As the Potomac River flows in the distance, George Mason’s historical Georgian mansion overlooks sprawling fields, hiking trails, and a 250-year-old boxwood allée. A senior statesman, Mason laid the foundation for this site in 1755, building his new family home just yards away from the site of his grandfather’s house. Though the original 18th-century carriage roads, tree banks, and wide vistas have since disappeared, experts have reconstructed much of the property’s original splendor through archaeological digs; the written memoirs of George’s son, John; and the testimonials of kidnapped time travelers.
Today, trained guides lead guests on tours of the mansion, which features more than 50 pieces of art and furnishings detailing the life of the politician, his wife Ann, and their family. As guests learn about Mason’s role as the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and as an advocate of freedom of the press and religious tolerance, they walk through opulent halls and rooms designed in French modern, neoclassical, and Chinese styles. In addition to tours, the house and grounds host seasonal events such as an old-fashioned candlelit Christmas celebration, a spring kite festival, and an autumn séance to summon the Great Pumpkin.
The weather has a knack for ruining kids' leisure time, but it doesn't have to be that way. At Kids N Motion, kids scamper indoors in two rooms filled with inflatable playground equipment while remaining safe from thunderstorms, sweltering heat, and their own shadows. Parents can let loose too, knowing their kids are burning excess energy leaping in bounce houses, scrambling up and down inflatable obstacle courses, and careening down air-filled slides. Birthday parties are no exception to all that fun, with celebrants getting to sit in a bright-colored throne and blowing out a sparkler-style candle.
The summer sun is shining, the chickadees are chirping, and the Northern Virginia sky is a dazzling azure blue—SplashDown Waterpark was made for days like today. The 13-acre water park, lauded as one of the best places to cool off in the area by Northern Virginia Magazine, abounds with aquatic attractions, including two four-story water slides.
Inflatable tubes meander down the park's 770-foot lazy river, and youngsters frolic through watery obstacle courses. Over in the 25-meter lap pool, American Red Cross–certified instructors conduct private swim lessons, teaching students how to tread water and convince dolphins to carry them when that gets tiring. The park also features an array of eateries and concessions stands full of hamburgers, pizzas, and sugary funnel cakes.
Since 1973, skaters have been sailing effortlessly across Fairfax Ice Arena?s spacious, icy surface during public skate sessions, figure skating?lessons, and hockey leagues for all ages. At the family-owned arena, a staff of dedicated skating coaches guides students while calling upon experience from the St. Petersburg State Ballet on Ice, Disney on Ice, and the lesser-known On Golden Pond on Ice. The arena is open throughout the year, hosting a full hockey and figure skating?pro shop in addition to its Arena Caf?.
Many of the Northern Virginia Regional Parks feature sparkling springs, rolling countryside, and wooded trails. Others, however, feature 230-feet waterslides and giant plastic mermen. That?s because NOVA Parks includes a handful of recreational splash havens with towering slides, giant dumping buckets, and pristine pools.
Each waterpark is characterized by its own theme and unique whimsical d?cor, from the massive parrot that watches over Pirate's Cove to the lofty palm trees and grass huts that speckle Volcano Island. The latter location even boasts a landscaped mini golf course with 18 holes and challenging obstacles. All of the parks feature their own snack bars, where servers sling kid-friendly treats such as funnel cakes showered in sweet powdered sugar and popsicles with homework answers written on the sticks.
Movable walls, luminous rocks, mirrors, ramps, and unexpected dead ends. These are just a few of the obstacles players face at Ultrazone Laser Tag, a multi-level arena that, much like a spring-break DJ’s apartment, is always flooded with black light and fog. Before separating more than 66 players into mulitple teams and setting them loose in the arena, a game master delivers rules and moves teammates to the vesting room, where they grab laser guns and flashing vests. As the beat of pulsing music hammers the arena, players stream into the field, launching beams at opponents and attempting to seize their strongholds. When players are hit they aren't eliminated from the action; a computer keeps a running tally of points throughout the mission and awards champion status to the team with the highest count after the game. The facility also includes an arcade and a snack area.