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Children’s activities outdoors: National Kids to Parks Day on May 20 at Va. State Parks

Virginia State Parks will feature kid-friendly programming in celebration of National Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 20, to encourage kids to discover science, history, nature and adventure by exploring the outdoors.

National Kids to Parks Day, sponsored by National Parks Trust, is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. This event helps kids and families develop more active, healthy lifestyles and create lifelong memories while exploring educational opportunities. 

“We are glad to partner with the National Parks Trust to connect our Commonwealth’s kids and families with our 41 parks,” said Dr. Melissa Baker, director of Virginia State Parks. “We always want to promote discovery and exploration in the great outdoors.”

Virginia State Parks programs include a variety of activities, including fishing, archery, hiking, paddling, scavenger hunts, and arts and crafts. Events vary by park location, and each event focuses on the natural and cultural features of the park. Most are free. Among the offerings this year are:

Mason Neck State Park in nearby Fairfax County will have a learn to fish activity: Backyard Bass. Learn to cast using fish-shaped casting targets.Douthat State Park: Douthat Dwellers – Owls. Participants learn what to listen for and make an owl craft to take home.

Hungry Mother State Park: Kayaking for Kids. Participants learn valuable paddling skills. Pre-registration is required.

Bear Creek Lake State Park: Discovery Hike; Basic Archery ($5 fee; pre-registration required); Meet a Ranger; Canoe Tour.

Smith Mountain Lake State Park: Follow the Tracks hike; Critter Wagon hayride. Belle Isle State Park: Butterfly Safari! Not only are butterflies beautiful, but they also play an important role in our ecosystems.

“Whether you are a frequent visitor, or this will be your first time at a Virginia State Park, National Kids to Parks Day is a great event to check out with your family,” said Katie Shepard, park manager at Belle Isle State Park. “Parks all over Virginia will be showcasing what makes them special,” she added. 

A full list of programs by park is available to assist in planning outdoor adventures for Kids to Parks Day.

For more information about Virginia State Parks activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit

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