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Travel

Outdoor activities are an excellent way for families to spend time together this summer.

Whether you have an infant or a handful of teenagers, and whether your family enjoys kayaking through the waves of Virginia Beach or zipping over Shenandoah River State Park 90 feet above the forest floor, there is an abundance of outdoor activities for adventurous families in Virginia.

ZIP LINES & TREETOPS

Soaring 90 feet above the ground is for the fearless. Virginia Canopy Tours is a heart pounding activity to participate in for families with children ages 10 and up. Virginia Canopy Tours is located in Shenandoah River State Park, and it is compiled of eight zip lines, one sky bridge, one air stair bridge, two nature walks and a rappel.

No experience is necessary when arriving at the tour; however, all participants must partake in and pass a ground school course, where they receive individual safety and breaking training, before beginning their adventure through the trees, and all people above the age of 10 are welcome to join.

"We have people from all walks of life come here to see the park," Marc Nicklin, Virginia Canopy Tours manager said. "There have been people in their 90s on the zip line."

Participants of the canopy tours are attached to two steel cables and are escorted by two certified eco-trained guides to help them through their journey. The final zip line is 1,035 feet down the face of a ridge, and people can reach speeds up to 35 and 40 miles per hour.

"The canopy tours give people a different perspective," Nicklin said. "We really are a beautiful state park."

Marc also stated that Virginia Canopy Tours really is great for helping children get back to the outdoors.

"The Canopy Tours get them outside," he said. "It's harder to get kids outside when they have tablets and cell phones, but this gets them inside the state park and out of the house."

Virginia Canopy Tours, located in in Bentonville, Virginia, is open seven days a week through November 16th. Reservations are recommended. zipthepark.com

 

ROCK CLIMBING

Rock climbing is not only a way to stay active as a family, but is also encourages a healthy lifestyle.

Vertical Rock, located in Manassas, Virginia, is great for individuals and families who are just being introduced to rock climbing.

There are many programs parents can enroll their children in to help them learn the fundamentals they need to know before partaking in the sport. Some of the classes are free, and they can help you become a more confident climber. climb-va.com

KAYAKING

For families who enjoy water activities and have younger children, kayaking is a great way to spend time together.

Kayak Nature Tours in Virginia Beach, Virginia, offers a unique experience for families. Not only do they participate in flat-water trips, but they also have an exciting Dolphin Adventure Tour for families and individuals who are curious about seeing the animals up close.

There is no experience necessary before families arrive at the tour; however, it should be noted that kayaking does take a certain level of fitness. Kayak Nature Tours have certified guides who give instruction, and they also watch the participants in the water and seek out the individuals who need help.

"Kayaking can really build camaraderie," Randy Gore, certified guide and instructor, said. "Sometimes it can be hard to find something that everyone in the family wants to do."

Gore also stated that he likes taking out families who are hesitant about the activity, and he enjoys when he is able to see a hesitant family go out into the water and make it to the end of the tour together.

Flat-water trips are ideal for families who have children ages 2 to 3 who want to participate, while the Dolphin trips have a minimum age limit of 6 years old.

"The Dolphin tour begins with a launch into the Atlantic Ocean," Gore said. "It's very different than typical kayaking."

According to its website, Kayak Nature Tours states that there is an 80 to 90 percent chance of seeing dolphins within 10 to 20 feet of the kayaks. kayaknaturetours.net

"What we do is unique, and it's outdoors," Gore said. "And that brings up everyone's mood."

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