If the summer vibe in your house shifted from “Yay summer!” to “We’re boooored,” we’ve got a few suggestions for family-oriented outings that will help you ditch the summer doldrums.
Learning The Ropes
Loudoun is home to lots of gorgeous scenery and several awesome ropes courses. These supervised treetop jungle gyms are perfect for a family outing, offering a physical and mental challenge and some cool aerial bonding time.
Evergreen Sportsplex near Leesburg launched its Evergreen Adventure Center in 2015, bringing in happy groups and families for ropes, zip lining and rock climbing. The center’s friendly, engaged staff is one of the big draws for fans.
“Our staff is trained to be as engaging as possible especially due to the fact that our course is self-clipping. Users are able to get the full experience as they are actually clipping themselves to the wires and ropes,” said marketing and events manager Alex Pham.
Pham said the zip line and ropes course package is the most popular. Participants must be 8 years old, at least 75 pounds and 4-feet, 8-inches tall for that one, but the center’s rock wall is open to younger children. The package is $49, or $55 with an extra rock climbing option.
Despite being named for a nearby tourist attraction in West Virginia, Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is actually located at the far northwest corner of Loudoun. The center offers ropes and zip line courses that are built into the scenic forest just above the Potomac River—along with plenty of other outdoor activities.
The fabulous views and the enchanted forest setting are the HFAC Aerial Adventure Center’s big draws. The three-story ropes course boasts seven levels of difficulty and 50 bridges. Ten to 40 feet off the ground with staff guides. The lower level ropes course is ideal for kids 5 to 12 says HFAC’s events coordinator Ryann Crawford and more adventurous family members can go up two additional levels.
Weekday rates for the HFAC ropes course are $44 for adults and $39 for youth. Add $5 on weekends. HFAC also offers a separate treetop zip line experience (featuring seven lines and a 100-foot sky bridge) for people older than 7 and between 70 and 250 pounds.
The Evergreen Sportsplex Adventure Park is at 19623 Evergreen Mills Road, Leesburg. For more information, go to evergreensportsplex.com.
Harpers Ferry Adventure Center is at 37410 Adventure Center Lane, Purcellville. For more information, go to harpersferryadventurecenter.com.
More Than Books
Savvy parents know that some of the best free entertainment around happens at local libraries where summer fun goes way beyond reading. Loudoun’s library branches large and small offer theater productions, STEM programming and other entertaining and educational events.
“The Summer Reading Program keeps children engaged in learning with fun educational programs while school is out. And our featured events create opportunities to make new friends and wonderful memories, especially for those who may not have the chance to attend a camp or go on a trip,” said Loudoun County Public Libraries Director Chang Liu.
Most of the library’s summer shows are repeated at multiple locations. Here are a few of this summer’s LCPS highlights:
- The Franklin Institute’s “How To Build A Storm,” a dynamic show on the science of weather that lets kids make a cloud, explore thunder and lightning, and even create snow.
- A two-person production of “Beauty and The Beast” by Hampstead Stage Company. The interactive show tells the story of how Belle discovers The Beast’s inner beauty in order to break the spell that has kept him locked in his animal state.
- The ever-popular Reptiles Alive! Show featuring real backyard reptiles. Possible guests may include an eastern rat snake, box turtle and snapping turtle.
- Productions of “My Favorite Sings,” an original storybook cabaret by StageCoach Theatre Company showing Saturday, July 15 at Cascades Library and Sunday, July 16 at Sterling Library.
Loudoun County Public Libraries’ shows are at eight library branches around the county, are free and no reservations are required, but space is limited so get there a little early. For a complete schedule and location information, go to library.loudoun.gov.
Another favorite summer freebie is Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s family friendly nature walks. The conservation group’s family programming gets kids connected with the coolest natural settings right here in Loudoun. This summer, LWC brings in experts to help families learn about the bugs and birds of summer.
The group offers an insect safari with entomologist Ed Clark Sunday, July 16 at Algonkian Park in Sterling. For a fun evening outing, check out the Magic of Moths event Aug. 12 at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in northwest Loudoun, where entomologist David Adamski uses a black light to identify moths. LWC’s summer children’s programming wraps up with a bird-focused family nature walk Aug. 19 at Bles Park in Ashburn.
LWC’s nature walks are designed for elementary-aged children, and no strollers or pets are allowed. Space is limited for children’s activities so advance registration is required at loudounwildlife.org.
If wildlife isn’t your thing, maybe cupcakes are. The Cookology recreational cooking school at Dulles Town Center offers a range of classes for adults, children and families, including a one-day Cupcake Wars class for kids Sunday, July 16.
Young bakers can learn how to make the perfect homemade cupcake and icing and pick up some tips and tricks for design and decoration. The afternoon ends with a friendly cupcake competition worthy of a reality show. The school also offers several weeklong baking boot camps for youth 8 to 18 in July and August.
Cookology is at 21100 Dulles Town Circle in Sterling. For more information, go to cookologyonline.com.
Explore Farm Life
Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is one of the region’s quiet gems. The museum, which seeks to preserve and promote Loudoun’s agricultural heritage, offers a range of children’s activities and a chance for suburban kiddos to get a taste of Loudoun’s not-so-distant farming past.
The museum offers weekly Toddler Tuesdays for kids 18 months to 4 years old, including story time, songs, crafts and a chance to hang out with farm animals. August features a couple of special events including the museum’s annual dairy day and ice cream social Aug. 12, featuring live cows and calves and ice cream served by The Virginia Cattlemen’s Association’s dairy princesses. That evening, the museum hosts its monthly Kids Night At The Museum from 6 to 9 p.m., offering hands-on activities and dinner for children ages 3 to 10. Just enough time for a quick date night for Mom and Dad.
The Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum is at 21668 Heritage Farm Lane in Sterling. For more information, go to loudounmuseum.com.