Lewis Ginter GardenFest of Lights

6 Favorite Holiday Daytrips in Virginia


From cookie decorating to ice skating and Christmas lights to historic holiday traditions, happy adventurers of all ages can kick up the fun in Virginia with endless thrills, activities, and hands-on learning with these 5 holiday daytrips. Whether families prefer the energy of the city or the peace of the country, Central Virginia – from the Shenandoah Valley to Charlottesville, Richmond, Middleburg and Williamsburg too – is the place to unite the young — and young at heart — in the pursuit of happiness this holiday season.

With its abundance of picturesque rural locations and arts focused capitol city, the Central Virginia region transforms into something quite remarkable during the Christmas season. These are a few of Virginia’s top choices for day trips and holiday festivities. See more about each fantastic event by browsing our calendar of family events. From fun places to take kids to fun places to go with the family, we cover it all with these Virginia daytrips.

Keep in mind that reservations or advance tickets may be needed for some of these attractions suggested for day trips with kids near Pennsylvania. Always check the attraction’s website for current policies, hours, and ticket information.

Lantern Tours at Frontier Culture

Lantern tours at Frontier Culture Museum VA

Frontier Culture Museum
Staunton, VA
This holiday season, take part in the annual guided Lantern Tours. Open 364 days a year, this popular destination in the stunning Shenandoah Valley close to Staunton is the ideal spot for a stroll. Complete with acts performed by costumed interpreters in the English, Irish, and German farmhouses, among other museum exhibits, these joyous tours also feature many other exhibits. Kids will likely enjoy getting to scatter some cracked corn for the chickens and turkeys and of course there are a few other farm animals to see too. The narrative of the thousands of individuals who came to colonize America is told by the Frontier Culture Museum in a fun interactive walk. Paved it is easy for seniors, toddlers and strollers alike. With wagons to borrow and a golf cart roaming looking for passengers, it is easy to cut your walk short should anyone in your group tire out. Charming souvenir shop with snacks available, picnic tables and nicely outfitted bathrooms makes this very popular with families. For information on the dates, timings, and hours of the Frontier Culture Museum’s lantern tours.


GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter

Lewis Ginter Gardenfest of Lights

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Richmond, VA
Under the night sky, gardens and trees are illuminated by millions of lights twinkling. The walk -through experience is made to allow you to unwind, enjoy yourself, and create priceless memories in a mystical environment with your loved ones and friends. Easy to walk or use a stroller or wagon with gift shop and cafeteria. A favorite for children is the hot cocoa stand near the treehouse and children’s garden. The exhibit this year celebrates nature and the cyclical seasons of life that unite us all. It’s an engaging experience. Throughout the gardens, a range of colorful lights, forms, and botanical decorations symbolize the seasons: winter, summer, spring, and fall. The forest canopy draws your gaze higher, and you could even hear some natural noises, like bird calls. This year’s highlight is the installation “Rhythms of Light Uje Wepinasow” created by local artist Kyle Epps. The artist spent two days in the Garden painting this lit tapestry of symbols, signs, and motions as a cloth offering to the spirits of central Virginia.

Only online sales are accepted for advance tickets; walk-ups are not permitted. Tickets have a
window for arrival times and are limited. Popular periods sell out fast. GardenFest is held rain
or shine, and unless you purchase the Flex Add-On (details below), tickets are non transferable and non-refundable.
  • Model trains return to the Kelly Education Center nightly 4-9:45 p.m.
  • Trees decorated by Henrico County Public Schools students brighten the Lora Robins Library; botanical decorations also grace the cozy Library Reading Room.
  • The Kelleher Warming Fire in the Children’s Garden is a great spot to warm up, drink hot chocolate, and roast s’mores (available for purchase at the nearby Carriage House).
  • Dried botanicals and Fairy Houses displayed in the Robins Visitors Center, the Kelly Education Center, and the Lora M. Robins Library Reading Room.
  • Fraser Fir Christmas Tree in the North Wing of the Conservatory. It measures 19 feet, 6 inches (but hits 20 feet in the stand!)

The exhibit this year celebrates nature and the cyclical seasons of life that unite us all.


Maymont Victorian Christmas

Richmond, VA
Don’t miss this popular annual tradition at Maymont. Through New Year’s Day, Richmond's Maymont will be completely decked out for the holidays and accessible to the public for self-guided audio tours. James Henry and Sallie May Dooley formerly owned the 100-acre classic Victorian country residence and park. The estate functions as a historical illustration of a Gilded Age estate today. On December 9, carriage rides, live music, costumed carolers, St. Nick, food trucks, craft stations and all sorts of festive fun make this a beautiful walk and opportunity for some hot cocoa and holiday cheer with the little ones whether or not you opt for the indoor tour. Paved and stroller friendly. Using fresh evergreen clippings from the estate, guests are also welcome to build their own beautiful holiday décor at seasonal Wreath Workshops this winter. Experience the historical holiday magic at the Merry Market the first two weekends in December. Fifty regional artists, a jolly holiday bar, warm fire pits, and live music are all featured at this two-day celebration and artisan fair. For precise details of Holiday Cheer at Maymont dates, times, and hours.

Williamsburg - Merchants Square
Merchants Square – Williamsburg on Facebook

Colonial Williamsburg Holiday Festivities

Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, VA
​There are several ways to celebrate the holidays in Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg. Being one of the most visited historical places in the nation, it should come as no surprise that family vacations are ideal during this enchanted time of year. The annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which features live musical performances and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, kicks off the festivities. The annual Lighted Boat Parade, a handmade craft market with regional artists, a seasonal Mistletoe Market, and spectacular illuminations over the capital building all contribute to the festive atmosphere. A window into holiday customs from the 17th and 18th centuries can be found at Yorktown’s Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum. For detailed dates, times, and hours, visit their family events calendar.

Town of Middleburg holiday carriage ride
Town of Middleburg on Facebook

Middleburg Holiday Charm

Middleburg, VA
​Enjoy the best of wintertime cheer and small-town charm as you visit the historic Middleburg over the holidays. Take in the yearly tree lighting, the spectacular Middleburg Christmas Parade, which includes llamas, ponies, hounds, and horses, among other animals. With its festive stores, eateries, and seasonal housing options, Middleburg is also an ideal destination for holiday shopping trips. Along with special Dickens-themed events like the Dickens of a Dog Show, the Run Like the Dickens 5k, two live outdoor productions of “A Christmas Carol”; and much more, visitors may join Middleburg for the ultimate Charles Dickens Christmas experience. Middleburg is a storybook village complete with many local shops along Washington Street perfect for browsing – there is even the “Christmas Sleigh” stocked with Old World holiday décor and ornaments and a new children’s play space that you can visit to help the littlest ones run around and Village of Middleburg Christmas details.

Boar's Head Winter Wander Trail of Lights in Charlottesville

Winter Wander Trail of Lights with Ice Skating

Boar’s Head Resort
Charlottesville, VA
At the Boar’s Head Resort Winter Wander Trail of Lights, enjoy the beauty of the terrain while taking a stroll around the lakeside under the glow of a brilliant array of lights. It is an incredible, one-of-a-kind light display. Wanderers entering the event through the main entrance will be welcomed by a lit archway and a unique 12-foot-tall boar-faced nutcracker. See Dogwood Way for beautiful lanterns, an animated fountain of lights and walk through the illuminated tunnels. New in 2023, even if it’s not freezing outside, families and kids can still enjoy winter by putting on some skates and skating on a synthetic ice rink. The rink is always available for you to glide, spin, and twirl to your heart’s content—rain, shine, heat, or cold. This artificial rink, constructed from a special plastic polymer, captures the sensation of skating on a frozen pond.

New in 2023, even if it’s not freezing outside, families and kids can still enjoy winter by putting on some skates and skating on a synthetic ice rink.

More Fun Daytrips for Kids in Virginia

​Looking for even more fun day trips with kids near Charlottesville and Central Virginia and other activities your kids will enjoy? Check out our favorite holiday events in and around Charlottesville, Va, find a Christmas tree farm, family-friendly hikes, daytrips for snow-lovers, young scientist daytrips, daytrips for dinosaur-lovers and much more!


JENNIFER BRYERTON is Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of CharlottesvilleFamily. She started her career in teaching, is a mom of four and avid gardener. She enjoys visiting lots of museums, zoos, art exhibits, theater performances and nature attractions with her family.


CharlottesvilleFamily.com, a collection of local resources including a popular calendar of events, family services guides and features on education, health and family day trips for parents and teachers in Charlottesville, as well as Virginia Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an annual art book celebrating elegant Virginia weddings.