...While Still Avoiding Theme Parks and Crowded Boardwalks
After many hours of walking around Colonial Williamsburg and a morning spent at Buckroe Beach, we decided to drive over to Newport News.
Destination 3: Virginia Living Museum
We've been to a number of zoos and aquariums throughout the country, and this one is now at the top of our favorites list. From the cafe to the indoor exhibits to the trails and the outdoor gardens, all of our children enjoyed this place. An added perk to purchasing a membership is that it can be used to enter other selected museums throughout the country. We found four of them within a two-hour radius of our house.
There is currently a special frog exhibit that made my younger boys very happy. Our pool attracts a variety of frogs and toads every spring as they seem to find it a perfect place for laying strings and globs of jelly-like eggs. Unfortunately, the tadpoles never make it to adulthood since we have to remove the pool cover in late May when we open our pool for the season. All summer, though, we have frog visitors that we have to rescue from the pool with our net.
It was here, and not at the beach, that we got to touch starfish and crabs. The only things we found at Buckroe Beach were seashells.
Out in the Children's Garden, the Hobbit House was popular with my little ones since we are big fans of J. R. Tolkien.
This museum had a lot of fun, hands-on areas for children that allowed them to actively learn, but it was also interesting for our teens and us adults as well. Not all places we visited appealed to every age in our family, which leads me to our next stop.
Destination 4: College of William & Mary
With two teenagers in tow, I figured it's never too early to tour an institution of higher education. Since this "Public Ivy" is just across the street from Merchant Square in Colonial Williamsburg, we couldn't possibly pass up the opportunity to walk around campus, and a beautiful campus it is.
Being the second oldest college in our nation, the architecture perfectly matches the rest of Colonial Williamsburg. The first photo shows the Wren Building which was built in 1695 and is the oldest college building in the United States.
I think we're all hoping one of our children ends up here to give us an excuse to visit many times in the future.
Interspersed with visiting these sites, we also tried many different restaurants, visited my sister's family, attended Mass at the chapel at Langley Air Force Base, walked through the art museums in Colonial Williamsburg, played some miniature golf at Pirate's Cove, hit the Williamsburg Outlets, and even acquiesced and took the children to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum.
I wish I could say our boys enjoyed learning about folk art and colonial furniture in the art museums more than seeing the shrunken heads and the tattooed, fork-tongued man at Ripley's, but I suppose that might be expecting too much.
Most of us left with good memories, smiles on our faces, and wishing we had just a few more days before we had to go home. There was almost no arguing; we didn't have to fly; we steered clear of rides and thick crowds and long lines; and the cost was minimal. That's my definition of a good vacation.