Summer Activities in Central Virginia #Staycation

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charlottesville vacation

Planning on a staycaton this year? I have teamed up with several other bloggers to bring you a list of great staycation places throughout the United States!  A Staycation allows you to have fun in your own backyard! There are many activities you can do that won’t break the bank. Plus it’s always nice to explore your own backyard!

The region I am writing about is Charlottesville, Virginia. Charlottesville is located in the heart of Virginia surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a beautiful place full of historic activities to keep you busy this summer! There are several free activities in Charlottesville which are great for the whole family.

Free Activities in Charlottesville

Charlottesville Historic Downtown Mall: This is a fun place to go and people watch on a warm summer night. There are numerous places to eat and eclectic little shops to window shop. The evenings and weekends usually mean street vendors are out in full force.

Farmers Markets: Meade Park has Farmer’s Market on Wednesday. Saturday morning head to downtown Charlottesville for the City Market for fresh produce. Although you will have to pay for your goods, I find it is always fun to walk the Farmer’s Market whether I buy things or not.

Free Trolley: The Charlottesville Area Transit offers a free trolley service around downtown and the University of Virginia campus.

Fridays After Five: Every Friday the Pavilion hosts a free concert with local and regional bands. It is a perfect family friendly event located in downtown Charlottesville. It would be perfect for a warm summer night to listen to music and then take a stroll at the Downtown Mall.

Humpback Rocks Hike: Head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a take a hike. There is a small visitors center with a replica mountain farm. There are several trails for hiking- from easy to strenuous. There is also a trail that leads to the Appalachian Trail.

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection: It is free to visit this art museum. The collection focuses on Australian Aboriginal art interpretation.

McCormick Observatory: The McCormick Observatory is open to the public on the first and third Friday of the month. View celestial objects through the McCormick Refractor and two small telescopes. This event is dependent on the weather.

Old Stone Jail Museum: Located in Fluvanna County, you can tour a jail built in 1828. The tour is free but they do ask for a donation.

Parks: There are numerous parks and lakes for public use. Many do not charge an entrance fee. The ones that do, it looks like a minimal fee.

Rivanna Trail: The Rivanna Trail is about 20 miles long giving you plenty of trails to explore! The trail connects 6 city parks and is great for hiking or running.

Sprinkler Parks: There are a few sprinkler parks or spray grounds located in Charlotteville that are great for children in the 2-5 year old range.Locations at Forest HillsGreenleaf Park and Belmont Park. The kids will have fun running through the water and playing on the playground. Bring a picnic for a true frugal fun day!

University of Virginia: Walk the beautiful campus of the University of Virginia. There a beautiful red brick buildings and plentiful grass areas for a picnic.

University of Virginia Art Museum: The Art Museum has several permanent exhibits and is located on the UVa campus.

Check out the calendar of events for the Downtown Mall for more activities.

Other Activities Around Charlottesville:

Ash Lawn Highland: Visit the home of James Monroe. General admission for locals is just $5 each.

Frontier Culture Museum: Located in Staunton, the Frontier Culture Museum tells a story of thousands of immigrants during the 1600 and 1700?s. There are reproductions of traditional rural buildings from England, Germany, Ireland, West Africa, and America. General admission is $10, kids (6-12) $6 and kids 6 and under are free.

The Glass Palette: Create one of a kind glass art. From stained glass to glass beads and plates, this is a fun activity for the art lovers.

Highlands Golf Park: Hit golf balls on the range or play miniature golf. Follow Highlands Golf Park on facebook for special savings and coupons.

Hot Air Balloon Ride: There are several companies that offer hot air balloon rides in Charlottesville. This is a great way to see the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains! Check out the list of available ballooning companies in Virginia.

Ivy Creek Natural Area: Plan a picnic and take a hike. There are 7 miles of walking trails.

Jefferson-Madison Regional Library: Check the events calendar for free story time and craft activities.

Jefferson Theater: Various events and concerts throughout the year. Ticket prices vary.

John Paul Jones Arena: There are several concerts and entertainment events that happen throughout the year. Prices and performances vary.

Kegler Lanes: On a hot summer day have some fun inside bowling. Kegler Lanes participates in the Kids Bowl Free program too!

Meadowcreek Golf Course: This golf course is located right in the middle of Charlottesville at Penn Park. This golf course also has a First Tee program for kids ages 5-17.

Michie Tavern: Enjoy an 18th Century style lunch in an old tavern. Servers dress in period clothing. It is an expensive lunch at $16.75 for adults, $10.95 kids (12-15), $6.95 kids (6-11) and kids 6 and under eat free with an adult buffet. It is all you can eat and very good food!

Monticello: Visit the home of Thomas Jefferson. The grounds are beautiful! Adult tickets start at $22 and a child’s ticket is $8. Children under age 6 are free.

Montpelier: Visit the home of James Madison in Orange, Virginia. There are several Hand-On activities and tours. An adult ticket is $16, kids (6-14) $8 and kids 6 and under are free.

Movies: If you are planning on seeing a movie while in Charlottesville there are several theaters. Check out Fandango to compare times and movies being played at all of the theaters. Don’t forget about the summer movie programs for kids!

Onesty Family Aquatic Center: Get away from the heat by visiting the water slides! There are various prices for admission- city residents start at $6 and non-city residents start at $11.

Orchards: Charlottesville has several orchards. Most do not have general admission fees- just pay for your fruit. Our family always enjoys pick-you-own fruit at Chiles Peach Orchard, Carter’s Mountain and Critzer’s Family Farm. There are activities all summer long at these orchards.

Putt-Putt: There are two 18-hole miniature golf courses at the Putt-Putt.

Virginia Discovery Museum: Young kids will enjoy the hands on activities. There are some permanent exhibits and some change every few months. Admission is $6 per person and age 1 and under are free.

Wine Tasting: There are several wineries located in central Virginia. Check out the list of wineries around Charlottesville to plan your trip.

Day Trip From Charlottesville:

Appomattox Court House National Historic Park: The site where General Robert E. Lee surrendered. During the summer pay $4 per person or a maximum of $10 per car load.

Luray Caverns: Tour the caverns in the Shenandoah Valley. Adult admission is $24 and kids (6-12) are $12. Kids 5 and under are free.

Natural Bridge: A 20 ft. bridge carved out of rock. There is also a cavern tour available. The combo ticket for Natural Bridge and Caverns is $28.99 for an adult and $16.99 for a child (5-12).

Virginia Safari Park: Drive through Safari adventure! You can drive through in your car but I would suggest taking the wagon. We thought this was well worth the drive. There is a petting zoo and then the park that you drive through. Prices start at $16.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids. Add $6.50 for the wagon ride if you decide on that.

Other resources to look at Visit Charlottesville, The HOOK Events Calendar and Albemarle Family.

Make sure you stop by tomorrow for links to all of the other National Staycation posts! There will be just under 50 other blogs to visit for a list of activities all over the Nation.

If anyone has something to add to the list, please leave a comment!

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Renae is a married working mom of two handsome boys. She works as a registered dental hygienist by day and blogs here at How to Have it All by night. She enjoys cooking from scratch, working in her vegetable garden and functional training.

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