Summertime is right around the corner, and now is the time to begin filling your planning calendar with some great day-trip retreats with the family. We are all familiar with most family-friendly outings in the NRV, so here’s a list of some great road trips beyond the valley in just a day’s drive round trip. So, road warriors pack up your back seat drivers (in-laws are optional), sunblock, and snacks and make some new memories with these delightful day destination recommendations:
1. Ace Adventure Resort, Oak Hill, WV
This 5 acre water park sits among the gorgeous mountain vista’s of West Virginia, this park offers white sandy beaches, movie nites, hiking and biking trails, and 50 inflatable toys and water obstacles. An added perk is the spring-fed lake is situated within its exclusive 1500-acre resort. (ETT 1:45)
Insider tip: Be sure to check weather forecasts before traveling.
2. Old Salem, Winston-Salem, NC
Step back in time more than 265 years and immerse yourself in Moravian history in Old Salem. This restored settlement community rests in the heart of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and provides visitors the living settlement experience with hands-on opportunities, gorgeous gardens, restored period homes, presentations, tours, and dining. A great chance to experience Colonial America without the long drive to Williamsburg. After the day of fun, travel to downtown Winston-Salem and enjoy a diverse selection fantastic family-friendly dining experiences.
Insider tip: Don’t leave without picking up their signature Moravian Cookies.
3. Natural Bridge, Natural Bridge, VA
The newest member of the Virginia State Parks, Natural Bridge is an affordable opportunity for families to enjoy what Thomas Jefferson described as, “the most sublime of nature’s works”. Markers inside the stone marvel show “GW” engraved. It is believed to be the engraving of George Washington during an exploration of the region in early America. Continue the level, easy to manage trail another mile to take in the waterfall vistas.
Insider tip: Remember to sync your Fitbit.
4. Natural Bridge Caverns, Natural Bridge, VA
Now open and with full renovations almost complete, the NBC makes a great second stop just down the road from Natural Bridge. Guides are very kid friendly and really enjoy excited, inquisitive kids. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and is a great value for budget-minded families.
Insider tips: roll up your sleeves and take in some old-fashioned gem mining on site while you’re there.
5. Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, Lynchburg, VA
Adjacent to Liberty University’s campus in Lynchburg, VA, the Snowflex Center offers year-round outdoor boarding and tubing at its mountain location. Activities include snow sports lessons, year-round tubing, bag jump airbags, and an Olympic trampoline. Hourly and day passes are offered.
Insider tip: Do the beginner slope first. Even experienced snow pro’s find this helpful in acclimating themselves to the physical structure.
6. Visit Mayberry, Mount Airy, NC
Stroll the hometown streets which inspired Andy Griffith’s character in the classic Andy Griffith Show. A true Southern cultural experience, families can enjoy carriage rides, tours, shopping, local music, fantastic food and the annual Mayberry Festival. Mom and Dad can also break away and savor varietals of the Yadkin Valley wine region at Shelton Vineyards. While the wine tastings are for 21+, the winery is very family-friendly with winery tours, open fields, picnic areas, and adjacent restaurant.
Insider tip: Stop by the landmark Snappy Lunch on Main Street in Mt. Airy and order the pork chop sandwich.
7. Randolph Park, Dublin, VA
A late start doesn’t mean a dreary day. Just off exit 98 on I-81 S, Randolph Park offers hiking trails, ball fields, playgrounds, and a pool and water park that draws visitors from as far away as NC and WV. The water park includes a 2 story slide and Olympic sized pool for the older kids and walk-in wading area and water features for the wee ones. Snack bar on site.
Insider tips: Get there early or late afternoon for best seats. Pulaski County residents can buy multi-visit discounted passes.
8. New River Gorge Bridge and National River, Glen Jean, WV
Built in 1977, this bridge is the longest steel bridge in the western hemisphere and 3rd tallest in the US. Visitors can drive across the expanse and capture some great family selfies at the adjacent Visitors Center, then hike the area trails with varying degrees of challenge. Also noteworthy, ‘Bridge Day’ is held on third Saturday of October each year with activities, views, food and crafts and breathtaking BASE jumping and rappelling. Best of all, it’s free!
Insider tip: Pack a picnic. Restaurant selection is sparse, but the vistas from the picnic tables overlooking the bridge are extraordinary.
9. Trail Town, USA Damascus, VA
Seven major trails intersect in this small country community near Abingdon. A laid-back community, both shops and restaurants welcome outdoor adventurers to enjoy their community. Opportunities for biking, hiking, horseback riding, are among the many options to immerse within this town nestled among the peaks of the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area.
Insider tip: Pack water bottles and sunblock. Once you start walking among the gorgeous native plants and flowers, a short walk will be an all-day adventure
10. Tweetsie Railroad, Blowing Rock, NC
Last but not least. Longest but well worth the extra little bit of a drive. Early birds with young children will love a visit to Tweetsie Railroad. A nostalgic icon to residents of North Carolina, western Virginia, and eastern Tennessee, this small western-themed amusement park caters to both the young and old alike. Generations of families make the trek to share memories of riding the coal-fired steam engine trains, daily live entertainment. smells of homemade fudge, age appropriate rides, and charming yet sizable petting zoo.
Insider tip: Children can ride along as Thomas the Tank Engine pulls them through the valleys surrounding the park at the annual Day out With Thomas, scheduled this year for June 8-17. If you plan to attend this event, you are encouraged to purchase advance tix.
ETT: Estimated travel time to the destination from New River Valley
|About the Author: A self-proclaimed first class traveler with an economy budget, Cris Thompson loves and lives travel experiences from snorkeling in Belize to camping at Claytor Lake. Visiting more than 7 countries via land, air and sea in just the past 4 years alone, she always looks to find the best travel deals for herself, her husband, and 5-year-old daughter and loves sharing her dollar-saving tips with family and friends.|
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