Jerrassic Park

At the entrance to the Virginia Beach Military Museum lies the Jerassic Park. The park has a collection of seventeen painted metal dinosaur statues which circles around the lake. All statues are at 3/4th scale.
The park is free and those under 6 who can identify all of the dinosaurs are eligible to win a dinosaur prize. Click here for the sheet, print it out, and then match the number to each dinosaur. Once you're done, head to the museum gift shop.

My Gym: VB

Kids have this ability to pull energy out of nowhere. My youngest cried because he was so tired on our way to My Gym VB, only to suddenly get a happy burst of energy upon arrival that lasted him for an extra 45 minutes of playing past his nap time. My Gym VB is back open with limited class and camp sizes and constant disinfecting of play areas. Outdoor classes are also available.
We recently tried out the siblings class which allows me to let both boys participate at once. I was thrilled when we did a My Gym class before, and I was thrilled again when we tried this one out. I love how the classes mix free play with new activities every few minutes. Check out their schedule here, or check our daily calendar of events.  Classes range in ages from six months to six years. Outside of their regular classes, My Gym VB has Mommy and Me Paint Nights and even Yoga for the whole family.
And mamas, listen up; here's the best part. My Gym is working to figure out how to help with the current school situation. That means a preschool prep class, possibly some homework help, and even some karate or ballet. Preschool Prep will be Monday-Friday from 10-1. You can elect to enroll in a 2 or 3 days a week. The program is for potty trained children ages 2.5-5 and focuses on making learning fun and exciting. Classes will fill up quickly! If you're interested, give them a call and let them know. Another note: if you're social distancing with a closed loop, you can set up a private play date at the gym. Call for details!

Military Aviation Museum

Located in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach, the Military Aviation Museum is one of the largest private collections of WWI and WWII era planes in the world. Three of the museum's large hangers are open right now along with the main building. Inside each hanger you'll find a maze of airplanes to wander through and under along with some very rare finds. We found this car which actually goes in the water. It's one of only 4,000 ever built and goes up to 8 miles per hour in water.
Around the museum are lots of volunteers who you can tell love the history of aviation. At 1:00 daily a volunteer does a flight demonstration on the runway right behind the main building.
The museum does have some flight simulators and a kid's play area, but both are closed right now. Also not happening are their regular story times and home school days, which will hopefully resume again soon. Also, checkout this phone booth. RT had no idea what it was!

While you're there don't miss the free Jerrassic Park at the entrance! 

The Air and Space Museum Reopens!

With the temperatures rising this week, I found myself looking for more indoor options for us to explore. Hampton's Air and Space Museum has reopened with safety precautions and full air conditioning.

Masks and social distancing are required for all visitors. There are abundant sanitation stations. Volunteer docents are not available to answer questions and the cafe has a limited menu. The flight max simulator is closed. The Imax theater is open, but groups have to sit at least three seats apart in every other row. Staff was cleaning throughout our trip.

Since our last trip, they have combined some of the upstairs children's exhibit with the play area downstairs. Upstairs they are preparing for a new area opening in the fall called the Space Explorer Gallery. There is lots of work going on, and it looks like this exhibit will take up a fourth of the second floor, so I'm excited to come back this fall to check it out once it opens.

The Art Of Play: Botanical Gardens

We are at the Botanical Gardens regularly so I was shocked when I saw this exhibit quietly appear. The signs say it will be here from March to May. Clearly that isn't right, but no statements on how long these will be here. There are four pieces in all, a seesaw, kaleidoscope, a piece of art which changes depending on where you stand, and the bike. The seesaw and kaleidoscope were our favorites! 
In my opinion, the humble See-saw is one of the most important playground items. It teaches balance and builds leg muscles. Maybe even more importantly, it forces kids to work together and take turns. It unknowingly teaches kids about using a lever and fulcrum to change the direction of forces. Even with all of these advantages, seesaws have been disappearing from playgrounds for years for safety reasons. 
Botanical Gardens has remained open during Covid. Social distancing and masks when going indoors are required. 

Battleship Wisconsin

The Battleship Wisconsin has been at Nauticus for as long as I can remember, but I have to admit that I had never been on it until last weekend. The Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the United States. The ship was launched in 1943 and served in WWII, the Korean War, and Desert Storm in addition to training hundreds of sailors. 
Admission onto the ship is included in the regular Nauticus admission or can be purchased for $11 per adult and $9 per child. Kids 3 and under are free. Be sure to check out the hallway before going out to the ship. There is a movie beforehand and several informational reads on the way out. 
Besides having some beautiful views of downtown Norfolk, the deck of the Wisconsin has a wonderful breeze and great views over the water. We were able to see cruise ships, sailboats, cargo ships, and a helicopter, all to the delight of my four year old.

If you haven't already, check out the Adventures On Deck program that Nauticus is offering. These are add ons to the Wisconsin ticket which are available for purchase for groups to do in small settings while socially distancing.

Nauticus: Adventure's On Deck

Nauticus has come up with some creative small group, social distance approved offerings for guests to enjoy.  I think the prices are really reasonable and the options varied for different ages. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. You must purchase a general admission ticket, which lets you enter the Battleship Wisconsin. You have four additional adventures you can purchase:
  • Sail Away Boat Excursion- Have a skipper take your group of four on a sailboat. -$50 per boat
  • Top of the World Battleship Tour-You get to explore the uppermost exterior command centers. $10 per adult or child
  • Behind the Scenes Aquarium Tour- This is the tour we took! $40 per group of 5
  • Underwater Robotics Challenge Course- Test your skills on this underwater challenge. $30 per group of 6. This looks really cool for elementary-middle school kids.
Our tour included a guided tour through Nauticus' aquariums in addition to their lab. Although we couldn't photograph, we saw some of their baby animals including sharks and how they mix, filter, and clean their tanks. 
On the tour you're able to touch animals from the touch tank. Fun fact: because there are ten hermit crabs, they put a little jewel on their backs to tell them apart. Masks are required, and there are hand sanitizing stations set up throughout! Also, Nauticus has a full restaurant and bar set up on the deck outside. Had we not had a ticking time bomb on our hands we would have stayed a drink! 

At Last Pass: NorfolkVB

Norfolk and Virginia Beach have teamed up to bring us the At Last Pass. This free downloadable pass has coupons and discounts for more than 60 businesses as a response to the need for "staycations" in our area right now. Just because we are social distancing doesn't mean we can't take advantage of some of what our area has to offer and support our local businesses! Included in the pass are things for adults, such as discounts at local breweries and for families like boat rides and the adventure park. Also included are no cost options such as free stickers for posting photos from spots around town. Check it out and download the pass for free here. We used our pass yesterday for 10% off at the Chrysler Museum gift shop, which is open with reservations (Wonder Studio is closed), and always free!

Once you download it, share some of your pictures and benefits on our facebook group. We're always eager to see what you find and enjoy. And look for us at these great places in the 757.

Unknown Outcome: The Hermitage Museum

With everything going on in our world right now, it's hard to not think about the human impact on the environment. Once the world shut down, we saw pollution go down. Italy's waterways were clear. Mexico's air quality improved. Worldwide we saw animals exploring new places. Here in Hampton Roads, climate change, sea level rise, and water pollution are problems that directly affect us. The new exhibit at the Hermitage, Unknown Outcome illlustrates these issues by local artists.
Admission into the museum is free through the rest of 2020, which includes Unknown Outcome until October 2nd. If you've never been to the Hermitage, check out our original post on it here.  I love walking around there because I feel like I'm in a story book. There are bridges, trails, arches, and fountains to explore.

Botanical Gardens: Flamazing Flamingos

Topiary flamingos have flocked to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Topiaries are trees or bushes that have been cut into shapes. The flamingos have been built into six different poses, filled with pink begonias. They have to be watered by hand, fertilized weekly, and trimmed every three weeks.
There are 70 flamingos spread throughout the Nato Vista, Friendship Pond and around the Perennial Garden, which have been "adopted" and named by the community. Be on the lookout for adult topiary classes and children's programing about plant life cycles and care.
And to end, the funniest part of our trip was that we had a bird who literally stalked us. I shooed him off  the stroller twice, and he came back, went into the cup holder and stole the entire package of graham crackers! While the baby was sitting in the stroller!

Haygood Skating Center

I remember going to Haygood Skating Center as a kid, but I haven't been back since middle school. It wasn't until we ice skated at MacArthur Center that I really thought about it. RT loved ice skating and wanted to go skating again, so we found ourselves at Haygood Skating Rink (pre Covid), and I'm so glad we did. RT was pretty nervous starting up (see above picture!), but warmed up to it a bit. Really though, he liked the "everything else" that they offer.
Beyond the skating, Haygood has an indoor playground, arcade games, and duckpin bowling... and here's the secret, you can do this without paying to skate. The playground is only $2.00, and bowling is an additional $2.00. So for $4.00, your child can wear themselves out on the playground and bowling without ever stepping onto the rink. Quick warning, the play structure is three stories, and kids have to be under 5 feet to play. The playground can also be added to any skate cost for $2.00. **Edit: The playground is closed right now due to Covid.
A few preschool skates that go over shoes are available and "real" skates start at size 8.
Take advantage of these special deals:
  • Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: 11:00-3:00 $6 includes skates 
  • Wednesday: 5:30-9:00 Family Skate night, $7 skating and all you can eat pizza
  • Saturday: 5:30-7:30 Twilight skate $5
  • Sunday: 7:00-9:30 Family Night $7 skating and all you can eat pizza
Right now due to Covid, masks are suggested and they have sanitizing stations. The bowling is open, but please be patient as the balls are all sanitized between players!