Summer’s Here and Possibly Time to Stay Put

Summer’s Here and Possibly Time to Stay Put

Fairfax County has plenty of options for a “stay-cation” this summer.

Racers at the Autobahn Indoor Speedway near Dulles rev their engines.

Racers at the Autobahn Indoor Speedway near Dulles rev their engines.

With the price of gas nearing $6 a gallon, the summer vacation at the beach may not happen this year, but no worries. Take a stay-cation here in Northern Virginia and just pretend it’s the beach – there are plenty of options around here that keep that beachy vibe humming throughout the summer.

Fairfax County has 420 parks on nearly 25,000 acres of parkland so there's something for everyone, said Judy Pedersen of the Fairfax County Park Authority. "With gas prices as high as they are, and the impacts of inflation hitting families hard, staying local and enjoying our wonderful park system makes lots of sense," Pedersen said.

Camping out at Pohick Bay could be in a camper or one of the cabins that are for rent.


First stop, a go-kart track in the Dulles Airport area called the Autobahn Indoor Speedway. It offers racers an opportunity for speed at their indoor facility with some karts reaching 50 miles per hour. It’s a little more high-tech than the tracks at the beach so be prepared. There are “Junior Karts,” with a minimum age of 8 and height requirement of at least 48 inches tall. 

For the Pro Karts, the minimum age is 13 and drivers must be at least 56 inches tall. Summer go-kart camps are available for ages 8-15.

Vacations and stay-cations are all about putt-putt golf too. Got to have the flaming volcanoes and waterfalls, and that’s just the ticket at Upton Regional Park or the Treasure Island Mini Golf course at Pohick Bay. Other mini golf courses can be found at the Monster Mini Golf in Chantilly or the Cameron Run Mini Golf in Alexandria. Burke Lake has mini golf, and a frisbee golf course and a par-3 course too.

If that’s not enough for the thrill seeker, there are several spots in the area that have obstacle courses and rope climbing. At Upton Park in Arlington, “Climb Upton” has a 90-element vertical adventure located next to the Ocean Dunes Waterpark. 

In the South Run Rec Center, there’s another climbing course called “Go Ape,” with five activities depending on the skill level. There are 70 obstacles at South Run and a 320-foot zip line.

"Staycations definitely are worth taking this year," said Ali Morris, destination marketing manager at Visit Fairfax. She pointed out a few events scheduled this summer that cater to those staying put this year:

* Cirque du Soleil's “KURIOS: A Cabinet of Curiosities” under the Big Top at Tysons from July 29 – September 25.

* A beer and wine extravaganza at Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles Hotel through the end of September: Two nights at the hotel, wine tasting at a local vineyard, beer flights at 3 different Chantilly breweries, transportation and food credits, plus a welcome bottle of wine and other gifts at check-in.

* Capital One Center in Tysons has a new performing arts center, and the Capital One Hall featuring an elevated outdoor Starr Hill Biergarten + amphitheater and an 18-hole miniature golf course that is 11 stories in the air.

Still longing for the beach, surfing and getting gnarly? The Fairfax Surf Shop has boards, skate stuff and trunks as a preparation for the Reston Surf Course. Surf Reston Stand Up Paddleboarding is right on Lake Audubon in Reston. For those who want to ride a board but not on the water, there are skate parks at Wakefield Park, Lake Fairfax, Van Dyck Park, Herndon Skate Park and Powhatan Springs Skate Park inside the beltway.

You never know what is on display at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton.


What If It’s Raining?

That’s where all eyes turn to the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. This art workshop and gallery is mostly indoors, has plenty of parking and is not far from I-95. The Workhouse Arts Center opened to the public in September 2008, with buildings that were part of the old Lorton prison, and now houses artist studios, dance studios, music rooms, event spaces, movement/exercise studios, theater, gift shop, welcome center, administrative offices and the Lucy Burns Museum, honoring the suffragists.

Summer Eating

After all that activity, time to grab a bite to eat, and it’s all about beach munchies at Clare and Don's Beach Shack in Falls Church, or Boardwalk burgers and fries in Kingstowne. At Clare and Don’s, dishes range from the Lake Alice Gator Tail ($9), a bowl of Seafood Chowda ($8) to the Inner Harbor Crab Cakes ($28.75)

When evening falls, kick back at the campfire, making s’mores and talking about all the beach fun, and there are several campgrounds in the area for that part of summer fun. At Pohick Bay, there are cabins, tent and camper sites and a spot for wilderness camping as well. Burke Lake also has a campground as does Lake Fairfax where there are cabins too.

If you go....

Autobahn Indoor Speedway

45448 East Severn Way, Suite #150

Sterling, VA 20166

 (571) 353-1220


Pohick Bay Regional Park

6501 Pohick Bay Dr, Lorton, VA 22079

(703) 339-6104

Upton Hill Regional Park

6060 Wilson Boulevard

Arlington VA 22205


Clare and Don’s Beach Shack

130 N Washington St, Falls Church, VA 22046

Phone: (703) 532-9283


Fairfax Surf Shop

10304 Willard Way

Fairfax, VA 22030

703 273-0015


Monster Mini Golf

14130 Sullyfield Cir suite g, Chantilly, VA 20151

(571) 376-5035


Workhouse Arts Foundation, Inc.

9518 Workhouse Way

Lorton, VA 22079


Atlantis Waterpark

Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, VA

Cool down with waterslides, pools, and our 500 gallon dumping bucket at Atlantis Waterpark, located at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia.

Great Waves Waterpark

Cameron Run Regional Park, Alexandria, VA

Bring the family for a full day of sliding and splashing at Great Waves Waterpark, located in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ocean Dunes Waterpark

Upton Hill Regional Park, Arlington, VA

Make any day a beach day at Ocean Dunes! This Waterpark is loaded with fun features for adults and kids, including a 500-gallon dumping bucket, water slides, waterfalls and squirters! Visitors will find themselves amidst dune grasses and the feeling of being at the beach, but without the drive.

Pirate's Cove Waterpark

Pohick Bay Regional Park, Lorton, VA

Cool off all summer long on our waterslides, splash pads and play areas at Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, Virginia.


1400 Lake Fairfax Drive

Reston, VA, 22039