Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., have so many destinations available to visit that the hardest part can be deciding where to go. Here are five places for families who want both enjoyment and education.
1. Mount Vernon
Visiting George Washington's home is a must for anyone interested in history, but this is much more than just an historic house. It has farm animals, demonstrations of how farming worked in Washington's time, gardens to walk through, video presentations about Washington's life, and even a rebuilt distillery and gristmill nearby.
2. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
Although the Air and Space Museum in D.C. is also great, the Udvar-Hazy Center's collection of aircraft is arguably more impressive. Highlights include the Space Shuttle and the Concorde. The museum also offers an IMAX theater and several flight simulators for those who want more intense experiences.
3. The National Zoo
This is one of the best places in the region for elementary-aged children. Everyone loves watching the pandas, as well as the many other animals on display, but there is more to do than just watch. The kids’ farm allows younger children to pet tame animals, Amazonia puts you in the rain forest, and various daily demonstrations allow people to talk to zookeepers and meet certain animals up close.
4. Great Falls
This set of waterfalls is fairly close to D.C., but a world away from the traffic and noise. It offers many scenic views and hiking trails which are a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area. The park also offers a junior ranger program for kids to enjoy.
5. Manassas National Battlefield
Two important Civil War battles took place at Manassas, and there is no better way to learn about them than by going to the battlefield itself. In addition to hiking the battlefields, you can see a film at the visitor center and tour the museum on site. As with Great Falls, kids can take part in a junior ranger program during their visit.