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50+ Fun Things to Do with Kids in Charlottesville (2023)

50+ Fun Things to Do with Kids in Charlottesville (2023)

Welcome to Charlottesville, a vibrant city brimming with an array of family-friendly activities and attractions that will delight both kids and adults alike! From exploring the historic Monticello to engaging in hands-on learning at the Virginia Discovery Museum, there’s never a dull moment in this charming city. So, buckle up and join us as we dive into 50+ fun things to do with kids in Charlottesville 2023!

Blog Summary

  • Explore Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and the University of Virginia campus
  • Experience interactive learning at the Virginia Discovery Museum
  • Enjoy outdoor activities, escape rooms, climbing gyms & unique experiences in Charlottesville for a family outing!

Exploring Monticello with Kids

Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

When in Charlottesville, a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, is essential. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, offers:

  • Guided tours
  • Family-friendly activities
  • A visitor’s center located at the top of the Saunders-Monticello Trail
  • Free admission for children under 5
  • A fantastic café with delicious food
  • Spotless bathrooms
  • A free 10-minute movie about Thomas Jefferson

This ensures a day of so much fun and learning for all ages.

The Monticello house tour includes:

Insights into the life of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and the founder of the University of Virginia

A walk through the historic building

The opportunity to explore the lush green grounds and gardens

It’s the perfect way to learn about history and enjoy a leisurely stroll in a beautiful setting.

Make sure to explore the University of Virginia campus during your Charlottesville trip, a National historic landmark and the most beautiful school campus in America, according to some. The university offers guided tours, allowing families to experience the historic significance and architectural beauty of this renowned institution.

Virginia Discovery Museum: Interactive Learning

Children playing with interactive exhibits at the Virginia Discovery Museum

Located on the Downtown Mall, the Virginia Discovery Museum stands as Charlottesville’s sole institution dedicated to interactive and educational experiences for children. With a variety of hands-on exhibits in:

  • Art
  • Science
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Nature

This only museum offers a stimulating environment for kids to learn while having loads of fun.

The museum features true-to-life settings, allowing children to explore and engage in different scenarios. Suitable for kids aged 2-6, the Virginia Discovery Museum offers on-site educational programs and special events, including weekly drop-in programs, summer camps, and exciting events like Boo Bash and KidVention.

Conveniently located at 524 E. Main St, Charlottesville, VA 22902, the Virginia Discovery Museum is a must-visit destination for families with young children. Whether it’s building things with large bricks, making magnetic race cars, or constructing a magnetic gravity wall, kids will be absolutely captivated by the museum’s interactive exhibits.

Shenandoah National Park Adventures

Hiking on a trail in Shenandoah National Park, enjoying one of the many things to do with kids in Charlottesville

Shenandoah National Park, located just an hour from Charlottesville, provides families with a breathtaking outdoor experience. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park is a haven for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, birdwatching, fishing, and horseback riding. The park boasts scenic drives, hiking trails, wildlife spotting, and ranger-led programs that educate visitors about the park’s natural and cultural history, biodiversity, and conservation efforts. Old Rag Mountain, a popular destination within the park, offers rock climbing and stunning 360-degree views for the more adventurous families.

For an unforgettable family outing, consider a guided tour with the Rivanna River Company, a kayaking and canoe rental service that offers excellent customer service and amenities, such as dry bags, changing rooms, and a rain barrel to wash feet. With its diverse range of outdoor activities, Shenandoah National Park is a must-visit destination for families visiting Charlottesville.

Charlottesville City Market: A Family Affair

map of charlottesville city

The Charlottesville City Market is a perfect destination for an enjoyable family day out. The variety of offerings at this open-air market is amazing. Over 100 vendors sell everything from fresh produce to grass-fed meat, plants, herbs, and baked goods. Here, visitors can stroll through the market, browse the stalls, shop for fresh ingredients, indulge in tasty treats, and discover unique handmade items. The market also features live music and entertainment, creating a lively atmosphere that all ages can enjoy.

Located at 100 Water St E, Charlottesville, VA 22902, the Charlottesville City Market runs every Saturday morning from April through December. Visiting the market is an excellent opportunity for kids in Charlottesville VA to learn about and appreciate different tastes and textures, as well as support local farmers and artisans.

Downtown Mall Exploration

business shopping at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville

Families will find the Downtown Mall in downtown Charlottesville a vibrant hub teeming with restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. This pedestrian-friendly mall features historic buildings along the city’s Main Street, housing over 120 shops and 30 restaurants.

From toy shops and candy stores to movie theaters and an ice arena, the Downtown Mall offers a plethora of family-friendly activities and experiences. Enjoy live music, plays, and performances at several venues in the area, including the 1912 Jefferson Theater and the Ting Pavilion. After a day of shopping and fun, take a break and savor the delectable cuisine at various restaurants offering international flavors, farm-to-table delights, and classic American fare.

It is easy to get to the Downtown Mall. There are options such as convenient garages and parking lots, and a free trolley service connecting the mall to the University of Virginia along West Main Street.

IX Art Park: Creative Playground

Children playing at IX Art Park, a creative playground

IX Art Park is a perfect spot to spark your creativity, offering a free and immersive art experience that appeals to both kids and adults. This interesting place features a nice mix of outdoor murals, sculptures, and indoor installations created by local artists, offering a unique and inspiring experience for visitors of all ages.

One of the highlights of IX Art Park is The Looking Glass, an immersive and interactive art space that allows children to explore the exciting lights, vibrant colors, and magical enchanted forest. Children under 3 enjoy free admission, making it an affordable and fun experience for families visiting Charlottesville.

Rivanna River Outdoor Activities

Families seeking outdoor adventure will find the Rivanna River an ideal location. Dive into a variety of activities, such as:

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Tubing
  • Hiking
  • Biking

Picnicking along the river’s banks

The Rivanna River Company, Charlottesville’s first paddlesports outfitting service, offers guided tours and instruction for kayaking and canoeing, ensuring a fun and safe experience for all ages.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or new to the sport, the Rivanna River Company’s excellent customer service and amenities, such as dry bags, changing rooms, and a rain barrel to wash feet, will guarantee a memorable family outing in the great outdoors.

Indoor Fun: Escape Rooms and Climbing Gyms

People playing in an rock climbing room in Charlottesville

Even when the weather is uncooperative, there’s no need to worry - Charlottesville boasts an abundance of indoor activities! Escape rooms and climbing gyms are perfect options for families looking to spend a rainy day indoors while still enjoying exciting and engaging activities.

Escape rooms in Charlottesville offer a variety of themes and difficulty levels, catering to both younger children and older kids. Some benefits of participating in escape rooms as a family include:

  • Working together to solve puzzles and uncover hidden clues
  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Enhancing logical thinking abilities
  • Strengthening teamwork and communication skills

By engaging in these family fun activities, or fun things, families can have fun while also developing important skills and bonding with one another.

Climbing gyms in Charlottesville, such as Rocky Top Climbing, provide a thrilling and safe environment for kids and adults alike to challenge themselves physically and mentally. With climbing walls, a bouldering wall, and a fitness area, these gyms cater to climbers of all skill levels, making them an excellent choice for an adrenaline-filled family outing.

Kid-Friendly Dining Options

People dining at a kid-friendly restaurant in Charlottesville

With a diverse culinary scene, Charlottesville presents a wide array of dining options that are kid-friendly and cater to a variety of tastes. With a mix of indoor and outdoor seating options, these restaurants accommodate families, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable dining experience for all.

Some highly recommended family-friendly restaurants in Charlottesville include:

  • Three Notched
  • Monsoon Siam
  • Lampo
  • Burger Bach
  • Al Carbon
  • Tip Top
  • Rev Soup
  • Dairy Market
  • Timberwood Tap Hous
  • Bodo’s Bagels
  • Citizen Burger Bar
  • Vivace
  • Brazos Tacos

Indulge in amazing food ranging from tasty pub grub to delectable international cuisine, ensuring a satisfying dining experience for both kids and adults alike.

While dining at these family-friendly restaurants, parents can rest assured that their children will be well taken care of, with many establishments offering kids’ menus, high chairs, and entertaining activities to keep little ones occupied during the meal.

Whether you’re in the mood for a casual meal at a local burger joint or a more upscale dining experience at a farm-to-table restaurant, Charlottesville’s dining scene offers something for everyone, making it a perfect destination for families with kids.

Educational Attractions for Curious Minds

Charlottesville offers a variety of educational attractions, perfect for families looking to stimulate young minds through entertaining learning experiences. The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection is a fascinating destination for those interested in Indigenous Australian art, offering tours and educational programming related to Aboriginal art and culture. Children visiting the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection will be captivated by the vibrant colors and unique storytelling through art, providing an enriching and educational experience for kids of all ages. Located on the University of Virginia campus, this Australia-dedicated museum offers a one-of-a-kind experience for families visiting Charlottesville.

Another educational attraction worth exploring is the Leander McCormick Observatory, operated by the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia. The observatory allows visitors to:

  • Learn about astronomy and the wonders of the cosmos
  • Explore the night sky through powerful telescopes
  • Attend public lectures and stargazing events
  • Engage in hands-on activities and demonstrations

It is an ideal destination for curious minds and aspiring astronomers alike.

Seasonal Events and Festivals for Families

Hosting a variety of family-friendly seasonal events and festivals, Charlottesville provides a myriad of opportunities for entertainment and bonding experiences. The Tom Tom Founders Festival, scheduled to take place from April 19-23, 2024, is an exciting event that showcases innovation, creativity, and community spirit.

Another festival worth attending is the Dogwood Festival, a family-friendly event that offers a variety of activities for kids, including a carnival with thrilling rides and fun games. The Virginia Festival of the Book, perfect for all ages and interests, celebrates the literary arts and highlights the works of local, national, and international authors and illustrators.

These seasonal events and festivals in Charlottesville provide engaging, family-friendly activities and offer a unique opportunity for families to connect and create lasting memories together.

Outdoor Spaces: Parks and Trails

enjoying the outdoors at a park or trail in Charlottesville

Families can explore and enjoy a wide array of beautiful parks and trails that Charlottesville boasts. From visiting the amazing Darden Towe Park to exploring the stunning Monticello Trail, there’s no shortage of outdoor spaces to discover and appreciate.

Another outdoor gem in Charlottesville is Wildrock. It is an outdoor play paradise for kids, featuring:

  • A stuffed animal wildlife rescue station
  • Hobbit house
  • Wading stream
  • Outdoor kitchen

Wildrock offers endless fun and creativity for children to immerse themselves in nature. These outdoor spaces provide the perfect backdrop for family outings and adventures, making Charlottesville an ideal destination for those who love the great outdoors.

Unique Experiences: Glass Art Studios and Interactive Art Experiences

glass art at a glass art studio

Unique experiences like interactive glass art studios and immersive art installations offer families visiting Charlottesville the chance to create lasting memories. The Glass Palette, located on Market Street, is an interactive glass art studio where kids can let their creativity run wild, choosing colors and designs for their own glass art creations. Parents can also participate in making their own glass art at The Glass Palette, making it a fun and engaging activity for the entire family.

In addition to glass art, children can explore interactive art installations and immersive art experiences throughout Charlottesville, providing a one-of-a-kind experience that will be remembered for years to come. From exploring the mesmerizing lights and colors of The Looking Glass to creating beautiful works of art at The Glass Palette, these unique experiences are sure to leave a lasting impression on families visiting Charlottesville.

Embark on a Memorable Adventure with the Kids in Charlottesville va

Charlottesville offers an array of family-friendly activities and attractions that cater to all interests and ages. From exploring historic sites like Monticello to engaging in hands-on learning at the Virginia Discovery Museum, families will never run out of fun and engaging experiences in this charming city. So pack your bags and prepare to embark on a memorable adventure in Charlottesville, where lasting memories are waiting to be made!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Charlottesville family friendly?

Charlottesville is a great family destination - with plenty of historical, artistic and outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy!

What's Charlottesville famous for?

Charlottesville is widely known for its ties to U.S. history, having served as the home of two former presidents - Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe - and being part of the 71-mile (114 km) historic Three Notch'd Road between Richmond and Charlottesville.

Who is the most famous person from Charlottesville Virginia?

Rob Lowe, the beloved actor born in Charlottesville, Virginia is undoubtedly its most famous person.

What are some must-visit attractions for families in Charlottesville?

Families will love visiting Monticello, the Virginia Discovery Museum, Shenandoah National Park, and IX Art Park in Charlottesville – a perfect mix of educational and fun activities for everyone!

Are there any kid-friendly dining options in Charlottesville?

Yes! Charlottesville has plenty of kid-friendly restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines in an accommodating atmosphere.