Shenandoah National Park, Virginia is a perfect family destination. This park has so much to do that you’ll want to experience it all!
Here are the best things to do with the kids in Shenandoah National Park.
1. Rock Scrambling
If you and the kids are seasoned at rock climbing, then Shenandoah National Park is a great place for rock scrambling as well.
One of the best kid-friendly hikes for rock scrambling is Bearfence Mountain Trail. This trail offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding areas.
The other rock scrambling trails in the park include Old Rag Mountain and the Little Devils Stairs.
Safety is key, so remember to bring a first-aid kit.
2. Junior Rangers Programs
The thought of becoming a junior ranger is something your kids will cherish. Make it happen by picking up a ranger’s activity book at either the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center or the Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center.
The books feature six kids’ activities and one ranger activity. Once they complete the program, they will earn a Junior Ranger’s badge.
You can be sure they will be excited to carry the badge home and show it to their friends.
3. Horseback Trail Riding
Experience the valleys of Shenandoah Park from a different perspective.
Get on the horse’s back and trot across the apple orchard or along the graciously green leafy trails.
You can book a guided horseback ride for up to two and a half hours at the park’s Skyland Stables.
Are you worried about your toddler? There are hand-guided rides so no one will miss the fun.
4. Eat The Blackberries
A visit to Shenandoah during mid-summer comes with a package of goodies.
Blackberries are ripe for harvest, and the owners are generous to share with you.
There are also annual blackberry summer events that celebrate the plentiful harvests.
For instance, the Blackberry Delight Festival takes place in July. You can plan to visit during this time and enjoy blackberry desserts from the Big Meadows Lodge.
5. Relax at a Waterfall
Shenandoah National Park is home to several spectacular waterfalls.
Most visitors like the Dark Hollow Falls because it is the most accessible. The 70-foot cascading waterfall is truly a wonder to behold. You can also take a stroll along the burbling streams.
If you want a waterfall with excellent scenery for pictures, head to the Jones Run Falls. It is surrounded by plenty of woods, and it’s nearby several swimming holes.
6. Skyline Drive
Forget the city’s hustle and bustle as you drive your kids along the 15 miles of Skyline Drive in the park.
This is the only public road around, and it will take you at least three hours to cover the entire length if the weather is clear. The drive is accessible all year round, but it’s the most beautiful in the fall.
Your children will appreciate the mountainsides and the leaves in hues like reds, golds, yellows, and golds.
The other best overlooks on this drive are Hogback Overlook, Range View Overlook, and Big Run Overlook, which is the park’s most scenic.
7. River Adventure
One of the famous water activities in the park is Shenandoah River Adventures.
Let the spirit of the river dominate you as you float in a kayak, canoe, or raft.
Water adventure guides can help you navigate your way down the river. They also provide all the equipment needed for any water adventure you choose at a reasonable price.
There is no Shenandoah National Park without hiking.
Hiking here with the kids is quite pleasant due to the many kid-friendly trails throughout. Here are the three best kid-friendly hikes in Shenandoah that your kids will love exploring.
Whiteoak Canyon Trail
This popular kid-friendly hike snakes its way along the River Robinson. You will be treated to large waterfalls as you hike to the top.
Additionally, you will find swimming holes and smaller waterfalls, so carry swim gear.
The kids should also love looking at butterflies, mushrooms, acorns, and tiny lizards.
This is a super easy hike, so don’t fear tantrums along the way.
The gravel pathway makes it possible for your kids to stroll. It is also short and sufficiently treed so the little ones won’t be exposed to direct sunlight.
Nevertheless, you need to wear hiking-friendly shoes because tree roots and rocks are at the trail’s end.
Stony Man Trail
The genesis of the Stony Man is along the Appalachian Trail.
The trail also provides a scenic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but you must be careful as you climb to the viewpoint because of the uneven rocks.
9. Rapidan Camp
Rapidan Camp was built by President Hoover as a summer retreat, and it has remained a gem in Shenandoah.
Its cabins are built near two streams that join to form River Rapidan. There are also exciting bridges that the kids will admire.
Beautiful wildflowers surround the camp as well.
10. Caves Touring
The turns, twists, and unpredictability of the Shenandoah caves make for exciting exploration.
You and the kids will be awe-inspired as you carry your headlamps and walk around the strange cave formations.
Most caves feature high ceilings, but you must avoid touching the walls with your hands as it is prohibited. The tour guides will answer your questions and share parts of the cave’s history.
Some of the most visited caves in the park are the Endless Caverns, Skyline Caverns, Luray Caverns, and Shenandoah Caverns, which is equipped with an elevator so people of all ages can access it.
Enjoy Shenandoah National Park’s serenity in the picnic areas across the park. These spaces are generously large and scenic. Most of them have grills and picnic tables as well as restrooms.
Stop at the following picnic sites, stretch your legs, and enjoy your homemade snacks as you take in nature:
- Big Meadows
- Dickey Ridge
- South River
Shenandoah National Park has diverse dining options, such as the Pollock Dining Room. The mouthwatering specialties served here include pan-fried Atlantic salmon and grilled pork meat.
Big Meadows Lodge and Graves Mountain Lodge are the other best places to dine with your family in the park.
Whether you are bringing camping tents or a travel trailer, Shenandoah is an ideal camping site for kids and adults.
The park has several campgrounds, including Lewis Mountain, Mathews Arm, Loft Mountain, Dundo, and Big Meadows.
Each campground offers different facilities, so it’s important to inquire at the visitors’ center before making a reservation.
All the campgrounds are kid-friendly thanks to their accessibility to showers, electricity, bathrooms, dining tables, and emergency support.
14. Ride Ziplines
Ziplining allows the kids to see above the park in new and thrilling ways! This will be the highlight of their trip for sure.
15. Wildlife Watching
Shenandoah National Park is a refuge for many animals, including mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians.
Don’t forget that you are looking at wild animals, so ensure no one gets too close!