On the Water
Photo Credit: April Greer, Burke Lake Park
- Harpers Ferry Adventure Center – From tubing and whitewater rafting to an aerial adventure course and ziplining, there is something everyone in the family can enjoy at this outdoor center in western Loudoun. Located on the banks of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, this is the perfect place to get on the water for a remote and relaxing afternoon.
- Penguin Paddling & Hampton’s Landing Marina – Kayaking, Paddleboarding & Boating on the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers is the perfect way to soak up some sun on the water.
- Rent kayaks to explore the lakes, bays, and waterways of Fairfax County, from the scenic eagle-watching opportunities at Mason Neck State Park to the serene lakefront parks at Burke Lake or Lake Fairfax.
- Enjoy a family picnic (with takeout) at one of Alexandria’s vibrant waterfront parks on the Potomac River.
Photo Credit: Hailey Zurschmeide, Great Country Farms
- Great Country Farms – Take a scenic drive through the country for a stop at Great Country Farms. Featuring 400 acres, there is plenty of room to do everything from pick-your-own fruits and vegetables and visit animals to play a game of mini golf or fish in the pond.
- The Little Goat Farm at the Lake – Located on beautiful Lake Manassas in Prince William County, Virginia, the Farm provides guests healthy, sustainable food as well as goat, alpaca, llama, bee products, and free-range eggs. Enjoy special events such as Goat Yoga, Open House Farm Tours, Private Tours, Newborn Snuggling, & Private Parties. Reservations are required to visit.
- Plan ahead for a volunteer day at Arcadia Farm to help build garden beds, tend to the chickens, seeding and/or weeding, and learn about farm life.
- Enjoy quality time with the farm animals (and babies!) at local favorite, Frying Pan Farm Park. The farm preserves and interprets farm life of the 1920s to 1950s, but is also home to a country store, old-time carousel, an equestrian center, and beautiful nature trails.
Hiking & Biking
Photo Credit: Jake McGuire, Theodore Roosevelt Island
- Theodore Roosevelt Island – Escape to the great outdoors in the middle of an urban environment with a trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 91-acre wooded island sanctuary featuring miles of trails designed for hiking or running.
- Neabsco Creek Boardwalk – This ¾ mile long boardwalk allows hikers access to wetlands where the tall grasses and marsh filter pollution from the river and provide a rich habitat for local animals and birds. The walkway is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Trail, which was established by Congress in 1983 designating an 800-mile trail network stretching from the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania to the Potomac River, winding through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia.
- Gravelly Point – Take a walk or a bike ride along the Mount Vernon Trail to Gravelly Point and watch planes fly to and from nearby Reagan National Airport. Its unique location just a few hundred feet from the north end of Reagan’s runway 1/19 makes it one of the best spots in the United States for airplane-spotting. Bring a picnic lunch, frisbee and/or your bike and explore beautiful scenic views of Washington, DC and the Potomac River.
- Support local bicycle businesses while picking up a coffee or juice before hitting the bike trails in Fairfax County. A couple of great ones to start with that are located directly off the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (a 45-mile paved stretch through three counties) include Green Lizard Cycling in Herndon and The Bike Lane in Reston.
- Bike into D.C. or along the riverside Mount Vernon Trail with rentals from Unlimited Biking or Pedego Electric Bikes in Alexandria. While cycling, scan the tidal marsh for creatures across the food chain, from darting fish to sun-tanning turtles to stately bald eagles.
Photo Credit: Nicole Warner, Leesylvania State Park
- Leesylvania State Park – This picturesque park has five tent-only campsites. One large group campground and four individual campsites for visitors arriving by canoe or kayak. The group campsite contains several picnic tables, benches, running water, and a large fire pit with a grill top. There is also plenty of room for recreational activities in the large field adjacent to the campsite. The individual sites are located near a small boat launch and contain a picnic table, a fire pit with grill top, and a lantern hook. Leesylvania State Park is known for great fishing, beaches with swimming areas and historical hiking trails.
A universally accessible fishing pier, playground, boat launch, boat storage area, snack bar and store, visitor center and gift shop are available. A 20-station fitness trail and canoe and kayak rentals also are available.
- Algonkian Regional Park – Rent one of 12 vacation cottages along the Potomac River at this regional park in Loudoun. With decks, grills, full kitchens and multiple bedrooms, these cottages are perfect for a secluded vacation destination spot. While at the park, tee up at the 18-hole golf course, hike the trails or utilize the boat launch to get out on the water.
- Prince William Forest Park – With 3 front-country campgrounds, 1 back-country campground and 5 cabin camps, Prince William Forest Park offers prime tent and RV camping in the Northern Virginia/DC area.
The park gives visitors a unique opportunity to camp in, hike through, and explore 15,000 wooded acres filled with wildlife and more than 300 years of human history. Campers can enjoy an array of outdoor activities at the park including the 37 miles of hiking trails, on and off-road biking, bird watching, an orienteering coarse, as well as streams and ponds for fishing (permit required and can be obtained at the parks Visitor Center).
History, Parks, and More
Photo Credit: Kristian Summerer, Old Town Alexandria
- Explore self-guided Great Walks in Alexandria with themes ranging from centuries-spanning architecture to photo-friendly artwork to expansive Black history and more. For each walk, check out our accompanying Google Map to plan your route—though you’ll be tempted (and welcome) to detour.
- Air Force Memorial – Located on a beautiful hillside vista, the Air Force Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of U.S. airmen with three stainless steel spires evoking an image of jet and space vehicle flight. The Air Force Memorial is open to the public, and admission and parking are free. The memorial is located adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery and is about a mile walk from both Pentagon City Station and Pentagon Station.
- Gulf Branch Nature Center & Park – The wooded, 38-acre Gulf Branch Nature Center & Park is a sensory experience for your tots with a log cabin, interactive exhibits and a working blacksmith’s forge. If you’re short on time, work out their energy at one of the more urban area’s playgrounds like Quincy Park near Virginia Square and Rocky Run Park in Clarendon.
- Go Ape! Zip Line & Treetop Adventure – Soar through the forests on one of the four courses offered, both for adults and youth!
- Roer’s Zoofari – This local zoo is home to Waffles the Giraffe, lemurs, zebra, kangaroo, cheetah and more. 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, including bison, llamas, fallow deer, and more.
- Colvin Run Mill is an often overlooked 19th century historic site that is home to a working waterwheel, miller’s house and blacksmith forge, scenic walking areas, and a general store where you can purchase cornmeal and flour that was produced on site!
- George Mason’s Gunston Hall – Learn about the life of Founding Father George Mason, the father of the Bill of Rights, at his iconic home, Gunston Hall. Archaeology and hiking opportunities are exciting add-ons to the mansion tour.
For more ideas for your Northern Virginia vacation, visit www.NorthernVA.org.