It’s summer … now what do I do?

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Check out these summer travel ideas for the family

By Laura Enderson

Intern Writer

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of local and other places/activities for your family to enjoy this summer.

    For the last minute planer, here are a few family friendly places to visit for fun vacation. Learn at a fun-filled museum or spend a day in the sun, with places to visit as close as Bedford and Lynchburg. 

Local events and activities:
    Take a day trip down to Gross’ Orchard Apple Valley on Wheats Valley Road in Bedford. Gross’ Orchard is a family owned and operated orchard. They offer mountain grown peaches and apples, and are located at the foot of the Peaks of Otter. June 20 - Sept. 15, they have peaches for the family to pick and enjoy. beginning September 1, they have apples at the edge of the orchard. Wagon Rides are also available through the heart of the orchard. Call 540-586-2436 for appointments or visit www.grossorchards.com for more information.
    While you’re in the neighborhood of the orchard, stop by the Peaks of Otter. Visit the two prominent peaks that rise out of the Blue Ridge Mountains. These peaks, known as Sharp Top and Flat To, are what gives Bedford one of the most beautiful backdrops in Virginia. They were also once home to Native Americans of 10,000 B.C. The Peaks of Otter offers hiking trails, wildflower walks, picnic areas, fishing, campgrounds and a lodge and restaurant facility open year-round. Visitors can hike or take the guided bus tour to the peak of Sharp Top or hike to the restored Johnson Farm and experience southern mountain life during the 19th century. Contact the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center at 540-586-4496. For more information, visit www.peaksofotter.com.
    And if you’re in the mood for a movie, check this out: Loop Fest, a summer movie festival, is featuring movies at the front lawn of Bedford Middle School at 6:30 p.m. for food, fun and games and a dusk showtime. Featuring “Joyyful Noise” on June 23, “Captain America: The First Avenger” on June 30, “The Blind Side” on July 7, “Despicable Me” on July 7, “Second Hand Lions” on July 21, and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” on July 28. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. For movie trailers and family-friendly reviews, visit loopchurch.com.

History and museums:
    Located in downtown Lynchburg, Amazement Square, The Rightmire Children’s Museum, is worth checking out if the family hasn’t already, and if you have, go again. It is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and is dedicated to creativity and understanding of the world through hands-on learning. The Museum’s exhibits encourage all visitors to explore the arts and humanities, culture, science and technology. Amazement Square offers four floors of interactive exhibitions, workshops and educational programming. Amazement Tower, a meandering tangle of pathways, tunnels, illuminating stairs and glass elevator, connects all the Museums exhibitions, and is the tallest indoor, interactive climbing structure in the United States. Admission is $8 per person. Check out www.amazementsquare.org for more information or call 434-845-1888.
    The Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg has a lot to offer. It has many activities for the family throughout the year, including a 67,000-sq. ft. indoor waterpark. The water park offers a four-story, interactive treehouse, a 1,000 gallon Tipping Bucket, 8 Waterslides, 4 pools, 2 huge hot tubs, an outdoor pool and a large wave pool. The Great Wolf Lodge offers other hands-on activities for children and the family to play and learn. For more information call (800) 551-9653 or visit   www.greatwolf.com/williamsburg. 
    The American Celebration on Parade at Shenandoah Caverns offers a close look at a unique collection of parade floats, props, and stage settings from America’s entertainment and political history. The collection includes parade floats from the Rose Parade, Presidential Inaugurals, and other national celebrations. Many of the floats are animated, and being able to view the massive floats that were on T.V. in person will fascinate the whole family. A combination ticket includes the The American Celebration on Parade, Shenandoah Caverns, Main Street of Yesteryear and The Yellow Barn. Admission is $23 for an adult combination with Caverns tour, $10 for just the museum. Call (540) 477-4300 for more information or check out www.shenandoahcaverns.com.

Festivals and events:
    For a fun festival for both parents and kids, check out the Northern Virginia Summer Brewfest located in Leesburg. More than 40 breweries will feature their best American style beers. The festival, running June 23-24, highlights the intricacies of each particular beer, how beer is made and how to brew your own. Local restaurants will provide foods that compliment beer such as chicken wings, chili and barbeque. Entertainment includes live music and children’s activities such as face painting, air-brush tattooing, moon bounces, and rock climbing. Open Saturday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 at the gate, $20 in advance. Designated Driver tickets are $20 at the gate, $15 in advance. Children up to age 16 free with an adult. For more information, check out www.novabrewfest.com.
    The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an annual event sponsored by the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage celebrating cultural traditions around the world. The Folklife Festival, June 27 - July 1 and July 4 – 8, includes daily music and dance performances, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling and discussions of cultural issues. There will also be hands-on activities for the children. The festival is held at National Mall in Washington, D.C. Packing will be tight, so it is recommended that the family take the Metro. The festival runs daily from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. Check out www.folklife.si.edu for more information. 

Zoos and outdoor activities:
    Located in Virginia Beach, Hunt Club’s Petting Farm provides a day of family fun on the farm. The family can spend all day feeding and petting goats, sheep, chickens and llamas. You’ll be greeted by our free-range turkeys, peacocks and guinea hens. Don’t miss the pigs, rabbits, donkeys and miniature cow. The petting farm features a large Rainbow Playground set and plenty of shade. Admission is $4 per person. Children under 2 are free. Open 7 days a week from 9am -5pm. Pony Rides are offered daily, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., $5 per ride. Visit huntclubfarm.com for more information, or call (757) 427-9520.