Searching for a cool educational activity to enjoy as a family? Our daycares in Woodbridge VA has you covered. We’ve put together this list of super fun yet incredibly educational places to visit in and around our area. Get inspired to head out on an inspiring family adventure without going far from home.

Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge

A view of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia.

Image via Flickr by Judy Gallagher

Woodbridge is home to the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, making it incredibly easy for Port Potomac families to enjoy a day out in nature without traveling far from home. Spanning 642 acres, the refuge offers an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation. You’ll find a variety of ways to view and learn about the habitat and its wildlife when you visit this amazing destination at the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan rivers.

From walking on the dock at Painted Turtle Pond to watching for bald eagles, ospreys, and waterfowl overlooking Marumsco Creek, there’s truly something for everyone here. Over 4 miles of trails feature informational kiosks to deepen the learning experience. Popular trail loops include the loop from Fox Road to Lake Drive, which is just over a mile, and the loop from Fox Road to Deephole Point Road to Easy Road, a walk of about 2 miles.

You can also choose to walk the whole perimeter of the refuge, going from Lake Drive to Deephole Point Road to the Potomac Heritage Scenic Trail and then back to the main parking lot. This longer walk is around 3.6 miles.

Kiddos interested wildlife are sure to delight in a day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Whether you explore on foot, take the family out for a bike ride, or even stay in your car on the established roads and auto tour routes, this local refuge will have your family eager to come back every chance you get.

Carlyle House Historic Park

Head over to Alexandria to visit Carlyle House Historic Park, where you’ll find a striking 18th century historic house museum as well as its gorgeous gardens. The gardens host an array of public programs, and they’re also the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or picnic lunch after learning about the site’s history.

John Carlyle constructed the elegant stone mansion on the grounds, completing it in 1753. Carlyle was a wealthy merchant and one of Alexandria’s founders, so it’s no wonder that the Carlyle House is still one of the finest examples of Georgian residential architecture in the United States today. You’ll get to explore what life was like in Pre-Revolutionary America with a visit to this historic home.

Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden

The Lee-Fendall House is another historic site in Alexandria that families looking for an educational outing won’t want to miss. The museum interprets American history through the lens of the people who lived and worked on this property between 1785 and 1969. You can purchase tickets in advance for tours that explore a variety of topics, such as enslaved and free African Americans, women of the house, and a behind-the-scenes look at the house’s architecture.

Just a quick look into former occupants of the house gives insight into how deeply this structure is entwined in American history. The house served as home to various members of the Lee family, hundreds of Union soldiers during the Civil War, the prominent Downham family, and John L. Lewis over the years. Your whole family is sure to get inspired by a visit here.

Potomac Heritage Trail

You can’t go wrong with a family day out on the Potomac Heritage Trail when you’re searching for the perfect combination of nature and history. The trail is open year-round, weather permitting, offering a fun place to visit whenever you have the urge to get out into the great outdoors.

Your family can explore American heritage while watching for wildlife, hiking, biking, or even paddling along the river. The network of trails stretches from the mouth of the Potomac River through the Allegheny Highlands, featuring tons of opportunities for family-friendly adventure and eduction in nature.

Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C.

Our hometown offers easy access to the Washington, D.C., area. Along with that comes the array of educational opportunities the Smithsonian Museums provide. Plan a day museum hopping in D.C., or just head into the city to explore your family’s favorite spot. Some museums you’ll want to check out include:

  • National Air and Space Museum: A perennial favorite for kids and kids at heart, the National Air and Space Museum takes visitors on a journey through flight on Earth and beyond.
  • National Museum of African American History & Culture: The National Museum of African American History & Culture is not only the newest Smithsonian museum, first opening to the public in 2016, but it’s also the only national museum devoted exclusively to documenting African American life, history, and culture.
  • National Museum of American History: History buffs and anyone looking to get more in touch with America’s past, present, and future will love exploring the National Museum of American History.
  • National Museum of Natural History: From bones to butterflies and beyond, the National Museum of Natural History always enthralls curious kids with a range of scientific exhibits.

Of course, that just scratches the surface of the amazing opportunities families can enjoy, so explore the range of Smithsonian museums when you’re looking for educational inspiration. Even when the museums are not open to the public in person, they offer a variety of exciting virtual programs so you can enjoy learning with the kids from the comfort of home.

There you have it, Crème de la Crème of Port Potomac’s list of awesome educational destinations close to home. Whether you’re looking to explore nature, history, or anything in between, our amazing area boasts a wide range of places to go. But maybe we missed your family’s go-to educational trip close to Port Potomac and Woodbridge? If we did, drop us a line. We’ve love to check out your recommendation and add it to our list for other local families!