Whether it’s spring break or summer vacation, entertaining kids while they’re off from school can be challenging. And that—as many parents will attest—may indeed be an understatement. But we’re a lucky bunch here in Charlottesville. Between indoor facilities (Little Planets is a new favorite), outdoor parks, and week(s)-long camps to suit nearly every interest, parents have a lot of local activities to choose from.
But what about options for parents (and kids) who prefer an outdoor setting? You know, places where families can go to escape the everyday technicolor bustle and get closer to nature. Good news! We’ve got those, too. (I told you we’re lucky.)
Here are our five favorite natural play areas in and around Charlottesville (in no particular order):
Ivy Creek Natural Area
An invaluable resource for nature lovers of all ages, Ivy Creek Natural Area is a 215-acre nature retreat just outside of the city limits. In fact, it’s a designated sanctuary for regional flora and fauna, with trees, plants, and animals unique to Central Virginia. With bi-monthly classes for toddlers and kids, regular workshops for adults, barn days, bird walks, and six miles of serene forest trails, Ivy Creek has something for everyone. Picnics are welcome, but remember the old adage: Leave only footprints, take only photographs.