Smyth County is Your Destination for Family Fun

Looking for a mountain getaway for your next family fun vacation? Head to Smyth County, home to Virginia’s highest peaks and coolest small towns. 

Hungry Mother State Park

One of the crown jewels of the Virginia park system, Hungry Mother State Park has plenty of activities for a family fun day trip or an overnight stay.  At the heart of the park is the 108-acre Hungry Mother Lake, which offers plenty of options for family fun, including fishing, boating and swimming. 

Hungry Mother State Park means you don’t have to head to the coast for a beach trip. Every summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the park opens its sandy beach for guarded swimming.  Kids of all ages will love the beach and dive tower, as well as the nearby ice cream stand. The beach area also offers canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals. 

If you’re looking for lodging, this state park also offers a range of options. This includes camping, cabins, lodges, and even yurts!  Our insider tip: book well in advance, and request one of the charming vintage cabins constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. 

Paddleboards and Kayaks at Hungry Mother Lake offer family fun
Hungry Mother Lake is a top family destination for a family vacation.

Downtown Marion, Virginia 

If you’re looking to explore the heart of Marion, a good first stop is downtown. Marion is a vibrant Main Street Community with a high concentration of family-friendly restaurants and attractions, and it’s located just a few miles from Hungry Mother State Park. The historic, walkable Main Street is home to popular destinations like The Lincoln Theatre, a 1929 movie and arts venue, as well as family-fun shopping and dining. Willbeez Country Store & Deli for hand-scooped ice cream, The Wooden Pickle restaurant, a bakery, and craft brewery!

Putt Putt Golf retro family fun in smyth county VA
Putt putt is a great option in Marion for family fun.

Marion has a special old-fashioned charm, which encourages families to slow down, disconnect from technology, and enjoy time together.  Top attractions include Park Place Drive-In Movie Theater, Putt-Putt and Hall’s Skateland Roller Rink

Marion Downtown Association hosts a number of popular community events each year, including summer hits like Saturday Cruise-Ins and concerts. In addition, Marion puts on the Hungriest Mother Chili Cookoff, a Memorial Day Parade, Farmers Market, and Monthly Craft Market. Downtown anchors include the Wayne C. Henderson School for Appalachian Arts and the Smyth County Historical Society and Museum, plus the vibrant farm-to-table food scene. 

Downtown Marion is the home of several events throughout the year that the whole family will enjoy!

Hike through Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers

If you’re looking to satisfy your craving for wilderness and adventure, Grayson Highlands State Park has views, trails, wild ponies, bouldering, fly fishing, and the Appalachian Trail to scratch that itch. At elevations up to 5,000 feet, Grayson Highlands offers stunning views above the tree line that make you feel like you’re on top of the world. Hiking options range in difficulty, offering the thrill of the summit for enthusiastic and less experienced hikers alike.

Nearby Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia, and the National Recreation Area surrounding the peak gives plenty of opportunities for outdoor family fun. 

Families with little ones will enjoy the easy walking trails and interpretive displays at the Pat Jennings Visitor Center or the new Blue Ridge Discovery Center.

There are several trails to choose from in Grayson Highlands State Park, perfect for family fun and any skill level.

The Museum of the Middle Appalachians

This delightfully quirky museum sits in the heart of historic Saltville, Virginia. Its tag line is “Preserving History from the Ice Age to the Space Age,” and the exhibits deliver on that promise with information about Saltville’s role in prehistoric history, Civil War battles, the industrial revolution, the rocket fuel that first put a man on the moon, and, of course… salt! Most popular with children are the life-sized woolly mammoth skeleton, and hands-on paleontology digs at the Salt Ponds.  

While you’re visiting the museum, leave extra time to explore the rest of Saltville, including the interpretive science trails through the Salt Ponds, the Civil War history of Salt Park, the Salt Trail, a mixed-use recreation trail, and of course the public playground and wave pool, open each summer. 

Zip through the treetops at Hungry Mother Outdoor Adventures

Just 10 minutes from the state park entrance in Marion, Virginia, Hungry Mother Outdoor Adventures (HMOA) offers zip lines, tubing, Space Walk bouncy houses, and an onsite cafe and general store. 

HMOA boasts the longest, highest, and fastest zip line in the state of Virginia, with nearly a mile of lines through five sections, flying over valleys and through the treetops. Younger children (and timid first-timers!) can enjoy the mini-zip line as well.  

Choose Your Smyth County Adventure!

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