UPDATE: Virginia's Blue Ridge is Now Open in Phase Three

Virginia's Blue Ridge is now open in the Phase Three stage of the Commonwealth's Forward Virginia plan. Learn more about the program and what it means for various types of businesses & experiences in the region with our Phase Three Guidelines page. Phase Three >

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Kid Friendly Outdoor Recreation in Roanoke, VA

Kid Friendly Outdoor Recreation in Virginia's Blue Ridge

There are trails and outdoor adventures for all ages in Virginia’s Blue Ridge!

The Blue Ridge Mountains are an exceptional destination for the outdoors, including opportunities for amazing hiking, biking, and water sports such as paddling, fishing, and boating.

Best Place for Outdoor Family - Roanoke, VAIt's part of why Roanoke was voted the Best Place to Raise an Outdoor Family in the Best of the Blue Ridge Awards by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine!

You can also make special memories with an overnight stay at one of many campsites or cabins in the region, providing the perfect setting to reconnect as a family while you connect with the natural environment around you.

The following is a guide to some of our favorite areas and activities for kid-friendly outdoor fun in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Virginia State Parks

You could plan family adventures at the Virginia State Parks in the region - Claytor Lake, Fairy Stone, Natural Bridge, Smith Mountain Lake, and Douthat. Douthat features a fantastic network of trails, especially for mountain biking, while Claytor Lake, Fairy Stone, and Smith Mountain Lake are great options for getting on the water.

A visit to the Natural Bridge State Park offers the opportunity to check out the iconic Natural Bridge, one of our most stunning natural wonders.

Learn more: Virginia State Parks in Virginia's Blue Ridge >

Local Public Parks

Kids at Mill Mountain Overlook

Our local public parks offer an abundance of outdoor fun! A hike along the Star Trail in Mill Mountain Park leads to the iconic Roanoke Star and a stunning view of the Roanoke Valley.

For an awesome collection of mountain bike trails, including many good options for beginner riders, head to Waid Park in Franklin County. Franklin County is also home to the Smith Mountain Lake Community Park, which has a public beach!

Another great option is Roanoke County’s Explore Park, offering an aerial adventure obstacle course, trails for hiking & biking, river access for paddling and fishing, and cabins & camping for an overnight stay.

Learn More: Great Public Parks in Virginia's Blue Ridge > 

Disc Golf

A round of disc golf with the kids can be a fun, relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors! We have many great courses to check out throughout the region, including the Greenfield Disc Golf Course in Botetourt County, Mayflower Hills in Roanoke County, Highland Park in Roanoke, and Falling Creek Park in Bedford.

Learn more: Disc Golf Courses in Virginia's Blue Ridge >

Easy Hiking Trails

Family Vacation - Blue Ridge Mountains

Take a walk in the woods with an easy hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains! While we might be known for epic trails like McAfee Knob and Dragon’s Tooth on the Virginia Triple Crown, you can also find more relaxing options such as a waterfall hike to Roaring Run in Botetourt County, which has a fun natural waterslide along the way.

Another fun, scenic spot is the Smart View Recreation Area near Milepost 154 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Franklin County.

Learn more: Easy Hiking Trails in Virginia's Blue Ridge > 

Easy Mountain Biking Trails

Everyone gets in on the fun in America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital! For kid-friendly trails for mountain biking, a few of our favorites include Waid Park in Franklin County, Falling Creek Park in Bedford, Morningside Park in Roanoke.

There are also some fun gravel rides as part of the Greenway network, such as the Wolf Creek Greenway in Vinton and Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail in Salem.

Learn more: Easy Mountain Biking Trails in Virginia's Blue Ridge > 

Biking on the Greenway

Roanoke Greenway Biking

Biking on the Roanoke Valley Greenway network is one of the best ways to experience the outdoors in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and the lack of automobiles makes it a good riding spot with kids! You’ll likely encounter many families riding bikes, as well as others walking & running, on various portions of the Greenway. 

A popular option is along the Roanoke River Greenway near Wasena Park and River’s Edge Sports Complex, though nearly every section of the over 30 miles of Greenway network offers something fun to explore. Roanoke Mountain Adventures and UnderDog Bikes are two local shops along the Roanoke River Greenway that offer bike rentals.

Learn More: Biking the Roanoke Valley Greenways >

Black Water Junction Wake Park

If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity for the kids, head to the Black Water Junction Wake Park at Smith Mountain Lake! It’s a cable park for wakeboarding and wakeskating that offers rides for all skills and ages, as well as lessons for those new to the sport. The park recommends supervised runs with a trained instructor for younger riders.

Learn more: Black Water Junction Wake Park Website > 

Splash Valley Water Park

Splash Valley Water Park - Roanoke, VA

Splash Valley Water Park at the Green Ridge Recreation Center in Roanoke County is the perfect spot to cool down and have some fun. The kids will love the park's different features, such as the two 34-foot high water slides, current river, sprayground, and a starter slide for littler ones.

Learn more: Splash Valley Water Park Website >

Blue Mountain Adventures

Blue Mountain Adventures can help you create an awesome family getaway at Explore Park in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The local outfitter handles the campsite rentals at the park, including primitive sites, bell tents, large canvas tents, and treetop platform sites, and they also offer tubing and kayak rentals for floating the scenic Roanoke River.

Learn more: Blue Mountain Adventures Website >

Twin River Outfitters

The Upper James River Water Trail is one of the best spots to get on the water in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and the pros at Twin River Outfitters in Buchanan will get you and your family everything you need for a river adventure! They offer tubing and kayak rentals for day trips, as well as options for overnight trips with camping along the bank of the river at their own private campgrounds.

Learn more: Twin River Outfitters Website >

UnderDog Bikes

UnderDog Bikes is one of many fantastic local bike shops in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and their location along the Roanoke River Greenway makes them the perfect spot for renting bikes for a ride along the Greenway. For some extra fun, consider renting from the shop’s selection of tricycles, which will have everyone feeling like a kid!

When you return your bikes to UnderDog, head next door for a delicious scoop of ice cream at Blue Cow Ice Cream Company! Pro tip: get your scoop in one of the house-made waffle cones.

Learn more: UnderDog Bikes Website > 

Treetop Quest at Explore Park

Treetop Quest - Explore Park - Roanoke County

Soar through the woods on zip-lines and take on obstacles like cargo nets, Tarzan swings, a trampoline net, and tightropes at Treetop Quest in Explore Park! It’s a great family adventure for ages four and up as you experience the outdoors in a unique way with progressively challenging aerial obstacles.

Learn more: Treetop Quest Website >

Roanoke Mountain Adventures

Roanoke Mountain Adventures is a local outfitter that can help your family create the ultimate outdoor experience in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The RMA shop in The River House in Roanoke provides easy access to the Roanoke River and Greenway, and they provide rentals and trip options for numerous activities, including mountain biking, tubing, and paddling.

Following your adventure, grab a pizza or burger and a seat on the patio at the Wasena City Tap Room or The Green Goat, two delicious nearby restaurants with plenty of kid-friendly options on the menu.

Learn more: Roanoke Mountain Adventures Website >

Smith Mountain Lake Boat Rentals

Take the family for a cruise by renting a boat and experiencing the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake - the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge.” We have multiple local businesses that offer various types of watercraft rentals, such as pontoon boats, jet skis, fishing boats and more. Check availability at Bridgewater Marina, Magnum Point Marina, and Gills Creek Marina & Lodge. Be sure to complete the necessary licensing and safety requirements prior to your visit. Boating safety info >

Learn More: Guide to Boat Rentals at Smith Mountain Lake >

Roanoke Valley Spotlight

Your kids will love exploring these local museums!


Arts & culture activities created specifically for kids.