 10 summer family activities to make your Northern Virginia summer unforgettable.

National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

1. Visiting the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

This Smithsonian museum in Chantilly is a must-visit for families. The Udvar-Hazy Center houses numerous aircraft and space artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery. Kids can engage in interactive exhibits and even try their hand at flight simulators. The museum offers free admission, making it an affordable and educational outing.

More Information Here: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | National Air and Space Museum (si.edu)

shenandoah national park

2. Exploring the Shenandoah National Park

A short drive from Northern Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is perfect for a day trip. Families can hike the park’s numerous trails, enjoy stunning vistas, and perhaps even spot some wildlife. Skyline Drive offers spectacular views and several picnic spots, making it ideal for a relaxing family outing.

More information Here: Shenandoah National Park

3. Enjoying Water Fun at Great Waves Waterpark

Great Waves Waterpark in Alexandria is a summer favorite. With its wave pool, water slides, and dedicated splash areas for younger children, it promises a day of fun in the sun. The park also features mini-golf and batting cages, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

More Information: Great Waves Waterpark

kayaking on the potomac in DC

4. Kayaking on the Potomac River

For families who love water sports, kayaking on the Potomac River is a must. Numerous rental locations along the river, such as Key Bridge Boathouse, offer kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. This activity provides a great way to enjoy the scenic views and maybe even spot some local wildlife.

More Information Here: Key Bridge Boathouse

kings dominion park

5. Thrilling Rides at Kings Dominion

For families seeking a bit of adrenaline, Kings Dominion in Doswell is the place to be. This amusement park features a wide range of rides, from gentle carousels to heart-pounding roller coasters. The park also includes a water park, making it a perfect destination for a full day of excitement.

Purchase Tickets Here: Kings Dominion

great falls park

6. Exploring Great Falls Park

Located along the Potomac River, Great Falls Park is a natural wonder. Families can enjoy scenic hikes, picnicking, and breathtaking views of the waterfalls. The park offers several trails of varying difficulty, making it accessible for families with children of all ages. Don’t forget to check out the visitor center for educational exhibits about the park’s history and wildlife.

More Information Here: Great Falls Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park

7. Biking Along the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park (W&OD Trail)

The W&OD Trail is a paved, 45-mile trail that stretches from Arlington to Purcellville. Families can enjoy biking, rollerblading, or walking along this scenic path. The trail passes through several parks and small towns, offering plenty of opportunities to stop for a picnic or explore local shops and eateries.

More Information Here: Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Park

children's science center lab fairfax va

8. Hands-On Learning at the Children’s Science Center Lab

Located in Fairfax, the Children’s Science Center Lab is an interactive museum designed to ignite curiosity and inspire learning in children. The center offers a range of hands-on exhibits and experiments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It’s a great place for children to learn and play simultaneously.

More Information Here: Children’s Science Center Lab

mount vernon

9. Historical Adventures at Mount Vernon

Step back in time with a visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The estate offers a range of family-friendly activities, including interactive exhibits, a working farm, and beautifully maintained gardens. Children can participate in historical scavenger hunts and learn about life in the 18th century.

More Information Here: Mount Vernon

smithsonian national zoo

10. Visiting the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Though technically located in Washington, D.C., the National Zoo is easily accessible from Northern Virginia. This renowned zoo features a wide array of animals and educational exhibits. The zoo’s Kids’ Farm and Amazonia are particularly popular with younger visitors, offering interactive experiences and hands-on learning opportunities.

More Information Here: Smithsonian National Zoo