Fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Try these free activities for families in Virginia.
Long ago, grass was planted over a landfill, creating a small mountain in the middle of an otherwise flat city. The mountain itself became a popular attraction, with locals flocking to it for kite-flying, picnics or just the opportunity to roll down it. But the park at Mt. Trashmore has evolved into much more than just a former pile of trash. There is a 1.5-mile walking trail, picnic shelters, skate park, volleyball courts and playgrounds. The park is also home to Kids Cove, a 26,000-square-foot children’s play space that just recently underwent a total modernization.
Location: Virginia Beach
Three Lakes Park
This park is much more than the three man-made lakes and their accompanying trails. It is also home to a 6,500-square-foot Nature Center and 50,000=gallon aquarium. The center offers a variety of hands-on experiences sure to excite children of all ages. Parents can even sign children up for one of the park’s free programs or classes for an even closer look at some of the animals. Fishing is permitted in two of the three lakes and there is a playground for the kids.
Location: Henrico County
Boardwalk and beach
Virginia Beach’s Boardwalk is its crown jewel and the perfect location for some strolling, lounging and people watching. Restaurants, sights, shops and activities line the 3-mile stretch. At the southernmost end of the boardwalk is Grommet Island Park, a playground in the sand that was built to be completely handicapped=accessible. As you continue north, you will encounter the Virginia Legends Walk, which pays homage to famous Virginians such as Ella Fitzgerald and Thomas Jefferson. A fishing pier, old Coast Guard station, and small amusement park are other notable landmarks along the stretch. Be sure to take note of all of the spectacular maritime statues, especially that of King Neptune, who can’t be missed at 31stStreet. Of course, the beach and the waters of the Atlantic Ocean are very appealing as well.
Location: Virginia Beach
Chrysler Museum of Art
Due to the generosity of its members and corporate partners, admission to the Chrysler Museum is absolutely free. While the exhibitions change, the art featured ranges from contemporary to ancient Egyptian works. Children may be particularly interested in the fire and smoke of the glass studio, a permanent section of the museum, which features live demonstrations daily. Two historical houses are also a part of the Chrysler experience and allow families a chance to explore what life was like centuries ago.
Taking a stroll along Monument Avenue takes you back in time to visit some of Virginia’s most notable sons, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Arthur Ashe. As significant as the statues themselves are, the street is also lined with churches, stately homes, and apartment buildings that date back to the early 1900s and offer some really great views. The avenue itself has been named a National Historic Landmark District.
Arlington National Cemetery
A trip to northern Virginia is not complete without a stop to pay your respects at the country’s most hallowed burial ground. While the tone is somber, it is a good way for families to recognize the sacrifices made by our nation’s fallen heroes. There are thousands buried at the cemetery, and you could literally spend hours wandering through. Some of the most notable aspects of the cemetery are the Tomb of the Unknowns, the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and the changing of the National Guard.
Duke of Gloucester Street
If you want to take in the atmosphere of Colonial Williamsburg without forking over the dough, Duke of Gloucester Street fits the bill. A stroll down the storied road will take you back in time to the 18th century. You will find dozens of shops of the period, including those of apothecary, the wig maker and the silversmith. There are also several taverns along the stretch where you can get something to eat and drink.