Arlington Convention and Visitors Service, 735 S. 18th St., Arlington, (703) 228-0874, www.arlingtonvirginiausa.com/visiting.
Richmond County Museum and Visitor Center, Warsaw, (804) 333-3607.
Virginia Tourism Corp., 901 E. Byrd St., Richmond, (800) 932-5827, www.virginia.org.
Williamsburg Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Williamsburg, (800) 368-6511, www.visitwilliamsburg.com.
Busch Gardens and Water Country USA, Williamsburg, (757) 253-3350, www.buschgardens.com. It's like European Vacation, but in the form of Virginia's largest water park. Plan for a day of traveling to over 40 rides, water slides, and attractions packed among appropriately themed eateries and shops.
Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery, 9423 Batesville Road, Afton, (540) 456-8400, www.cardinalpointwinery.com. Sample wine like Mom used to make at this family owned and operated vineyard near Afton Mountain. Well, maybe your parents didn't grow grapes and ferment their own wine, but the Gormans do, and they specialize in the German kind.
Colonial Williamsburg, (800) 447-8679, www.history.org. America's largest living history museum is sooo 18th century. Go to learn a little about America's past and be grateful you're not the one pretending permed wigs are still "in."
James Madison's Montpelier, Rte. 20, four miles south of Orange, (540) 672-2728, www.montpelier.org, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily. This National Trust historic site features mansion restoration tours, new Madison exhibits including Treasures from the Madisons' Collections and Public Places, Private Spaces, and special summer activities planned for children.
Kings Dominion, 1600 Theme Park Way, Doswell, (804) 876-5000, www.kingsdominion.com. Cool off with SpongeBob, Scooby-Doo, and other familiar faces linked to Paramount at its version of a water-sliding family-fun good time.
Leesburg Animal Park, 19270 James Monroe Highway, Leesburg, (703) 433-0002, www.zoo-to-you.com. That's petting zoo to you, animal lover, so prepare to get friendly with the likes of llamas, donkeys, and emus. The park also offers animal shows and pony rides. Ponies!
Luray Caverns, Luray, (540) 743-6551, www.luraycaverns.com. Didn't think you'd be spending summer vacation reviewing how a stalagmite differs from a stalactite, right? But Luray is worth it. Discovered in 1878, these caverns continue to draw people away from the sun and into their depths to behold some formations over 7 million years old.
Mount Vernon, near Alexandria, (703) 780-2000, www.mountvernon.org. Sightseeing cruises on the Potomac, mansion and grounds tours, and curatorial collections of George and Martha Washington's domestic objects all combine to show you how G.W. made his house a home for over 45 years.
Natural Bridge, in the Shenandoah Valley, (540) 291-2121, www.naturalbridgeva.com. George Washington carved his initials in the wall of the Bridge and Thomas Jefferson once owned this natural wonder situated between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountain ranges near the Lace Waterfalls. Stay 'til dusk for the sound and light show that, according to the Web site, "transforms the Bridge and glen into a marvel of living stone."
Norfolk Botanical Garden, 6700 Azalea Garden Road, Norfolk, (757) 444-5838, www.nbgs.org. Meander through some 20 theme gardens with names like Bristow Butterfly, Fern Glade, and Flowering Arboretum.
Virginia Beach Amusement Park, 15th and Atlantic avenues, Virginia Beach, (757) 422-2307, www.vabeachamusementpark.com. You got sun, sand, and waves during the day, roller coasters at night. Learn to love summer like a 12-year-old again.
Virginia Safari Park, 229 Safari Lane, Natural Bridge, (540) 291-3205, www.virginiasafaripark.com. Better than any reality show, this drive-thru zoo features animals gone wild. Zebras, giraffes, and bison romp freely and close enough to feed out of your hand, which is actually encouraged here.
Virginia Zoological Park, 3500 Granby St., Norfolk, (757) 441-2706, www.virginiazoo.org. Located alongside Lafayette River, the zoo houses nearly 400 animals, including the Siberian tiger, ostrich, pancake tortoise, brush tailed porcupine, and African elephant.
Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival, June 18-20, Oronoco Bay Park, Union and Madison streets, Alexandria, (703) 549-8300, www.waterfrontfestival.org. See if life truly is better down where it's wetter at the 23rd annual festival themed "Undersea Adventure." Games, rides, music, tours of docked ships, plus a fireworks display.
Boardwalk Art Show and Festival, June 17-20, Virginia Beach, (757) 425-0000. www.cacv.org/bw.html. Bring sunblock and your appreciation for the fine arts. The work of over 200 artist--including but not limited to sculptures, paintings, and ceramics--are on display at one of America's most popular outdoor art festivals.
Blackbeard Festival, June 5-6, Hampton Visitor Center, 710 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, (757) 727-1540, www.hamptoneventmakers.com. Did you hear about the pirate movie? It was rated "Arrrh." Try out all your lame pirate jokes, and feel free to use that one, when interacting with costumed re-enactors of Blackbeard's pirate camp. The weekend of swashbuckler charades concludes with a block party.
Mattaponi Indian Pow Wow, noon-5 p.m. June 19, Mattaponi Indian Reservation, King William, (804) 769-7745, www.co.king-william.va.us. Native American drumming, dancing, and authentic food.
Pork, Peanut, and Pine Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 17-18, Chippokes Plantation State Park, 695 Chippokes Park Road, Surry, (757) 294-3625, www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/prkevntz.htm. Pork barbecue, ham biscuits, and peanut pie are just a few of the dishes featured at this celebration of Virginia's famous foods.
Roanoke Festival in the Park, May 28-June 6, 706 S. Jefferson St., Roanoke, (540) 342-2640, www.roanokefestival.org. Lots of things to do over this 10-day event like play softball, race in a 5K, and check out antique car shows, arts and crafts booths, and nightly concerts.
Strawberry Festival, May 29-30, Sky Meadows State Park, 10112 Edmonds Lane, Delaplane, (540) 592-3556. Petting zoo, crafts, and desserts for the strawberry lover in all of us.
Vintage Virginia Wine Festival, 11 a.m-6 p.m. June 5-6, Historic Long Branch Farm, Millwood, (800) 277-2675, www.vintagevirginia.org, $5-$22. 50 area wineries present over 350 selections for your tasting and spending pleasure, along with wine seminars to help you appreciate 'em. Fest includes live local music and a children's area--which sounds like a huge play pen but isn't.
Virginia Highlands Festival, July 31-Aug. 15, Abingdon, (800) 435-3440, www.vahighlandsfestival.org. Go ahead and hike trails, explore caves, peruse antique markets, bike to vineyards, and taste wine, but stop once or twice to enjoy the view too.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Adrenaline Air Sports, 405 West Main St., Christianburg, (540) 296-1100, www.air-sports.com. Strap one on (parachute) and get over your fear of planes or the sky by jumping out of one into the other. You'll respect yourself in the morning.
Algonkian Regional Park and Golf Course, 47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling, (703) 450-4655, www.nvrpa.org/algonkian.html. When you're not up for all 18 holes, you can perfect your swing at the driving range or putt around on the mini-golf course.
Appalachian Outdoor Adventures, 270 Flatridge Road, Troutdale, (866) 605-9687, www.appalachianoutdooradventures.com. What a gift for the indecisive--an outfitter and guide service that sets up mountain bike tours, fishing or hunting arrangements, and even cabin rentals for your weekend in the great outdoors.
Bon-Aire Charters, Troy, (434) 589-5717, www.bonairecharters.com. If plunging to the ground from a plane is not your cup of tea, take the scenic route and float around Virginia via a hot air balloon.
Candy Hill Campground, 200 Ward Ave., Winchester, (540) 662-8010, www.candyhill.com. No, there's not a Gumdrop Forest or Ice Cream Sea like the name suggests, but you will find a swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, and about 100 campsites among the attractions here.
Danville Braves, Dan Daniel Memorial Park, Danville, (434) 797-3792. If for some reason, you're an Atlanta Braves' fan and you're feeling out of place, here's your chance to root for their rookie team.
James River, Scottsville, Virginia, (434) 286-4386, www.reelingandraftingcom/tubing.htm. Cruise in tubes for a three-hour ride, letting the current drag you where it may. Life jackets are provided but bring your own cooler to string along for a picnic at the end.
Motor World, 700 S. Birdneck Road, 849 General Booth Blvd., (757) 422-6419, www.vbmotorworld.com. Vent your road rage on one of the eight different Kart Tracks or Bumper Boats and nobody gets hurt.
Cambria Emporium, 596 Depot St., Christiansburg, (540) 381-0949. Browse through the vintage clothing, furniture, glassware, china, and other collectibles of 20 antique dealers who set up shop in 10,000 square feet of space.
Powell River Pottery, 419 Wood Ave., Big Stone Gap, (276) 393-4561. Handmade ceramic, wool, and woven items located in the Heart of the Appalachians.
Ten Thousand Villages, 824 King St., Alexandria, (703) 684-1435, www.tenthousandvillages.org. Traditional textiles, instruments, pottery, and sculptures are a few of the "fairly traded handicrafts" sold here but created by artisans from 30 Third World countries.
Virginia Bazaar, Ladysmith, (804) 448-9488, www.vabazaar.com. Bargain shop at this indoor/outdoor flea market that features an assortment of items like new and used clothing, home dˇcor, books, fishing equipment, and tools set up on "streets." Also has a food court.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201