Jim Pond, Family In Convertible Somewhere in Texas. Currently on exhibit at the Chrysler Museum
Thanksgiving week is upon us which means the kids will be out of school for several days. In those spare moments between Thanksgiving meal preparations, dinner with friends and family, Black Friday shopping, putting up holiday decorations, and _________(fill in the blank), if your little darlings stare at you expectantly to provide them additional entertainment, here’s a smorgasbord of ideas to help you out. While several items on the list are Hampton Roads specific, most communities have similar venues to explore.
1. Museums and zoos always top my fav list of places to visit with the kids. Hampton Roads doesn’t disappoint, boasting several kid-friendly venues from which to choose. In coming weeks, I’ll post information about the various locations here. A few receiving my early, “budget-friendly” award are the Chrysler Museum (free admission) and The Virginia Zoo.
2. I just love planetariums and we’re fortunate to have several in our backyard! Calling all fellow star-gazers to check out the Abbitt Planetarium at the Virginia Living Museum, Newport News, VA, for their current programs. In addition, both Chesapeake and Virginia Beach Public Schools have planetariums offering free shows to the public. You’ll be star-struck!
3. One of the best things about living in Hampton Roads is being surrounded by ocean and waterways. And where there’s a seashore, you’re sure to find lighthouses. Though sadly many of these beautiful historic landmarks are closed for up-close viewing, iconic Cape Henry Lighthouse still beckons visitors. Discover more about Virginia Lighthouses here.
4. Check-in to your local bookstore and/or library for story-time. Most area Barnes & Noble stores have weekly story-time, and local libraries have a plethora of activities from arts & crafts to movie night.
5. As we approach winter, my mind turns to ice skating. The temperature in Hampton Roads may be in the 70′s, but thanks to modern technology, we’re still able to enjoy several area ice skating rinks. Two fun outdoor “pop-up” rinks worth visiting are MacArthur on Ice and Downtown Hampton on Ice.
6. If your children have never seen a Cirque de Soliel performance, add it to their “bucket-list.” Fortunately, Cirque Dreams Holidaze will be performing at Chrysler Hall on limited engagement this weekend. It magical!
7. For a multi-sensory experience, be sure to take the kids to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. The 155 acre garden is home to numerous bird species, butterflies and themed gardens. There’s even a special children’s garden, World of Wonders – A Children’s Adventure Garden, where kids explore the connections between plants, culture and the environment – all while having fun! New this year- The Million Bulb Walk, a walking tour through spectacular light displays. Now that’s a bright idea!
Oh and don’t forget, the ever illuminating Garden Of Lights kicks off this Thursday.
8. If you have a weakness for the cute psychedelic painted pottery your kindergartener makes (or maybe that’s just mine), quickly get your little Picasso to the nearest Color Me Mine pottery studio. You know that this enrichment activity stimulates your child’s development and senses on so many levels, but they’ll think it’s just paint (I mean plain) fun!
9. Did you know that many of the Chick-fil-A restaurants have Family & Kid’s Night events? Not that I’m encouraging large consumptions of fast food, but if your kids need a break from holiday shopping, they may find some respite here (check with your local restaurant for dates & times). Also, as I was exploring their website for information, I stumbled upon some fun Family Holiday Activities that are sure to please.
10. If you’re like me, I’m always seeking educational activities for my kids to do. And since it’s Thanksgiving, and Native American Heritage Month, visiting close-by Jamestown Settlement is fitting. There are replica ships to explore, detailed museum exhibits to view, a fort and village to tour, musket and glass blowing demonstrations, and hands-on experiences periodically throughout the day, including piloting and navigation, sail handling, canoe making, and cooking. If you go, be sure to print these Kids Museum Guides ahead of time to supplement their experience of the outdoor living-history areas and the exhibition galleries at the Settlement. While they’re busy imagining life in the “old days,” as my son says, this poignant experience will fill you with gratitude for our many blessings.
Happy Thanksgiving! –mas