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Minor League Baseball in Virginia

2 Jun

While Virginia doesn’t have a major league baseball team, we do have our share of minor league teams.  Better yet, the cost of attending the minor league games is affordable and the some of teams also have fantastic kid’s clubs!  Each marker on this map has a link to the corresponding team’s website so go have fun at a ballgame!

View Minor League Baseball Teams in Virginia in a larger map


Natural Tunnel State Park – the 8th Wonder of the World

8 Mar

Chairlift at Natural Tunnel State Park

Natural Tunnel is a beautiful wonder of nature  that many in the Commonwealth have never even heard of.  William Jennings Bryan called Natural Tunnel the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Located in Duffield (Scott County), this park can easily fill your day with lots of fun and Kodak moments!

The are 2 ways to reach the tunnel from the parking lot.  You can walk…..or you can take a ride on the chair lift down into the gorge.  For those who need some extra help, a lot of thought was put into making this landmark accessible, visit the website for the details.

Once you reach the end of the chair lift, it’s a short walk to the tunnel.  I can’t even begin to describe what it looks like as breathtaking seems to0 weak a description.  The tunnel is 850 long and 100 feet high inside and it’s creation began more than a million years ago in the early glacial period.

Of course, with almost 1000 acres, Natural Tunnel State Park is much more than “just a tunnel”.  Cabins and campgrounds are available for overnight guests.  There is a 5400 sq ft pool with a water slide open to day and overnight guests.  For kids, the park offers guided nature walks, hayrides, campfires, cave tours and astronomy programs.   Special events and a calendar can be found here.

Click here for a great map of the park (.pdf file).

Tina’s tips:  if you have to bring a stroller, go with a lightweight one like an umbrella stroller.  There is a snack bar, but a few juice boxes and crackers would be a good idea just in case someone gets hungry or thirsty along the way.  There is a bathroom at the bottom station of the chairlift – but it would be wise to take bathroom breaks before embarking on the journey down into the gorge.  Bring some cash along as the chairlift and pool (for day visitors) are not free.  Call ahead or visit the website for exact rates and schedules.

Mosby Carter Cabin Built in 1784

Ice Skating Rinks in Virginia

3 Jan

There are many places to ice skate in Virginia.  Some are year ’round and others are just seasonal.  Most offer skate rentals and all are an affordable way to enjoy some quality family time this season!  A list of rinks and their links are below, scroll to the bottom for an interactive map.

Northern Virginia:

Mount Vernon Ice Arena, Alexandria

Pentagon Row, Arlington

Kettler Capitals Ice Plex, Arlington

Prince William Ice Center, Woodbridge, VA

Ashburn Ice House, Ashburn

Fairfax Ice Arena, Fairfax

Reston Town Center, Reston

Skate Quest, Reston

Central Virginia:

Main Street Arena, Charlottesville

Skate Nation Plus, Glen Allen

Richmond Ice Zone, Richmond

Lil Rink, Richmond, VA

LaHaye Ice Center, Lynchburg

Shamokin Ice, Wintergreen

Southwest Virginia:

Roanoke Civic Center, Roanoke

The Homestead Resort, Hot Springs

Hampton Roads:

Chilled Ponds, Chesapeake

Iceland, Virginia Beach

MacArthur Center, Norfolk

Virginia Air and Space Center, Hampton

Hampton Roads Ice Plex, Tabb

FREE Admission to US National Parks This Weekend!

11 Aug

Time to put on some comfortable walking shoes and explore a few of our beautiful National Parks and Historic Sites this weekend!  August 14th and 15th, 2010, admission fees are waived for all National Parks.

In Virginia, we are very fortunate to have a great number of National Parks!  From the Appalachian Trail to the Yorktown National Cemetery, there is sure to be something for your family to explore and enjoy.

A few of our favorites that you might not be familiar with:

George Washington Birthplace National Monument – Westmoreland County, VA
Orignial birthsite with Memorial House in the background. George Washington, America’s first and greatest hero, was crucial to the establishment of the United States as a nation founded on the principles of liberty. George Washington Birthplace preserves the heart of the Washington lands and a memorial plantation. Here, in the peace and beauty of this place untouched by time, the staunch character of our hero comes to the imagination.DirectionsOperating Hours & Seasons
Green Springs – Louisa County, VA
??? house in Green Springs Green Springs National Historic Landmark District encompasses over 14,000 acres in the piedmont of central Virginia. The homes and farms are a continuum of Virginia rural vernacular architecture, reflective and respectful of their location, preserved in their original context with little alteration. Here the landscape has been enhanced, rather than despoiled, by the presence of civilization.DirectionsOperating Hours & Seasons
Claude Moore Colonial Farm – McLean, VA
Claude Moore Farmhouse Step back in time and experience life on a small farm in northern Virginia.  Living history programs and demonstrations offer a glimpse of what life was like for a poor farm family, just before the Revolutionary War.DirectionsOperating Hours & Seasons

FREE Admission for Virginia Kids to Busch Gardens Williamsburg!

16 Jul

Are you a resident of the beautiful Commonwealth of Virginia?

Are you between the ages of 3 and 9?

Do you know a grown-up who will buy a full-price adult ticket to Busch Gardens Williamsburg online?

Congratulations!  You qualify for a FREE child’s ticket!

For a limited time, Virginia residents receive one free child single-day admission to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg with the purchase of a full-price single-day adult admission. Child ticket is valid for children 3 to 9 years old.

This offer is for Virginia residents only, and is only valid and must be used at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg from June 21, 2010 through August 31, 2010. This online offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.”

Click HERE to purchase this online-only offer.

Drive In Movie Theaters in Virginia

1 Jun

Vintage sign from the Keysville Drive-In

Believe it or not, the drive-in movie theater is still alive and well in many parts of Virginia. While many have been updated with new sound systems, radio frequencies and websites, the heart of the operation remains the same. An inexpensive, wholesome place to spend time with family and friends under the stars.

Many theaters are only open on certain dates/days so be sure to call ahead or visit their websites before going.  Also, be sure to bring cash as some theaters do not accept credit/debit cards.

The Moonlite Theatre in Abingdon (Washington County) was opened in 1949 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Starlite Drive-In in Christiansburg (Montgomery County) has been open since 1952.

The Fork Union Drive-In (Fluvanna County) is the smallest drive-in theater in Virginia and has a Facebook page.

Hull’s Drive-In in Lexington (Rockbridge County) was saved from closure by local residents and is pet friendly.

Keysville Drive-In (Charlotte County) has a new concessions menu for this year and a Facebook page.

Park Place Drive-In in Marion (Smyth County) is a newer facility built after the old theater was replaced with a Walmart.

Central Drive-In in Norton (Wise County) opened in 1952 and borders the Jefferson National Forest.

Family Drive-In in Stephens City (Frederick County) is the closest drive-in in Virginia to Washington DC.

Mayberry Drive-In in Moneta (Bedford County) opened in June of 2008 and is adjoined by a diner.

Goochland Drive-In in Hadensville (Goochland County) is the newest drive-in in Virginia; opening in August of 2009.

Here’s to the Heroes – FREE Admission to Busch Gardens Williamsburg

26 May

Throughout 2010, members of the US military and up to 3 of their dependents can get a free, single day pass to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg as part of their Here’s to the Heroes program.  To register, click here.    It is not necessary for military dependents to be accompanied by the service member (but they must be accompanied by someone over the age of 18).

We are proud to salute the men and women of our armed forces and their families. Throughout 2010, members of the military and as many as three direct dependents may enter SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place parks with a single-day complimentary admission.

For your service and sacrifice, we thank you.

National Park Week April 17-25

14 Apr

FREE Access to almost 400 National Parks next week for National Park Week!

Explore the stunning beauty and amazing stories found in your national parks and celebrate National Park Week!

With the national nonprofit partner, the National Park Foundation, NPS is making a special inivitation to Share a Park, and Shape a Life by helping a young person experience the parks and plant the seed of stewardship.

Also, Saturday, April 24, is National Junior Ranger Day, and children can take part in kid-friendly activities and earn their very own junior ranger patch!  In addition, many national park concessioners are offering special promotions that are certain to add to your fun.

National parks across the country are hosting events andvolunteer projects on Earth Day – April 22 – and throughout the week.

Click here for a list of all participating parks in Virginia.

Abingdon, Virginia and a Few Steps Back in Time

15 Feb

Abingdon is one of Virginia’s best kept secrets.  Unfortunately, our most recent trip didn’t last nearly long enough to fully enjoy all Abingdon has to offer.

First of all, I recommend splurging and staying at “The Martha” aka The Martha Washington Inn.  This historic inn was built in 1832 and has been a private residence, a women’s college and a civil war-era hospital as well as it’s present use as an inn.  The inn’s library, with it’s fireplace and overstuffed leather couches and chairs, is a perfect place to curl up and read one of the many wonderful volumes available.   The staff was very attentive and kid-friendly.

One of the highlights of Abingdon is the Barter Theatre, established in 1933.  The Barter Theater is the State Theater of Virginia and puts on many performances for children.  Reserve your tickets in advance as many shows sell out.  If you are not able to get tickets in advance, I was told by a local that if you show up at the box office 15 minutes before the show starts, they will release tickets for those who have not shown up.

We had a wonderful dinner at The Tavern.  Again, reservations are recommended.  The Tavern is the oldest building in Abingdon and well worth a peek inside.  They do not have a children’s menu, but are happy to accommodate children with smaller portions of menu items or chicken fingers.  The owner’s attentiveness was most impressive.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to see all that Abingdon has to offer.  We look forward to going back and checking out the museums, festivals and more of the hidden gems here.

Free Planetarium Shows!

10 Nov

radford university planetariumThe Radford University Planetarium offers FREE shows to the general public on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7:30pm and on Saturday mornings at 10:30am.  The shows vary by the season, time etc. so be sure to check their website for the shows currently running.  The Saturday morning shows are usually specifically for children.

Current shows include:

  • The newly-acquired show “The Planets” which takes audiences on a tour of our solar system, explaining how our solar system and its planets formed, why things rotate around the sun in the ways they do, and eventually looks at the planets that have been discovered around other stars.  This show was produced by the Southeastern Planetarium Association and is narrated by Kate Mulgrew (aka Captain Katherine Janeway of “Star Trek: Voyager”) .
  • The three shows in the “Explorers” series.  These were produced by the Bishop Museum Planetarium in Hawaii and address many of the national and Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) for K-12 students.
  • The children’s show “In My Backyard”, produced by the Calgary Science Center.  This show takes younger audiences (from 3 years old to second graders) on a tour of many of the objects that can be seen in the night sky without a telescope.
  • “Dinosaur Prophecy”:  The audience joins paleontologists at the scene of the crime, excavating bones and wondering what killed the mighty dinosaurs.  Be amazed as your favorite giants come to life, roam across the dome, and meet their catastrophic deaths.  Find out how NASA scientists monitor the Earth and solar system for potential disasters!
  • And the always-popular Christmas show ” ‘Tis the Season” chronicles many of the legends and traditions of the Christmas holiday season, including the story of a certain star.

Tina’s take:  I brought my son and a couple of his friends here for an evening show.  They loved it and can’t wait to go back!  Curie Hall, where the Planetarium is located on the Radford campus, is easy to find and free parking is available right behind the building.  The young lady leading the show we attended seemed to be very passionate about her work and took extra time to answer all the kid’s questions.  Shows last anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes.

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