Virginia Living Museum – Newport News, Virginia

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What is it?  Part zoo, part children’s museum, part educational museum, part aquarium.  The Virginia Living Museum is possibly one of the best museums I have been to in a long time.  It is educational and kid-friendly but at the same time it will captivate adults for hours as well.  The building is set up so that you walk through different Virginia habitats.  In each gallery, you will see exhibits that showcase the animal and plant life from each habitat. 

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I have an ASTC Membership card so the visit was free, which definitely makes the deal even sweeter!  We went to the Virginia Living Museum with the intention of spending an hour or two and then heading to the next activity but we ended up spending hours wandering around inside and out and then back inside again!

There are interactive stations throughout the entire museum where you and the kids can learn more about the animals and the lives they lead.

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There are Discovery Centers where you can interact with animals.  Our favorite was the Chesapeake Bay Touch Tank.

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The Coastal Plain Aviary will allow you to get up close and personal with more than 16 species of birds native to the area.

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The Outdoor Boardwalk is a wonderful walk and along the way you will see beavers, bald eagles, bobcats, wild turkeys and more.  This was one of our favorite parts!

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There is also a Planetarium, a Butterfly Garden and an observatory.

The Virginia Living Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.

Stop by DeliciousBaby to see where others are traveling today!

Newport News Family Vacation

Andalo’s Clubhouse – Portsmouth, Virginia

This week I am traveling around Virginia.  We are spending time in Suffolk, Williamsburg and surrounding areas.  Unfortunately the weather is taking a toll on me.  This Florida girl has been facing this practically all week:

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It has kept me indoors, searching out tissues and trying to breathe this dry winter air.  Ok…I am being dramatic.  But seriously, I am COLD!  After three days of being in the house with three kids under the age of 9, I finally decided it was time to go.  Of course, the weather was supposed to get yucky again so we tried to find a place indoors and close to home since I (and the rest of Suffolk County apparently) am not used to driving in the snow.  Hurricane-esque rainstorms, yes.  Snow?  No.  After doing some searching I found that although the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth is closed for another year due to renovations, Andalo’s Clubhouse is open near the Courthouse Galleries. 

The visit costs $5.00 a person.  Adults have to pay $5.00 as well.  I have no problem paying full price for a full blown children’s museum, but paying here was equivelant to having to pay to play at an indoor bounce house where adults don’t play anyway.  I don’t really agree with it but I paid my money nonetheless to sit on a bench while my kids ran around and played!  We only stayed about an hour.  Despite the fact that I was annoyed that I had to pay $20 for the visit, the kids really did have a blast.  The eight year old loved reading and trying the few science exhibits.

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 The little ones enjoyed building castles in the block section. 

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Much to my surprise, they totally skipped over the pretend grocery store setup.  There is a separate room for children three and under but we also skipped this section.

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Stay tuned because the next few posts are going to be about our other Virginia adventures including Williamsburg, the Yankee Candle flagship store, and several of the area museums.
Portsmouth Things To Do

Junior Museum of Bay County – Panama City, Florida

I have been traveling to Panama City for 9.5 years…as long as I have been married to my husband who is from there.  For five of those years, I have been traveling with kids.  How I never heard of the Junior Museum of Bay County before astounds me!  The last time we were in Panama City, it was abnormally cool for the time of year (Thanksgiving is usually spent in short sleeves, jeans and flip flops) and we needed to do something outside of the living room!  After a quick search on the Internet, thanks to The Panama City Playground, we discovered the Junior Museum of Bay County.

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The Junior Museum of Bay County opened in 1967 and sits on 12 acres of land.  There are lots of hands-on exhibits for your kids to try out and the adults will have lots of fun too!  We spent the majority of our time in the science exhibits.  Little S loved the soundwave water exhibit.

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Big S’s favorite part of the museum was the marble exhibit.

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They both loved this little room because as you jumped and danced around your shadow passes over this thing in the ceiling that plays notes like a piano!

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There is a boat that sits in a pretend St. Andrew’s Bay where the children can measure fish and pretend to be riding the waves!  There is a full grocery store complete with a conveyor belt, food, and a cash register.

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My kids loved the reptile room as well.  There are lots of snakes and other creepy crawlies to check out.  Along the wall of the room, there is a bunch of drawers that you can open and check out what is inside.  Big S thought that it was absolutely hilarious when he opened a drawer and found all sorts of petrified animal poop.  He had to go get Daddy J to show him!

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After exploring the inside of the children’s museum, head outside to explore a real pioneer village.  The cabins are from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  You can peek into the cabins and learn a little bit about what life was like back then. 

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Check out the stocks!

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Then take a walk along the 1500 foot boardwalk.  Before you go, stop by the museum’s front desk and pick up a scavenger hunt checklist.  Your kids will have fun trying to find the different things on the list.

There is lots of room to run and play.  Bring a picnic lunch to eat after you are done exploring. 

The Junior Museum of Bay County is located at 1731 Jenks Avenue, Panama City, Florida, 32405.

This post is part of DeliciousBaby’s Photo Friday.  Stop by and check out all the great travel photos!

Panama City Beach Couple Travel Tips

The Insectarium – New Orleans, Louisiana

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The Insectarium is part of the Audubon Family (the aquarium, the zoo, etc.) and is one of the few brand new attractions to open in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.  The Insectarium is just a short walk to Canal Street from the Aquarium.  I really liked the way the Insectarium was set up.  You walked in, paid for your ticket and started down a hallway.  In the hallway are tons of little creepy crawlies…millipedes, huge cockroaches, ants, etc. 

There are all sorts of the larger than life bugs hanging on the walls

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Look like a leaf to you?  It is actually a Walking Leaf Insect!  This was my son’s favorite bug!

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As you wander down the hallway, you come to the Underground Gallery.  Yuck!  It is like you are disappearing underground…there are gigantic bug statues that will make you feel like you are one of them.  Even the floor texture changes so you feel like you are actually underground!  From there you pass by the cafe…we avoided the cafe because bugs were not on the menu for us that day!  You can watch New Orleans chefs cook with bugs and even try some of the meals!  From there, you enter the Termite Gallery.  Then it is on to the Louisiana Swamp where you learn about the local insects.  They also have a few small gators for you to check out!

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I do not recommend standing on the alligator head…besides the fact that I am sure it is not allowed, we watched a kid fall into the open tank behind this gator.  Thank goodness the gator isn’t real and it is a tank full of fish.  From the Swamp, you enter the Success Stories Gallery where the kids can play with hands-on activities.  My son loved to “Build-A-Bug” where you got to choose all of the bug body parts from lots of different bugs and then choose a home for it.  The computer tells you if there is a chance that your bug would survive.  We couldn’t leave until he built a creation that had a high chance of survival!

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No one in my family dared to stick our hands in this hole…anyone out there tried it?  I would love to know what happens!

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There is a quick movie that you can watch called Awards Night that will make you jump out of your seat.  It has everything from moving seats when the bugs are around and mist that shoots out that it is sure to keep everyone entertained!  My son was not too thrilled with the moving stuff, but my younger child loved the movie!

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 As you continue to wander, you will see beautiful bugs, ugly bugs and you may even get to “pet” a bug.  My daughter’s favorite part of the Insectarium (and mine) was Butterflies in Flight, a beautiful tea garden with hundreds of butterflies flying all around. 

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The Audubon Family sells tickets to meet any of your needs.  Insectarium tickets are 15 dollars for adults and 10 dollars for kids.  Children under 2 are free.   The Audubon Experience package gets you into the Aquarium, the Zoo, the Insectarium and an IMAX for just 32.95 an adult or $19.95 a child.  Children under 2 are free.  They have several other combo choices to meet your needs.   If you have time, I recommend that you see all that the Audubon has to offer.  They are all worthwhile places to visit with your children.

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If you are driving, make sure to check out this list of parking lots that participate in discounted parking program.  Bring your parking ticket in with you to get validated.
New Orleans Things To Do

National Museum of the American Indian Cafe

One of my favorite places to eat on the Mall in Washington DC is the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian.  The first time I ate there on a recommendation while I was on a solo trip to DC.  This time I brought my kids!  The Mitsitam Cafe is set up in five food stations that show the cooking style and food flavors of the American Indian.  My children loved wandering through the bustling cafe as they watched the people dish up heaping piles of buffalo, cooking over an open flame, make fry bread, and piece together tacos.  The Spring Menu includes items like turtle soup, acorn squash, salmon sandwich, guava tapioca, and blue corn zuchinni cake.  It takes me forever to wander around and finally make a decision about what I want to order.  I finally chose a meal from the Great Plains: an Indian Taco with buffalo chili on fry bread topped with pinto beans, lettuce, chiles and shredded cheese.  And don’t forget to stop by the Meso America region where the guacamole is possibly some of the best I have ever tasted!  I skipped dessert because I was disappointed that I didn’t find my favorite available: pine nut and cranberry cookie.

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Stop by Wanderlust and Lipstick to check out Wanderfood Wednesday.
Washington DC Things To Do

National Naval Aviation Museum

Today was one of those typical gloomy days…rainy, cloudy, and just downright depressing! We decided that we had to get the kids out of the house but we didn’t want to spend another day at the mall or Target. We decided to head to the National Naval Aviation Museum on Pensacola NAS. This is a great museum and we have been to it several times. Big S was cracking us up because he kept telling us that he wanted to get in the planes. He remembered the last trip where he got to climb inside the planes.




The Air Museum is great for all ages. There are so many exhibits, an IMAX theater that shows several movies a day, a small restaurant, a flight simulator, and lots of hands-on activities!



We started out the morning by snapping some pictures of the huge “jet plane” out front. Once inside the museum, we were given a schedule of the IMAX movies and then headed to the Cockpit Trainers. This is our favorite section of the museum! Little kids and big adults alike are encouraged to climb into the cockpits of helicopters and planes. The levers and switches still move! While you are pretending to be a pilot, you can hear sounds of fighter jets and cockpit radio transmissions played over a loud speaker. Today, you could also hear my kids counting down, yelling “BLAST OFF” and “bombs away”!

We watched the flight simulator twist and turn. We chose not to pay the extra money to try it out but the kids loved to see it move around.



If you get hungry, the museum has a restaurant called the Cubi Bar. We decided to just run through McDonald’s on our way home, but you should still drop in and see the Cubi Bar. The Cubi Bar was a bar in the Philippines. Now the plaques and pictures hang in the museum as not only a restaurant, but also another exhibit.

Free guided tours of the museum and the flight line are offered several times a day. When the Blue Angels are at home, you can go out to the museum early in the morning to watch their amazing morning practice.



After visiting the museum, we took a drive past the Pensacola Lighthouse.


All in all, we had a great time and it was nice to get out of the house on this gloomy day!