Local parents weigh in on their family favorites in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Nestled among the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Lynchburg is a dynamic destination for families who want to make the most of a walkable downtown and outdoor attractions.
To uncover the locals’ favorite kid-friendly destinations, we caught up with three working parents—all happy to share their recommendations for stops that keep everyone in the family entertained.
Read on for their advice on customizing a fun-filled itinerary for your family.
THE WIEBE FAMILY
As director of administration and community engagement at Miriam’s House, Leah Wiebe serves Lynchburg families experiencing homelessness. The mother of four children, ranging in age from 9 to 14, Wiebe moved from the Midwest to attend Liberty University 19 years ago.
“There is so much to do in Lynchburg,” Leah says, “and it’s been fun to experience different things with our kids as they’ve grown.” When friends and family ask her advice, she shares the following:
- Explore four floors of interactive fun at Amazement Square, a hands-on children’s museum Blow giant bubbles, create your own rock band and let loose on the indoor playground with slides, ladders, tunnels and a zip-line.
- Immerse yourself in Lynchburg’s vibrant arts scene with cultural events, galleries like Riverviews ArtSpace, events like First Fridays, and live performances at Academy Center for the Arts.
- Spend an afternoon at the ballpark with Lynchburg’s own minor league baseball team, the Kids enjoy free admission, as well as special themed nights and fireworks displays.
- Walk, hike or bike the Blackwater Creek Trail, a popular paved path that extends 3 miles from downtown.
- Visit the labyrinth, amphitheater and Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, named among the nation’s top 10 green colleges.
- Find fresh produce, homemade treats, local art and more at Lynchburg Community Market. Dating back to 1783, this downtown institution is one of the oldest markets in the country.
- See a movie on the big screen at Venue Cinemas, where matinees are only $3.
- Tuck into a great burger and fries at The Cavalier Store, known as “The Cav.” This cash-only, no-frills hangout is decorated with college pendants and license plates from across America.
- Get your pizza fix at Rivermont Pizza, with plain cheese and custom-build options for picky eaters and specialty pies for the more adventurous with toppings like pistachio pesto, prosciutto, tofu, pulled pork and sweet potato.
- Treat yourself to a handcrafted ice cream sandwich at Rookie’s made with fresh cookies baked in house. Flavors rotate seasonally and include scrumptious varieties like peanut butter Oreo, lavender and cookie dough. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.
THE ANDREWS FAMILY
Anthony Andrews has been a fireman for the City of Lynchburg for 19 years and is a newly elected school board member. Anthony and his wife have two children, ages 10 and 15.
“We’ve lived in Lynchburg our whole lives,” Anthony says. “It’s great to have so many activities right here in our backyard. We especially love the trails and all the ways to stay active.”Spend time at Riverfront Park, with walking trails and a splashpad right on the James River in downtown Lynchburg. The park also plays host to annual events like Soulfood Festival, summer concerts, wine festivals, Friday Cheers and more.
- Have a blast at Liberty University’s SnowFlex, with snowboarding, sledding, tubing and an Olympic Grade trampoline. SnowFlex is open year-round thanks to its patented artificial snow.
- Ride bikes or hike from downtown over the James River to Pervical’s Island Trails. The flat and accessible trail, located on an old railroad bed, meanders through scenic woodlands and wetlands.
Challenge your kids to a game of laser tag or an afternoon of roller skating at FunQuest Family Entertainment Center. This complex even has an indoor playground and arcade.
- Try bouldering, top roping and lead climbing at Rise Up, an indoor rock-climbing venue for all ages and experience levels.
- Please everyone in the family at The Depot Grille. Inside this repurposed train station, parents can unwind with a hand-crafted cocktail or local craft beer, then order a ribeye or barbecue ribs—in both adult and child-size portions.
THE SPONTARELLI FAMILY
Through her role as the executive director of the maker space Vector Space, Elise M. Spontarelli helps Lynchburg teens and adults get creative during weekdays. On the weekends, she spends explores the city with her own 6- and 9-year-olds.
“Lynchburg has many wonderful main attractions, but I encourage visitors to get out and explore some of the secret little places we love,” says Elise.
- Wander through Old City Cemetery, which also serves as a 27-acre public garden and history park. Established in 1806, Old City Cemetery is the oldest active municipal cemetery in Virginia. The property includes a museum, a fun swing for kids and the state’s largest collection of antique roses.
- Take the family to the brand-new bicycle Pump Track at Peaks View Park. Cyclists of all ages can push and pull their way up a series of short hills as they lap around the course. Mountain bike rentals are available at several area outfitters.
- Retreat to Claytor Nature Center located just outside of town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Free and open to visitors, the Claytor Center features gardens, streams, camping, hiking and scenic views. Get your hands dirty at Otter Space, a natural play space for younger children.
- Purchase cut flowers and explore the native gardens at Irvington Spring Farm, located right in the center of town.
- Chill out at MayLynn’s, a popular downtown ice cream shop that started as a food truck. Locals and visitors can’t get enough of the homemade treats like rolled ice cream and sundaes as well as soft serve and hand-dipped cones.
- Enjoy fresh seafood, burgers, gourmet sandwiches and treats for the dog and the kids at The Water Dog. While adults finish up an after-dinner drink, the kids can play outside on Riverfront Park.
- Satisfy your cravings at Lola’s, offering made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine from cheese quesadillas to burritos, fajitas and more.