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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vacationing in Southern Virginia with Teens, Tweens, and a Pre-Teen Wannabe...

...While Avoiding Theme Parks and Boardwalks!

When we decided to take a late-summer family vacation, I wasn't quite sure what we would do, but I knew it would not involve amusement parks, water parks, or crowded boardwalks.  The challenge was finding places to go and things to do that would keep the interests of two teenagers, two tweens, and a precocious six-year old who thinks she should be twelve.  Additionally, it would be nice if these middle-aged parents could enjoy part of the trip as well.  So where did we go?

Destination 1: Colonial Williamsburg

We started with a candle-lit ghost tour where our 9 year old son had the privilege of holding the lantern and leading the way through the dark streets.  This was a mile-long walk and took about an hour to learn about some of the buildings that have reported strange apparitions throughout the years.  Other than being incredibly humid, it was a perfect night with a crescent moon and a sky full of stars.

Over the next few days, we spent hours meandering the streets and stopping in various buildings and shops.  Even though it is free and open to the public, many of the houses require a ticket to enter.  Since we stayed in one of the Colonial Williamsburg facilities, our passes allowed us free entry to everything in the park for the duration of our stay.

I expected the streets to be crowded, but they weren't at all even though there were carriages, joggers, and families throughout.

The exception to this were the taverns at lunch time.  No reservations are accepted for lunch, so it is a first-come, first-serve kind of deal.  Within five minutes of opening, tables were filling up and patrons were waiting on benches outside.

Our favorite restaurant of the entire trip was Chowning's Tavern where my husband and I had beef and potato pasties, our 13 year old daughter marveled over shepherd's pie, and we listened to a colonial minstrel sing "Yankee Doodle Dandee" throughout the tavern.

We were expecting all of Williamsburg to be stifling hot, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the insides of buildings are now air-conditioned.

However, there are still plenty of outdoor exhibits that involved fire, and I wondered how these reenactors make it through the ninety degree days next to earth ovens and open fireplaces in their layers of colonial garb.  God bless them!

The one thing we all felt at the end of the day was tired feet!  Colonial Williamsburg means lots and lots of walking---miles and miles of it daily.  The positive side to that is that we walked off many of the calories consumed while there.  Next time I will not be vain and wear cute little sandals that give my feet no support.  I'll be breaking out my walking sneakers.

We didn't restrict our vacation to Colonial Williamsburg though.  There are so many things to do and see in southern Virginia that it was difficult to narrow them down to just a few.

Destination 2: Buckroe Beach

Wanting to avoid Virginia Beach, I decided to give this public beach and park a try.  We arrived mid-morning and had a huge part of the beach to ourselves.  There were several piers, pavilions with picnic facilities, a huge playground, and public restrooms.  This is located in Hampton at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Our children would have liked to spend the entire day here since it was the first beach experience for most of them.  I have a husband, however, who doesn't enjoy the Atlantic beaches at all since the water is not clear like it is in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean.  He (and one of our sons) is a tad bit uncomfortable with what might be lurking unseen in those waters.

There was initially a concern about possible jellyfish, but once they experienced those rolling waves, my kiddos didn't want to come out of the water.  I'm happy to report that we didn't see or feel a single jellyfish or any other sea creature for that matter.  At least not here...

...To Be Continued Tomorrow...

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