Family Fun Getaway
Remember those road trips you took as a kid? Nothing is more special than creating the timeless memories that come with family vacations! If you're the designated family-vacation-planner, one of the most challenging parts can be finding something that interests everyone. Luckily, Fairfax County boasts tons of fun family-friendly activities that are fun for all ages. Whether you're looking for a quick weekend camping trip, a budget-friendly city escape, or anything in between - our family getaways will have your entire crew saying "BEST. TRIP. EVER!"
Planning a family getaway can be tough - but, finding activities that won't break the bank can be even more of a challenge. Luckily, Fairfax County has no shortage of budget-friendly activities that'll entertain the entire family! Check out this list of free things to do.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Reconnecting with nature in our thousands of acres of parkland is a favorite for both Fairfax County locals and visitors. Most of our major Fairfax County parks are free to visit including Lake Accotink and Lake Fairfax where you can hike around the water's edge and lose yourself in nature. Speaking of hiking, did you know that we have over 900 miles of trails? Iconic thoroughfares like the Potomac Heritage Trail (which can be accessed at Riverbend Park), and the W&OD Trail are favorites in the area for people looking to get moving. Additionally, most of these parks have additional activities such as kayaking, mini golf, and more for a small fee.
Get Your Art Fix
Many say that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Impress your family with something unique while you peruse the artworks in Fairfax County at our galleries and public art spaces. Take a gander at over 80 public art installations with Public Art Reston's self-guided walking tours. Or, visit the Workhouse Arts Center for artwork from local creators. Browse through our events calendar to find a plethora of art showcases and exhibits on display.
Rediscover Our History
The National Capital Region is a museum lover's dream, with a ton of exhibits and artifacts on display for free. See the world's fastest jet, among thousands of other space artifacts, at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center. Alternatively, browse an extensive history of Fairfax County at the Reston Museum and the Fairfax Museum.
Stop and Smell the Roses
A great way to spend a gorgeous day in the area is to stroll through our exquisite gardens. River Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, offers wooded river streams, dreamy gazebos, and an 18th century historic manor on the 25 landscaped acres that overlook the Potomac River. Make sure to check out their awesome garden shop! Green Spring Gardens is also a favorite place of those seeking petal-peeping adventures. This year-round gold mine of information and inspiration for the home gardener is a outdoor classroom, museum, national historic site, and idyllic getaway all rolled into one.
Whether your kids are in the single or double-digits, there's an abundance of family-friendly activities to choose from in Fairfax County.
Escape to the Zoo
Lemurs, zebras, llama, bison, ostrich, and more cuddly creatures come alive at Roers Zoofari! Rather not get out of your vehicle? Book a spot on the Self-Drive Safari Tour, which gets you up close and personal with nine different species of animal from the comfort of your own vehicle.
Putt Putt Golf
Up for some friendly competition? Choose your favorite golf ball and club and embark on a mini golf adventure! From pirate-themed courses to ones that glow in the dark, Fairfax County has a variety of mini golf spots to choose from. Here's our roundup of mini golf courses to get in some tee time!
Fun and Entertainment Centers
Laser tag, virtual reality, arcade games, ropes courses, and more! Let the kids loose in a land designed for thrills and a little friendly competition. Fun Land of Fairfax is one of the county's newest attractions that features an arcade, virtual reality games, Tailgaters Sports Bar, and more kid-friendly activities. Always a classic, Dave and Busters in Fair Oaks Mall and Springfield Mall features over 140 arcade games, a chef-crafted menu, and a sports bar with massive HDTV screens. Pro Tip: There's an entire shopping mall for mom to explore while the kids blow off steam!
Head To The Farm!
If you're looking for a family friendly outing, there is no better place than Frying Pan Farm Park where the little ones can enjoy life on the farm, wagon rides, lots of animals, and fun seasonal events.
Just because your kids are college students or young 20-somethings, doesn't mean family vacations have to come to a screeching halt! In fact, families can enjoy a whole new world of adventurous activities, including the exploration of interesting history, cool shopping, fine dining, and even winery tours.
Visit a Historical Site
Step back in time at our historical colonial sites, Civil War battle sites, homes of original founding fathers and more. Essential parts of U.S. History such as the American Revolution, Civil War and Underground Railroad run deep throughout the foundation of Fairfax County. History was formed here and continues to be made each and everyday in the Washington DC Metropolitan region. Click here to dive deeper into America's history through our iconic landmarks.
Indulge in Retail Therapy
3 Words: World. Class. Shopping. From local shops to nationally-recognized chains, Fairfax County has the best shopping destinations to find exactly what you’re looking for (and more). Tysons Corner Center, one of the top 10 shopping centers in the USA, is home to over 300 specialty and department stores. Tysons' "who's who" of retail includes Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Apple, Uniqlo, and more. If you're looking for a shopping district full of photo-opps, check out Mosaic - a center with hand-selected retailers and restaurants, the Angelika Film Center, intelligent urban design, murals, and a vibrant plaza with streeteries and games. To experience the vitality of a European-inspired streets, check out Reston Town Center for a diverse mix of restaurants and shopping, and an extensive collection of outdoor public art installations. For all Fairfax County shopping districts, check out our dedicated shopping page.
Enjoy DIY Activities
Some of the best souvenirs are the ones you make with your own two hands. Visit Clay Cafe in Chantilly or Kiln & Co. in the Town of Vienna to paint your own pottery piece - they will glaze and fire it for you to take home! Or, choose your favorite "vessel" and fragrance as an enthusiastic instructor leads you through the candle-pouring process at Paddywax Candle Studio in Reston Town Center. Plus - they allow you to bring in bottles of your own wine to sip while you enjoy the session. Or, unleash your inner Picasso as you paint with the guidance of a tutorial from a professional artist at Muse Paintbar in Mosaic. Whatever you choose, the whole family will have made something special to keep!
Now that your kids are growing up, gone are the days of picking restaurants based on the availability of kids menus and high chairs! Fairfax County features a diverse selection of restaurants - from saucy Korean BBQ to classic Italian fare. No matter what your family is craving, you'll find something that'll win your hearts and your stomachs! Click here to view our extensive list of restaurants that’ll have your entire party saying “mmmm!”
With thousands of acres of parkland, fun trails, and outdoor activities, adventure-loving families will find a connection to the outdoors here in Fairfax County. Hike or bike through our thousands of acres of parkland scenic trails, soar high above the trees on the Go Ape ziplines and ropes course, cruise over the scenic Potomac River on a kayak or canoe, and get your fix of an unforgettable journey through nature.
Plan Your Escape
Escape the Joker's Trap! OR save the White House! OR time travel to find the cure to a disease! OR catch the ghost of a little girl! Put your problem-solving skills to work at one of the many adventures inside of Room Escape Fairfax, the largest escape room venue on the East Coast. See if you can work together to solve the mystery within the time frame you're given. Bonus points for escaping with time to spare!
Hot tip: Can't make it to Fairfax City? Don't miss these other nearby escape rooms in Herndon and Falls Church!
Unique. Quirky. Off-the-beaten-path. Whatever you call it, one thing's for certain: these spots will leave you with something new to tell home about! If you're looking for unique spots to take your family on your getaway, check out these local hidden gems - many of which have been featured in Atlas Obscura!
Escape to Korea
Fairfax County is home to the only public, traditional Korean Bell Garden pavilion in the Western Hemisphere at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Explore 95 acres of ornamental and native plant gardens, take in views of the Piedmont Hills, and learn about different local flora and fauna at this beloved garden.
Explore the Ruins of a Riverside City
Image Courtesy Fun in Fairfax
The stone ruins of Matildaville was once a lively town, boasting a market, gristmill, inn, workers' barracks, homes, and more. In the age of the Revolutionary War, Harry Lee (father of Robert E. Lee) named the town for his first wife, Matilda Lee. The town of Matildaville served as the home of the Patowmack Company which formerly worked on the construction of the Patowmack Canal project - an ambitious plan to reroute the Potomac River that unfortunately ended in the company's bankruptcy.
Walk Through a Decades-Old Cell Block
In 2018, the Workhouse Arts Center completed a renovation of a 10,000 square foot barracks building on campus, in what was formerly the Lorton Correctional Facility that operated from 1910-2001. This building now hosts the Lucy Burns Museum, which tells the story of the suffragists who were imprisoned here in 1917 for picketing the White House for women’s right to vote. It's a truly unique and educational experience to walk through the cell blocks and learn the awful conditions the suffragettes were subject to experience.
George Washington's Teeth
Our region is known for its museums and historic sites. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find memorable oddities within. George Washington’s dentures, for example. Legend has it that his teeth were of wood - except they weren't! They were made of ivory and animal teeth, set in a lead contraption. You’ll find them in the educational center at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
The weather outside is frightful, but the getaway can still be delightful! Plan to stay a while, there are plenty of things to do during a Northern Virginia winter! Fairfax County’s holiday helpers are busy putting together all the elements of the best season ever!
The camping experience is an age-old outdoor getaway that connects to you to nature in an unforgettable way. From gazing at a sky full of bright start to gathering around a fire for fresh and gooey smores, there's something about a forest escape that makes a family vacation special. Tent camping, RV glamping, or cabin-living - here's where to go in Fairfax County for an unforgettable camping trip.
Holiday Light Shows
As one of the most anticipated holidays in Fairfax County, it's no surprise that there's an abundance of things to do for the holidays! The most popular activity every year is witnessing the twinkling light displays that illuminate the lives of locals and visitors alike. The 2.5-mile-long Bull Run Festival of Lights drive through opens November 6th, and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens transforms their spectacular garden into the Winter Walk of Lights beginning November 11th. Stay tuned for more events as local attractions begin to release more information.
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