Thanks to the folks at VISITPWC for hosting us to explore Prince William County and share 7 Reasons to Visit Prince William County when visiting DC.
If you are ever driving North on 95 towards Washington DC you pass Prince William County. There is even a better chance you have been stuck in heavy traffic very close to one of the exists.
Besides the amazing Kid Friendly restaurants in PWC, we want to tell you about 6 Reasons to get out and stretch your legs in Prince William County instead of fighting crowds in DC. These are great for both kids and adults.
6 Reasons to Visit Prince William County when Planning a Trip to DC
There are so many great historic sights, parks, and small towns to enjoy during a trip to Prince William County, Virginia. These are our seven favorite things to do in the area no matter what time of year you’re visiting. Sure you can take Amtrak into our nation’s capitol from here but you can get some great experiences without the crowds or high prices. My contributor Julie, a mother of 4 young kids, shared her thoughts on why bring the kids to each place.
Manassas National Battlefield Park If you are interested in Civil War history, this is a fascinating place to spend some time. This Manassas National Battlefield is part of the national park service and is free. It’s best to start at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, where you can see Civil War uniforms, weapons, and other artifacts on display as well as read about the two battles that took place on this very soil. If you want to truly immerse yourself in the battles that happened here, be sure to catch the film in the visitor center.
Once you finish at the museum, walk around some of the 5,000 acres. You can opt to explore the grounds with a park ranger who will give you tons of information about what happened in each location you visit, or you can simply take a self-guided tour and explore the grounds on your own.
WHY BRING KIDS:
Julie’s daughters (all elementary school age) have really enjoyed being able to visit historic sites throughout Virginia after they study about them at school. The infamous Civil War Battle of Bull Run took place on Manassa National Battlefield. Walking around this National Park in Prince William is incredible with the huge black cannons everywhere and a museum with interactive exhibits and easy to understand signs.
2. Ben Lomond Just a short drive from the Manassas Battlefield you can tour the farm home that served as a Confederate hospital during the American Civil War’s Battle of First Manassas. The house was referenced in many Civil War-Era documents as the Kringle House because of the men who lived there in 1861.
Many of the soldiers that were brought to the hospital wrote their names on the walls and you can see the “graffiti” preserved at the Ben Lomond Historic house. Be sure to schedule a tour or check their websites for available times. This is a hands-on museum where kids and adults can feel and smell the history. You will learn just how many this war changed the way we looked at medicine and medical procedures. All the history but none of the crowds of DC.
WHY BRING KIDS: Our tour guide was a skilled story teller, although the story he was telling is true! Julie kept thinking how much her kids would have clung to the details of the soldiers and their families and how they used this tiny house to try to save so many lives. The displays of the soldier’s jackets and infirmary beds, for example, really helped the history come to life.
3. Historic Town of Occoquan The small and historic town of Occoquan is a lovely place to head for a sunny day out. The Town is located on the Occoquan River, 3.7 miles from the Potomac River and not far off 95. The town was founded in 1804 and is now a great place to head if you want to walk along the Occoquan River, take a boat out, or go antique shopping.
We had a chance to experience the Penguin Paddling for a quick paddleboard and kayak adventure on the Occoquan River. The main goal of Penguin Paddling is for all participants to enjoy the area as much as possible on the water! You will find an adorable town filled with independently owned restaurant and shops.
4. Neabsco Creek Boardwalk The newly opened Neabsco Creek Boardwalk provides important pedestrian and bicycling connectivity between Rippon Landing Park and the Julie Metz Wetland Preserve in Woodbridge, VA. It’s this simple, natural-looking, three-quarter-mile boardwalk that sits over a wetland preserve (also serves as a signature component in the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail which connects trails and historic sites throughout Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. )
The kids will see wildlife, native plants and fish as they take a leisurely walk or run. While you are in the area, you can check out Rippon Lodge. We did not but it’s located directly across the street from the boardwalk and if the parking lot is full you will have to park near the house anyway so plan a tour the same day.
It was built in 1747, making it the oldest standing house in Prince William County. Take a guided tour of the lodge, which was one of George Washington’s favorite places to stay when he was visiting the region.
WHY BRING KIDS: A lot of families love to hike but sometimes you worry about whether the little ones can keep up or you have to watch their every move. We went to the newly opened Neabsco Creek Boardwalk which is now a focal point of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Julie Metz WP) and the Rippon Landing Park. Julie kept saying how much her kids would love running ahead of us and you wouldn’t need to worry as there are rails up along the sides. It was such a lovely, natural setting with lookout points on the ends and we could easily peer into the marsh, plus spotted kayakers in the far distance. Heading back to the parking lot, there is also a playground and picnic area if the kids still want to play.
5. Little Goat Farm at the Lake. Situated on a beautiful lake, this family farm has a number of baby goats (and even a baby llama) that are eager to eat snacks right from your hand. We heard they are snuggly and playful during the yoga class and can even be found standing on your back during downward dog! There must be something extra therapeutic about doing yoga with these precious animals in tow and their classes are in high demand! The owner also makes her own incredibly delicious goat cheese and organic soaps from goat milk that has made my skin softer than ever. They were heavenly products to try!
KIDS would LOVE playing with these sweet animals in such a gorgeous spot.
You can’t see a working farm if you head to DC or experience yoga with baby goats. If you have time check out the offerings at Little Goat Farm at the Lake that change daily. Offerings include: lakeside live music throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall months, goat yoga by the lake, (reservations required) cheese and soap making workshops and more this is truly a farm experience. If you live nearby, they offer birthday parties too.
6. Tasting at Farm Brew Live/2 Silos Brewing Plan on spending several hours during your visit to Farm Brew Live/2 Silos Brewing . Set up a tour or just come for the tasting if your kids are along. We have a lot of breweries in Richmond, but nothing quite like Farm Brew Live.
It is Northern Virginia’s first destination brewery campus and they are not kidding. Located in Manassas, Virginia, Farm Brew LIVE is an 8-acre campus that features activities for all ages (and Dogs). During your visit, you will find plenty of craft beer, craft food and live, local music at The YARD outdoor live music venue, tasting rooms. Ice Cream food trucks, a play area for the kids, large outdoor fire pit area, this place was packed and I can see why.
WHY BRING KIDS: And when I say it’s THE perfect place for families to gather, I mean it. The owners quickly picked up on the need for young families to socialize with their kids in tow. So there is a playground on the campus with an ice cream truck adjacent (“boozy” flavors included). There were food trucks and bars all over the place. Inside the brewery, there is a tasting and tour room with wood-fired pizzas in their restaurant. This place was packed with hipsters pushing strollers!
Most Popular Destinations in Prince William County
- Manassas National Battlefield Park
- National Museum of the Marine Corps
- Jiffy Lube Live: A LiveNation® Venue : Concerts
- Prince William Forest Park: Largest Green Space in NoVa
- Leesylvania State Park: Park along the Potomac
- Potomac Mills: Virginia’s largest outlet mall
- Potomac Nationals: Minor league baseball