5 FAMILY-FUN TRANSPORTATION DAYTRIPS
Does the roar of a jet plane or a sports car get your little ones excited? Do boats fascinate someone in your family? Do you have a budding train engineer on your hands? Here are five family-fun transportation daytrips sure to satisfy the yearnings of those who love all things that go beep-beep, zoom and chugga-chugga-choo-choo!
Transportation-Themed Daytrips for Kids
Deltaville Maritime Museum & Holly Point Nature Park
Distance: 2.5–3 hours
Would someone in your family like to imagine setting sail with seafaring Captain John Smith who explored and mapped the Chesapeake Bay in 1608? You can at the Deltaville Maritime Museum. They have built a modest, wooden vessel, like Smith’s shallop, the Explorer. And during nearly all special events at the museum, you and yours may not only climb aboard the Explorer, but you’ll be able to cruise through Mill Creek, out into the north fork of Jackson Creek, and back again—using language from the 1600s. And they just may ask you to pull up your sleeves and get to rowing the sweeps or lowering the sail. No matter when you visit the museum, kids will enjoy seeing the model ships, and what is said to be one of the finest workboat collections along the Chesapeake. The Carl Hawkins Collection offers a glimpse of some rare antique outboards. And the maps on the wall? They are replicas of those used by Smith. Inside the museum’s Living History shed, boat restorers will likely be on hand, bringing a 43’-round sterned, Deltaville Deadrise, back to life just as they did with the F.D. Crockett and the Francis Smith. Outside, you’re likely to hear the sounds of folks building boats the old-fashioned way. And during Family Boatbuilding Week, held annually and usually in July, your family can build its very own skiff, using real wood and traditional building methods!
Chesapeake & Ohio Heritage Center
Clifton Forge, VA
Distance: 1.5–2 hours
All aboard! The Little C & O—a mini, 7 1/2″-gauge, locomotive that operates like it’s bigger steam-powered brother—awaits to pull the smallest of train lovers down her rails! Hear the whistle blow when the conductor pulls the cord. Watch her steam dance toward the mountains that surround the center’s six acres. Feel the rhythm of the rails beneath you. It’s easy to imagine being a railroad man of the 19th and 20th Century while experiencing your walk-through tour at the Chesapeake & Ohio Heritage Center, especially if Tom, the train master, is on hand to share his stories. At Smiths Creek Yard, you’ll be able to climb into the cab of a C & O locomotive, sit in the engineer’s seat, check out her dining car, and look out over the tracks. There’s restored railroad equipment to enjoy: full-scale railroad cars, a dining car, cabooses, locomotives, a flatcar and boxcars. The C&O Standard Section Tool House contains a replica of a handcar, a restored velocipede, and historic section gang tools. Within the indoor museum, a restored 1895 freight depot, many of the displays are created with C&O signal lights, locomotive components and railroad accessories. Even the museum’s gift shop is located within a replica of an 1892 Standard #1 train depot.
Chantilly, VA (near Dulles Airport)
Virginia Beach, VA
Distance: 2–2.5 hours
See the shine of the 611, a Class J locomotive that could pull a 15-car passenger train up to 110 mph. Imagine bumping down the road in a 1923 Piedmont 4-30 Touring Car, one of Piedmont Motor Car Company’s own massed-produced automobiles. Hear the whir of the propellers of the Life-Guard, Virginia’s first air ambulance service. Imagine as men pull the 1882 Howe Fire Engine to a barn engulfed in flames; all of this can be found at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. The museum exhibits feature the rails: diesel, electric and steam locomotives, cabooses, passenger cars and other rolling stock through time. They feature the road: race cars, buses, cars, tractors and cabs from throwback years. They feature the air: planes and spacecrafts like the Jupiter Rocket; and they feature waterways: models of historic sailing ships and the modern ship, appropriately called the Roanoke, and more. The museum especially highlights the history of Norfolk & Western Railway with engines like the Norfolk & Western Class J-611 and the Class A-1218, sleek steam locomotives are therefore highlighted, but be sure to call ahead, as the J-611 is always on the go. You’ll see a scale model of a circus and an O-gauge model train that has a four-tier layout depicting trains operating on 600-feet of track. Kids will have an especially good time enjoying hands-on activities like trying on pint-sized firefighter suits and playing with magnets within the Hanna Transportation Safety Room that honors the life of John T. Hanna, Virginia’s father of transportation safety. And they’ll have a blast romping about the museum’s transportation-themed outdoor playground, the Star Station.
We hope you enjoy your day of transportation adventure! Looking for even more daytrip ideas? The Family Fun section of our site has many more suggestions, including 7 Daytrips in the Charlottesville Area and Interactive Indoor Daytrip Ideas for the Wee Ones.
a local freelance writer. She recalls fondly the interesting things her grandfather, a porter on the railroad, would carry back to Chicago after his southern journeys upon the rails.
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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.