Kids Activities in Charlottesville

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As the sun rises over Fancy Hill Farm, LLC, a European–style barn casts its shadow across a meadow filled with grazing horses. This rustic scene suits the farm’s owner, Mandy Patchen, who has seen enough equestrian pomp in her career on the Maryland show circuit. In the past two decades, Mandy earned respect as a highly decorated rider—she even rode a horse that was ranked third in the entire country. She draws on this experience as she introduces new riders to her lifelong passion during lessons on the farm’s historic property.

Mandy and her fellow instructors believe that riding must begin with an appreciation for the fundamentals of horsemanship. They help students as young as 4 develop basic skills in the hunter-jumper style, teaching them how to saddle up, trot, and change the horse’s oil. Youngsters aged 8–14 can participate in one of the farm’s camps, which include lessons as well as guest speakers and an end-of-session riding demonstration.

13764 James Madison Hwy.
Palmyra,
Virginia
US

Autumn Olive Farm’s slogan is “Knowledge with a Sense of Humor,” which makes sense when you consider that the farm, run by a CHA-certified instructor in English and Western and an experienced farrier, was named after the favorite snack of a runaway horse named Ben. Owners Syndi Pickney-Blunk and Scott Blunk apply this good-natured attitude to the services they provide, including boarding and showing horses and instructing students across 50 acres of wooded trails and a 120’x240’ ring. For a closer peak at the farm’s four-legged residents, check out Autumn Olive’s horse bios, which include each equine’s stats, awards, and favorite cast member of Cheers.

4566 Tabscott Rd.
Columbia,
VA
US

Sheridan Stables’s encouraging instructors school fledgling equestrians in the way of the horse during hunter- and Western–style riding lessons, which prepare students to navigate miles of green pastures and trails. A 90- to 120-minute session atop one of the stable’s easygoing horses breaks down the fundamentals of steed steering and spares riders the hassle of converting their mopeds to run on oats. Lights flood the 250'x175' riding arena after dark, allowing nighttime riders to practice jumps or basic riding techniques. Sheridan Stables’ trail rides strengthen horse-and-rider companionship, interweaving with public dirt paths, open fields, ponds, and woods. Trail rides can last as little as one hour or as long as half a day, depending on the rider’s comfort level and whether the horse agrees to pay for lunch.

6162 Venable Rd.
Kents Store,
VA
US

Virginia Discovery Museum delights kids with interactive exhibits. For example, at a miniature Panera Bread stocked with toy food, tots can don real Panera aprons and take orders. They also pick fruit in an interactive play orchard, and go back in time and play in a log cabin from the 1700’s. For a brush with real nature, they can even observe bee behavior at the museum's enclosed hive.

524 E Main St
Charlottesville,
VA
US