Hand Made Ice Cream Cones: Doumars

Every Hampton Roads native knows of Doumars, the home of the original ice cream cone. They hand roll their ice cream cones right there in the parking lot on their machine from 1904. Their menu is full of cheap but delicious food and shakes, and they are open late- until 12:30 at night. (Closed on Sunday!) I wrote about stopping for a Root Beer Float before the ODU basketball game here, but watching the cones being made fresh by hand and smelling the scent wafting through the parking lot if a totally different experience. 
To see the cones, get there Monday-Saturday 10:00-11:30. Be sure to step inside and talk with the employees who will treat you like family. Also check out all of the pictures on the walls and read the memory books on the counter. It was R's first ice cream cone, so I'm thrilled it could come from Doumars! 

P.S.- this is a new Bayside jam.

Railroad Museum of Virginia

The Railroad Museum of Virginia is a local museum that focuses on the history of trains and their importance to Virginia's history. The museum is actually a series of train cars with displays inside. Located in Portsmouth, right on the other side of the tunnel, it is open Friday and Saturday from 10:00-4:00. Tickets are $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for children. Children under two are free. The best deal for larger families is to pay the family rate of $20.00. If you'd like to bring a group, they will open for special events and trips, and they also hold birthday parties. 
There are several different cars. Some points to hit... make sure you ring the bell. Also be sure to climb up inside the engine- it was actually an abandoned engine from Roanoke that they bought and redid. The car with the miniature train sets is awesome and all of the kids were super excited, but the big hit is the children's car. The first time we went to this museum it was being used for a birthday party, but my friend actually had her son's party here, so we finally got to see it. (I'd call ahead and make sure it's open for your trip!) 

So for the party, she had the room from 11-3 and was able to have a tour of the museum and bring in her own food. She also had the private use of the kid's car. They could have brought grills or things for outside, but the kids were happy to run back and forth between the toys and the miniature trains. 
The kid's car has toy trains, books about trains, tracks, a few trucks, and blocks. The kids seriously loved it. 

Both times we have been the employees were so nice and super happy to talk about trains. The big miniature display was built by one man... by himself! It took him three years and he is constantly working on it and updating it. His words were that "it is a labor of love." This museum is small, but a great spot to spend a few hours. It's important to note- there is no street address, but it's at Wythe Street and Harbor Center Way. Just park on the street and walk over! 

A Day at the Farm: Bergeys Breadbasket and Mount Pleasant Farms

We spent a lovely summer morning out exploring two farms in Chesapeake. The first was Bergey's Breadbasket. Bergey's started out as a dairy farm over 75 years ago. They started off with a horse and buggy and have grown to a bakery, deli, and creamery. All baked goods are hand made daily in house from scratch. They have breads, cookies, pies, but are most famous for their cinnamon rolls. They seriously looked delicious. We chose to have ice cream for breakfast because that's apparently the type of parent that I am. (To be fair, my father allowed me to have ice cream for breakfast on more than one occasion and I turned out okay!) Their ice cream is made fresh in their store too. 

On the back of the property is a big farm where they grow all types of produce. In the spring they offer potatoes, spinach, kale, carrots, lettuce, and asparagus. In summer they grow tomatoes, corn, blueberries, and garlic. Fall brings pumpkins, butternut squash, spinach, kale, collards, and carrots. In the winter they grow kale, collards, carrots, and spinach. In spring, summer, and fall they also organically grow and sell fresh-cut flowers. From June to October you can even pick your own sunflowers. 

Another great feature is the animals that they have. All around the farm is a petting zoo. The entrance is donation-based and there are little boxes all around the farm for you to drop your donation into. We saw pigs, goats, turtles, snakes, lizards, fish, rabbits, sheep, cows, horses, and a donkey. Many of the animals you can touch or even pick up. There were really cute tractors to ride for little ones and a huge sand pit with lots of trucks for digging.

We spent most of the morning here and headed back inside for lunch. They offer really reasonably priced kids' meals and sandwiches for adults. Neil and I got sandwiches and R got the peanut butter and jelly meal. You could tell that the bread was made fresh and the tomatoes in particular were great. The jelly wasn't overly sweet and you could tell it wasn't full of chemicals and preservatives. Overall, we had a really great morning and can't wait to go back. They are currently growing their corn maze to get ready for the fall season and also have a seasonal Easter egg hunt in memory of Rose Bergey. 

Right next door is Mount Pleasant Farms which has a small store with fresh produce, Oberweis milk, raw local honey, farm fresh eggs, and a CSA program. We found some dilly beans in there which are super hard to find, but Neil loves. They also have baked goods and jam. Strawberries, peaches, apples, nectarines, pumpkins, and Christmas trees are available seasonally and there are lots of U-pick options where kids and adults can fill their own buckets. 

What made us stop was this super cute train and tractor. R climbed all over them and when we explored more we found a sand pit full of trucks, tires to play on, and some animals to pet. The farm is family owned, and the owner actually still lives next door. On the property are more than a thousand trees which people can stroll through. 

We spent until R's nap time between the two farms, so you could make a day out of it. They were a pleasant hidden surprise that we will come back to next summer.... or maybe sooner. As I write this, Neil told me the sandwich was one of the best he has had in a while, and he can't wait to go back soon. 

Jordan- Newby Anchor Branch at Broad Creek

We met up with some friends at Norfolk's newest library to spend some time out of the rain. Much like Norfolk's other anchor libraries, it has a playscape for ages three and under and a play area and computers for all kids. This library also has an outdoor area and an arts and crafts room. One thing that I appreciate is that they have two different heights of computer tables to separate the bigger kids from the little ones. 

Their classes for kids are as follows:
  • Babygarten: Thursday 10:30 ages 0-2
  • Toddler Time: Monday 10:30- ages 2-3
  • KinderSTEM: Sunday 1:00- ages 3-5
  • Build Bash, Maker Mash: Tuesday 2:00 School age 
  • Learning Edge: Monday 6:00- School age
A cool feature that I haven't seen before is the reading terrance. They also have meeting rooms and public computers. There are wifi devices available for checkout too (Norfolk residents only).  The library is open Sunday 12-5, Monday - Thursday 9-8, Friday 9-5, and Saturday 10-5. The best thing about Norfolk Public Library...library cards for Norfolk are available for anyone who lives in Virginia. I think it's awesome that they are willing to let anyone in who is ready to learn. So awesome.
If you haven't had time to check it out yet, be sure to stop by. The staff was friendly; it wasn't over crowded, and there was lots to do!

Fun Forest

Tucked back into the woods of Chesapeake City Park is Fun Forest, an awesome playground built by volunteers in the community and funded by sponsors. The park is separated into sections for older and younger kids, with swings surrounding it on the outside. The play structures for bigger kids are like winding mazes with things to climb on, swing down, move across, and dredge through. I love that there is a special toddler playground for ages 2-5, which is smaller but just as fun. It also fits the theme perfectly. There are hidden little play areas around the corners too, so be on the lookout for them.

Another awesome feature is that there is lots of handicapped accessible spaces too. There is also a large sand pit, where a very kind man who brought construction vehicles shared with us.

Totally covered in sand! 

Another positive is that almost the entire park is covered with shade. For some reason, so many parks around here are in full sun. Here's the absolute best part though... there is one way in, and one way out. The park has a fence surrounding it and people have to walk through one gate to come and go. We live in a crazy world, and it makes me feel a little safer than at some other parks.
We met some friends and packed a lunch. Right outside the gate are bathrooms, water fountains, and several covered picnic tables. I can't wait to come back once it's cooler and the leaves start turning!

Side note, could I be any more obsessed with this new record? SO GOOD! 

Hermitage Museum

The Hermitage Museum and Gardens is this month's zoo membership swap. I was worried that there wouldn't be anything here for a toddler, but the outside grounds were perfect for running around. We did poke our heads inside the estate, which was formerly home to the Sloane family during the early 20th century. It now holds an art collection spanning 5,000 years. 
The estate sits on 5,000 acres of gardens and grounds which were perfect for R to run around on. Surrounded by the Lafayette River on three sides, the gardens took thirty years to build. Across the gardens are 105 millstones and unique pieces of artwork. Our favorite piece was "the tunnels" which is actually called "Villa Tempesta" made by Patrick Dougherty in 2016. The artist says he doesn't know what he is building until he arrives; he lets the ideas unfold naturally. The materials were collected for three weeks by volunteers. Raleigh appreciated running in and out of the "tunnels."
The rest of the gardens are filled with trails with steps to climb, bushes to run between, and even wetlands to look at. They do allow pets, but they must be on a leash. They ask that visitors not feed any wildlife and that people don't climb on the fences or trees or walk into the wetlands. Large groups of six or more must check into the front desk, and permission must be granted for professional photography. 
Lots of the garden is shaded and since it is on the water there is a nice breeze. There were lots of sailboats going by and we could see the cranes across the water hard at work. 
Be sure to stop by the wishing tree on your way out and make a wish. Mine for the day was that my kid didn't run around like a crazy person- but then again, it's so nice for him to be nice and tired out!