I have monstrously long lists of things to do around Charlottesville. I think we could spend every spare minute going places for the next year and still feel like we'd missed a lot. I'm hoping we can at least see a few good things.
A few days after we got here we went to Shenandoah National Park and hiked (walked, really) a little bit of the White Oak Canyon trail. We were already in the area for something else and I'd found a recommendation for doing just a small section of the trail with little children. It can be really hard to find good hikes for our family because our little one is so much younger than everyone else, but this was perfect for him. It's also in a section of the trail that isn't so insanely popular, so it's a lot quieter.
We started on the lower end of the trail. It's not hard to find- just go to Syria, Virginia, and follow the brown signs to the parking. You'll enter the park as you begin hiking. We only walked about 30 minutes at a four-year-old speed, so it would also work to carry in a picnic. We stopped at the first falls (barely a falls); it also had a couple of swimming holes.
Everyone else who was hiking continued past us to the falls and other swimming holes so we had the place to ourselves. The entire trail isn't really long, and if you start at the bottom instead of at the traditional start from Skyline Drive, you'll do the uphill part first which is always smarter, especially with kids. The trail gets a lot steeper after the point where we stopped, so little children would need more help at that point.
We want to go back with the older boys to do the entire hike, and to do that part we already did on a Sunday afternoon. It seemed perfect for that.