It's hard to plan a family-fun getaway during the school year. All you have is the weekend. You want to have fun, but you also want to sneak in a little extra education for the kids while you do it, especially if you sneak out early on Friday from work and pull the kids out of school. Winchester, Virginia packs in the fun with a whole lot of learning, and you don't have to walk very far to do any of it. Book a room at the historic George Washington (yes, it has a pool) and get ready to explore on foot, and maybe take a quick drive to immerse yourself in the area's Civil War history.
Get hands on
Not many families think of cooking when they travel. Actually it is the last thing on mom and dad's minds since they are looking for a break from the dishes. Nibblins, just outside of downtown Winchester, offers cooking classes for kids and adults. You can do a whole series, or just hop in for one class, like pie making or Christmas cookie decorating. You will get to sample as you go and definitely take a few treats home.
After you all wake up from your sugar-induced coma, head back to the historic center of Winchester to the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum. This multilevel children's museum can entertain for hours. Build a rollercoaster, play with pullies and conveyor belts at the model apple processing plant, or get hands-on in the science lab.
If you can drag the kids away from the museum hop across the street to Washington's Office Museum for a quick burst of history. This museum is only open seasonally, but shows artifacts and information from George Washington's time in Winchester, VA.
Walk through history
In case you didn't know, Winchester is big time Civil War country. You can even ride on horseback through Civil War battlefields, while you learn a little bit about this violent time in American history that pitted brother against brother, as they fought for what they believed in.
If you aren't quite ready for horses, you can head to the Third Winchester Battlefield. Take a nature walk and read through signs as you go to learn a little more about this historic battlefield. End your day by heading up to Stonewall Jackson's Headquarters to meet one of the costumed guides who will walk you back in time through Jackson's life during the Shenandoah campaign in 1861-1862.
Take in the nightlife
Sometimes you have just had enough learning for one day and you need to have a little fun. The Family Drive In Theater in Stephens City, Virginia, just seven miles south of Winchester, packs it in with a double feature for a family-friendly price. Put the kids in their jammies and pile into the back of the car with blankets and pillows to make it a night of snacks and cinematic fun. They even have a playground to work off some extra energy before the film starts.
If you'd rather skip the movies and head to the theater, the Winchester Little Theater offers plays and classes for kids that will let them express their more dramatic side. Kid-friendly performances have included Alice in Wonderland and The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf.
No matter your interest, Winchester has a little something for everyone in the family. Let your inner mad scientist out, be a drama queen, take notes like a film critic, or watch as one of the nation's most important wars unfolds before your eyes on the battlefield. You can't go wrong bringing the kids down for the weekend.
Where is your favorite destination for a weekend getaway?
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