Best Things to Do with Kids (of all ages) in the Haymarket, Gainesville and Manassas, Virginia Area ~
I’m not sure what the snow predictions are for this winter but the weather will most likely be cold. If you are looking for something active and fun, whether you have school-age children or not, there are all kinds of adventurous things to do with kids indoors (and out) in the Haymarket area.
I have compiled a list of local activities that kids of ALL ages will enjoy. These things are guaranteed to please even the grouchiest of couch potatoes. Like my other Things to Do Lists, these certainly don’t represent all the activities in our area. Please check websites to confirm hours, pricing and availability.
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Here are my picks for the Best Things (in no particular order):
With multiple locations and over fifty years in the business, Bowl America offers wholesome family entertainment to bowlers of all ages and levels. The Manassas location, on Balls Ford Road just off Route 66, is easy to get to, well maintained and will keep your family busy for hours. There’s a snack bar, video arcade and cosmic bowling on weekends. Plan your private party or event here too. Visit www.bowl-america.com.
Reach new heights of adventure with Vertical Rock and Vertical Rock Outdoor School. Vertical Rock’s huge climbing gym provides towering 50 foot high walls with arches, chimneys, overhangs, cracks and slab walls that challenge every climber’s ability—young and old. Vertical Rock offers climbing technique classes, strength training classes, Yoga, Krav Maga/Self Defense classes, and a Fitness Room. They also offer Summer Camps, a youth team program, homeschool team, lock ins, birthday parties, Boy and Girls Scout Merit Badge Programs, team building events, and corporate events. Safety is paramount and constantly emphasized with all the VR activities. Open Climbs and Day Passes are available as well as Monthly and Annual memberships. Vertical Rock’s Outdoor School offers Summer Camps, Land Navigation Courses and climbing excursions to some of the most beautiful places in Virginia! VR is a community of climbers where all skill levels are welcome. Visit Website
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This local historic site, just minutes from Haymarket, can be appreciated more than once. The Park offers scenic vistas, historic landmarks and walking trails for casual visitors and Civil War historians alike. The Museum is filled with artifacts and exhibits pertaining to the First Battle of Manassas that even the youngest visitors may find interesting. Pick up a park map and trail guide and set out to walk the rolling countryside in the brisk outdoors. Visit Website
Head over to the Manassas Railroad Depot in Old Town Manassas and visit the free Heritage Gallery which displays artifacts and historic photographs representing the one hundred and fifty years of railroad history in Manassas. Then, catch the VRE/Amtrack for a ride into Union Station in Washington, D.C. for lunch. There are restaurants, food courts, shops and great architecture to take in. It’s also a short walk to the Capital grounds. Head back on an afternoon train. Check the VRE website for schedules and prices. Visit Website and www.VRE.org.
For anyone interested in the local arts scene, visit the Center for the Arts Gallery in Old Town Manassas for current art exhibits. Or, check out the website to learn about art and drama classes for all ages. For example, there’s a Mixed Media class starting January 5th. The Center for the Arts now also offers satellite classes in a new Bristow/Gainesville location! Be sure to also check the schedule for the Pied Piper Theater, this group of talented young actors will be performing Peter Pan in January and The Little Mermaid in April. Visit Website
The Haymarket Iceplex opened in 2011 and has become a wonderful recreation addition to the town of Haymarket. Located in the old 84 Lumberyard building off Washington Street, there are several public skate sessions scheduled weekly. If you don’t have skates, no worries, you can rent a pair there. Haymarket Iceplex also offers Learn to Skate and Learn to Play Hockey programs, for all levels. Visit www.haymarketiceplex.com.
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Located in Gainesville, the new Virginia Gateway plaza is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. Catch a movie at the state-of-the-art Regal Cinema, which features the latest block buster films including movies in realD, digital 3D and IMAX 2D. If you are an AAA member, buy a pack of ten Premiere Tickets for discounted prices, ideal for multiple visits or family members. Sign up for a creative painting session at Muse Paintbar. Grab a bite at one of the many restaurants including Mod Pizza, Uncle Julios and FireBirds. Treat yourself to dessert at the new Simply Desserts. Or, just shop at the many upscale retail stores inlcuding LOFT, JCrew, Chico and others. Visit Real Cinema Website
The Harris Pavilion transforms into a charming single pad outdoor skating rink in the winter months. Bring your own skates or rent them there and glide along during the day, or under the lights in the evening, to music of different styles. Skate for the day or buy a season pass. Check the website for discounts.
This may not appeal to younger kids, but it is certainly worth a visit if it intrigues you. Formerly the Fauquier County Jail, The Old Jail Museum in Warrenton is one of the most perfectly preserved old jails in Virginia, and it operated as a jail until 1966. Today, it’s home to the Fauquier Historical Society and Museum and includes original jail structures, a collection of artifacts representing the county’s Native Americans, Revolutionary eras and Civil War eras. Visit Website
The planetarium at Hylton High School in Woodbridge, known as the Skydome Planetarium, serves as a field trip experience for the schools in Prince William County but it is also open to the public on select Fridays and Saturdays during the year. Laser shows in the month of December feature holiday themes. Get your $10.00 tickets in advance, they do sell out, and it’s cash only at the door. Visit Website for schedules.
Just a few minutes south of Haymarket, Earth Glaze and Fire is nestled in Historic Downtown Warrenton. No artistic ability is required, come here to have fun and “find your inner creative self ”. There’s something for everyone – Teen Night on second Fridays, Firefly Youth on second Saturdays and Fire and Brew for adults. There’s even a new Canvas Paint session for girls night out, you can bring your own wine or beer. Walk-ins are welcome. Learn something new, increase your skills or just have fun! Visit Website.
Immerse the whole family in a day of activity at the Freedom Center in Manassas – a huge recreation facility with two pools, a whirlpool, gymnasium, racquetball, aerobic and strength training and special programs. You don’t have to be a member to use the facility, a daily fee is available. Kids camps include a Friday Night Fun Camp and Holiday/Teacher Work Day Camps. Visit www.freedom-center.com. Visit Website
Locally owned and operated, JNJ BattleQuest is the latest addition to the JNJ family that has been serving the Gainesville area since 2009. BattleQuest is the first center in our area to feature the latest HELIOS Tag system. JNJ also just added Bazooka Ball indoor paintless paintball. The custom 5,200 square foot arena was designed by a top arena designer in the country and it is like stepping into another galaxy (photo below). The JNJ mission is to provide your family the opportunity to play together in a safe, fun environment at an affordable price. Visit Website
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The Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly (pictured above) is only about twenty-five minutes from Haymarket and easier to get to than the National Air and Space Museum in D.C. The whole family will enjoy the enormity of this complex and the air crafts on display. Explore changing exhibitions, view the Concorde, the space shuttle Discovery and thousands of other aviation and space artifacts. There’s also an IMAX theater showing related movies like Hubble. Visit Website
For those of you looking for an extravagant adventure, perhaps a special gift, book a sightseeing flight or an introductory flight lesson with American Aviation located at the Manassas Regional Airport. Professional FAA licensed and certified pilots can provide an exciting view from the air of your favorite areas in the region including the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains and valleys, battlefields, lakes and rivers. Call (703) 368-9599 for info. Visit Website
Experience the exhilaration of driving a high performance vehicle in a safe and comfortable environment. This indoor speedway is equipped with state-of-the-art, Italian-made electric karts for Juniors or Adults on professionally designed Grand Prix-style tracks. Performance features dual disc brakes, smooth turning and instant acceleration on a track with a high-tech timing system. Helmets and instructions are provided. Arrive and drive, reservations are not necessary. Visit Website.
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