At Rivertowne 12 Cinemas, children’s films, supernatural thrillers, comedies, and superhero blockbusters all share equal billing. Twelve auditoriums light their silver screens with 3D and digital projections, carrying audience members to other worlds so they don't blow their savings accounts while trying to make a space elevator.
Fright Fest’s haunted attractions, song-laden revues, and 7 themed coasters play Hyde to Six Flags America’s Jekyll, exorcising shrieks and hollers from attendees. Courageous patrons traverse the park’s ghoul-laden grounds, surveying docked ghost ships at Skull’s Revenge, passing through a cowboy-haunted Ghost Town, and cementing fears of demonic clowns and cursed cotton candy at the Carn-Evil. Creatures creep onto the stage in DJ Ghoul and The Gang’s horrific hip-hop dance revue.
Voted No. 4 in the Top 10 Birthday Chains for Kid Birthday Parties in 2010 by Parents magazine, Pump It Up pulses with inflatable play sets and actually encourages kids to bounce off the walls. Within the indoor playground, a stalwart staff oversees the neighborhood of bounce houses and air-filled playthings, such as a classic bounce castle and slick inflatable slide that cushions children's heartfelt reenactments of Cool Runnings. Throughout the week, families can pop in for open play, or tote along their own mini entourage for birthday-party packages complete with private rooms and complimentary invites. Parties come as straightforward packages or as themed events that place the birthday child in structured story adventures where they take on the role of a mighty and clever superhero or pirate captain that drank too much salt water.
Since 1984, the professional, certified instructors at Loftmar Stables have passed their equine expertise on to students of all skill levels, helping them learn horsemanship principles or advanced skills. Captained by owner Janet Loftus Martin, the team starts beginner riders out with 30-minute private lessons that encourage speedier progression and build self-confidence, rather than thrusting novices into large group classes. Instructors give special attention to riders who might be scared to get on horses or have had bad experiences riding in the past, such as getting thrown out of saddles or being paired with horses on blind dates. All programs begin with learning to care for horses and equipment before moving on to more advanced riding instruction in hunt-seat equitation, jumping, or dressage. The extensive facilities—including massive lighted indoor and outdoor arenas as well as wooded trails—ensure that lessons take place even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
For 350 years, the Middleton family has proudly worked the 280 acres of Cedar Hill Farm. Their fields used to be only sewn with tobacco and corn, but now, the Middletons have carved out space for their annual fall festivities. In their 6-acre corn field, they've devised a maze where guests can test their navigation skills through towering stalks of corn. They've also summoned the Great Pumpkin to endow them with a pumpkin patch filled with jack-o-lantern-ready gourds, accessible via a rumbling 30-minute hayride. Nearby, farm animals await to meet families, so kids can finally learn about country life from someone other than an imaginary scarecrow friend.
The former Metropolitan Fine Arts Center founded more than 14 years ago has recently joined forces with the Metropolitan School of The Arts. This multidisciplinary performing-arts organization fosters choreographed skills and creates performance opportunities in dance, music, and theater for a diverse population of students of all ages and abilities. Its students have gone to perform on Broadway, at The Juilliard School, and in highly esteemed companies, such as the Mark Morris Dance Company, The Washington Ballet, and Microsoft. Youth programs include musical-theater and fine-arts workshops, as well as ballet and other half-day dance camps for children as young as 3. Adult classes range from basic to advanced, including ballet, jazz, and tap lessons, plus yoga and ballet-barre fitness workouts.
Since it was first settled in 1669, and officially established in 1749, the city of Alexandria has played a crucial role in American history. It has existed as a tobacco trading post, a busy port, home to a large free-black community, and a Civil War supply center for Union troops. Famous figures such as George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Mama Cass once claimed it as their hometown. Now, more than 260 years since the town’s first historic buildings were constructed, visitors can tour them year-round—with the aid of interpreters dressed in American colonial and Victorian garb.
The Alexandria Archaeology Museum displays artifacts unearthed from the city’s streets; the Alexandria Black History Museum welcomes visitors into African American heritage exhibits; and the Fort Ward Museum, a preserved Union fort, hosts regular Civil War reenactments and slumber parties. Along the town’s winding streets, visitors can also step over historic thresholds at Lee-Fendall House and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum; Carlyle House Historic Park, a Union hospital during the Civil War; and Gadsby's Tavern Museum, a favored haunt of founding fathers, journalists, and military officers. Historians and staff also bring history into the present through weekly activities such as fencing classes at the tavern, farmers’ markets at Market Square, restoration workshops, 18th century fashion shows, and film screenings.