I recently took my ten-year-old daughter, Clare, and her best friend to Natural Bridge in Virginia. It’s about three hours southwest of Washington, DC and apparently it’s one of the oldest tourist destinations in the United States. It’s also a National Historic Landmark and has been on various “natural wonders of the world” lists over the years.
I’d wanted to go for ages, but three hours is a bit further than I’d like to go for a day trip. However, I didn’t realize how much there is to do beyond Natural Bridge itself, which started out as a cavern before collapsing many, many years ago to leave the span that exists today. If you go, and I suggest that you do, take a look at six must-do activities at Natural Bridge, plus four more area activities for family fun:
1. Look for George Washington’s Initials on the Bridge. As you go under the bridge, look up and to the left. You’ll see George Washington’s initials on the bridge that he carved in 1750. Fortunately, someone had the foresight to place a white outline around the initials to make them easier to see.
2. Take a Selfie at Natural Bridge. No trip to Natural Bridge is complete without taking a selfie in front of Natural Bridge. The bridge itself is more than 200 feet high, but you’ll have no problems fitting yourself and the bridge in the camera frame.
3. Hike Along Cedar Creek to Lace Falls. The walk to Lace Falls is about .8 miles and I think you’ll find it’s an easy family walk. Along the way, you’ll pass an old saltpeter mine, a re-created Indian village and Lost River, a mysterious underground channel of water with an unknown origination point.
4. Enjoy a Talk About the Bridge. Every 30 minutes, a naturalist will spend about 10 to 15 minutes talking about Natural Bridge. The talk is short enough, so the kids won’t get bored, and you’ll learn a lot about the bridge, like how it was formed and the current state of the bridge.
5. Take in the Nightly Light Show. It was raining the day we went to Natural Bridge, and we also got there just after lunch, but the nightly Drama of Creation light show looks pretty amazing. You’ll hear a dramatic narration, classical music and will see lighting effects aplenty.
6. Get an Ice Cream Cone. It’s 137 steps down to Natural Bridge and another 137 steps back up to the gift shop, so you’ll want to stop at the on-site Hershey’s Ice Cream before you get back on the road. The scoops are huge and the prices are reasonable. A must-stop.
If you decide to spend a weekend in Natural Bridge, there a variety of other area activities worth checking into, like the Natural Bridge Caverns, Natural Bridge Wax Museum & Factory Tour and Natural Bridge Zoo. Also worth visiting is Foamhenge, a foam replica of England’s Stonehenge, which I’m actually kind of bummed that we missed (I only discovered it now!).
Have you ever been to Natural Bridge? Let me know what you thought in the comments section below.