Top 10 Adventures for Grandparents and Grandchildren to Share

This Guide to Grand Outings will make your springtime special with everything from fishing to living museums and art projects! (Spring 2002)

10. Fishing-- With spring weather finally here to stay, think about heading outdoors for a fishing trip. It’s a great opportunity to share an afternoon outdoors with your favorite little ones while introducing them to a fun hobby. Remember that anyone over 16 will need a fishing license (call the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804-296-4731). Albemarle County has several lakes that allow boating and shore fishing. Call 296-5844 or check out the Parks Department website at to find the closest lake to your side of town, or bring your grandchildren to Mint Springs Valley Park on Saturday, April 20 from 9am – 3pm for Kids Only Trout Fishing Day. The event is free, picnic facilities and concessions will be available. Mint Springs Valley Park is located in Crozet. To get there from Charlottesville, take 250 West to a right onto 240. Take a left on Rt. 788 (Rail Road Avenue) and a right onto Rt. 684 (Mint Springs Road). Take a left into the park.

9. Virginia Museum of Natural History at UVA – Stop by the museum at 104 Emmet Street (located across from the Cavalier Inn) for a hands-on experience of nature that preschoolers and young school age children will love. The museum also offers special events like a monthly "nature time" for preschoolers featuring stories and activities. April’s nature time focuses on spiders and will be offered on Tuesday April 23 at 10:30 am and Wednesday April 24 at 1:30 pm. Call ahead to preregister, 982-4605. Nature Time costs $3 for members and $4 for nonmembers, but it is free to tour the museum during its regular hours from 10 am-4pm Monday-Thursday. Parking is free and located next to the building.

8. Good eats on a rainy day – Head out to Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard located at 1881 Seminole Trail (Rt. 29 North at the Woodbrook Shopping Center) for a frozen treat. The frozen custard is yummy, lower in fat and calories than regular ice cream, and popular with all ages. The shop has a carousel and offers free rides to kids with custard purchase (bring your camera!). If the weather is nice, head outside to eat your cones in the fenced-in area that keeps kids corralled. If you’d rather enjoy a sit down meal, check out the Michie Tavern located on Thomas Jefferson Parkway (on the way up the hill to Monticello). Buffet lunch is available from 11:15 –3:30 and offers menu choices similar to those available when the tavern first opened in the 1780s. Be sure to take the kid-friendly tour after lunch. Lunch and the tour are both free for children under six. Lunch is $4.95 for children 6-11 and $10.50 for adults (beverage and tax are extra). The tour is free to Charlottesville and Albemarle residents, so be sure to bring identification. There is ample parking in front of the buildings, but those wary of steps will want to take the ramp.

7. Old Michie Theater – A puppet show of the Velveteen Rabbit will be performed Saturday afternoons in April at 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 977-3690. Older children may prefer the spring show, a family-friendly, humorous rendition of The Canterbury Tales. The show runs at 7:00 pm on Friday and Saturday nights April 19, 20, 26, 27 and May 3, 4, 10, 11 ; 3:00 pm matinees on Sunday April 21, 28, and May 5, 12. Tickets are $6 in advance and $7 at the door. The theater is located at 221 East Water Street and is just across the street from the Water Street parking garage.

6. Carolton Farm and Fiber –Grandchildren and grandparents alike may be curious to see where grandma’s knitting yarn or grandpa’s favorite sweater started. Call ahead and talk to farm and fiber shop owner Barbara Tinder to arrange your visit to her 200 acre Barboursville farm where you can see herds of sheep, meet her sheepdog Emma, and discover how the wool from the sheep is spun into yarn. A small shop offers the opportunity to purchase the farm’s top quality products. The suggested donation for the tour is 50 cents, and directions can be obtained from the Tinders at 540-672-2935 or by email

5. Virginia Discovery Museum – The Discovery Museum is a must-visit any time of year for grandparents and their young grandchildren. The fun, hands-on exhibits combine with an ideal and convenient location on the East end of the Downtown Mall (right across from the Market Street parking garage – and the museum will validate your garage ticket for two hours of free parking). A special exhibit running through the month of April explores rainbows, and the museum’s permanent collection gives preschoolers and young school age children an opportunity to learn about everything from computers to history to art. Admission is $3 for children aged 1-13, $4 for adults and $3 for seniors. The first Sunday of each month is "pay what you wish". The museum is open Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 pm, closed Mondays, and Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

4. Frontier Culture Museum – "Museum" may not be the best word to describe the experience of stepping back in time that happens when you visit the authentic frontier farms at this tourist site in Staunton. You or your grandchild might be recruited to help out with chores as the costumed interpreters demonstrate daily life in 17th and 18th century Europe and 19th century America. During annual Wool Days (April 27-May 5 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm) watch sheep shearing at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm and see wool spun. Take I-64 West to I-81 North, Exit 222 Route 250 West. The museum is the first left after the light. Admission is $8.00 for adults, $7.50 for seniors over 60, $7.00 for children 13-18, and $4.00 for children 6-12. Children 5 and under are free. Allow a few hours for your trip and be prepared to walk on a variety of terrain. There are vending machines and picnic facilities available onsite.

3. Create a permanent work of art – Paint ceramics together with your grandchildren for a memorable afternoon with a special souvenir to treasure. With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up, consider making a ceramic mug or picture frame with your grandchildren’s artwork or handprints (even babies can join in the fun) as a special surprise for mom or dad. No artistic experience is necessary, and it’s a fun event for all ages – even too-cool teenagers can get excited about this idea. The local ceramics shops supply the paint, bisque ceramics, all needed supplies and firing for a studio fee of $6 per hour (in addition to the price of the ceramic piece). Check out The Painting Place at 1709 Monticello Road for convenient parking (and look online in the Family Services Guide for a link to a coupon for a free hour of painting time). The Painting Place is open from 10:00 am –5:00 pm Monday – Friday and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Saturdays. Call 295-7801 for more information. Glaze n’Blaze located on Third Street next to Rapture restaurant has extended evening hours on weekends, but convenient parking may be hard to find. Call 984-5885 for more information.

2. Dogwood Festival – The Dogwood Festival kicks off spring in Charlottesville with a couple of special adventures just right for grandparents and their grandchildren to enjoy. The annual Dogwood parade begins at 10:45 am on April 27 and travels along Water Street and Market Street. Parking can get tricky, and you’ll likely need to plan for a hike of as much as a half-mile or even more. Bring a wagon or a stroller for the young ones, a lawn chair for yourself and plenty of sunscreen for everyone. All of the hiking and sitting in the sun is worth it for the look on the children’s faces as the fantastic floats, bands, horses and cars parade by just a few feet away from your sidewalk perch. If you would prefer a more low-key family event, head out to the East Rivanna Fire House on Rt. 250 West on April 20 from 9:00-11:00 am for a children’s character fest. Don’t forget your camera -- face painting, balloons, crafts, games and character guests are all a part of the morning’s festivities. Tickets are $5.00 each and are available at Staples Barber Shop, Tuel Jewelers, the Daily Progress and Gitchell’s Studio.

1. Maymont Park – There are few places that rival Maymont in the spring for beauty and a family afternoon that offers relaxation and recreation for everyone in the family. The park includes beautiful formal gardens, a historic home to tour and admire, a nature center and children’s farm barn. Sundays April 7 and 14 are part of Maymont’s annual Barn Days celebrate the newest members of the Maymont family. Visitors can pet and feed the baby ducks, lambs and goats and enjoy entertainment, face painting and hay rides. Entrance to the park is free, a $4 donation is suggested at the nature center and house. Parking on the weekends can get crowded, and the hike from your car to the park will easily be surpassed by the amount of walking you do inside the park. Paths are paved, though somewhat hilly. Consider taking the tram ($2 for adults and $1 for children) to save your feet. Bring a picnic or purchase snacks at the Maymont café and make a day of your trip. Maymont is located in Richmond just a couple of miles from the Boulevard exit off I-64 (follow the signs). The Visitor’s Center is on Shields Lake Drive. Call 804 358-7166 for more information.

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