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Outdoor summer fun is back and that means performances under the stars, water activities, hiking, dining, drink, and getaways that take advantage of long days and warm nights. Our round-up of things to do in and near Northern Virginia will keep you busy all season long. Whatever your mood, we’ve found outdoor summer fun for you.
Fun in and On the Water
Waterparks and Pools
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the opening of swim season, but the waterparks and pools really ramp up when school is out. Happily, there are nine waterparks and a plethora of pools in Northern Virginia, so you can keep the kid entertained with swimming fun until the school bell rings again.
Boating in Northern Virginia
Residents and visitors can enjoy boating on a wonderful selection of lakes, rivers, and bays that offer outdoor summer fun whether you have your own boat or choose to rent. Paddle and explore in a quiet kayak or canoe. Try your luck fishing in a john boat on stocked lakes or open rivers. Or relax with the family on a guided tour boat.
Enjoy a Show Under the Sun or Stars
Annual outdoor concerts offer mostly free and family-friendly entertainment sponsored by local towns, parks, and business areas. There are so many summer concert series each year that you can catch a free outdoor concert nearly every day of the week. Summer is a great time to revisit old favorites; but why not try a few new ones this year?
Dusk falls, fireflies emerge, and evening temps beckon us for outdoor summer fun in front of a big screen. Grab a blanket or chairs and choose from one of the many free movie series held in Northern Virginia every week. There are lots of movies for the little kids, but some series have a more adult selection. Be sure to check for inclement weather closures when thunderstorms make an appearance.
Hit the Trails for Outdoor Summer Fun
Northern Virginia Hikes
Northern Virginia weather can be steamy, but canopied forests and higher elevations can offer a break from the heat. We’ve found easy summer hikes that avoid the open fields and stay in the shade. If you’re willing to put in a little effort, these short hikes to gorgeous views guarantee a payoff at the end of the climb.
Epic Hike and Bike Trails
Long summer days guarantee plenty of hours to tackle one of Virginia’s longer hike and bike trails. Challenge yourself with a stretch of the Appalachian or Potomac Heritage Trail, or bike one of Virginia’s excellent rails-to-trails conversions. We’ve rounded up 8 epic hike and bike trails, all within two hours of Washington DC.
Dine and Drink Outdoors
Outdoor Dining and Drink
A summer meal on the patio combines two our favorite things—warm weather and tasty food. We’ve rounded up 25 restaurants with pleasant outdoor seating, so you can try new dining destinations all summer long. If you’d prefer to sip local with a nosh on the side, try one of these 6 Northern Virginia wineries with gorgeous views. Beer lovers will find plenty of great places to cool down on the LoCo Ale Trail.
Everyone loves a summer picnic and the chance to get out the grill for parties at home. Stock up your kitchen with fresh, delicious local produce, meats, and other goodies from area Farmer’s Markets. There are markets nearly every day of the week, and over 50 of them are on our list.
Getaways and Road Trips
School’s out, work is slow, and those long days are calling. Plan an overnight getaway at one of these unique lodging options in and near Northern Virginia. Need more ideas? We’ve got 8 more overnight lodging choices perfect for overnight or weekend fun.
If you’re up for a longer weekend getaway, why not explore a new area of Virginia or visit an old favorite. Annapolis is a great option for fun on the water. Richmond can be steamy, but you can head to Belle Isle and the James River to cool down. Or take the family to National Harbor for a ride on the Capitol Wheel then take the water taxi to DC and cool down in free Smithsonian museums.
If a road trip is more your style, we highly recommend a drive through Northern and Southern Shenandoah Valley. Architecture and nature lovers can explore Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces in the Laurel Highlands area of Western Pennsylvania. History fans should put a Gettysburg getaway on their list. And for beachy fun, flat-water kayaking, and tasty seaside food, a Delaware getaway is calling. Further afield but worth the drive are the beautiful vineyards and waterways of the Southern Finger Lakes area.
Whether your plans include road trips, staycation escapes, or every day outings near home, we hope our suggestions lead to outdoor summer fun for you. Happy summer!
Have an outdoor summer fun idea to share? Please share your tips in the comments below. Follow Fun in Fairfax VA on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more fun things to do, places to visit, dining and drink, and special events in the Washington DC and Northern Virginia region.