Visiting central Virginia during the summer months surely does provide some beautiful scenery, but if you're concerned about the summer heat, have no fear! What better way to spend a hot summer day in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, than to cool off down by the river, at a local park, or even with a nice frozen treat! Here are five wonderful local options that you can add to your family adventure for the day!

Walnut Creek Park

The first suggestion I have for you is Walnut Creek Park. Located about 25 minutes south of downtown Charlottesville, Walnut Creek Park has a variety of ways to cool off. The park spans over 525 total acres, 45 of that being water acres with 2 beach areas! From swimming, canoeing, fishing and even relaxing under one of the picnic shelters, the options are endless! As an added bonus, Walnut Creek offers an 18-hole disc golf course!

With only a small entrance park fee, Walnut Creek is surely worth the trip! 

 

Walnut Creek

PHOTO FROM ALBEMARLECOUNTY.ORG

James River Reeling and Rafting

This next one is a personal favorite of mine. Head on out to Scottsville and take a trip down the James River with the help ofJames River Reeling and Rafting! This company offers a variety of ways for you to spend your time on the James, from tubing, canoeing, rafting, kayaking and even overnight trip packages! Spend a day on one of central Virginia's finest rivers. Bring a cooler full of snacks and ice cold drinks as you float on down the river for the day. 

 

Aerial Photo of the James River

PHOTO BY: ROBERT LLEWELLYN

 

Chris Greene Lake Park

Just north of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, Chris Greene Lake is another must-visit option for ways to cool off in Albemarle County! This 239 acre park offers two beaches for swimming, as well as canoeing, fishing and boating. With miles of trails, playgrounds for the kids and a variety of picnic and grilling location options, there is something for everyone. You can even bring your furry K9 friend along to play in the dog park! A small entrance fee similar to Walnut Creek Park is also required. 

 

Photo of Chris Greene Lake in the fall

PHOTO: ALBEMARLE.ORG

Mint Springs Valley Park

Take the beautiful drive out to Crozet for the day and visit Mint Springs Valley Park. This park spans over 504 acres and has 2 beach areas available for swimming. At Mint Springs you can fish, let your children play on the playground, have an afternoon snack at one of the many picnic table locations throughout the park, or even take a short hike on one of the four hiking trails. Relax in the shade or play out in the sun at Mint Springs! You won't regret your time spent here. A small entrance fee similar to Walnut Creek Park and Chris Greene Lake Park is required.  While in the Crozet area, be sure to stop by the Albemarle Tourism & Adventure Center to gather more ideas on things to do in our beautiful area! 

 

Photo of Mint Springs Valley Park

PHOTO BY: ANDREW SHURTLEFF

Ice Cream/Frozen Treat

What better way to cool off than to treat yourself and your family to a delicious frozen treat? Take a trip to the Downtown mall and visit some of our favorite dessert locations! These favorites include Splendoras Gelato Café and Chaps Ice Cream . Located in the center of the Downtown Mall, Chaps has homemade ice cream with a variety of flavors, so there is something for everyone!

 

Photo of Chaps Ice Cream

PHOTO: CHAPSICECREAM.COM

Next, Splendoras, which is only a short walk down the mall from the Visitors Center, offers "authentic Italian handcrafted gelato, sorbet, and espresso in a contemporary Italian setting".  You can't go wrong with either of these two delicious shops!

 

Photo of the interior of Splendoras

PHOTO: SPLENDORAS.COM