Monday, May 23, 2011

Hampton Roads Staycation

With the recent rise in gas prices, many families are opting to forgo the typical summer vacation.
 
This doesn't mean that you have to give up on the idea of a "vacation" completely...just choose a "staycation" and take the time to really discover what your city and neighboring cities have to offer you...and save money at the same time! Go to a park that you haven't been to before and have a picnic....try out a new restaurant....etc... 

I live in Hampton Roads so I am going to take a few moments to share some ideas of new things to try in my area! I will joining over 100 bloggers from almost all 50 states participating in this special event!
So...if you don't live in Hampton Roads, stay tuned for tomorrow's post in which I will be featuring a list of the bloggers from other areas across the country!

I really had a hard time narrowing down all of the activities that are available in this area! So...here are some of our favorites (and some new activities that are on our "to do" list)...

Hunt Club Farm (Virginia Beach):
 Hunt Club Farm is very well known for their seasonal activities, but not everyone is aware of the fact that they offer daily activities from April-December for a reasonable price! It only takes $3 per person (2 and under are free) to gain access to their petting farm...goats, sheep, chickens, llamas, peacocks, turkeys, guinea hens, pigs, donkeys, rabbits, miniature cows and more!
 They also offer $5 pony rides...

Bluebird Gap Farm (Hampton):
 I can't believe that we haven't tried this farm out yet! I have known about it for almost 5 years! It is definitely on our list for this summer! Bluebird Gap Farm is open Wednesday through Sunday and offers free admission. They offer education programs, a free summer movie series, hayrides, storytelling in the park, a large playground, a nature trail, and about 150 domestic and wild animals...raccoons, birds, deer, tortoises, peacocks, and more!

Our Favorite Parks:
 *Mount Trashmore (Virginia Beach): Most people that live locally are very familiar with Mount Trashmore, but I am excited about the new playground that they recently unveiled.
We haven't visited the new playground yet because I wanted to wait until summer break! Looks like so much fun!

Mount Trashmore also offers a free summer movie series as well!
 
Oak Grove Lake Park (Chesapeake): A trip to this park makes it seem like you are on vacation...a large lake with 65 acres of hardwood forests and wetlands makes for very scenic views! A 1.5 mile trail around the lake is perfect for an afternoon walk and picnic! There also is a great playground area near the lake.
 First Landing State Park (Virginia Beach): This is our favorite park to go to for long bike rides. There are 9 trails with a total distance of 20 miles...some are open for biking and others are only open for walking/hiking. The bike trail that we usually take is a 12 mile round trip trail that passes through forests, bald cypress swamps, salt marshes, and dunes. We have also gone multiple times to go on the walking trails...
First Landing State Park also offers camping facilities and many other activities!

Waller Mill Park (Williamsburg): I first discovered this park when I was looking for places to take some photos of the fall foliage a couple of years ago.
The 286-acre lake is open for fishing, boating, pedal boating, canoeing and kayaking with a tunnel connecting the upper and lower sections of the lake. Fun!


Chesapeake City Park (Chesapeake): newly renovated playground
Northwest River Park (Chesapeake)

Little Island Park and Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Virginia Beach): Little Island Park is one of our favorite beaches to go to. There is also a new playground there!
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is just next to Little Island Park. It is situated on and around a thin strip of barrier islands and the habitats include beaches, dunes, woodlands, farm fields, and marshes. We have gone on bike rides around the refuge a couple of times.

You can also access the False Cape State Park via the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There is no vehicular access to False Cape so you can only get to it by hiking, biking, or boating! For $8, you can take the Terra Gator:

Owl Creek Boat Trips (Virginia Beach):
I have always wanted to take the girls on this boat ride through the last undeveloped salt marsh in Virginia Beach. A 50-foot pontoon boat is available for boat rides at the dock adjacent to the Virginia Aquarium. Tickets are just $7 ($5 for aquarium members).

Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown:
Take a step back in time when you visit Colonial Williamsburg or Jamestown. We have visited Williamsburg at least once almost every year and we took our first visit to Jamestown this last fall. 
I would have loved to visit these places when I was studying them in elementary school so I can't wait until Kylea starts studying them in school!


Norfolk Mermaids on Parade: 
Those of you who live in Hampton Roads have no doubt seen the mermaid statues that are scattered around the area. Here is a paragraph from the City of Norfolk's website discussing the mermaids:

Founded in 1682, Norfolk grew up on the water, and its miles of lake, river and bay front are central to many of its neighborhoods. The city's popular logo -- an elegant young mermaid, which can be spotted in outdoor sites from Downtown to Ocean View -- symbolizes 300 years of maritime and naval heritage and its modern reputation as a city on the move. 
I have wanted to take the girls on the "Tour of Mermaids" for the last couple of years, but we have never gotten around to it!  It would be a great chance to explore downtown Norfolk...an area that I am not too familiar with. Kylea loves pointing out the mermaids that she spots at various places that we visit though...
Someone even put together a list of mermaid locations on Google Maps!

There are a couple of blogs dedicated to the area's mermaids...

Here is another list of locations...Mermaid List.

There are even a couple of children's books about the mermaids...
What are you waiting for? Go on your own mermaid treasure hunt like we will be doing this summer!

There are so many more locations that I could have listed in my area. If you live locally and I have left out one of your favorite places to visit, let me know in the comments! If you don't live locally, tell me where you live and what suggestion you would make for your local "staycationers"!
Don't forget to come back tomorrow to see a list of the other participating bloggers. Chances are good that there will be one posting about a location that is close to you!!

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