14 answers

What to Do for Fun in Northern VA

HI. we just moved to northern VA a couple of months ago and my husband will be leaving next week for 3 months to police academy. I have an almost 6 year old daughter and a 3 1/2 year old son. Does anyone know of any fun activities in the northern VA area that we can do (free or cheap is best since we have to stick to our budget). We are in Fairfax county if that helps. I know the farmers markets don't start up until May, but is there any other fun activities that I can do with them before then? I don't like to drive into DC and I have no clue how to use a subway (we are from south OC California). Thanks!!

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thanks for all of the amazing suggestions! I will look into all of them.

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Metro has a webpage that tells you the ins and outs on how to use the Metro system. Then when you are familiar go to the National Zoo, the kids farm. Huge fun and free. Good luck.

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Metro (our subway) is easy to use -- go ahead and learn it because downtown DC is FULL of absolutely free stuff. (The one warning I'll give:If you plan to drive and park at a Metro station you may find all the spaces gone very early because of commuters; try a bus instead. It really does work). If you don't go downtown you're cheating yourself out of a lot of free fun for the kids and yourself!

All the Smithsonian museums are free. They will adore the Natural History museum -- dinosaurs! animals! gems! IMAX films (OK, the films do cost, but the rest is free). Find the somewhat hidden kids' hands-on room at Natural History, but check before going to be sure the room is open. The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian and therefore...free! The American History museum has SparkLab, a hands-on experiment room which is great for your daughter especially. There is a children's theatre in the underground level of the Smithsonian's Ripley Center. The Air and Space Museum has a cool plantarium and all the planes any kid could want to see. Look online at the Smithsonian's site and go to their "for kids" pages for tons more. It's si. edu but I won't put the whole address here in case that makes them cut my post.

The monuments are free too. We just did the Washington Monument. If you get tickets to it online there is a small fee but the tickets themselves are free.

In No.Va. -- Mount Vernon. Costs to get in but if the weather is good, it's a fantastic place to run around for the little kids and learn something for the older ones. Mount Vernon is also free admission this coming Monday -- President's Day! Check online about that.

All along the Potomac River on the George Washington Parkway (the route to Mount Vernon) are parks, picnic sites, a walking and biking trail, etc., all free. Someone mentioned Great Falls Park -- free, and a lovely place to walk, but hang onto any adventurous three-year-olds! Out closer to you is something called Eleanor Lawrence Park, I believe...

Go online to the Fairfax County Parks and Recreation Department for a list of all county parks and activites there. Search online at Fairfax County Public Library for lots of kids' activities, story times, craft times, etc. -- you may find more of these for your three-year-old than your six-year-old but check! The county recreation centers have some great pools (especially at Cub Run) which cost, but not much. Check "ParkTakes" online at the Fairfax County Parks and Rec site as it lists not only paid classes for kids but also free events at various sites....Fairfax County has a lot of fantastic amenities, so take full advantage of them and have fun. And don't let Metro daunt you, take advantage of DC as well!

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How far are you from Great Falls? And can you catch Metro to DC (wmata.com will help) to get to all the museums, zoo, etc.? I don't like to drive to DC, either.

Also, I don't know how far of a drive it would be, but the College Park Aviation Museum is inexpensive and is GREAT for kids.

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Check out the parks! There is one near you with a carousel and an ice cream shop and a play ground in a nice shady spot and a train to ride. Gosh what was it called? It is off of Hwy 123 I think. I don't live there anymore so I can't remember. The train and Carousel cost something like $2.50 each for one ride.

Burke Lake Park -- you want to stay to the left after you go through the gate. Ox Road which also is Hwy 123

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Ice skating - there are indoor and outdoor rinks.
There are tons of activities at the libraries.
Check out the battlefield in Manassas.
Check out the wineries in NoVa. Barrel Oak and Miracle Valley usually have fun things going on.
Check out the Happenings column in your local newspaper.
Ask your kid's friends' moms. They might know of some fun things to do.
Get on the Metro and go to the Smithsonian. It will be a learning adventure for all of you. The subway system is very easy... you can do it!
The Kennedy Center has free activities and concerts almost every day. Check them out!
YMMV
LBC

1 mom found this helpful

The public libraries all have great FREE programs geared towards children. They pretty much have something going on every couple of days at one or more of the libraries. Check them out!

Frying Pan Park in Herndon....wonderful for little ones, especially in spring when there are always new babies.

Reston Town Center has an outdoor ice skating rink that's really fun!

And, visit Loudoun County....it's beautiful here with lots of hiking trails, cute towns to walk thru and great restaurants.

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Take a look at the website called Our Kids. It has a TON of things to do in the area. Local libraries have things that you can sign up to do. Fairfax County is really big so it might be helpful if you add a more exact location--like Vienna, Chantily, Burke...

Updated

Take a look at the website called Our Kids. It has a TON of things to do in the area.

1 mom found this helpful

Metro has a webpage that tells you the ins and outs on how to use the Metro system. Then when you are familiar go to the National Zoo, the kids farm. Huge fun and free. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I lived and worked in Shenandoah National Park, and it is GREAT! I am not sure if the price went up, but it was $10 for a car load in 2005. There are maps online and you could easily spend the whole day there, hiking and going to free programs put on by the rangers. I am hoping to move back there soon. If you are ok with a bit of a drive, Gettyburg is a couple of hours a way, and the drive is nice. You should really figure out how to use the subway, because you are SO close to all of the great museums in DC.

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