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STEM in Hampton Roads

We all know that kids are sponges, and that they start learning right away. Kids begin learning STEM, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, components early in life. Engaging in STEM activities raises their literacy and mathematics scores later in life. We are lucky in Hampton Roads to be surrounded by hands-on STEM experiences. Checkout some of our favorites:

Norfolk: 

  • Nauticus: Checkout their toddler STEM time, or take older kids to face problems relating to Norfolk and the world beyond. 

  • Virginia Zoo: Look for the Zootales program and checkout animals from around the globe. 

  • Norfolk Botanical Garden: offers a wide variety of programming for all ages. 

  • Odu Planetarium: Checkout their FREE weekday shows 


Virginia Beach: 

  • Virginia Aquarium: for younger kids, take in the wonder of aquatic ecosystems while older kids solve current problems like sea level rising. 

  • Rudee Tours: See whales migrating off right off of our coast.

  • Game On: Let kids play through technology.

  • Black Cat Escape Room: Problem solve with creative solutions to exit the room of your choice.

  • Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream: Watch ice cream form before your eyes using nitrogen. 

  • Lynnhaven River Now: Follow them for their pop up events for kids. 

  • Tcc: Checkout their FREE planetarium shows. 

  • First Landing State Park: Jump on one of their tours or their classes. 



Portsmouth:

Chesapeake:

  • The Play Spot: Visit this next play area to check out their stem play stations for younger kids. 

Hampton: 



Newport News: 

  • Virginia Living Museum: Science lovers will love this museum with everything from Virginia's animals to dinosaurs. 

  • Mariner’s Museum: Checkout this museum for only $1 and see how mariners of the past and present use stem.



UNO Pizzeria & Grill

 I am so excited to share about our experience last night at Uno Pizzeria and Grill! We knew that on Tuesdays kids eat free, but I didn't know until recently that on the first Tuesday of the month they had a craft for kids as well as a "decorate your own style" kid's dessert. 
We arrived a few minutes after 5:00 and were seated immediately. The kids were brought a Valentine's Day picture frame craft to complete, which they worked on while the adults looked over the menu. On Tuesdays appetizers are half off, so we ordered the giant fried ravioli to share.  When we ordered our meal, the waitress asked the kids if they wanted to make their own pizzas, which I thought meant to pick their toppings. I was surprised when she told me that they would bring out the dough, sauce, and cheese and that the kids would assemble the pizzas themselves. They were then taken back to the kitchen so they could see the pizzas being put into the oven. 
While we ate, "would you rather" questions scrolled on the nearby t.v., which took over our conversation at the table. Some were silly, others were gross, and some I refused to pick an answer on. The kids asked for their "assemble your own ice cream sundaes" at only a $2.89 upcharge on the kid's menu. Since their meals were already free, we obliged, forgetting that they would also be bringing out cookies for the kids to decorate. The kids had a blast and my oldest said it was the best restaurant he has ever been to. 
The Norfolk Uno location has been revamping their programs to bring in more families.  They held an early New Years Eve party for families and they have an upcoming Princess Brunch.  Kids eat free every Tuesday, and they have a happy hour from 4-7. Wednesdays, they have a burger special for $9.99. There are vegetarian and vegan options. We had a great time, and we look forward to returning soon.





The Play Spot

I'm excited to say that there is a new play area in Hampton Roads. Open in November, The Play Spot is located in Chesapeake in the Grassfield area. The owners are the same family who own Higher Vision Studios in Virginia Beach, which has been around since 1999. After their son was diagnosed with and beat eye cancer, their family knew that creating memories together was priceless. 



The goal with The Play Spot is for families to play together, rather than parents sitting and watching kids play. Family play sessions are sold in two hour ticketed intervals. Everyone over the age of one must have their own ticket. 
Ninja Warrior Classes are also offered during the week. These classes include 45 minutes of Ninja Warrior Training followed by 30 minutes of Open Play Time for each parent and child. Classes use obstacle courses, martial arts, and gymnastics to improve agility, coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility. Classes are for ages 3-5 or 5-10. Birthday parties are available, and summer camp information will be out soon. 

Disney On Ice: Mickey's Search Party

We had such a fun time at Disney On Ice, Mickey's Search Party tonight at Norfolk Scope. Here until January 1st, the show includes Mickey's crew, Moana, Coco, Toy Story, Aladdin, Frozen, and Tinkerbell and the pirates from Peter Pan. This show, more than others, included tons of stunts that kept even us adults wondering how it was done. You can purchase tickets here.  Shows are Friday and Saturday at 12:00 and 4:00, and Sunday and Monday at 1:00. Easy to find parking is available at Scope, in the Wells Fargo garage across the street, or at MacArthur Center, and there is a Tide stop right outside of Scope. Enjoy! 

Richmond Tacky Lights

Tacky Lights have been seen all over Richmond for the last 30 years, but this is the first year that we have seen them. The tradition goes back to 1985 when a Richmond DJ booked a transportation bus to tour ten houses. It was a huge hit then, and still is now. Official houses on the tour must have over 40,000 lights to be considered. 

You can drive around to check them out yourself for free, or book a tour through one of the many transportation services in Richmond. Checkout the list here:  Although many houses aren't officially on the list, driving around the city you'll see lots of houses that have decided to lean into the tacky decorations.