8 Great Things to Do in Prince William County

Prince William County is the third most populous county in Virginia (after Fairfax and Virginia Beach) and is within an hour drive of Washington, DC.—where many residents travel to work each weekday. Two of the bloodiest American Civil War battles occurred in Prince William County, which was first settled in 1653. Along with history, things to do in Prince William County include the abundant nature, marvelous food and drink, and many fun activities.

I was among a group of travel writers hosted by the Visit Prince William Virginia—but this list of 8 great things to do in Prince William County Virginia is my curated view based on multiple visits.

8 Great Things to Do in Prince William County Virginia

1. Manassas Battlefield

Perhaps the most famous attraction and most popular thing to do in Prince William County is Manassas National Battlefield Park. Located within a mile of I-66, the park is an undeveloped oasis and called a 5,000 acre classroom, where students, historians, and visitors can learn about the two battles. Did you know that the Confederate army (South) won both battles? Well, I better not spoil any other surprises. The visitor center has informative displays and exhibits and an excellent 45 minute film. Allow time to drive, bike, horse ride, or hike the many historic trails. I particularly like visiting the Stone Bridge and boardwalk.

Stone Bridge, Manassas Battlefield
Stone Bridge, Manassas Battlefield
Stone Bridge boardwalk, Manassas Battlefield
Stone Bridge boardwalk, Manassas Battlefield

2. Marine Corps Museum

Officially called The National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center, this facility is magnificent. Lifelike exhibits, displays, movies, and more cover the history of the US Marines from 1775 through the Vietnam War.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Marine Museum
Marine Museum
things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Marine Museum
Marine Museum

Do not miss the amazing Iwo Jima video.

Upcoming features include an IMAX theater (2017), historical theater (2018), sports gallery and hall of fame (2019), and changing exhibits (2020). Much of the remodeling will cover the period from the Vietnam War to the present, so it will resonate more personally with younger visitors. Admission is free. There are two onsite dining options: Devil Dog Diner (cafeteria) and Tun Tavern (re-creation of the birthplace of USMC).

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Marine Museum expansion
Marine Museum expansion
things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Marine museum helicopter exhibit
Marine Museum helicopter exhibit

3. Marine Cemetery

About 2 miles from the Marine Corps Museum is Quantico National Cemetery. The 725 acres for the cemetery was donated by the US Marines Corp in 1977 and the cemetery was dedicated in 1983. This cemetery is easier to access and navigate than Arlington National Cemetery.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Quantico National Cemetery
Quantico National Cemetery

4. Prince William Forest Park

Prince William Forest Park is the largest greenspace (over 15,000 acres) in the metro Washington, DC area and well worth a visit. The park entrance is across the street from the Quantico Cemetery.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Prince William Forest Park
Prince William Forest
things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Prince William Forest Park
Prince William Forest visitor center display

For a quick visit, stop in the visitor center and drive the 12 mile scenic drive. If you have more time, hiking trails range from 1/2 mile to 18 miles. That scenic drive is very popular for bicyclists, as are many unpaved trails. The park also is popular for camping and group events; the ranger told us that live action role play events are very popular. During World War 2, the park was a military training site (including intelligence and spy work).

things to do in Prince william County Virginia: Prince William Forest hiking trail
Prince William Forest trail

5. More Outdoor fun

Amazing hiking trails are also found at Bull Run Mountains. Our guide from the Bull Run Mountains Conservancy showed us the historic Chapman Mill and the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountain range.

things to do in Prince William County: Chapman Mill
Chapman Mill in Prince William County
things to do in Prince William County: Bull Run Mountains
eastern edge of Appalachian Mountain range

Later, our group played a quick round of foot golf at General’s Ridge Golf Course. Foot golf is a fun game played on a regulation golf course, featuring a garbage can size hole and soccer balls.

things to do in Prince William County: foot golf
foot golf in Prince William County

6. Brentsville

Brentsville was the first planned community in Prince William County and its historic center has been restored to the original look in the 1820s.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Brentsville Virginia historic church
Brentsville Virginia historic church

I learned that courthouses during the 1820s hosted marathon trial sessions, since they only met for 1 or 2 days every month. The interior shows where a Sheriff sat (the box) and the presiding judge sat (center table). Other restored buildings include a classroom, church, and jail.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Brentsville Virginia historic courthouse
Brentsville Virginia historic courthouse
things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Brentsville Virginia historic court desk
things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Brentsville Virginia historic court desk

7. Occoquan

The historic town of Occoquan retains a ton of charm from yesteryear. It is well worth a stop in Occoquan to visit some quaint shops, look at period architecture, dine along the Occoquan River, or learn history at the Mill House Museum.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Occoquan architecture
architecture in Occoquan Virginia
things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Occoquan
gate in Occoquan Virginia

Rumor has it that the town is haunted by several ghosts including a Confederate solider at the Rockledge mansion.

things to do in Prince William County Virginia: Occoquan Rockledge Mansion
Rocklege Mansion, Occoquan Virginia

McCool Travel tip: Mom’s Apple Pie is a personal favorite stop. In addition to incredible pies, they have a market with farm fresh foods and extensive wines.

8. Potomac Mills

With over 1.5 million square feet, Potomac Mills is the largest outlet mall in Virginia and perhaps the state’s most visited attraction. It is conveniently located within a mile of I-95 and is frequented by visitors from up and down the USA’s East coast. With over 225 stores, Potomac Mills can be your one stop to get all your holiday shopping done.

Where to Stay in Prince William County

A convenient hotel near Quantico is Fairfield Inn & Suites Quantico Stafford. Recommended hotels near Manassas Battlefield include La Quinta Inn & Suites Manassas and Courtyard by Marriott Manassas Battlefield.

For eating, drinking, and other things to do in Prince William County, please check out FuninFairfaxVA’s Prince William article.

Have you visited Prince William County in Virginia?

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9 thoughts on “8 Great Things to Do in Prince William County”

  1. What a comprehensive and helpful post! I would love to see and learn more about that part of the country. Thank you for the introduction.

    Reply
  2. Certainly looks like so many interesting things to do in Prince William County. From foot golf to hiking I’d want to experience it all. I’d love to see one of those owls on a nature hike.

    Reply

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