May is a time of transition for many things: schools are letting the kids out for the summer, the daylight stays with us for much longer, and we are able to reap the rewards of a rainy April. This means freshly bloomed flowers, greenery all over, and, since we’re now well secured from any crazy temperature drops, dependable time spent outdoors! That’s the theme we, VA Kids Trail, have chosen for the month of May, and we’re stickin’ to it! Check out these awesome activities made for you and your kids and craft your own itinerary out of it!
A Day at Back Home on the Farm
Back Home on the Farm has so many activities you and the little ones can do, from the Spring season all the way until the end of Fall. Until mid June, you have the awesome opportunity to explore the very successful farm’s greenhouse and gardens! Accessible all summer, Lynne’s Fairy and Butterfly Gardens will amaze not only you, but also more importantly your little ones! Allow the kids to get up close and personal with nature, newly born farm animals, and even have fun on playground landmarks like their underground slide, slingshots, and carousel!
If you wanted to make a day out of the trip, Back Home even hosts country tea parties and snacks. Paired with their tea, you’ll find menu items like fresh fruit compote, cucumber sandwiches, swiss bacon quiche, and BLT canapés with garnish, all with the most fresh and locally sourced ingredients that can be found in Harrisonburg. Back Home hosts country teas all year long – you can check out the Spring/Summer tea time schedule here.
Learn Something New!
If you’re going to be in the Harrisonburg area, Explore More Discovery Museum has everything needed to prioritize imagination and inspire creativity within your child (we highly recommend going here before or after a Back Home trip)! This summer, Explore More has a wide array of Summer Camps that are sure to keep the kids so entertained that they won’t even realize that they’re also probably learning a life-long skill. Classes like the Mini Jedi, where young “padawans” begin exploration through imaginative play, art, and music, also teach them about our planet and solar system, a galaxy not far, far away…
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a class for a child aged 5 or under, the majority of those summer classes are already booked! Don’t fret though, there’s still plenty of time to book a class in August, and plenty of time to book classes for kids in grades 1 – 8. Those classes are your Master Explorer classes, and they range from learning about animals and anatomy to movie making, to Lego robotics and the power of resourcefulness through refurbishing trash! There is something here for kids of all ages, and the location is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat in Harrisonburg afterwards.
Closer into Winchester, Virginia, you’ll find Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, an amazing location not just because of the curriculum, but the building itself. This historic location allows safe, rooftop access, providing gorgeous views of historic downtown Winchester.
Outside of everyday play opportunities that the Discovery Museum offers, they also host tons of fun summer workshops, learn-to’s, and summer camps. A really fun one to look forward to this May is their ‘Saturday with a Scientist’ Trout Release event, where your kids can get hands on experience with wildlife and their habitat. You can come out this Saturday to release trout, lovingly grown at Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, into their natural stream environment, all while learning about the species of fish and their life cycles from an expert!
Adventuring in the Blue Ridge
ATTENTION: Rafting season is now officially open! There’s no better place to do it than at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, located in historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia! Requirements for families coming in looking to raft on the Valley’s beautiful Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers are that your kids are 5+ and weigh at least 5lbs. If that’s the case, then you and yours are in for a treat!
The one-time standard pass will get you half a day’s journey on the swirls and rapids where the conjunction of two rivers meet, with sprays of water flicking all around you while the wind facilitates fresh Valley air to all five of your senses. If you’re lucky, maybe your raft will even catch some serious air while rafting over the rapids! All trips are manned by guides well-versed in local history and lore, providing you with a unique outdoor adventure that you won’t soon forget! Harpers Ferry Adventure Center also has tons of other activities, from tubing to ziplining, rope courses, and camping and cabin stays to explore. You can check them out here!
The option to get out and hike out Blue Ridge Mountains is always a good one. Many valley-dwellers insist on getting the kids started early, taking them of rough terrain paths such as Old Rag and Ravens Rock! While some love the idea of a challenge, others are satisfied with just being in the great outdoors – especially if they have small children accompanying them. Sky Meadows State Park is perfect for the latter, with a calendar chock-full of events for the month of May to try.
Starting May 12th, your kids can learn about the Shenandoah Valley through Explorer Outpost programs, where they will hike through fields and pastures, woodlands and wetlands, discovering animals and history along the way! Each day will offer a different setting and tons of new items that they’ll be able to get hands on with! Included are Junior Ranger booklets and other fun activities to continue with on your own time.
Also starting on the 12th (why not make a day adventure out of it?) is their “Junior Astronomer” program for kids aged 5-12. This program teaches your kids about the importance of dark skies and light conservation, followed by a sky presentation from NASA’s volunteer Ambassadors. Your kids can then apply their newly acquired knowledge by looking at deep space objects through telescopes, right here in our Valley. Is that cool, or what?
For a complete list of their May schedule, click here!
We hope May proves to be a fun month to be outdoors with your family. There’s so much to do in the Shenandoah Valley – what will you be exploring this month?
What to Expect in June
Movies and Dinosaurs under the Stars at Family Drive-In Theatre
U-Pick fruits and veggies from Mackintosh Fruit Farm
Culinary Child and Teen Chef programs from Nibblins
More Farm Fun with Cows and Ice Cream from Mt. Crawford Creamery