Warm weather means partaking in one of the great American traditions: a summertime family vacation. This classic pastime provides one of the busiest buildups of the season, as suitcases get stuffed and parents cram the family vehicle with everything needed to have a perfect time. With the kids finally out of school, the destination should offer enough activities to keep everyone entertained.

Conveniently located just off I-95, Ashland is just the place for a family road trip, bringing the right blend of the outdoors, entertainment, and education to ensure an unforgettable escape.

Local Bites the Kids Will Love

Any parent knows that there are two things children say the most while traveling, “Are we there yet?” and “I’m hungry.” Ashland cannot control the distance driven but can absolutely assist in answering any child’s food cravings. There are many terrific options for your tyke or teen depending on diet or time of day.

If you’re near Pufferbelly Park and want a family feast for lunch or dinner, Casa Herradura has delicious Mexican food with a fun patio. You’ll find a solid variety of options on the Kid’s Menu, and Casa Herradura can even accommodate low-carb and vegetarian diets for patrons.

For a fantastic meal in a historic setting, try the newly remodeled Trackside Kitchen and Wine. This new concept brings together the history of this beloved building by the railroad tracks with a modern feel and fine food. Kids will love the historic photos and lively atmosphere, while mom and dad can wind down with an extensive wine list.

Prefer lunch with a view? Grab a patio table railside at Homemades by Suzanne and dig into Southern boxed lunch favorites like chicken salad on a croissant and sweet tea while the kiddos train spot in the heart of downtown.

If your vacation needs something more festive and casual, Los Regios Dulceria y Neveria has all the party supplies you’ll ever need. This friendly Mexican grocery store is stocked with a variety of pinatas, balloons, candies, and sodas—all celebratory things that children love. Try their fresh food menu or indulge in one of their Mexican paletas – popsicles packed with fresh fruit, cookies, and more.

While the family is out on an authentic Ashland adventure, the warm weather means that cold scoop will hit that sweet spot. Sweet Sharae’s has all the ice cream flavors, toppings, and sundaes to make a truly epic treat. One of their unique offerings is the non-dairy, gluten-free Flavored Water Ice, meaning there are also delectable choices no matter your dietary needs.

Learning While Having Fun

Adults and kids alike adore trains, and Ashland is a quintessential train town. There’s a train story on virtually every block, and the tracks are as frequent as sidewalks here.

A first stop in understanding Ashland’s history is at the Visitor Center, which also doubles as a working train station. This authentic 1920s station encompasses the town’s charisma and charm, and the friendly staff can provide you with any bit of local literature needed to better explore the area. This is also a prime spot for train watching.

For a more immersive rail experience, visit the Ashland Museum and Big Red Caboose. Enjoy the exhibits, walking tours, and special events the museum regularly presents, in addition to its “Ashland Museum Inside Out” exterior history and landmark additions. In other words, Ashland brings the museum outside to you. Another highlight here is the iconic 1926 red caboose, which can be toured on Saturdays and Sundays.

Kids will be thrilled to know that the Ashland Library is also in on the train fun. This library lets you check out a lot more than books; in addition to the great literature and welcoming kids section, the library also features an incredible train table for children to enjoy. Looking up from a good book is easy here because there are views of passing trains from the comfort of the kids section.

Outdoor Enjoyment

Ashland is walkable and picturesque, featuring many public spaces and parks to experience family time.

Naturally, when in Ashland, do as the locals do and find some peace in watching trains pass by. The Railside Park and Trail is a great spot for a family picnic, with its multiple tables, open green space, and unobstructed views of moving trains.

Another optimal picnic place is the lawn near the Town Hall Pavilion. This new construction features a shady space with a covered area for small concerts and events.

Speaking of lawns, the beautiful grounds of the Hanover Arts and Activities Center will have your family feeling inspired. This favorite for weddings and events also provides many camps, programs, and workshops, so be sure to see what is scheduled during your Ashland stay.

Many families enjoy bike time bonding, and one of the best Ashland locations for peddling around town is the scenic campus of Randolph-Macon College. Riding around the fountain is a favorite for college students and families alike.

Bring the Family to Ashland This Summer

With small-town hospitality that is big on charm, Ashland is the ideal family destination to spend quality time together. Whether it’s trainspotting, exploring outdoor spaces, or learning about the history of the “center of the universe,” make Ashland your family’s favorite home away from home. Learn more about what awaits you in Ashland, Virginia, by clicking here today.