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Fun Family Things to Do at Virginia State Parks

After ten years of living in what might as well have been the desert, the sight of the Chesapeake Bay was almost more than I could bear.

Staying in the Yurt at Kiptopeke State Park

Staying in the Yurt at Kiptopeke State Park

Seeing my kids splashing in the water, I knew living in Virginia was going to be terrific. We've spent the nearly four years since that day learning our new state, albeit at a snail's pace. Every spring, I marvel at how green everything becomes, and every fall, I'm in awe of the crisp autumn colors. I don't consider myself an outdoors-y type, but this landscape begs to be explored.

On the beach at First Landing even the pooch had fun!

On the beach at First Landing State Park

One of the best things about living where I do (Hampton Roads), is the ability to quickly go from a highly developed city or town to a lush woodland or serene preserve. Not far from my home is First Landing State Park. Our first fall in Virginia, we attended a festival there. My kids made apple cider, heard live folk music, took a hay ride (with a goat!) to the highest elevation in the park, and made s'mores . And I started to fall in love with the great outdoors. We continue to visit First Landing regularly, taking advantage of the beach, nature programs and camps, and hiking and biking near the Cypress swampland.

Winter at the beach at Kitpopeke State Park

Off season at the beach is still family fun!

I recently visited Kiptopeke State Park with my family and fulfilled a birthday wish of mine by staying in a yurt. My family rose to the sound of chirping birds and light flooding the room via the skylight. We felt so close to nature, falling asleep after playing board games when it got dark. It wasn't intended to be a technology free weekend, but that's what happened. It just felt right. The yurt is a short walk away from the beach which has most excellent dunes for running along and jumping off. The kids alternated dune jumps with examining the sea life that washed up on the shore . It was the most relaxing experience I've had in quite some time. My children ask every day when we're going back to the yurt.

Easter egg hunt at Chippokes Plantation State Park

Easter egg hunt at Chippokes Plantation State Park

Easter Sunday, we visited Chippokes Plantation State Park for their egg hunt. In addition to finding eggs, my kiddos enjoyed playing colonial games and learning about the wild animals that live nearby from the super knowledgeable park interpreter. We headed over to the farm area where another friendly park interpreter introduced us to the farm animals who make their home at Chippokes. I'll head back that way soon for their annual Fancy Fiber Fiesta. As a knitter and life long learner, I relish the chance to combine two of my favorite things. Last year, my littlest and I saw sheep and alpaca being shorn, and had the chance to purchase roving and yarn that came from the animals right in front of us. Talk about buying local. Afterward, we explored the gorgeous gardens and peeked into the windows of the nearby plantation house.

My family and I plan to visit as many Virginia State Parks as we can. I encourage all Virginia families (and visiting families) to get out and do the same. With a landscape as varied as that of this beautiful state, I'm sure there's a park out there that will meet your needs.

Visit Dee's blog "Trees All Dance" here, and learn more about this active mother of four and avid state park goer in Southeastern Virginia. 

Published: 04/16/2012

Hello, Dee! We are on the same path it seems. Staying in a (THE) Yurt was on my 'bucket list' too. I checked it off this past weekend with my husband and three kids! We had such a wonderful time it's been hard to express it to friends. The yurt is like a secret I want to keep to myself-wrong I know :( I was born and raised in Virginia Beach area but alas, am just now exploring the greatness of the State Parks. We, too, hope to get to ALL the parks eventually. Maybe we'll meet on the trails sometime! Peggy
- peggy lavinder, 04/17/2012
How fun, Peggy! Isn't the yurt wonderful? I spent a fair amount of down time just reading the journal to learn about the adventures others had there. As far as getting out to the parks, better late than never, eh? And we're lucky to have so many in the Hampton Roads area. I do hope to see you on the trails!
- Dee Bird, 04/18/2012


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