Whether you live in the Northern Virginia area or are just stopping by for a visit, you will find plenty of enjoyable ways to spend your time. There are museums, events, cruises, and more to make for an exciting day on the town. Or, if you prefer an evening of maximum relaxation, you can just as easily spend your time exploring new neighborhoods and finding something delicious to eat. Here, in no particular order, are some of the best things to do in Northern Virginia.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Of all the Smithsonian museums in D.C., the National Air and Space Museum wows from the moment you walk in. Take in the airplanes hanging high above you, then check out the many exhibits featuring historical moments in the story of air and space flight. Current exhibitions include a look at the Apollo moon mission in celebration of its 50th anniversary, the story of the Wright brothers, and the history of the U.S.-Soviet space race.
Wolf Trap National Park
Wolf Trap is the only national park dedicated to the performing arts. From May through September, the park hosts musicals, dance performances, opera, jazz, pop, and country music stars in its many amphitheaters. The current schedule includes the park’s 32nd Annual Evening of Comedy, The Avett Brothers, Sammy Hagar’s Full Circle Jam, Rock of Ages, Diana Ross, and several musical and theater shows for Children. In the off season, guests can enjoy the quiet natural beauty of the park, wander around, or have a picnic.
No summer is complete without a trip to the ballpark, and Nationals Park is among the best. The modern stadium is located along the Capitol Riverfront, which offers pre- and post-game dining and entertainment on the water. Nationals Park is easily accessible by public transportation and tickets can often be purchased on gameday, making it an easy, last-minute adventure if you are looking for a relaxing way to spend the evening. The park also offers tours on non game days and concerts throughout the summer as well.
Bond’s Escape Room
Bond’s Escape Room offers 10 unique themed rooms featuring theater-grade props to immerse you in your own escape room adventure. You and your group will have just one hour to solve puzzles, find clues, and escape the room to save yourselves (or the world). Bond’s makes a great date night idea or memorable outing with friends and family, and can even be used as a group team building experience for offices. The facility offers birthday party packages and VIP Room access for private groups, letting you debrief (or revel in your success) after your adventure or strategize (and prep) beforehand.
The famous Georgetown Cupcake has grown to several locations across the Northern Virginia area, making it almost impossible to resist sampling one of its many inventive recipes while you are in town. The shop offers classics like red velvet and vanilla cupcakes throughout the year, with special flavors depending on the month and day of the week. Summer favorites include lemon blueberry, lavender earl grey, and cherry blossom. Vegan and gluten-free cupcakes are also available.
Boomerang Pirate Ship
The Boomerang Pirate Ship is as unique an adventure as any other. Adults can enjoy a party cruise along the river with a full bar, music, and dancing at night while passing by the Georgetown Waterfront, Pentagon, Washington Monument, Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, and more. Families can take a pirate-themed treasure hunt cruise complete with a water cannon battle, face painting, pirate music, and snacks.
Dupont Circle Farmers Market
The Dupont Circle Farmers Market operates year-round, providing the neighborhood with fresh fruits, veggies, and other locally-made foods every Sunday. Named one of the top farmers markets in the country by The Wall Street Journal, it sports nearly 50 vendors during peak season. Shop around everything from organic produce to artisanal cheeses to baked goods and more. Or stop by for lunch or to pick up your ingredients for a locally-sourced homemade dinner.
Fairfax’s Mosaic District is a vibrant neighborhood to say the least, offering up a vast variety of places to shop, dine, and stay, during your visit. It is easily accessible by public transportation (it is right down the road from the Dunn Loring Metro stop) and shuttles run from nearby parking garages to make driving in as painless as possible. The neighborhood offers dozens of shopping options, from national brands to local favorites, as well as a wide array of lunch and dinner choices. Stop by for a manicure or yoga class, dinner+movie+gelato date, or to check out the many shops, markets or cafes.
The newly renovated District Wharf along the south-west waterfront in D.C. provides breathtaking views, delicious restaurants, and year-round entertainment. The Wharf offers parks and piers for an afternoon stroll, live music, fitness classes, and activities for kids (think: super-sized board games). In the summer, visitors can rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, whie in winter, the spot plays host to an outdoor ice rink on the water for a truly unique experience.
Children’s Science Center
(Bonus For Families!)
At the Children’s Science Center, kids are encouraged to touch (yes, touch) the exhibits. Moreover, they can participate in lab events, attend a spring break or summer camp, and interact with the exhibits to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math. The exhibits encourage kids to ask questions and provide feedback to help the museum create the best experience possible for little explorers. Visiting the Children’s Science Center is easily one of the best things to do in Northern Virginia for families.