Yankee Candle Flagship – Williamsburg, Virginia

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In February, I stayed in Suffolk, Virginia for two weeks with my daughter, niece and nephew.  We had a blast exploring the area.  One of our little side stops was the Yankee Candle Flagship store in Williamsburg, Virginia.  After exploring Colonial Williamsburg, we got back in the car and decided to make a quick stop at the Yankee Candle Flagship store.  It is set up like a small mall inside.  There is a huge Yankee Candle store where they have every scent you can think of.  If you are with the kids, bypass the browsing to the back of this area for the Candle Dipping Station.  You can choose a candle to dip in different colors. 

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You can also create wax hands!  Each of the kids chose a candle and had so much fun dipping it into the hot colored wax. 

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 Afterwards, we wandered through the Christmas area (which doesn’t hold as much allure in February as it probably does in November!), used the restroom (which was one of the cleanest we saw on the entire trip), and bought some of the best caramel corn I have ever had (they give free samples too!). 

Visiting the store is free.  The smallest candle to color yourself is $2.99 so a trip to the Yankee Candle store won’t be too expensive.  The store is near Colonial Williamsburg so it would be a good quick stop before or after your visit there.
Virginia Beach Family Vacation

No photographs! National Geographic Pirates Exhibit

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This is the only photograph we have from our visit to the National Geographic Pirates! Exhibit at the Nauticus in Virginia Beach.  The exhibit was amazing but unfortunately there were NO PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED!  I saw one woman (immediately after they told us no less than 3 times that photographs were not allowed) try to snap a picture as soon as the entrance opened and she was all but tackled to the ground!  I am over exaggerating, but she definitely was strongly reminded to put the camera away or she would be asked to leave with no refund. 

There have been many other events where we were disappointed there were no cameras allowed…watching the elegant Lipizzaner stallions in Austria, checking out the monster truck jam in our southern hometown (hey, don’t make fun of me…my son loved it!)…

Instead of being irritated that I can’t capture my son’s face when he sees that first monster truck roar out into the stadium, I snap a picture before and after we go in and enjoy the time spent with my family learning and experiencing something new.

Where are your photos taking you today?  Stop by Delicious Baby to travel around the world from your desk!

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg is absolutely beautiful to visit, but it is even more beautiful covered in a blanket of snow.  The snow has been cleared and much was melting, but there was still plenty.  I will talk about our visit later, but for Photo Friday (over at DeliciousBaby) I decided to share some snowy pictures.  I know many of you are sick of seeing snow, but I don’t see it but every few years so I am still fascinated…cold but fascinated!

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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

The Menokin House

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On our summer road trip, we visited a friend in Tappahannock, Virginia.  While there, we got the grand tour of her work and what a cool job she has!  She works for the Menokin Foundation.  The Menokin House is the home of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  It is an 18th cetury house on 500 acres of land.  There is a small visitor center where you can see a scale model of the house, explore a little archeaological “dig in a box,” and fields and fields of corn!  As we walked the grounds of the house, I could only imagine how it looked during its prime!  The Menokin House is being restored and they are stabilizing the remaining structure.

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An original door

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A side of the house – You can see the glare of the plexiglass that they are putting up to help preserve it.

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Thanks to DeliciousBaby for hosting Photo Friday.  Check out all of the other great travel photos!

Suffolk Peanuts – Suffolk, Virginia

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I found out that my sister has moved to the birthplace of Mr. Peanut, the mascot of Planters Peanuts.  I made it my mission to find Mr. Peanut and a peanut factory to tour while we were in Suffolk.  I knew my kids would get a kick out of it as we love peanut butter!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find a roasting plant in the area.  If you know of one, please forward me the information!

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We did find a great little Planters Peanut retailer called Suffolk Peanuts.  As soon as you open the door, you can smell the peanuts roasting.  They have one of the original roasters and there is a very small Mr. Peanut in the corner!

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Of course we had to buy a burlap bag of peanuts, salted in the shell!

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Stop by DeliciousBaby to check out other great Photo Friday pictures.
Suffolk Things To Do

Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

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I have always been fascinated by aquariums.  When I was younger, I wanted to be an oceanographer…that is until I found out that most oceanographers actually got off the boat into the ocean.  Being bizarrely afraid of ocean animals that might attack me, I quickly changed my career path.  My love for all things water has never dissipated and now my children are also mesmerized by even a tiny fish tank.  If I find out that there is an aquarium in our destination city, it moves up to the top of the list of places to visit.  We have been to huge aquariums, we have been to humble teeny tiny aquariums, and we have been to everything in between.  The Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach ranks at the top of my list of favorite aquariums right next to the Baltimore Aquarium.

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The first thing I noticed was that admission into the aquarium was fairly reasonable.  They have a special package that gets you aquarium admission, an IMAX movie, and a Creek Cruise for only $22.50 (adults) or $18.50 (children).  We chose to just get admission to the aquarium because of time constraints.  When you arrive at the aquarium, you purchase your tickets and the first thing that you get to is the huge beautiful wall of nothing but beautiful fish and other sea animals.  My two kids could have sat all day in front of this tank. 

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We saw sea turtles, sharks, otters, harbor seals, and rays. 

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There are many hands on activities throughout – the kids got to touch horseshoe crabs, rays and a skink. 

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I loved this aquarium because so many of the exhibits concentrate on the marine environment of Virginia.  It was a great way to learn more about the area that my sister was moving to. 

There is a boardwalk in between the two buildings where you can spot some more wildlife. 

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Beware though…the website states that the boardwalk is about a ten minute walk.  With small children, it is definitely longer than ten minutes.  After much whining, we ended up heading back when we hit the halfway point 20 minutes later.  We were mainly worried about the walk back.  We were afraid that the kids would not make it back if we walked all the way!

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A few of my favorite things about the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center:

  • The Osprey Cafe – We didn’t have a chance to grab lunch before the aquarium visit so we ate at the cafe.  The prices were reasonable and the food was good. 
  • Crowd Control – The layout of the aquarium lends itself to large crowds.  It was very crowded but as we wandered through the exhibits the only sections that got bottlenecked were at the touch/interactive exhibits.
  • Large Exhibits – The exhibits are all very large…the touch pools are huge and the aquarium windows are gigantic.

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A few things that fall under the “not my favorite” category:

  • Parking – The parking is ridiculous.  Nobody was paying attention to the direction that you were supposed to go.  There is a second  parking lot directly across the street from the aquarium.  If we returned, I would go straight to that lot.
  • Gift Shop – The gift shop is very small and super crowded.  If you plan on heading into the gift shop, leave the whiny kids outside or skip it all together.

Virginia Beach Things To Do