Known for its vast beauty and incredibly rich historical sites, Steven Spielberg’s epic movie, Lincoln, was filmed completely in Virginia.With so much history in these here hills, Virginia should be on everyone’s must-see list of travel destinations. But, when traveling with little ones, how do you include the fun factor? And maybe even some relaxation time for you?
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Fill your R & R quota at the Massanutten Resort, nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.
With a full-size kitchen and a grocery store just five minutes away, cable TV and DVD players in the living room and both bedrooms, we couldn’t have asked for more perfect accommodations to ride out the storm. Knowing Hurricane Sandy might be dumping on us by morning, we immediately hit the store to stock up for the week. Local residents had wiped out most of the water, milk, bread and other staples, but we found what we needed; even if it meant buying organic, lactose-free milk, when none of us are lactose intolerant and more bottled water than we could possibly drink because flats were all that were left.
The thing we were most looking forward to doing first, Massanutten’s enormous indoor waterpark, closed on Monday because of Sandy and not knowing what she would bring. In the end all we experienced was some light rain and wind, but safety comes first. To make up for the closure, Diamond Jim’s Arcade above the waterpark extended their All-You-Can-Play Special (normally only on Tues & Wed when the waterpark is closed in Fall and Winter). It was a fun way to spend a rainy Monday.
Monday evening we ventured out for a little Bluegrass and appetizers at the Monday night show. Massanutten has a full schedule of evening shows and entertainment to choose from, so you can plan family nights or adults only nights as you wish.
Still grey and drizzling outside on Tuesday, we found more fun indoor activities at Massanutten’s Nature Center. First, we got up close and personal with a peregrine falcon, an owl and a red-tail hawk at the Bird’s of Prey show. Then, we colored our own silk scarves at one of the many arts and crafts workshops offered. The Nature Center is located at the ski lodge (yes, they even have skiing!) where you can also sign up for their weekly chairlift guided hike.
The fun part about being at Massanutten during Sandy, is we were able to experience Virginia’s first snowfall for the year. It was even more beautiful from the chairlift we rode to the top of Massanutten Peak. From the backside of the peak, you can lookout over the Shenandoah Valley from the same spot sentries from the Confederate army stood watch during the Civil War, reporting Union troop movements to their commanders.
Time for some adult time. On tap: a Beer Lover’s Dinner. It’s like they knew we were coming. We dropped Reagan off at the Woodstone Recreation Center for Kids’ Game Night and headed to Fareways Restaurant for a five-course gourmet meal paired with five handcrafted brews each introduced by our host and beer aficionado, Paul. They must’ve known we were coming. In fact, by the end of one of the most entertaining dinners ever, we were sure of it when they poured us a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter with our Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Crème Anglaise. Ahhhhh…. a taste of home from one of our favorite brewers! A more traditional Wine Maker’s Dinner was also available that week, but sometimes it’s fun to be anti-orthodox, don’t you think?
Kid’s Zip Line and Canopy Tour
By Wednesday, the storm had passed and it was time for some outdoor fun! Reagan tried out the Kid’s Zip Line and Canopy Tour. This was the first time I had ever seen a zip line for kids, and even better, it included a ropes course. Reagan absolutely loved it and I guess because of the storm, had the run of the course, and the two young men who manned the course to herself. She did it five times smiling from ear-to-ear. No fear.
Day Trips from Massanutten
A short drive from Massanutten is the “must-see” U.S. National Landmark, Luray Caverns, which we visited after our morning Zip Line Tour. This subterranean tour will take a full hour and is a perfect activity to do with the kids. Filled with wonder and amazing discoveries, kids of all ages will marvel at the power of nature. Also located on the property is a one-acre garden maze, a Car and Carriage Caravan Museum and the Luray Valley Museum, which make Luray Caverns the perfect day trip.
Speaking of day trips, there are plenty more to include in your itinerary from Massanutten, such as a Civil War Tour, Washington DC Tour, Presidents Tour, Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours, Brewery Tour and the Virginia Museum of the Civil War. And don’t forget the Shenandoah National Park itself.
Back to the fun at Massanutten, we ended our stay where we had hoped to begin it… it was Thursday and the indoor waterpark was now open! We floated down the lazy river, conquered all eight water slides, climbed the towers, surfed the waves and soaked in the hot tubs. We did it all and after four hours of wet and wild fun, we were ready to just relax back in the condo and prepare for our journey home the next day.
With so much to do at Massanutten, there is no way to do it all in just one week. Here is just a sampling of things I didn’t mention:
- For the outdoorsy types, there’s hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and rafting, horseback riding, golf, mountain biking and even a scuba diving class.
- For summer family fun, enjoy tennis, go-karts, the bungee dome, a petting zoo, mini golf, and the Family Adventure Park has tubing, a Kid’s Playland and bounce houses. And, the outdoor waterpark is open in addition to the indoor.
- In the winter, there’s an ice rink, skiing/riding, terrain parks and snow tubing.
- There are two recreation centers where you can hit the gym, take water aerobics, yoga or Zumba and get your tan on.
- For spa-goers, they’ve got you covered too with massage, facials, nails, and workshops where you can learn reflexology, aromatherapy and other healing arts.
Massanutten, you complete me.
Chris is a designer, WAHM and pilot’s wife living in Aurora, Colorado. She writes about family travel standby as Standby Traveling Mom as well as at MamaBirdsBlog.com.