Not so long ago, going 30 miles outside Washington, D.C., to Loudoun County was akin to making a day trip. Now, there are tons of reasons to make the drive – and take the kiddos. Named after John Campbell, the fourth earl of Loudoun, a Scottish nobleman and titular governor of Virginia from 1756-1759, the area started being settled in the late 1720s. A center of agriculture for more than 200 years, the arrival of Dulles International Airport in the 1960s initiated a transformation of the county by attracting businesses and residents. Today, about 330,000 people live in the 520-square-mile county, which is one of the country’s wealthiest. Check out the latest developments or let loose in the great outdoors.
Photo: Great Country Farms
With a beautiful backdrop against the hills of Virginia, has pretty much everything a child dreams of: expanses of open space to run or picnic in, an enormous bouncy pillow, slides, goats to feed and pet, and a wagon ride to seasonal pick-your-own fields. Depending on the time of year, you can find peaches, blueberries, apples and pumpkins. For something more daring, get suited up at the for ziplining, a ropes course or tubing – either whitewater on the Potomac River or flatwater on the Shenandoah River.
Photo: Jeff Self via flickr
If something less nature-y is more your scene, Loudoun’s spacious warehouse-size buildings answer your call. is full of enormous inflatables, including a jumping pillow and steep slides, while offers two rooms of inflatables and special events such as Glow Jump. is divided into two sections – one for littles 2 and younger and one for older tots. The idea is kids play while adults relax. indoor playground caters to kids 8 and younger with an enormous climbing structure, inflatables, a ball put and an infant area. For a more educational experience, check out , which offers STEM and science classes, camps and birthday parties. Or get your feet off the ground – yes, kids as young as 3 can do it, too! Forget an airplane. Here, you stay afloat in a special chamber and fly alongside a trained iFly pro.
Photo: The Zone
Fill up, stock up
The District may have become a foodie destination, but it’s not the only place to grab some grub. Head to , especially on a Tuesday, when it’s Kids Day with face painting, balloon animals, half off most arcade games and one free kid’s meal per adult entrée purchased. Part restaurant, part arcade, games include virtual reality, cosmic bowling and laser tag. is a sprawling mixed-use community that offers shops and restaurants, including local faves Matchbox and Elevation Burger. While you’re in the area, stop by , which has children’s clothing at stores such as NikeFactoryStore, Carter’s, Gap Factory, Gymboree Outlet and, Nautica Kids.
Do you have a favorite Loudon County hangout? Tell us about it in the comments below.