Manassas may not be on the top of your list of local cities to visit with  kiddos, but it should be! Offering everything from museums to waterparks, Manassas is a small city rich in history and filled with fun. Load the kids in the car, fill up the gas tank, and start checking off our picks of Manassas must-sees.

kid with icecream-crdt-dc-instagrmPhoto: Valters Krontals via Flickr

#1 Nathan’s Dairy Bar
This kid-friendly outdoor soft serve ice cream shop has everything a child could ask for: tons of flavors, dipped cones, and shaved ice for lactose intolerant kiddos. It’s also a great place for dog lovers, and if you bring your own pup, ask for the pup cup with vanilla ice cream and a biscuit inside! In case seating fills up, bring fold-out chairs or a blanket for the family to share, and be prepared—the line gets out to the sidewalk on busy days.

8948 Mathis Ave.
703-335-9051
Online: nathansdairybar.com/

#2 Manassas National Battlefield Park
For the history buffs in your family, Manassas National Battlefield Park offers the Civil War learning experience without the usual travel requirements. The entrance fee is only $3, good for three days, and kids 15 and under are free! Plus, you can make it a day with a picnic lunch and one of the kid-friendly trails.

Henry Hill Visitor Center
6511 Sudley Rd.
Online: nps.gov 

#3 Vertical Rock Climbing and Fitness Center
Your kids are always climbing on everything anyway, so why not bring them to Vertical Climb, where jungle gymers of all ages can conquer the walls? If they love it, older climbers can even join Vertical Rock’s youth teams. Be sure to dress them in comfortable tennis shoes and workout clothes, but avoid shorts so they don’t ride up in the harnesses.

10225 Nokesville Rd.
Online: climb-va.com/

manassas-crdt-dc-jpegPhoto: Brett Deal via Flickr

#4 Manassas Museum
Another stop for the history buffs, Manassas Museum is small but packed with interesting information, especially related to the battles of Manassas. After you tour the museum, head to lunch in Old Town Manassas…then try to convince your kids to check out the quaint stores on the way back to the car.

9101 Prince William St.
703-368-1873
Online: manassascity.org

#5 Urban Evolution
If your kids get excited over words like “parkour,” “breakdancing” and “freerunning,” then they’ll love Urban Evolution. This place is all about functional fitness, which looks like playing on the jungle gym but way more challenging. They use a wristband system to mark the ranks of each student, and girls and boys must master the skills in that rank to rise up to the next one. Get ready for your kids to officially be way cooler than you!

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8442 Kao Cir.
Online: urbanevo.com

#6 Splashdown Waterpark
Splashdown Waterpark is a great place to take kids during the last few days of summer vacation or on the early days of September while the weather is still warm. Fun rides like Canon Ball Slides and Lilly Pads will have them giggling and splashing, and for all of the fun the park offers, the prices are incredibly reasonable!

7500 Ben Lomond Park Dr.
703-792-8200
Online: splashdownwaterpark.com 

mckay used books-crdt-Photo: Denise Mattox via Flickr

#7 McKay Used Books
McKay Used Books is not your typical used book store. Forget those cramped shelves and limited aisle space; this place is HUGE. Best of all, you can bring old books and trade them for store credit that will buy your kids’ new books, comics, DVDs, or CDs!

8345 Sudley Rd.
703-361-9042
Online: mckayusedbooks.com

#8 Skate N Fun Zone
The name pretty much says it all: skate and have fun! Other activities that boost the enjoyment level for your kids include laser tag, play zone, and arcade games. New skaters can use a skate trainer, then work their way up to roller skates or blades. But prepare yourself for the nostalgia—skating to top tunes might bring back some memories of your own first time in the rink.

7878 Sudley Rd.
703-361-7465
Online: skatenfunzone.com

#9 Laser Tag Manassas
For those of you who’ve never played laser tag, imagine that you’re running through a 5,000 square foot space while fog flows over your feet and lights blink off and on around you. This is the environment of Laser Tag Manassas, where parents and kids compete to be the last player standing as laser shots fly.

9686 Liberia Ave.
571-208-1099
Online: lasertagmanassas.com

Have you been to Manassas yet? What were some of your favorite sops

–Kelly Ann Jacobson