Virginia is well-known as the birthplace of the nation, home to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, to name a few. Many do not know that Virginia is also home to some of the most beautiful countryside. We are so fortunate to live only two hours away from Charlottesville and the surrounding area, which is one of my favorite places on earth.
For four years counting, we have rented a cabin from Lydia Mountain Lodge & Log Cabins. I discovered Lydia’s many years ago while searching for a dog-friendly cabin rental in the Virginia country side. Having now stayed with Lydia a handful of times, I can truly say that our “fall weekend at the cabin” is one that I look forward to all year.
Located approximately 20 miles north of Charlottesville and 100 miles from DC, Lydia Mountain is only a two hour drive from home, making it an ideal place to sneak away for a weekend getaway. Our preferred cabin to rent is the Dancing Bear cabin, which sits on a private road that holds only a few other rental cabins. The cabin is pet-friendly and has three bedrooms and three full baths + two sleeper futons if you really have a crowd!
Our weekends at the cabin are not complicated – our goal is simply to unplug from our daily lives and take a minute to enjoy the outdoors and each other. The wood burning fireplace in the main living area is always on and the boys have free rein to run around outside and enjoy themselves, as all kids should do.
As with most cabins, there is no meal service, so meals are on your own. Luckily, the cabin is located only a short drive from Charlottesville, and we have had no problems purchasing groceries to cook at the cabin, or dining out if the mood strikes us.
My favorite way to start a day at the cabin is to take a morning walk up the private road it is located on. There’s a short uphill climb, past a few other rental cabins, before you reach the house at the top of the hill, from where there is a spectacular view.
One you reach the house at the top of the hill, you can venture further into the woods via two separate trails. Nestled amongst the trees is a disc golf course, which my kids love experimenting with.
After our brisk morning walk, we usually venture out for lunch. Over the years, we have dined at a variety of restaurants in Charlottesville, grabbed sandwiches at the local Mennonite shop, or dined at a brewpub. After lunch, we typically mosey back to the cabin where we spend the afternoon enjoying the outdoor fire pit.
Happily for us, the boys find plenty of ways to entertain themselves while at the cabin. From rolling down the hill, to learning how to start fires, to sneaking marshmallows before dinner. There is also a hot tub at the cabin, which my oldest has availed himself on occasion.
Having spent fall weekends in the area for a number of years, I can recommend a few great family-friendly activities.
No visit to the cabin is complete without at least one stop at Yoder’s! The shop is located approximately 20 minutes from the cabin and specializes in deli meats, prepared soups, bulk foods, and much, much more. We typically pick up light foods from Yoder’s to snack and munch on during our stay, and our kids enjoy the adjacent petting farm and playground!
#2: Charlottesville Children’s Museum
The Virginia Discovery Museum in Charlottesville isn’t a place I would recommend you go out of the way to visit, but a few years ago, our stay at the cabin happened to coincide with the government shut down and many, many days of rain. The national parks were closed and it was pouring rain, so we ventured into Charlottesville and spent a few hours at the museum to simply give the kids a change of scenery. My oldest was less than five years of age at the time and it held his attention for a few hours, but it’s not something I would envision holding his interest now, at the ripe old age of 8. Nevertheless, it’s an option for when all other options are unavailable.
Virginia is home to some incredible fly fishing and there are many streams in the Charlottesville area that provide a wonderful low key setting to introducing your little one to fly fishing. Years ago, my husband, in laws, and I took my young son to Swift Creek to practice casting in a gentle steam. There are a plethora of small streams and easy locations for little ones to be introduced to fly fishing, so if this is your cup of tea, I highly encourage you look around and explore your options.
The Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive are less than 30 minutes from the cabin, so it’s a great option for hiking, enjoying the scenery, and/or fishing.
Charlottesville is such an amazing city and full of great dining experiences. Our stops in Charlottesville usually involve picking up groceries and enjoying lunch or dinner somewhere. I encourage you to poke around and find your favorite dining experiences!
Virginia’s beautiful countryside lends itself to some gorgeous wineries. Although a far cry from the wines you can taste and experience on the West Coast, Virginia’s wineries are a beautiful place to spend an afternoon and, as an extra bonus, they are much less expensive and pretentious than the wineries on the West Coast and I have never had an issue bringing my kids along for an afternoon of tasting.
Many of the wineries offer light meals or snacks for purchase and even those that don’t generally feature a large outside area for kids to run around without risk of knocking over glasses or decorations. This past weekend, we visited Stinson Vineyards for the first time and were pleased to discover not only the great outdoor space, but a basket of toys for children to discover.
For the first time this weekend, we did a hard cider tasting at Blue Toad Hard Cider, located approximately 45 minutes from the cabin. For $13 each, my husband and I enjoyed 7 different hard ciders while our children played in view of the outside tasting area.
We also visited Blue Mountain Brewery, where we enjoyed lunch (complete with beer tastings), followed by a rousing round of hide and seek outside with the boys, while my husband and our friend finished up their beer tastings and paid the check.
This being our first experience cider and beer tasting in Virginia, we were pleasantly surprised to discover not only how low key the environment was but also how child friendly the experience can be. We will most definitely be incorporating this into our fall getaway weekends in the future.
Although we just returned from our fall getaway, I am already looking for our return to the cabin. My youngest, who is just now old enough to articulate his thoughts and feelings said, the morning of our departure, “can we stay at the cabin forever?” I think it’s safe to say that our boys love our fall weekends at the cabin as much as we do and I am so thankful we have been able to find this little bit of heaven for all of us to enjoy.
Fall happens to be our favorite season here at WGWK, so be sure to check out our more expansive Fall Getaway series.
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