During summer vacation, sometimes you still have to keep the kids entertained, even between vacations, camps and pool days – and it’s not always easy. We’re here to help!
All of these activities are local and age-friendly for most. However, we encourage you to use parental discretion and go to the websites we’ve provided to plan your activities.
Museums: Perfect for a Rainy Day!
Air and Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport is the companion facility to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C. Hundreds of historically significant aircraft and spacecraft, along with thousands of small artifacts, are on display in an open, hangar-like setting. Other features of the Center include the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower, the Airbus IMAX Theater and the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, where visitors can watch museum specialists at work restoring artifacts.
For more information, visit www.si.edu/museums/air-and-space-museum-udvar-hazy-center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
American Indian Museum
The National Museum of the American Indian houses one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of its kind. The museum’s sweeping curvilinear architecture, indigenous landscaping and exhibitions, all designed in collaboration with tribes and communities from across the hemisphere, combine to give visitors from around the world the sense and spirit of Native America.
For more information, visit www.si.edu/museums/american-indian-museum
4th Street and Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Always free and open 364 days a year, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is one of Washington D.C.’s, most popular tourist destinations, with more than 2 million visitors annually from all over the world. The zoo instills a lifelong commitment to conservation through engaging experiences with animals and the people working to save them.
For more information, visit www.si.edu/museums/national-zoo
3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC
March 15–September: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
(Grounds 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Natural History Museum
The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s preeminent museum and research complex. The museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the green-domed museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities.
For more information, visit www.si.edu/museums/natural-history-museum
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is in the historic City Post Office Building, which was constructed in 1914 and served as the Washington, D.C., post office from 1914 through 1986. The museum occupies 100,000 square feet of the building, with 35,000 square feet devoted to exhibition space. It also houses a 6,000-square-foot research library, a stamp store and a museum shop.
For more information, visit www.si.edu/museums/postal-museum
2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE Washington, DC
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily
Parks: for when the warmth is irresistible!
Lake Accotink Park’s 493 acres include a 55-acre lake, wetlands and streams offering unique views of waterfowl and marsh life. Facilities and activities vary with the season and include bike rentals, canoe and pedal boat rentals, a boat launch, tour boat rides, fishing, a nine-green double-holed miniature golf course, antique carousel, snack bar, pavilion shelters and picnic areas with grills, restrooms, playground, sand volleyball court and a basketball court. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lake-accotink/.
A 218-acre lake with fishing, boating, rowboat rentals, camping, a miniature train, a carousel, outdoor volleyball courts, open fields, an 18-hole par-3 golf course, clubhouse with snack bar and driving range, disk golf and horseshoe pits. It also features an ice cream parlor, picnic areas with grills, three playgrounds, trails, an amphitheater and a miniature golf course. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/burkelakepark/.
For recreation and fun in western Fairfax, this 476-acre park includes a 20-acre lake with fishing, the Water Mine family Swimmin’ Hole, boat rentals, a carousel, athletic fields, picnic shelters and picnic areas with grills, a playground, restrooms, campgrounds, trails and a skate park. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole features tubing on the Rattlesnake Lazy River, a tot pool at Tenderfoot Pond, slides, tunnels and interactive play features designed for young children. The Water Mine is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lakefairfax/.
Other Major Parks
Clemyjontri Park features a unique playground where children of all abilities can play side by side, and where every child is welcome. This park is a place where children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces, or who have sensory or developmental disabilities, can have a parallel playground experience of fun and exploration. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/clemyjontri/.
Frying Pan Farm Park
Frying Pan Farm Park is part of the Floris community in western Fairfax County, known as Frying Pan from 1726 to 1892, when the name was changed to Floris. Today, the park preserves and interprets a 1920s through 1950s farm, agricultural process, rural community life and landscape for the educational, cultural and recreational enrichment of citizens and visitors of Fairfax County. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/fryingpanpark/.
Green Spring Gardens
Green Spring Gardens is a “must visit” for everyone in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. It’s a year-round gold mine of information and inspiration for the home gardener, as well as an outdoor classroom for children and their families to learn about plants and wildlife. It’s also a museum, a national historic site that offers glimpses into a long, rich history with colonial origins. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/.
Scott’s Run Nature Preserve
Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is one of only a few nature preserves in the Fairfax County Park Authority’s holdings. It is a remarkable place of rare plants and splendid beauty. Yet, that beauty is challenged by urban pollution and human destruction. It is a classic clash of land use between suburban sprawl and natural areas. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/scottsrun/.
The Turner Farm
This peaceful and serene 52-acre park is on the site of a former dairy farm. Its rolling pastures and dairy barn complement the semi-rural community of Great Falls, Virginia. The land was saved from development by a public/private partnership started in 1994 to “Save the Farm.” For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/turnerfarm/.
Recreation Centers: For Keeping Active
Photos credit: www.fairfaxva.gov
Audrey Moore RECenter at Wakefield Park is approximately 76,000 square feet and houses a 50-meter pool with one 3-meter and two 1-meter diving boards. The natatorium also contains spectator seating, doors that lead to a spacious outdoor sundeck and locker rooms with saunas and showers. In addition to the various racquetball/wallyball and squash courts, the center has a large gymnasium with six basketball hoops and volleyball nets. It also contains a cycle studio, dance room, pottery lab and kiln, an arts-and-crafts room, three multipurpose activity rooms, and a senior center. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/moore/.
The Cub Run RECenter is a 65,000-square-foot facility that includes a 4,860-square-foot leisure entertainment pool featuring two water slides and a water playground, a 25-yard-by-25-meter swimming pool and a 9,600-square-foot fitness center. It also houses two multipurpose rooms, one at 3,000 square feet that can be divided in half, and the other measuring 1,700 square feet, along with a 270-square-foot party room. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/cubrun/.
The George Washington RECenter has a heated indoor 25-meter pool with a poolside spa, beach and wading area, saunas, showers and fully equipped locker rooms. The fitness area includes two treadmills and both recumbent and stationary bicycles. This completely accessible facility (curb cuts, dressing stalls, pool ramp) also features newly resurfaced, lighted tennis courts and a picnic area. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/geowash/.
The Lee District RECenter, at approximately 83,600 square feet, is comprised of three major areas: the natatorium, the gymnasium and the fitness center. In addition to these main features, the RECenter also contains racquetball/wallyball courts, two mirrored dance/fitness rooms, three multipurpose rooms, a mezzanine and a preschool. The surrounding 193-acre park has one soccer field with two overlay T-ball fields, two football fields with two overlay softball fields, four basketball courts, an amphitheater, a playground and tot lot, four lighted tennis courts, a tennis practice wall and walking trails. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/leerec/.
The Mount Vernon RECenter has a 25-meter heated indoor pool with poolside spa, a beach area with play features, locker rooms with showers and a sauna, a fitness center with Cybex VR2 equipment, a pro shop, dance room, multipurpose rooms and a year-round 200-foot-by-85-foot indoor ice arena. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/mtvernon/.
The new two-story fitness center at Oak Marr features all new exercise equipment and lots of natural light. In addition to the expanded fitness center, Oak Marr’s new amenities include treadmills with personal television viewing screens; a hardwood fitness studio for classes, including ballet-inspired barre; a dedicated stretching area; three new multipurpose rooms for fitness classes and other activities; a new spin studio with a projector and pull-down screen; a new supervised babysitting area, and a vibrant new lobby and sitting room with wireless Internet access to further enhance the customer experience. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/oakmarr/.
The Providence RECenter’s facilities include a heated indoor 25-meter pool with two spas, saunas, a shower and locker rooms, three racquetball and wallyball courts and a fitness center along with more than 20 cardiovascular machines and a Pilates studio. There is an arts-and-crafts room, dance room and several multipurpose rooms where classes are held. These rooms are also available for parties and meeting rentals. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/providence/.
There is a new regulation-sized gym at the Spring Hill RECenter with an elevated, three-lane track for walkers and runners; a new, two-story fitness center that is four times the size of the old one, featuring a new line of Cybex weight training machines; a custom-built TRX suspension system; five family changing rooms; plenty of space for additional fitness classes and lots of natural light. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/springhill/.
South Run RECenter’s fitness center is a beautiful two-story structure overlooking parkland. With cardio and strength training equipment, entertainment features and expansive views, this 7,000-square-foot facility is home to many satisfied members. Other features include a spin and mind body studio, heated indoor pool (25-yards-by-25-yards) with ramp access, two one-meter diving boards, a beach/wading area and poolside spa. An outdoor sundeck, family changing room and locker rooms with showers and saunas complete the natatorium. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/southrun/.
Historic Sites: To Look Back in Time
Colvin Run Mill
Bring your family, friends, or a whole group and explore the beautifully wooded and landscaped grounds around historic Colvin Run Mill and General Store. You’ll find something fun for everyone. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/colvinrunmill/.
An oasis of the past, Sully reflects the history of Fairfax County. Completed in 1799 by Richard Bland Lee, the main house at Sully combines aspects of Georgian and Federal architecture. Richard Bland Lee was northern Virginia’s first Representative to Congress, as well as General Robert E. Lee’s uncle. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/sully-historic-site/.
Historic Green Spring
The historic house, set amid the gardens at Green Spring, was built in 1784. Visitors can enjoy changing art exhibits, enjoy tea with a tour or presentation, and visit the unique museum shop. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/manor.htm.
Historic Huntley is on the National Register of Historic Places, the Virginia Landmarks Register and the Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites. Since the Park Authority obtained the house and its surrounding 2.5 acres in 1989, it had been open only during semiannual events and for school and scout tours until it underwent recent renovations. Now the buildings are open for scheduled programs and tours as well as Saturday tours between the months of April and October. For more information, visit http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/huntley-meadows-park/historic-huntley.htm.
Nature Centers: For Inquisitive Minds
E. C. Lawrence
Located in western Fairfax County, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park was established to preserve large areas of open space, protect natural and cultural features and provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the public. Visitors will find a unique experience whether visiting to bird watch, hike and exercise, discover the natural and cultural history of the land, picnic, participate in organized sports, attend an educational program or just relax. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/eclawrence/.
Located in the 52-acre Annandale District Park, the Hidden Oaks center is nestled among woodland trails and creeks with gardens and a nearby playground. Inside the nature center, facilities include live animal displays, a climbing “tree” loft/puppet stage, a resource library, and the Urban Woodlands interactive exhibit. Don’t forget to see the nature center rain garden. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/hidden-oaks/.
Acres of undisturbed woodland, quiet trails, splashing streams, and a tranquil pond are just a few of the reasons to visit Hidden Pond Nature Center. Tucked away in Springfield, Hidden Pond is a neighborhood haven filled with natural wonders. Hidden Pond’s 25 acres lie adjacent to the 700-acre Pohick Stream Valley Park. A 2,000-foot trail and bridge connects the two sites so that neighbors and guests can visit the Hidden Pond Nature Center as well as the pond, streams, wetlands, woods, and quiet places that these parks offer. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/hidden-pond/.
Nestled in Fairfax County’s Hybla Valley, Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural, and historical island of over 1,500 acres in the suburban sea of northern Virginia. It harbors a nationally significant historic house, majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows, and vast wetlands bursting with life. Some of the best wildlife watching in the
Washington metropolitan area is enjoyed here. From the half-mile wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower visitors will have excellent views of beavers, frogs, dragonflies, and herons. Huntley Meadows is well known as a prime birding spot, with over 200 species identified in the park. Whether you come to hike, wildlife watch, or simply to relax, Huntley Meadows Park will provide you with a premiere nature experience. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/huntley-meadows-park/.
Tucked away in a remote river setting, Riverbend Park has over 400 acres of forest, meadows, and ponds. Trails include a 2.5-mile portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail, linking national and regional parkland. Kayakers and canoeists can enjoy exploring many islands in the Potomac River. Serious anglers and families can bring a boat or fish from the shady riverbank. Nature highlights include spectacular river views, beautiful wildflowers, and birds. For more information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/riverbend-park/.