As much as we heart all there is to do in the DC Metro area, sometimes a little change of scenery is in order to renew spirits. Luckily, the Shenandoah Region is close enough for a day trip, but different enough from Northern Virginia to trick us into vacation mode. The region offers family fun for all ages with a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Here are some of the top attractions in the region:
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
This amazing gem of a museum offers hands-on fun for children. Families can build with giant boards, maneuver simple machines, play doctor and patient in a mock ambulance and E.R., explore an Eastern Woodland home, create roller coasters, visit a ranger station, climb a rock wall, and so much more. It is just a fantastic place for children ages 0-10, and the location in downtown Winchester can't be beat! The museum situated on a pedestrian mall surrounded by many great shops and restaurants. Check out our gallery from our visit:
This place is truly like going back in time, and not just to the prehistoric era! It is a reminiscent of Americana roadside attractions, and has been around for over 50 years. The admission is a little steep for what it is, but kids love exploring the scenes and adults will laugh at the cheesiness. The gift shop is extensive, offering not just lots of dino merchandise, but lots of knick-knacks and memorabilia. Estimate spending about 45-60 minutes on the whole Dinosaur Land experience.
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Also located in Downtown Winchester, this museum has an impressive collection of dollhouses and miniature houses, beautiful gardens, an art gallery, and exhibits reflecting the history of the Shenandoah Region.
This is the closest natural wonder to Washington DC! Explore the amazing underground caverns with a guided tour, ride on the Skyline Arrow train ride, challenge yourself in the mirror maze, and trek on the beautiful, surrounding nature trails.
Experience these famous caverns on a one hour guided tour with stalactite formations, pools of water, and the great Stalacpipe Organ. A widely popular attraction, so it is suggested to go early. Admission also includes the Car and Carriage Museum and the Luray Valley Museum. There is a large Garden Maze on site that is fun for families (additional admission.) Ticket prices are expensive ($24 for adults, $15.50 for kids 6-12, and under 5 is free) so look online for coupons. Food options are limited at the site. Venture into the town of Luray to find cute eateries. We recommend the Gathering Grounds Cafe as a fantastic lunch spot.
A rescue zoo on a three acre property that receives retired zoo animals, unwanted pets, and formerly abused animals. The mission of the zoo is to educate about animal treatment and different species. Check the website for different shows and special events.
Other resources and attractions:
This blog post focused on towns and attractions in the northern region of the Shenandoah Valley, which is the closest to Washington DC.
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Kid Trips' blogs profile fun events and cool family-friendly venues. We focus on regional and national family travel articles.
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