When winter hits Fairfax County it can be tempting to forego the outdoors and stay home snuggled up by the fireplace. But while the weather may be colder, there’s still an abundance of natural beauty and easy access to fun outdoor activities and events. Explore our list for some great ideas on what to do this winter – we’ll even throw in some indoor activities for those times you want to forego the scarf, gloves, and parka!
Til the 15th: The Chinese Lantern Festival. You’ve never seen lanterns quite like these! Head to Roer’s Zoofari in Vienna to enjoy over 800 hand-crafted lanterns from Zigong, China’s center of lantern tradition. This year’s event, called “The Wild,” features lanterns in the shape of animals from around the world. Multicultural events include folk art demonstrations, live Kung Fu performances, and free Kung Fu coaching sessions. All this and free parking, gift shops and, of course, hot chocolate.
Throughout the Winter Months
- Head to the Beach. Yes, the beach! With far fewer people to compete with, winter is a perfect time for exploring Virginia Beach. Learn about the original Jamestown colonists at First Landing State Park, enjoy horseback riding along the coast, or take the kids to see the harbor seals and more winter wildlife at the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
- Be a Pioneer. The original Virginia pioneer families faced many a winter challenge in 1775. You can learn about it all while exploring the historic beauty of Wilderness Road State Park. The living history site includes a frontier museum and an outdoor living history museum.
- Hit the Slopes. While they may not have the fresh powder of other states, Virginia’s outstanding ski resorts are worth the trip. There’s Bryce Resort, with its snowboarding and tubing park; Massanutten Resort, with its enormous indoor water park; and Wintergreen Resort, which also has a performing arts center. The Peaks of Otter in Bedford has three main summits and offers trails for every skill level. The views are stunning and downtown has plenty of shopping and dining. Don’t forget to check out the incredible D-Day Memorial. All are within easy driving distance of Fairfax County.
- Luxuriate in Hot Springs. With their high mineral content and crystal-clear, continuously warm water, the Jefferson Pools are one of our state’s greatest treasures. You can relax and enjoy the naturally occurring hot springs at the Homestead Resort. Legend tells us that the pools were first discovered by Native Americans sometime in the 1700s, but they became well-known after Thomas Jefferson visited in 1818.
- Watch the Whales. Check out the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center’s Sea Adventures: Whales & Wildlife, where you’ll go on a search for whales, seals, dolphins, and more. You’ll also get an up-close view of humpback whales, fin whales, bottlenose dolphins, and harbor porpoises and seals. The facility is one of the country’s finest, and the indoor aquarium offers fascinating wildlife exhibits.
- Take a Winter Hike. Virginia is home to many beautiful hiking trails, with many of them leading to incredible waterfalls. Winter offers the opportunity to find a frozen one. Bundle up and head out to find a magical waterfall of your own!
- Go Fishing. Winter can be one of the best seasons to hook a few, so grab your fishing rod and head out to the water. You’ll find fewer crowds and plenty of fish. Calming, contemplative, or competitive, you’ll find great fishing at a variety of Fairfax County parks. Riverbend’s the place to go on the Potomac for smallmouth bass, sunfish, and catfish. Burke Lake has a large, accessible fishing dock where you can cast a lure for the best muskie in Northern Virginia. The 55-acre Lake Accotink is a shallow lake and fishing centers on bluegill and catfish. Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is a great place to take the kids to teach them the ins and outs of angling. For those who aren’t keen on fishing, many of the lakes also having hiking paths.