Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel System

Even though the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel is exactly that, a bridge and tunnel system to get you where you want to go, it can certainly qualify as a great attraction.  According to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel website, shortly after the opening of the bridge-tunnel system, it was selected as “one of the Seven  Engineering  Wonders of the Modern World.”  The Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel system is just one of many in this area but it is considered the world’s largest bridge and tunnel system.  It just seems to go on and on and on!

Two bridges, two tunnels, causeways, roads leading up to the bridge and four manmade islands all make up the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel system.  From one shore to the other, the system measures 17.6 miles.  The water depth ranges from 25 feet to 100 feet!  It is not only a convenient way to get to the Eastern Shore from Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, but it will also fascinate the kids.  Just when you think you have reached the end, you come up on another man made island.  When you stand on one of the islands in the middle of the bay, we could not see the ends of the bridge. 

This picture was taken with my 75-300 lens from one man made island.  I zoomed in as close as possible to snap the picture of the next island.

The turn offs to park on the islands and walk around come up quickly (right before the tunnel begins if I am remembering correctly) so if you are planning on stopping, be sure to pay attention and slow down.  On one of the islands, there is a restaurant that was being renovated when we were there and also a fishing pier that was packed to the brim with fishermen! 

There are signs that describe a little bit of the history of the bridge and the Naval history from that area. 

There are lookout binoculars and it is worth the 25 cents. 

They also support a birding program and the website lists many of the different birds that you might see.  You will see ships galore.

The toll to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel System is 12.00 per car and goes up from there. 

Be sure to stop by Delicious Baby to see where other travelers are going this week!

Norfolk Family Vacation on raveable

Summer Vacation Memories – Exploring Pensacola!

This summer we went to some pretty cool places!  We got to go to San Antonio where we visited the Zoo, the missions, some parks, and ate some of the best Tex-Mex we have ever had!  We got to stay at a water park resort in Sevierville, Tennessee.  After that, we headed up to Virginia where we explored the Eastern Shore with family.  When we were back in Pensacola we didn’t just sit around.  We explored lots of Pensacola and had so much fun doing it! 

We went to the new community pool where the kids went down slides and splashed in the awesome zero entry pool.  We were so excited to hear about a new cupcake store that opened called Oh Snap! Cupcakes.  We went on opening day and had some yummy cupcakes and can’t wait to try some of the new flavors!  We explored some new parks around our area and kept cool with lots of ice cream.  We visited the zoo at Gulf Shores and the kids loved the kangaroos.  We took advantage of the free entrance day for Florida State Parks!  We watched the Blue Angels practice their acrobatics and we picked soooooo many blueberries that I am praying for non stop power to my freezer during this hurricane season! 

We have been in school for two weeks now and just had our first three day weekend.  I am looking forward to catching up on all the blogging from our summer vacations over the next few weeks and I can’t read about all of your trips!

This post is part of the TravelingMamas.com Tripapalooza Contest.

Goodbye, Summer!

In summer, the song sings itself.

~William Carlos Williams

Chincoteague

Today marks the last day of summer.  Big S is back in school bright and early Monday morning (we aren’t counting the weekend because, well, weekends don’t count!).  He is so very excited.  We met his teacher and saw his new classroom this morning and he can’t wait for school to start.  Sending him to first grade is much easier than sending him to Kindergarten last year.  He is such a big guy and seems ready to navigate his little world.  It is time to get back into a daily routine, plan weekend adventures and start deciding where we will go for Fall break!

So today we say goodbye to summer.  Summer–you have been very good to us and we can’t wait to see you again next year!

The following pictures were taken on our road trip to Chincoteague Island, Virginia.  The kids were so excited to put their toes in the Atlantic and weren’t the least bit discouraged when they discovered the Atlantic Ocean is many degrees colder than our cozy, warm, bathwater-esque Gulf Coast.  I just love these pictures of them playing at the beach on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

chincoteague4

chincoteague2

chincoteague3

Of all the pictures taken of my husband and I this summer, this my favorite:

Chincoteague1

Visit DeliciousBaby to see other Photo Friday posts.  Travel around the world without leaving your computer desk!

The Ponies of Chincoteague Island, Virginia

For as long as I can remember, Misty of Chincoteague has been one of my favorite books.  I was so excited, even as a grown adult, when we planned a trip to Chincoteague Island to see the wild ponies.

blogIMG_0002

blogIMG_0039

blogIMG_0107

And the not so wild ponies of Chincoteague Island:

blogIMG_0472

blogIMG_0134

To find out best places to see the ponies of Chincoteague, head over to Traveling Mom where I wrote a post about our search.

Stop by DeliciousBaby to see other Photo Friday posts.

Virginia Living Museum – Newport News, Virginia

blogIMG_0585

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. 

blogIMG_0587

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.

blogIMG_0599

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

blogIMG_0584

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

blogIMG_0619

blogIMG_0610

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!

blogIMG_0603

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

Bluebird Gap Farm – Hampton, Virginia

blogIMG_0573

Bluebird Gap Farm is not what you think it is by name.  When we made the trip Bluebird Gap Farm, we were expecting a farm in the country…you know stereotypical stuff…rolling hills of crops, animals roaming, etc!  When I got off the freeway exit, I thought for sure the GPS took us to the wrong place.  We were in the middle of the city.  Houses on one side, businesses on the other…but we turned down the last street and here was Bluebird Gap Farm!

The kids loved walking from one animal area to another naming the animals, talking to them and taking pictures.  There were cows, goats, horses, llamas, pigs, deer, turtles, geese.  It is a city park with animals!  There are feed machines around so that you can give the animals a snack.  There are clean restrooms, a great playground and covered seating to get out of the sun.  And the best part?!?  It is FREE to visit!

blogIMG_0569

blogIMG_0566

blogIMG_0560

blogIMG_0557

blogIMG_0551

blogIMG_0570

Stop by DeliciousBaby to see where others are traveling today!  I am also linking up to the Talking Trekaroo Weekly Spotlight.

Hampton Family Vacation

Sleepy Hole – Suffolk, Virginia

sleepyhollow5

Some of my fondest memories of traveling with my children are from when we came across a park or a large patch of grass where they could run around and just be exactly who they are…kids. No one telling them to keep their hands to themselves. No one telling them to use their inside voices. Some of my favorite memories: running through the grass and gravel walks at Schloss Hellbrun in Salzburg; Big S learning to crawl in the ruins at Trier, Germany; sliding through the snow and ice in the Olympic ski jump area in Garmisch, Germany; skipping around the giant cow at the Braselton Mayfield Dairy.

sleepyhollow4

When we were in Suffolk, Virginia during the month of February, we were trapped in the house for a few days by sleet and snow. Because the area doesn’t get much snow as a general rule, everything pretty much shut down. Once the weather cleared, we went exploring and found a park that my sister often talked about.

sleepyhollow3

Sleepy Hole is a gem! We ran around for hours until our noses were pink and we could barely feel our fingers and toes.  We explored the nature trails, played on the park and ran around until we were laughing so hard we couldn’t stand any longer.   Afterwards, we went home and made hot chocolate.  We collapsed in exhaustion and giggled about how much fun we had.

sleepyhollow2

 sleepyhollow1

sleepyhollow

How can you not smile when you see joy like this?

sleepyhollow6

For an added Friday photo, I had to share this picture.  Little S had the worst static electricity the entire time we were in Virginia.  Her hair was always standing on end!  It was hilarious!

sleepyhollow7

Stop by DeliciousBaby to check out the other Photo Friday submissions.

Suffolk Family Vacation

Yankee Candle Flagship – Williamsburg, Virginia

 blogyankee2

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. 

blogyankee

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. 

blogyankee1

 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

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!

williamsburg

williamsburg1

fbIMG_0459

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:

1fbIMG_0092

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.

fbIMG_0368

 The little ones enjoyed building castles in the block section. 

fbIMG_0367

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.

fbIMG_0374

fbIMG_0373

fbIMG_0369

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