Stir-Crazy With Kids? Try These Local Outings

Feed the animals, build a Lego masterpiece, climb to new heights and play a round of mini golf in the sky.
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The new Lego Discovery Center, coming to Springfield Town Center in August, will include an Imagination Express train ride through a giant Lego world (Press photo)

School’s out and summer is in full swing, which might mean you need some ideas for keeping the kids busy and active. We’ve got you. Here are some fun-filled adventures to suit every interest, all within a 50-minute drive of Arlington.


The Climb UPton ropes course at Upton Hill Regional Park (Photo courtesy of NOVA Parks)

Choose Your Own Adventure

Arlington’s Upton Hill Regional Park has something for every adventure-seeker. Baseball lovers can enjoy America’s pastime at the park’s batting cages, which have slow, medium and fast pitch speeds. Bats and helmets are available for free, and you can get 14 balls for $2. Cool off at Ocean Dunes Waterpark, which includes a 500-gallon dumping bucket and waterslides—a 230-foot open one and a 170-foot enclosed one for a thrilling ride in darkness. Entry fees to the waterpark range from free for kids 2 and younger to $13 per adult, depending on the day you go. Park visitors can also hit the putting green for a round of mini golf ($3.50 to $7) or reach new heights at Climb UPton, an aerial ropes course and daredevil’s dream with 90 vertical elements, including a 40-foot freefall. Note that kids ages 5 to 7 must be accompanied by an adult on the climbing elements // 6060 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington

Baby Goat

Get your cute goat fix at Hope and Serenity Farm Sanctuary in Nokesville (Photo by Katie Keller Dugan)

Flip Out Over Farm Animals

The nonprofit Hope and Serenity Farm Sanctuary in Nokesville, Virginia, provides a picturesque home to more than 250 rescue animals, some of which roam free around the property. Wear closed-toed shoes and get up close and personal with alpacas, horses, pigs, roosters, goats, chickens, sheep, dogs and cats. Visits are by appointment only. A one-hour tour ($20 per person; free for kids 2 and under) includes a guided walk and opportunities to pet and feed the animals. The farm also offers horseback riding lessons, a preschool program and summer camps. // 10445 Manley Road, Nokesville

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The new Lego Discovery Center promises activities galore, including hands-on building workshops (Press photo)

Get Your Brick On

Got a budding engineer on your hands? Plan a day of creating at the new Lego Discovery Center, slated to open Aug. 14 in the Springfield Town Center. The 32,000-square-foot facility will feature 12 zones with activities targeted to youngsters ages 2 to 12, including a 4D sensory cinema, an Imagination Express train ride through a giant Lego world, a make-your-own-minifig station and a Mini World created from more than 1.5 million Lego bricks. Visitors can do their own hands-on building in the Workshop, Creative Club and the Tree of Imagination. Swing by the Hero Zone to negotiate a Lego laser maze and scale a climbing wall, then refuel at the Lego Café. Admission $28.99 to $36.99 per person. // 6563 Springfield Town Center, Suite 12004

Skate This Way

Grab a skateboard, scooter or rollerblades, helmet up and check out the 17,000-square-foot Powhatan Springs Skate Park. Renovated and reopened in 2019, the concrete playground includes a kidney-shaped Deep Pro Bowl with depths of 8.5 to 11 feet for the more skilled skaters, and a smaller (4.5- to 5-foot) Deep Egg Bowl. Other choice features include ramps, quarter pipes, a skateable doorway and the Flow Bowl. Parents can relax under shaded canopies and umbrella tables with USB charging ports while skaters show off their ollies and kickflips. Restrooms and a water fountain are onsite, and admission is free. // 6020 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Mt Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate (Photo courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association)

Home in on History

Not everyone can say they’re basically neighbors with George Washington. Lucky for us, the first president lived just down the road at Mount Vernon. Take a 20-minute guided tour of the historic mansion to see where George and Martha slept, ate and entertained their famous guests. Visit the Washingtons’ tomb (also located on the grounds), participate in a daily wreath-laying ceremony and learn about the slaves who built and maintained the estate with a 60-minute guided tour (a self-guided option is also available). The on-site museum and education center are also well worth a look-see. Admission $15 (kids ages 6-11); $28 (12 and older); free for children under 5. // 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon

Perch Putt

Perch Putt, a mini golf course on the rooftop of Capital One Center in Tysons (press photo)

Putt Your Heart Out

Ever scored a hole-in-one 11 stories high in the sky? Situated on the rooftop of Capital One Center in Tysons, Perch Putt offers 18 holes of miniature golf with skyline views ($15 per person; reserve a tee time online), plus food trucks (yep, they’re on the roof), picnic tables and a Rhum Roost bar serving cocktails for the grown-ups. The sky park also features giant chess boards, bocce ball, fire pits, a dog run, an outdoor amphitheater, a beer garden and occasional live music.  Prefer a mini-golf experience that’s more old school? If so, the Magic Putting Place in Manassas has two 18-hole courses set among whimsical décor, including a castle, windmill and water features ($6 for 18 holes; $3.50 for an additional 18 holes). Family-friendly music is pumped through an outdoor sound system, and colorful course lightings allow for strategic shots after dusk. The onsite 19th Hole Snack Bar sells snacks and drinks, but it’s worth noting that Nathan’s Dairy Bar next door serves hand-scooped ice cream in fun flavors such as Nutella Chocolate Chip, Horchata and Cow Tax (vanilla with Reese’s cups and fudge). // 1805 Capital One Drive, Tysons; 8902 Mathis Avenue, Manassas

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(Photo by Nadim Merrikh on Unsplash)

Paddle the Potomac

Want to get out on the water? Rent a kayak and launch into the Potomac River from Fletcher’s Boathouse in Georgetown. Children 8 to 15 can hop in a single kayak, provided a supervising adult is always on the water with them, while kids 7 and younger can go in a double kayak with an adult. Head east out of the launch site to float by the Kennedy Center or go ashore on historic Roosevelt Island to enjoy a picnic on the sand. Boat rentals begin at $20. // 940 Canal Road NW, Washington, D.C.

Climb On

If it’s too hot, too rainy or you’re sunburned and looking for an indoor place for kids to burn off all that energy, clip into a harness at ClimbZone and let them scale the walls. With 70-plus challenging walls with hand-painted art in fun themes like the Eiffel Tower and emojis, kids can test their stamina, strength and strategy. There’s also a soft play area for kiddos ages 2 to 10 and a GameZone arcade. $13.99 for 90 minutes of soft play; $27.99 per child (5 and older) for 90 minutes of climbing. // 13200 Mid Atlantic Boulevard, Suite 130, Laurel, Maryland


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Categories: Parents & Kids