48-Hour Family Getaways in Virginia: Fun-Filled Adventures That Feel Worlds Away

Need to getaway for a great weekend? We gotchu.

You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg, wear silly mouse ears or bunk at grandma’s house for your next family getaway. In fact, the perfect destination may be just a quick drive or short plane ride away in Virginia. Because when it comes to memory-making and family-friendly adventures, the state of Virginia has endless options. Don’t believe us? We partnered with Virginia Tourism to help create three inspirational itineraries for different trips that you and your family could take to Jamestown and Williamsburg; Virginia Beach; or the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Take a look, bookmark the page and clear time in your calendar!

What To See In Jamestown And Williamsburg

1) Twist, Shout And Scream Your Face Off: Busch Gardens
If you want your getaway to provide a real change of pace -- like the kind of pace you go after you drop 74 feet on a roller coaster -- there’s Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The theme park is the perfect place for speed freaks young and old as it has attractions for both older kids, teens and adults (including seven roller coasters) as well as a number of rides that have been specially designed for kids 9 years old and younger.
2) Get Wet And Get Wild: Water Country USA
Is a vacation really a vacation if you never have a chance to slip into a bathing suit and get really, really soaked? When you’re ready to cool off -- and get drenched -- Water Country USA, one of the largest water parks in the United States, is right around the corner from Busch Gardens. With a variety of relaxing pools, super-fast slides and a play area for young children with splash zones and fountains, every member of your family will have a chance to find his or her perfect spot at the water park.
3) Immerse Yourself In Living History: Colonial Williamsburg
It doesn’t matter how much History Channel you watch, there’s only one 300-plus acre village out there where you and your children can learn -- and see and feel -- what life was like for the colonists. Going on history walks, engaging with “character interpreters” in period costumes, watching shoemaking, printmaking, wig making and brick making -- or even making some of these items yourself -- are just some of the offerings at the largest living-history museum in existence. For kids who’ve grown up with computers and smartphones, Colonial Williamsburg might be the one thing left that can blow their minds.
4) Go Back In Time: Historic Jamestown
There’s no smartphone app in existence that lets you roll back the calendar and live like the Powhatan Indians and English settlers did in 1607; but that’s what you and your family can do in Jamestown. At Historic Jamestowne, the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America, you can take part in an active archeological dig of early America. Then spend time in a re-created Powhatan Indian village and climb aboard replicas of the ships that carried the first English colonists at Jamestown Settlement.
5) Make Like An Ape: Go Ape Zip Line & Treetop Adventure
If your children are 10 and older, make sure your family sets aside two to three hours for an oh-so-different outdoor adventure that’s part adrenaline rush and part sky-high nature exploration. The Go Ape zip-line canopy tour will thrill even the most jaded teenagers (and adults) in your family when they’re strapped into harnesses, zooming through the air. Trust us, when you’re going this fast and you’re this high up, no one is sneaking a peek at their phone.

Where To Go In Virginia Beach

6) Watch Something Other Than Netflix: Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is not your run-of-the-mill aquarium. In addition to its more than 800,000 gallons of aquariums and animal habitats -- and that includes a 300,000-gallon tank with stingrays and sharks -- there are also marshlands and beautiful nature paths to explore. Two-hour whale and wildlife boat tours also depart regularly from the property. The expeditions are led by incredibly-knowledgeable staff and volunteers who can help you and your family search out whales, dolphins and seals.
7) Listen To Music While Smelling The Ocean: Neptune’s Park
If you love the sound of the ocean and the smell of saltwater, make sure you spend at least one evening with your family taking in a concert at the 31st Street Stage, which is also known as Neptune’s Park. From rock and roll to large-scale symphony setups, the free concerts that take place in the park every night in the summer shouldn’t be missed.
8) Stroll Hand In Hand: Virginia Beach Boardwalk
Before the show, take a stroll, ride a bike or rent a surrey on the famed, three-mile boardwalk. There are plenty of places along the way to browse for souvenirs, taste some of the best saltwater taffy in the world or even enjoy a small amusement park. In addition, since we now live in a time of “pictures or it didn’t happen,” don’t go home without taking a photo in front of the 34-feet-tall statue of majestic King Neptune by artist Paul DiPasquale. Although the statue is relatively new (it was only unveiled in 2005), it’s already considered a can’t-miss landmark spot in Virginia Beach.
9) Go Sunup To Sundown (And Get Sleep Too): First Landing State Park
The nearly 3,000-acre state park, which more than one million people visit each year, is made up of beach, lagoon, fields and trail -- which means you can swim, fish or boat as well as hike or bike. There are also nine trails in the park totaling 19 miles. But if none of those appeal to you or your little ones, there is an ever-changing schedule of activities during the summer months just for children. With names like “Swamp Stomp,” “Scales To Tails” and “Seaside Creations,” how can you or they resist? And when you’re done with your day and all Swamp-Stomped out, you can stay overnight at one of the park’s 200 campsites or cabins available for rent.
10) Dine On Delicious Seafood Dinners, Lunches And Breakfasts: Restaurants All Over
Yes, Virginia is for lovers…For lovers of seafood. The crab in Virginia Beach is so admired that a New York Times’ critic once wrote that the seaside city was home to “the world’s pearliest and most toothsome crab meat.” And Virginia Beach Oysters, also known as “Lynnhaven,” are reported to be among the world’s sweetest with minimal brine. While the list of restaurants, cafes and bars where one can find delicious food and drink in Virginia Beach is long, here are just some of our favorites: Bay Local (culinary style described as "Coastal Southern”), Big Sam’s (fresh seafood and dockside dining) and Waterman’s Surfside Grille (dishes served with a “slice of coastal living”).

What To Do In The Shenandoah Valley

11) Lose Yourself In A Corn Maze: Back Home On The Farm
After time at the beach, it’s time to head to the farm. At least, that’s what thousands of visitors do each year when they visit the 240-acre farm of Gary and Lynne Hess to get lost in their immense and legendary corn maze, go on hayrides, pet barnyard animals and eat delicious -- and farm-fresh, of course -- food. Their farm is open from mid-April through some of November and has attractions and activities that change depending on the season.
12) See A Movie Under The Stars: The Family Drive-In Theatre
If seeing a drive-in movie with your honey and little honeys is on your bucket list, you’ll want to head to The Family Drive-In Theatre when you’re in town. The two-screen theater has been in operation since 1956 and it is one of the last of its kind in the country. There’s a playground on the property so your kids can run around while the sun is still out; and then, when it gets dark, you can get comfy in your car, gorge on popcorn, and watch a movie Sandy-and-Danny style under the nighttime sky.
13) Unplug (But Connect With Nature): Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park has more than 500 miles of trails, many which have been designated as family friendly. Limberlost Trail, for example, is a 1.3 mile loop that’s for visitors of all ages and abilities and it includes an introductory exhibit and kids’ activity guide. Before you leave for the National Park, make sure you read up on your chosen trail, pack some high-energy snacks and plenty of water. When you’re on the trail, blogger Nancy Craun of Go Blue Ridge Travel, advises letting your kids find things that appeal to them like “a fallen tree, an oddly shaped rock or a stream along the hiking route. Bugs, birds and leaves will also grab their attention.”
14) Get Your Shakespeare On: The Blackfriars Playhouse
Fun fact: there are only two authentic Shakespeare theaters in the world. One, perhaps not surprisingly, is The Globe Theatre in England. The other? Well, do you want to guess where it’s located? Yes, it’s the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, a re-creation of Shakespeare’s theatre in London that was demolished in 1655. The theatre, which is home to the internationally-acclaimed American Shakespeare Center troupe, has ongoing opportunities to not only see shows but take actor-led backstage tours.
15) See A Natural Wonder: Luray Caverns
After you’ve brushed up on your Shakespeare – or your United States History – there is another area that shouldn’t be missed when you visit Virginia: speleology (the study of caves). We just don’t think that a trip to the Shenandoah Valley would be complete without a visit to one of its spectacular underground caverns with their extraordinary crystalline formations. And while you have your choice of subterranean excursions in the area, Luray Caverns is the largest on the east coast and offers additional attractions – from a toy museum to a ropes course – that are sure to entice family members of all ages.
16) Ride, Bike, Kayak And More: Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail
Has it become clear yet that Virginia is for lovers of family fun? And the Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail is a case in point. Despite what it may sound like, the “trail” isn’t one single destination but, rather, a collection of places and activities in the Shenandoah Valley that includes options for kayaking, tubing, fishing, rafting, horseback riding, biking, hiking, birding, camping and feeding animals. (Yes, really.) And, there’s an interactive game to play when traveling the trail called “Buddy’s Bucket Adventures” with check-ins, points and awards.

There is so much to do in Virginia, it will be challenging to fit everything into a 48-hour vacation – but you will have no trouble enjoying yourself! It’s never too early to plan your next visit at Virginia.org. You will doubtlessly fall in love with all that the Old Dominion has to offer because Virginia Is For Lovers.