They are life-sized and made with tremendous love (though not much talent). The dinosaurs of Dinosaur Land in White Post, Virginia date back to the 1960s and are a kid’s delight. Mixed among the prehistoric preponderance are a King Kong, a 70-foot purple octopus, and a shark you can walk into (and safely out of). Finding weekend retreats with your kids, especially after going through a divorce, can be challenging. Your kids will never know the work you put into finding these gems, but they will treasure the time together.
Make Colossal Memories at Dinosaur Land
You can hardly argue with the price at Dinosaur Land: kids two to 10 are $5; older children and adults are only $6. The gift shop—of course there’s a gift shop—is amply stocked with a wide range of kid-friendly, wallet-welcoming amusements, clothes and curiosities. This Jurassic joint is closed January 1 through the end of February, but throughout the rest of the year it’s a perfectly nostalgic and campy trip back in time.
Dinosaur Land is located at 3848 Stonewall Jackson Highway in Winchester (or White Post, depending on whether you pay attention to the gift shop shirts [Winchester] or Google Maps [White Post]), just off 81 and slightly south of Winchester.
Drive-In Dad: Virginia Drive-In Movie Theaters
If your little prince or princess is a movie buff, consider a weekend trip to catch flicks on the big screen—outdoors. In the right weather, and if you are willing to drive around a bit, you can make a circuit on Friday and Saturday nights, traveling around Virginia to its great drive-ins:
- Central Drive-In—Norton
- Family Drive-In Theatre—Stephens City
- Goochland Drive-In Theater—Family-friendly outdoor movie screen in Hadensville
- Hull’s Drive In—Discount movies since the 1950s in Lexington, VA
- Mayberry Drive-In—New from 2008, with a silver diner on site for sit-down dining before the movie in Moneta
- Park Place Drive-In—Take the kids to the arcade, play mini golf, knock a few in the batting cages, and tempt taste buds at the ice cream shop (oh, and watch movies, too) in Marion
- Starlite Drive-In—Christianburg
The Colonial Kids in Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg may be over the top—to you. To your 10-year-old pint-sized patriot, it is a rich fantasy of history and intrigue. Let your little one dress and act the part; introduce her or him to astonishingly talented actors portraying famous (and not so famous) 18th century men and women. It has gift shops. Kids love gift shops.
The town of Williamsburg is a tourist mecca, so for an inexpensive treat before or after the Colonial experience, treat your kids to king-sized breakfast at Astronomical Pancake and Waffle House. Part of the thrill and craziness of this eatery are the plate-sized pancakes that nobody has a chance of finishing but everyone enjoys ordering. Buy a souvenir shirt for everyone to remember their breakfast bash.
To make a full weekend of the Williamsburg area, consider adding Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown, so your kids are completely saturated with a span of some 179 years’ history from earliest European exploration in 1602 right through the Revolutionary War in 1781.
Up, Up and Away With Your Junior Explorers
Two magical Virginia sites can give the explorer, astronaut or aviator in your family the inspiration to reach for the stars. You can combine them in a weekend jam-packed with wings, rockets, and strange space things.
Start on an early Friday afternoon at the Virginia Air & Space Museum in Hampton, Virginia. The place closes at five, so plan about two hours. Let’s be adults about this–the museum has seen better days, but most kids will never see that. Serving as NASA Langley’s Visitor Center and largely dependent on NASA artifacts, the museum showcases real space vehicles and several interactive experiences. It has a gift shop—of course there’s a gift shop—and is a mere three-hour ride from the weekend triumph, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly.
The Udvar-Hazy Center is the Smithsonian’s (read: free admission) overflow museum housing darn near every plane, rocket, and space weirdness you can imagine. If you have a petite plane buff, this is the place to simultaneously overwhelm and inspire him or her. It has a space shuttle, and nowhere else in Virginia can say that. Allow a whole Saturday at the Center, and consider little legs and short attention spans. Since it’s free (though parking is $15), return the next day to finish up the fabulous flying weekend. Gift shop? Sure!
Spelunk: From Kids to Cavefolk
It sounds like an onomatopoeia, but spelunking means crawling around caves. These kid-friendly Virginia caves are sure to captivate your courageous kid. They are all located in western Virginia. Each has a gift shop (!)
- Luray Caverns—Luray
- Shenandoah Caverns—Quicksburg
- Skyline Caverns—Front Royal
- Natural Bridge Caverns—Natural Bridge; deepest on the east coast
- Endless Caverns—New Market
- Dixie Caverns—Salem
- Grand Caverns—Grottoes
- Gap Caverns—Ewing; Virginia’s only lantern-lit cave tours
Questions about child custody or visitation issues? Talk to the family law attorneys at The Firm for Men. Call our offices today at 757-383-9184 to set up a consultation – we serve all of Hampton Roads!