My crew is always up for a little adventure, especially when it’s outdoors.
But I will be totally honest when I say that my family’s initial reaction was not the same as mine. When I told my husband and kids that we were going to the Shenandoah Valley for a quick weekend trip, they were a bit skeptical:
I mean, how fun can it really be?
We’re not all that into camping, Mom. I don’t wanna camp out there with all those bugs and animals.
How much adventure could there really be in Virginia?
I don’t even know how to say where we’re going, and no one I now has ever gone there. Great.
I am not up for a long drive. We’ve been too busy, and the last thing I want to do is sit in a car for a million hours.
However, once we got there and saw how beautiful this area was and experienced first-hand the excitement of running through a five acre playground, the exhilaration of zip-lining across a forest, and joy of braving the rapids of the Shenandoah River, they were totally changed.
And I’ve heard them talk about it with their friends more times than I can count.
We’re ready for a return trip, and I’m hoping that our sharing this trip will encourage more of our friends to take time off to explore the Shenandoah Valley and plan something awesome thanks to Trekaroo and the Go Blue Ridge site, the Kids Trail in particular.
The Kids Trail isn’t actually a trail, so keep your hiking boots on, my friends. The Kids Trail is simply one part of the Go Blue Ridge Travel site that’s filled to the brim with cool activity ideas for kids.
Here’s the skinny. . .
Outdoor Adventures for the Whole Family–Shenandoah Valley:
We loved our weekend away for many reasons, but I’ll share with you our top 7 reasons to go.
1. It brings you back to the good, old-fashioned family time.
Sure, we spend a lot of time with our kids. We are together as a family a lot.
But our weekend in the Shenandoah Valley gave us a chance to spend time together in ways that reminded me of the yesteryears.
We picked fruit. At MacIntosh Fruit Farm, the girls and I picked cherries, strawberries, and asparagus. (Well, okay. We found one asparagus stalk and we picked it. Does that count?)
We stuffed our faces with strawberry shortcake and cherry muffins and cherry cheesecake at the Farm, and we loved every second of it.
2. It gets your family moving.
We got up early and didn’t stop moving until our heads hit the pillow. But we chose such a diverse bunch of activities that we were engaged and energized the whole way. Thanks to the GoBlueRidgeTravel Kids Trail, we were very easily able to find a ton of activities for our active, adventure-seeking family.
Because we knew we wanted some outdoor activities, we simply plugged that option in on the Kids Trail site like this:
And tons of ideas came up! Awesome, right?
Our weekend game plan was this:
- Grab the kids immediately after school, and hit the road!
- Check into the hotel. (We stayed at the amazing George Washington Hotel which was so comfortable and luxurious at the same time!)
- Relax, order dinner in from George’s (The ribs? To die for!) and swim in the hotel’s indoor pool. (Complete with a jacuzzi–yay!)
- Breakfast at George’s. (We dined in this time, and oh my goodness, the Chesapeake Eggs Benedict was our fave!)
- Picked cherries and strawberries at MacIntosh Fruit Farm (Their strawberries and cherries were perfect!) then ate there.
- Went on a quick hike at Bear’s Den. (So much history and so much fun!)
- Played at Great Country Farm. (My kids are still talking about the huge bouncing pillow!)
- Ate dinner in Olde Town Winchester. (Super dining options–something for everyone!).
- Watched our first drive-in movie at Family Drive-In Theater. (Family-friendly and just like I remembered the drive-ins of my childhood!)
- Slept in a bit after our late night!
- Packed up and checked out of the hotel.
- Headed straight to Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center where we zip lined and rafted! (My kids are already begging for a return trip!)
We were busy! But it was all fun–and we’d do it again in a heartbeat!
3. It challenges you and takes you to new heights.
We never thought we would be a zip-lining family. Ever.
Our guides, Will and Olivia, were the most supportive and patient teachers ever. They taught us everything we needed to know about staying safe while zip-lining, and they kept the experience light and fun. They were the perfect mix of serious and silly, and we were grateful to have them as part of our day.
Take a quick look at our photos from Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center to see how much fun we had:
And? We never imagined that we would be rafting over level three rapids. Ever.
But we did, and we had an incredible time.
We went out on the river with two other groups, after a short but thorough safety intro and how-to. We spent about two hours on the Shenandoah River. It was honestly one of the most exhilarating and memorable experiences ever.
Our guide was SpaceBob (think: SpongeBob and know that apparently river guides have river names), but he was far from spacey. SpaceBob was a true leader and fearless guide.
He instantly grabbed Maddy when she fell off of the raft (not even kidding!), calmed my nutso worried mama nerves, and taught us a bit about the river and its history through the trip. He was funny and great with our kids.
Even with Maddy falling off of the raft, even with two hours of rowing, and even with having spent the morning zip-lining, we left the river smiling and planning our return trip.
4. It’s a great combination of high-end comfort and real adventure.
One thing we loved about our weekend was that we were able to relax in an affordable–but luxurious–hotel after a long day of excitement and adventure.
Our hotel room was huge–it very comfortably slept all five of us, with a king bed, a sofa bed, and a rollaway bed. We had a sitting room with fireplace, teeny kitchen (microwave and mini fridge), and the most fantastic bathroom ever–the spa shower had a rainfall from the ceiling, side sprays, and a regular shower.
Take a quick look at our tour of our room:
5. It’s got options for everyone.
From restaurants to activities to places to stay, there’s something for everyone in the Shenandoah Valley of the Virginias. Even our outdoor adventure day could be catered a bit differently to each family’s needs while still keeping everyone outside and moving!
- If your family totally loves hiking, you could spend the day hiking at Bear’s Den.
- If your kids love parks and playgrounds, you could easily spend the day at Great County Farms.
- If your kids are into adventure, Harper’s Ferry Adventure Center has it all–spend the day there!
6. It involves tons of sneaky learning.
My kids don’t even realize it, but the weekend was a complete learning experience.
The great gal at MacIntosh Fruit Farm taught us what to look for in the cherries we picked and shared with us a bit about her favorite spots in the area–one of which was Bear’s Den, our very next stop!
We learned about the history of Bear’s Den on the signs at this unique hikers’ center.
Bear’s Den is a historic stone mansion that sits on 66 acres and is 150 yards from the Appalachian Trail. Bear’s Den boasts a beautiful, westward-facing overlook of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains, and it’s a cool spot for families, hikers, and backpackers because it’s a lodge, hiker hostel, campground, and cottage in the woods.
Many hikers use Bear’s Den as a starting point for a hike going north or south on the Appalachian Trail, as a sunset viewed from the overlook at Bear’s Den is said to be the best in the area!
Though the building itself was closed (or seemed to be) when we were there, we kind poked around a bit, read the signs, and enjoyed a short hike near the building.
Cora, from Great Country Farm, talked us through the butterfly life cycle with the help of one of their signs, and we learned about the strawberry life cycle (who knew?!), cows, honey, and more.
The kids played for a long time at the Great Country Farm gem mining area, and even working their way through the play areas, the rope maze especially, got their brains moving!
At the Family Drive-In Theater, the owner, Jim, took us up to the video room and taught us how the drive-in works! He is so easy to talk to, and his excitement about running the drive-in theater is contagious. It’s been his dream to run a drive-in, and now he’s doing it.
Jim hosts all kinds of cool events at the theater, and he really makes it a welcoming community event. They hosted a free-popcorn day for fathers on Father’s Day, a Yard Crawl (huge yard sale) in August, Labor Day Dusk to Dawn movies (movies all night long!), the annual Halloween Costume Contest and Trunk or Treat event, and more.
Even though my crew dozed off (okay, well I dozed off–) before the end of Tomorrowland, the experience was unforgettable!
7. It’s closer than you think.
The Shenandoah Valley of the Virginias is closer to those of us in the DC Metro Area than you may think.
I once thought that our only day trip options were Annapolis, Baltimore, DC, and Northern Virginia. I had no idea that we could get to this area of the Blue Ridges in under two hours.
When we left Harper’s Ferry on Sunday, it took us less than an hour to get home. What a treat!
Remember, no matter where in the world you are, little hidden gems like the Shenandoah Valley are probably nearby.
Do some exploring of your own this summer. Ask around. Find out what areas are close to you that you never thought to explore.
We. Had. Such. A. Blast. I’d love for you, too, to have an awesome experience!
Check out our video re-cap:
And now? A chance for you to win your own family getaway!
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fyi: I was invited to take my family to the Shenandoah Valley as part of a Trekaroo campaign with GoBlueRidge. I was compensated for my time, and our experiences were covered by the above partners. As always, my opinions and ideas are all my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent and my three little adventure-seekers.