With school out, kids in Fairfax County have time on their hands. Even those in camp during the week may look forward to spending these hot, hazy, lazy weekend days doing something special with the family. Whether you’ve got the kids for a few hours, a day, a week or longer, here are some fun, local activities that can transform the summer doldrums into summer memories.
Amazing Farm Fun at Ticonderoga
26469 Ticonderoga Road, Chantilly
Ages 2 and older: $9.95; free admission for children younger than 2
Fruit and vegetables always taste better when you’ve picked them yourself. Sweet corn, a variety of peppers, watermelon and tomatoes are among the crops grown on this organic farm. What kids love most, however, are the hill slides, pillow bounce, hay rides and swinging bridge, which is the longest in Virginia, said Cindy Henry, who handles marketing for the farm. Among the animals are free-range chickens, goats, sheep and peacocks. There are also antique tractors and fire trucks. Concessions – which include hot dogs, pizza and turkey legs – can be eaten in the shaded picnic area.
Kidwell Farm at Frying Pan Farm Park
2709 West Ox Road, Herndon
Parking and admission are free
On hot summer days, mornings and evenings are the best time to visit this 1930s-era working farm, where kids are greeted by horses, chickens, peacocks, rabbits, sheep, goats, cows and pigs. “A wagon ride, hike in the cool woods, and ice cream on the porch of the county store are great summer activities,” said Yvonne Johnson, park manager. Carousel rides and a cow milking, daily at 4 p.m., are popular attractions. The 1917 Moffett Blacksmith Shop, at the farm entrance, is fully operational and often staffed by volunteers. The Antique Equipment Shed houses horse-drawn and mechanized equipment, including several working tractors.
Fairfax County Park Authority Mini-Golf
-Burke Lake Park Miniature Golf Course
7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station
Adults: $7; juniors/seniors: $6
-Jefferson Falls Miniature Golf Course
7900 Lee Highway, Falls Church
Adults: $7; juniors/seniors: $6
-Lucky Duck Miniature Golf Course
7500 Accotink Park Road, Springfield
Adults: $4; juniors/seniors: $3
-Oak Marr Miniature Golf Course
3200 Jermantown Road, Oakton
Adults: $7; juniors/seniors: $6
“Mini-golf is a cross-generational game – perfect for kids, parents and grandparents,” said Karen Acar Thayer, promotional services manager. It also makes for affordable family entertainment. Each themed mini-golf course is full of surprises. It takes about an hour to play 18 holes, after which players can enjoy other activities and amenities at the RECenter adjacent to Oak Marr or parks surrounding the three other mini-golf courses.
Perils of the Lost Jungle
11801 Leesburg Pike, Herndon
Adults: $10.50; children 12 and younger: $9.50; seniors: $10
Ask a kid what he likes best about Perils of the Lost Jungle and he’s likely point to the alligator, which attacks toward the end of the round, said Currie FitzHugh, art director. “But I think it’s the overall experience of being jungle explorers that they really love,” FitzHugh said. Perils puts a unique twist on the miniature golf concept. “It’s one of the few places that offers interactive entertainment – where there are surprises along the way ... . You can come face to face with a komodo dragon, avoid the darts of a headhunter and escape a man-eating gorilla,” FitzHugh said. Trees and live bamboo provide plenty of shade and several holes provide opportunities to get wet.
Claude Moore Colonial Farm
6310 Georgetown Pike, McLean
Adults: $3; children 3 to 12 and seniors 60 and older: $2; younger than 3, free; group rates available
Step back in time and experience life in 18th-century Virginia. Here, costumed children and adult interpreters churn butter, harvest crops – including tobacco, wheat and corn – and tend to farm animals, such as turkeys, cattle, hogs and sheep. The Farm Skills program on select Thursdays gives kids the chance to pound corn, card wool, spin with a drop spindle, dip candles and play Colonial-era games. On the third weekend in July, the Market Fair features savory food and drink, dancing and merriment, and crafts such as spinning and dyeing. This 54-acre, privately operated National Park offers a self-guided walking tour along shaded trails.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon
Adults: $18; children: $9; active duty military: $14; discounted rates available for online ticket purchases
There’s something for every age at George Washington’s home. The mansion’s youngest guests can enjoy storytelling or storybook readings in the Hands-On-History Center. Demonstrations of 18th-century life – including blacksmithing, wheat treading, sheep shearing, plowing, cooking, and textile processing – enthrall kids of all ages. Slightly older children enjoy interacting with costumed interpreters and learning about life on Washington’s plantation. A free Adventure Map, which entices young visitors to solve puzzles as they explore the estate, includes a prize. Purchase tickets in advance at MountVernon.org and plan what items you want to cover during your visit, said the estate’s Melissa Wood. “One could easily spend more than four hours here,” she said.
National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly
Admission is free; parking is $15
Thousands of aviation and space artifacts – including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde and the space shuttle Discovery – are on display at this 11-year-old museum. This open, air-conditioned hanger allows kids to roam amongst the airplanes and spacecraft, said Alison Mitchell, a museum public affairs specialist. Kids love watching planes take off and land from the Donald D. Engen Tower, which provides a 360-degree bird’s eye view of Washington Dulles International Airport. Check the museum’s website calendar so you can tie your visit to a special event of interest. “The museum’s family days really are one of a kind. They often feature talks with astronauts and pilots, hands-on activities, games and shows,” Mitchell said.
Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna
877-WOLFTRAP (965-3872) for tickets; 703-255-1900 for general information
Down a meadow path, over a bridge and nestled in trees, Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods is full of happy children all summer long. While kids relish the lively interactive performances and artist meet and greets after the shows, parents appreciate the affordable ticket prices and free parking. Families can make a day of it – see a performance, have a picnic, and participate in National Park Service activities, like the Junior Ranger program, said Camille J. Cintrón, manager of public relations for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. Performances, which start at 10:30 a.m., run Tuesday through Saturdays from June 24 through Aug. 9. Check the website for artists.
Flight Trampoline Park
7200 Fullerton Road, Springfield
30-minute flight: $11; 1-hour flight: $15; 2-hour flight: $25
This air-conditioned cutting-edge facility merges entertainment, fitness and sport to create a one-of-a-kind experience. “Kids love being able to jump around on more than 15,000 square feet of wall-to-wall trampolines,” said Keona Blocker, event coordinator. “They can jump freely, play intense trampoline dodge ball, do tricks into our airbags, perfect their moves on our bounce boards, or dunk a basketball into hoops of different levels.” A designated jumping space for children shorter than 46 inches provides hours of fun in a safe environment. To avoid delays or disappointment, as the park does sell out on weekends and holidays, reserve a jumping spot online and sign the electronic waiver.
7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville
Taller than 48 inches: $8; shorter than 48 inches or seniors 55 and older: $6.75; children younger than 2: free
703-631-0552 ext. 103
Like its fabled namesake, this water park is a stroke of aquatic engineering. Here, the more adventurous children can enjoy riveting rides on a pair of waterslides, one of which takes riders through 170 feet of complete darkness. Atlantis includes a 1,000- gallon dumping bucket, waterfalls and squirters. The main pool features space for swimming and splashing and includes a play island with slides on three sides. “We have much more to offer than your local neighborhood pool or rec center, but at an affordable price,” said Megan Schuster, a park specialist at Bull Run Regional Park and Atlantis Waterpark. “On peak days the waterpark is likely to hit capacity. Come early or risk longer than average wait times.”
Pirate’s Cove Waterpark
6501 Pohick Bay Drive, Lorton
Taller than 42 inches: $8; shorter than 42 inches or seniors 55 and older: $6.75; children younger than 2: free
While you can’t walk the plank at this pirate-themed water park, you can fire water cannons and search for buried treasure. Kid-friendly waterslides, water-spraying palm trees, a play structure complete with a 300-gallon dumping bucket, a large swimming pool and a spacious tot pool with a clam shell slide will entertain the entire family. The Captain’s Gallery is stocked with plenty of food and drinks. “Bring your sunscreen and beach towel, and arrive early to pick your prime spot,” said Todd Benson, manager of Pohick Bay Regional Park & Golf Course.
Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole
1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston
Taller than 48 inches: $14.50 on weekends/holidays, $13.50 on weekdays; shorter than 48 inches: $11.25; children age 2 and younger: free; admission costs $8.25 after 5 p.m.
Float down Rattlesnake River, careen off covered wagons and dash through showers from water-filled ore carts at this family swimmin’ hole. The centerpiece of this Old West-themed waterpark is Pete’s Peak, a craggy mountain dotted with boarded up mine shafts, tunnels and slides. Toddlers will enjoy Tenderfoot Pond, with its pint-sized slides and gentle bubblers, and teenagers can join a game of water volleyball. Plan to arrive at 10 a.m. or between 2 and 3 p.m. to avoid waits, which can run up to 45 minutes. Water Mine can reach its patron capacity Friday through Sunday, the busiest days to visit.
1228 Hunter Mill Road, Vienna
Adults (13-64): $12.95; seniors (65 and older): $11.95; children (2-12): $9.95; children (younger than 2): free
Kids can bottle-feed lambs and hand-feed goats and dozens of other animals at this 30-acre zoo. They can go eye to eye with snakes, frogs, turtles and alligators in the Reptile House. In the Budgiery Adventure Aviary, gentle, colorful parakeets can land on a feed stick or perch on visitors’ hands. Kids who are shorter than 48 inches and weigh less than 65 pounds can take pony rides, which are offered daily starting at 10:30 a.m. for $4. A wagon ride is included in the cost of admission.