When you’re planning a family vacation, with young kids, having multiple things to do in one location is priceless. It transforms your full itinerary day of activities into seamless fun. When you’re visiting Virginia’s Blue Ridge you can experience family-fun at Mill Mountain Park with kids. Besides the breathtaking views of the Roanoke, there’s plenty you can do at the top of the mountain without moving the car. It’s a great one-stop destination for families!
There are so many Things to do in Roanoke That Kids Will Love, but Mill Mountain tops my list for tame outdoor activities. The city is famous for outdoor thrills that adventurists love. These Mill Mountain activities are for the younger adventurists and their parents who are looking to make memories.
I recommend planning at least a half day to explore Mill Mountain with the kids, especially if you’ve got perfect weather to enjoy. Pack an outdoor jogging stroller or a baby carrier. There’s plenty of attractions to keep them busy and a clear sky means gorgeous family photos with Roanoke as the backdrop.
Looking for even more tips for planning a Roanoke, Virginia vacation with kids? Check out these articles to help you plan:
5 Things To Do At Mill Mountain Park With Kids
Wondering exactly where Mill Mountain is in the city of Roanoke? It’s sort of a navigational beacon since the Roanoke Star sits at the top and lights up the night sky. When you’re talking to locals, they might even use it in conversation as a pin point to other attractions in the area – it’s just that famous of a landmark!
The park is open daily from 6 am – 11 pm. There are multiple options for parking around the park and parking is free. With kids, it’s easy to park near the Discovery Center, where you’ll have easy access to the star, garden and zoo.
The Roanoke Star
Since the Roanoke Star is so famous, it tops my list as one of the first family-friendly activities to visit on the mountain. You can drive to the top, park the car and get out for the view. You’ll see the view of the city as you look out and, when you turn around, you can see the star up close in all of it’s glory. Kids are in awe of star, the story behind it and love looking out at the city. It’s a great spot for a family photo and a must-do when visiting Roanoke. Plus, you get an entirely different view of it during the daytime!
The Mill Mountain Zoo
Hands down, the Mill Mountain Zoo is the most adorable attraction that kids can’t get enough of. It’s a smaller zoo, but they’re focus on the animals and conservation truly shines. Check out some of the birds of prey, smaller mammals or walk through the reptile house.
They also have art scattered throughout the zoo and offer seasonal events for the kids. We’ve been to many zoos, but the Mill Mountain Zoo offers the most interactive educational opportunities for the kids. The zoo staff is readily available to answer your all of your child’s obscure animal questions, which is a win in every parent’s book.
Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden
Part of the mountain is the Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden that’s located in front of the zoo entrance. It’s a beautiful garden, with little walkways. The Mill Mountain Garden Club maintains the garden and its free to the public. Throughout the years, the little garden has persevered through droughts, fires and poison ivy.
Today, it offers kids the opportunity to learn about native plants and plant lifecycles. The club offers community events throughout the year and the garden makes the perfect picnic backdrop.
The park spans 568 acres and there are 10 miles of multi-use trails. The region is famous for their trails, and the community does a fantastic job to maintain them. Families can use specific trails for mountain hiking, where you won’t have to worry about bikers. Check the park map for trailheads, but Watchtower Trail and Star Trail are trails where bikers aren’t allowed. The Watchtower Trail is an easy .22-mile trek that’s perfect for family hiking.
There are also several great photo spots that you can hike to. Our family loves the park’s “Big Ol’ Bikes” statues, which are near the front of the park.
The Discovery Center At Mill Mountain Park
The Discovery Center is another fantastic educational opportunity for kids who are animal lovers. Educators are on hand to share knowledge about the region’s animals – especially the the slithering snakes (which kids love learning about). The center has several hands-on exhibit areas, like an Augmented Reality Sandbox – which visually demonstrates topography and erosion.
We found the Discovery Center to be a great stop for the kids to take a break, learn a little and to change a diaper! It’s located near the Wildflower Garden, on your way to the zoo entrance, so you can’t miss it.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers world-famous driving views, has an entry point at the top of Mill Mountain. It winds through Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains and offers some of the best views to enjoy via car. It’s actually operated by the National Park Service.
There are 8 different entry points, but we drove it from the top of Mill Mountain down to the city area – which is only 10 minutes away. There are designated overlooks where you can park and enjoy the view. Take some family photos and stop to enjoy the view, with the kids.
There’s so much for families to enjoy at Mill Mountain Park. I love that it offers a tame alternative for kids, in an area that’s known for outdoor thrills. You’d never know that there’s so much to do on one mountain, until you get to the top to see what the park offers. So plan a relaxing outdoor day, bring the kids and remember to leave no trace, by practicing responsible recreational fun.
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