Charlottesville if full of entertainment offerings, and most of them take into consideration families with both younger and older children. The following resources should serve as a helpful start when looking for things to do:
- Arts & Sciences
- Story Time
- Sports & Recreation
- UVA Programs and Activities for Kids
- Regional Entertainment
- Find More Fun Things to Do
In addition, check out the Things to Do on a Free Day or Evening page. It includes links to things the whole family can enjoy such as movies, bowling, and offerings in the downtown area such as the City Market and ice skating. Charlottesville also hosts annual events that include children's programming such as the Virginia Film Festival and the Virginia Festival of the Book.
Programs are offered in Charlottesville, Orange County, and Fauquier County. Dates and time vary. Check website or call for more information.
The Summer Enrichment Program is designed for gifted and talented students. Students who are currently enrolled in grades 4-10 may apply to attend a two-week session, where the curriculum emphasizes extending a student's capabilities in problem-solving, creativity, and critical examination and evaluation of content rich fields of study. Areas that are new or of special interest to students are investigated through hands-on simulations, demonstrations, lectures, discussion and/or individual or small-group investigations. The 9th-11th grade program also emphasizes the acquisition and practice of research skills within advanced topic areas.
The Saturday Enrichment Program is a program for gifted and/or high-ability students in kindergarten through grade 5. Activities in the program are designed to expose students to new interest areas, provide interaction with students with similar interests and abilities, enhance interest in learning by providing stimulating and challenging activities, encourage creative/productive thinking and expression, and foster skills for independent learning.
Child Development Laboratories at the University of Virginia
Research at the Child Development Labs at the University of Virginia helps create better learning environments for children. They are looking for children from birth to 12 years of age to participate in fun, quick studies. Your child might read a story or play a game, and you can be with your child at all times. Call or visit the website for more information.
Classes for children vary each season, depending on which resident artists are teaching, but may include painting, calligraphy, bookmaking, Chinese art, stained-glass mosaics, modern dance and African dance. Call or look online for the seasonal schedule. For more information you can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia Discovery Museum
Downtown Mall, east end, 524 E. Main St.
Tue-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
This museum specializes in hands-on activities and exhibits related to history, culture, nature and science. It's great for rainy afternoons, especially for kids up to age 10. Toddler Time offers directed activities for toddlers on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Admission is $8 (free for children under 1). Two hours free parking is available in Market Street Garage.
1035 Emmet Street North, Barracks Road Shopping Center
Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Michaels offers many craft classes that both kids and their parents would enjoy, ranging from beading to card making. Call for details or check out their class and events website.
The library offers a wide variety of family programs including Toddler Time, Preschool Power, Mother Goose Time and Storytime Stew. See website for more details.
This branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library offers drop-in story time on Saturdays at 11 a.m. There are also other children's programs. Call for details.
This branch offers a variety of children's programming including Preschool Storytime, Two's and Three's Together, Mother Goose and a variety of other programs. Registration may be required for activities. Call or check the website for more information.
Albemarle County Parks and Recreation
County Office Building, Room 323, 401 McIntire Rd.
Parks and Recreation offers classes in ice skating, roller skating and karate for children as well as summer swim and playground programs. Call for a schedule, watch for information in the Daily Progress, or see the website.
Carter's Mountain Apple Orchard
Rt. 20 South to Rt. 53 East and follow signs (15-minute drive)
1435 Carters Mountain Trail
Enjoy beautiful views while you pick your own fruit. Fruit picking is July through October, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in November. It is also open through mid-December (weather permitting.) Check hours online. The Apple Harvest Festival is the first two weekends of October. Pre-picked fruit, pumpkins, cider and apple fritters are for sale.
City of Charlottesville
Department of Recreation & Leisure Services & Parks and Grounds Division
P.O. Box 911
Charlottesville, VA 22902
office: 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
A broad range of classes and competitive sports are available for children ages 6 months and up on a seasonal basis. Activities vary by age and include art, dance, music, basketball, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, and much more. Call for a brochure or watch the Daily Progress for information.
The Little Gym
2075 Bond St. Suite 140 (The Shops at Stonefield)
The Little Gym is an exercise and development center for children ages 4 months to 12 years, offering instruction in gymnastics, karate, and sports skills. It has a mobile after-school program at various public schools, private schools and the YMCA. Parent Survival Nights—drop your kids off for a night off—occur on select Friday and/or Saturday evenings.
Putt-Putt Golf Course
1525 E Rio Rd.
Family tickets, birthday parties.
151 McIntire Park Dr. (Brooks Family YMCA)
YMCA members, nonmembers, and their children have access to a variety of educational classes, little league sports teams, and other leisure activities. The "Y" runs a summer day camp for children ages 5-14, as well as several sports camps.
Charlottesville Swimming Pools and Spray Parks
Charlottesville Aquatics Program has indoor pools, outdoor pools and "spray grounds." Hours vary by season. Call for specific recreational times or check the website(s) below. The aquatics office is located at Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center, 1000-A Cherry Avenue.
Charlottesville Aquatics website
725 Stonehenge Ave.
Forest Hills Park
1022 Forest Hills Ave.
The city's largest spray park has mountain views, picnic grounds, basketball courts, party shelters and a playground.
1598 Rose Hill Dr.
Playground, spray park, shelter for parties and restrooms.
Onesty Family Aquatic Center (Meade Park)
located at the corner of Meade Ave. and Chesapeake St.
The center is complete with diving board, lap pool, water slide, lazy river, in-water play structures, coolbrellas and a zero-depth entry beach. A playground is nearby, with a picnic shelter.
Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center (indoor)
1000 Cherry Ave
The center is complete with diving board, lap pool, water slide, lazy river and a spray pool.
Washington Park Pool (outdoor)
1001 Preston Ave.
Large outdoor pool, playground, party shelter and changing rooms.
UVA Aquatic and Fitness Center (indoor)
450 Whitehead Rd.
University of Virginia students can enjoy the Aquatic and Fitness Center, which features an Olympic-sized pool and children’s pool, at a discount.
Other offerings in Virginia that are a relatively short drive from Charlottesville include the Children's Museum of Richmond, the Science of Museum of Virginia (also in Richmond) and Amazement Square in Lynchburg.
Find More Fun Things To Do
Local publication Charlottesville Family has a number of great suggestions under its "Find Fun Things to Do" website tab. Here are some links from their website to get you started:
- Events This Week
- Seasonal Fun
- Family Events and Festivals
- Family Fun Year-Round
- Daytrip Ideas
- Kids' Classes and Activities
- Parent Classes and Events
- Parks and Playground Guide
- Kids' Recreation Year-Round
- Online Summer Camps Fair