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Finding things to do in Centreville VA is easy peasy. Centreville is a suburb of Washington DC that is right in the middle of some of the most historic areas in the USA. Here you’re surrounded by Civil War Battlefields. There’s also a historic military hospital and restored ranches complete with slave quarters.

It’s not just the historical sites that will blow you away. You will find an amazing space and air travel museum which has a wonderful assortment of space gear and airplanes from across the ages. 

If you prefer time out in the great outdoors, Centreville doesn’t disappoint. Visit one of the biggest vineyards in County Fairfax or spend a few days camping at the Bull Run Regional Park. Pencil in the Meadowlark Botanical Garden. It’s wide-open spaces and diverse plant life is not to be missed.

So, as you can see, there are lots of exciting and fun things to do in Centreville VA. Here are my:


1. Consider the Past at the Manassas National Battlefield Park

Wooden Henry House on Henry Hill at Manassas National Battlefield Park on a sunny summer day
Wooden Henry House on Henry Hill at Manassas National Battlefield Park

Manassas National Battlefield Park draws a lot of interest. It is, without doubt, one of the best things to do in Centreville, drawing more than 700,000 visitors each year. The Manassas Battlefield was the scene of the first and second Battles of Bull Run 1861-1862. The Confederates were victorious in both battles, bringing the south to a peak in military power. 

Start your exploration at the visitor’s center. It has an electronic map of the battlefield and contains a treasure trove of Civil War weapons, uniforms, and other artifacts. Take the time to watch the 45-minute film that covers both battles. 

Established in 1940, the park covers 8 square miles of land. Twenty miles of horse and hiking trails wind through the battlefields, now so serene. The efforts of the National Park Service to preserve the battlefield have created a special ecosystem. 

Here the grasslands are preserved in their original state. Today they are the most widespread grasslands of this type anywhere in the country. As a result, you may come across grassland birds and insects not seen elsewhere. The park boasts 168 species of birds so apart from history buffs it attracts bird lovers too. 

2. Enjoy Outdoor Fun at the Bull Run Regional Park

Old building in Bull Run Regional Park
Old Building in Bull Run Regional Park

Spanning 1,500 acres of land, the Bull Run Regional Park offers fun for the whole family, no matter what your outdoor interest. Close to the Occoquan Stream Valley, the park has miles of trails that meander through forests and meadows. 

Amenities in the park include camping grounds, picnic spots, disc golf, and a waterpark. It also has a shooting range and soccer fields. 

The camping grounds include RV camps, tent sites, and six rustic cabins complete with electricity and running water. The camp has a fully equipped laundry. Buy your meal provisions and snacks at the camp store on the grounds and gather around the fire pit each night. Alternatively, there are several restaurants very close to the park with indoor and outdoor seating. 

Children’s facilities include a playground and merry rides on a hay wagon. The water park features 15 water slides, 500-gallon dumping buckets, and an enormous wave pool for all-day fun in the sun.

The trailhead of the popular 19.7-mile Bull Run Occoquan Trail starts right here in the regional park. The park is full of wildlife and you should encounter birds of various types as you wander through the forested lands. 

Plan your trip to coincide with the Bull Run Festival of Lights. It’s a 2.5-mile passage of delightful festive lights. The light festival runs from mid-November to the beginning of January. 

3. Visit the Sully Historic Site

The Sully Historic Site was once the home of northern Virginia’s first Congressman, Richard Bland Lee. The house and outbuildings were built between 1794 and 1801 and still stand today. The outbuildings comprise a smokehouse, kitchen, slave quarters, and dairy. Located in expansive formal and kitchen gardens, the beautiful home is furnished in the style of the day. 

This is a large house with lots to see. Guided tours show visitors how people lived their day-to-day lives in bygone days. The home still has its original fireplaces, windows, and woodwork, offering an informative visit into the plantation life of centuries past. There are two tours, the house tour and the “Forgotten Roads” tour that takes you through the slave quarters. Both are well worth the time and effort. 

The Sully historic site is close to the Air and Space Museum so make a day of it. 

4. Explore Space Travel at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Lockheed SR71 at Udvar Hazy Center
Editorial credit: Dmitry Morgan / Shutterstock.com

You haven’t fully discovered 20thcentury technology until you’ve spent time exploring the Concorde and the Space Shuttle Discovery.  Located at the Washington Dulles State Airport, the museum has thousands of artifacts from the Enola Gay to the Gemini 7 space shuttle. Two enormous hangars house the exhibits, many of which you can touch and feel.

The 760,000 square foot facility could keep you busy for hours. The exhibitions include World War II planes, space science, and aviator sports. Interactive activities keep things real. Opened in 2003, this museum partners with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Over 8 million people visit partnered museums each year. 

Experience rides in virtual reality at the Airbus IMAX theater from Wednesday to Sunday.  You can also try your hand at flying in one of the flight simulators on site. The museum is open between 10 am and 5.30 pm. The museum is 30 miles from the center of Washington DC. 

There is a bus that runs between the airport and the museum. If you choose to drive, you can park your car at the museum for $15. Entry is free. 

5. Support the Arts at the Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts

directional sign at Wolf Trap Park for the Performing Arts
Editorial credit: John M. Chase / Shutterstock.com

Looking for a park or a performance with a difference? Then you’ve come to the right place. The Wolf Trap Park for the Performing Arts invites over 100 performances into this natural setting every summer. The Wolf Trap Foundation is a non-profit organization. It aims to support creative arts and offer performing arts for the entertainment and education of the public. 

The 117-acre park has hiking trails, picnic areas, and dining facilities. Amphitheaters showcase music, dance, and theater. The park has both indoor and outdoor facilities. 

The Filene Center provides seating for 7,000 people, putting on performances from May to early September. The Children’s Theater in the Woods puts on 70 performances each year between June and August.

6. Explore the Beauty of Nature at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

gazebo on deck on water at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens near Centreville VA

A twenty-minute drive away from Centreville, you’ll find the delightful Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Here paved and natural paths wind their way through 95-acres of incredible natural beauty.

The gardens boast enormous collections of indigenous and ornamental plants. Tranquil forest gardens and three peaceful lakes offer visitors a calm respite from the hustle and bustle of city life. Retreat into a world where birdsong fills the air and the koi gently feed beneath the shimmering waters. Look out for the interesting sculptural artworks scattered throughout the gardens.

This is a garden for every season and you’ll find something different no matter when you visit. A wetland garden is located at the lowest point on the grounds. Here, on the banks of Lake Lena, you’ll find many species of wildflowers and wetland shrubs. 

Look out for the Bell of Peace and Harmony housed in a lovely Korean pagoda. The 3-ton bell is in the Korean Bell Garden. Unique to the western hemisphere, the garden contains several Korean artworks. 

The garden lights up from mid-December to the beginning of January. Take the half-mile Winter Walk of Lights to view the artistry in full illuminated splendor.

If you love nature and spending time outdoors, Northern Virginia is worth exploring, there are lots of beautiful hikes for all levels there.

7. Learn About Civil War History at the Winery in Bull Run

sign for The Winery at Bull Run in Centreville VA
Editorial credit: refrina / Shutterstock.com

The Winery at Bull Run Farm, a 225-acre equestrian farm and vineyard is conveniently located in the midst of the Manassas Battlefield. It nestles in the foothills of the Bull Run Mountains. Boasting 40,000 vines, this is the largest working farm in the county. 

Book a tour on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and taste the reds and whites made on the farm. Along the way, you’ll learn about the Civil War history and explore the historical relics at the newly opened museum. Take a journey into the Virginian past. It’s one of the best things to do in Centreville. 

Alternatively, you can book wine tastings in the vintage tasting room or sip an award-winning Virginia wine from the patio or the gardens overlooking the beautiful, serene vineyards. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday wine tasting on the patio includes live musical entertainment. 

8. Commune with Nature at the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

frozen pond at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Centreville VA

A haven of tranquility in the hustle and bustle of the big city, it is said the history of the Ellanor C Lawrence Park dates back 8,000 years. Here, four miles of hiking trails wander through the tranquil grounds that include a pond, a garden, and the remains of the farm buildings. The paths are mostly level and an easy walk for most age groups. Look out for turtles and herons. The boardwalk makes for easy viewing. 

The marshy pond edge attracts an amazing host of flying insects including butterflies and dragonflies. While the trees attract a range of songbirds. Bring your fishing rod and throw a line into the park waters or enjoy a packed lunch at the picnic facilities in the park. Stop off at Cavell’s Mill and get a glimpse of the pretty architecture of the late 1700s. 

The 640-acre park was once home to indigenous people. In later years, settlers created farmlands complete with a farmhouse, outbuildings, an ice house, and dairy. The visitors’ center is housed in the pretty farmhouse built in 1780. 

9. Explore George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon house

Take a short drive into Fairfax and visit the home of George and Martha Washington. This is the most-visited home in the country, drawing more than a million visitors a year. 

Located on the banks of the Potomac River the land which would become the Washington plantation was bought by the family in 1674. Though George Washington moved into the house in 1759, he became the owner of the land in 1761. He remained in the house until he died in 1799. The estate opened to the public in 1860. 

The mansion currently stands on 500 acres of land. It was once much bigger. There are more than thirty outbuildings located on the property. The inside of the mansion has been restored to its former glory and you can walk in and experience the home as the Washingtons did hundreds of years ago. The gardens have also been meticulously restored. 

Plan your visit ahead of time. There’s a lot to see including a whiskey distillery, once the biggest in the USA, and a fully operational gristmill. End the day with a delightful meal at the restaurant on-site. 

The drive to Mount Vernon from Centreville VA will take you 30 minutes. 

10. Spend Some Time at the Ben Lomond Historic Site

Ben Lomond House was built before the American Civil War in 1832 and served as a hospital during the First Battle of the Manassas. Here you’ll find evidence of the soldiers who were brought here to recover from their injuries. Interesting graffiti bears witness to their stay and to the Federal soldiers who later trashed the building. Also in the building, you’ll find medical equipment and the uniforms of the soldiers and the medics who treated them. 

Walk outside into one of the biggest public gardens devoted to antique roses. Outhouses include a restored slave quarter, dairy, and smokehouse. Though Ben Lamond ended up as a hospital, it was originally built to serve as a home on a tobacco plantation. It served as a hospital for barely a month before it was ransacked by Federal soldiers.

What Will You Do with a Day in Centreville?

I think you’ll agree, Centreville is full of interesting history and natural retreats. Take a trip to the capital and enjoy a few of the best things to do in Centreville. 

This guest post was a contribution from Lorena, a traveler and blogger. Lorena and her husband Greg love visiting new places, exploring nature and learning history. They share their adventures on TravelCroc.

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10 Best Things to do in Centreville, VA - The Common Traveler shares the 10 Best Things to do for outdoor lovers and lovers of history. Just a short trip outside of DC makes this a perfect day trip destination for those visiting the nation's capital. Check out everything that Centreville has to offer!