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Learning about history is much more exciting for kids when they get to explore past presidents’ estates and dine in a colonial atmosphere. But beyond historic sites, kids will have a blast playing in the park, discovering the exhibits at a museum and even cheering on the beloved University of Virginia Cavaliers. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s picks for the best things to do with kids in Charlottesville.
1. Explore Monticello. Considered a classic example of American architecture, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate features an orchard, vineyard and vegetable garden. Most of the interior furnishings are the originals, adding to Monticello’s deep history. Your children won’t even realize how much history they are absorbing during the tour.
2. Cheer on the Cavaliers. Much of Charlottesville is centered around the University of Virginia, and your kids will love watching a sporting event at the university — even if you don’t have any ties to the prestigious school.
3. Dine in the past. Dive into a colonial lunch at the historic Michie Tavern. The servers are clad in traditional 18th-century garb, making the experience that much more authentic. Recipes date back to the 1700s and are classic Southern dishes, like colonial fried chicken and hickory smoked pulled pork barbecue.
4. Discover the outdoors. From hiking and biking in nearby Shenandoah National Park to canoeing and tubing on the James River, there’s plenty to explore in Charlottesville’s nature. Come winter, kids can ice skate at the Historic Downtown Mall and even ski at nearby Wintergreen Resort. A great way to enjoy the scenery is to pack a picnic and head to one of the many parks for the afternoon.
5. Play at the museum. Kids will love playing at the Virginia Discovery Museum because it’s made for youngsters. It features quirky exhibits like “A-Mazing Airways,” where spurts of air push balls and scarves through a series of tubes, and the Rainforest Hallway.
Charlottesville is a great area for children to visit. The interactive museum at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is a highlight. The city is also home to the Virginia Discovery Museum, which features hands-on exhibits and imaginative play for kids of all ages. For your little artist, the Glass Palette on the Downtown Mall allows parents and kids to create their very own works of art.
Enjoy the outdoors with the kids at any number of outdoor parks and nature areas, including the popular Ragged Mountain and Ivy Creek. Or enjoy the day picking your own apples, peaches, strawberries and blueberries at Carter Mountain or Chiles orchards.