Ease Into Nature

Enjoy an authentic Blue Ridge foothills experience across rural Albemarle County.

Explore Attractions

Children exploring a pond in a canoe.

Get Out In Nature

Blue Ridge Nature Play is an ongoing partnership of local businesses in support of our vibrant, rural economy – a partnership that works to preserve this beautiful, unique landscape and beloved rural community. This collaboration is made possible by a Virginia Tourism Corporation Partnership Grant.

For Families and Friend Groups

Connect kids to nature and choose an itinerary (or build your own) from a whole menu of unique, nature- based activities.

Children exploring a pond in a canoe.

Itinerary 1- A Mix of Rural Life Experiences and Outdoor Activities

Come up to the mountains of Virginia and connect your kids to nature! There is plenty of fresh air, natural beauty, activities and room for kids to run and roam in Albemarle County. We hope to see you soon!

Our Favorite Itinerary

Day 1 – Day of Arrival

Book a stay at Montfair Resort Farm or Misty Mountain Camp Resort.

At Montfair, you can check into your cottage and immediately enjoy transitioning into vacation mode and an immersion into nature by taking a walk on the beautiful, serene grounds, exploring the trails by bike, sitting on your cabin’s front porch, fishing in a pond or putting in a canoe and gliding on the small lake. Then, cook a simple family meal in the convenient and well-equipped cottage kitchen.

At Misty Mountain Camp Resort, nestled among woodlands close to Crozet, stay in either a cabin or one of their RV or tent camping sites. Enjoy playgrounds, a jump pad, The Misty Mountain Mining Company (mine for fossils and gemstones from March – November), as well as a splash park and pool during the summer months. Wind down while roasting marshmallows around a campfire and listen to the evening sounds of the Blue Ridge unfold.

For more local Lodging options toggle here.

Day 2 – Explore Outside!

Start your day with a 9 am reservation for 2.5 hours of nature play at the Wildrock Nature Play and Discovery Center. There is so much for your kids to see and learn on the playscape – with twelve play zones that include a mud kitchen, a hobbit house and a bird sanctuary. Older kids will love exploring the discovery trails, streams and forests.

Head over to Henley’s Orchard to enjoy a packed-in picnic lunch on their patio. You can choose to buy farm-fresh, in-season fruit from “The Shed” or wander the naturalized orchards to pick your own low -spray fruit, while enjoying the stunning mountain views and fields overflowing with native wildflowers!

Before you head back to your accommodations, enjoy a family dinner at the iconic Crozet Pizza, only minutes from Henley’s Orchard. Once back at your lodging, you will be lulled and serenaded into a restful sleep with the sounds of bullfrogs, crickets and owls carrying through the fresh, mountain night air.

Looking for some shopping? Books, Art Supplies and Local Gifts

Day 3 – History, The Natural World and River (or Equestrian) Time

Your next day can begin with a drive to the River View Farm and Ivy Creek Natural Area.

Interested in native plants? Take a small detour through the village of Free Union on your way to the River View Farm and stop at Hummingbird Hill Native Plant Nursery to purchase plants from an extensive and delightful selection of locally-grown Virginia natives and plants endemic specifically to Albemarle County. Here you can meet the siblings/owners who specialize in propagating the species that help counteract habitat loss in our area and create sanctuary spaces for wildlife.

Arrive at the River View Farm to learn about the hundred-year history of the Carr-Greer farm through an interpretive kiosk, brochures, self-guided walks and seven miles of trails. A few years after Emancipation, freedman Hugh Carr established River View Farm, where he successfully raised tobacco, wheat, corn and livestock. He became the largest black landholder in the Hydraulic Mills-Union Ridge area. After his death, his daughter Mary Carr Greer, a well-known agricultural extension agent, made River View a model for both black and white farmers.

The Ivy Creek Natural area encompasses the River View Farm and is a 219-acre preserve with two miles of shoreline and eleven different trails. Children will delight in the time for river play, exploring The School Trail with labeled flora (guides are available at each endpoint of the trail) and, on the weekends (April through Thanksgiving), farm history and environmental learning opportunities in The Barn.

After a morning of fresh air, head into Charlottesville and grab lunch at Bodo’s Bagels or Al Carbon. Enjoy an after-lunch treat at the nearby Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard.

For afternoon adventures, the Rivanna River beckons for more outdoor time to keep you moving!

The Rivanna River Company offers guided or self-guided canoe, kayak, tubing and paddleboard excursions. Trips can be scheduled for short, one-hour trips to 3.5 hour excursions.

The Rivanna runs 46 miles from its headwaters near Charlottesville to its confluence with the James River in Fluvanna County. On its journey from the Blue Ridge foothills out into the Piedmont plain, the Rivanna meanders through a world of natural scenery that delights the senses and restores the spirit. In recognition of its special beauty and ecological importance, the Virginia General Assembly named the Rivanna the first designated Scenic River in the Commonwealth.

Prefer land adventures to water? Both Morning Star Stables and Star B Stables offer family- and kid-friendly affordable horseback trail riding adventures that are accessible to beginners. Morning Star is in Raphine, Virginia and Star B Stables is near Staunton, Virginia. Ride through the bucolic countryside in the historic Shenandoah Valley and experience the connection you can have with a horse and the land.

Head home grounded and rested from your soothing, tactile and authentic outdoor experiences, with the gift of memories with family and friends tucked away for future times to come.

Itinerary #2

The Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary #3

Country and Downtown Adventures