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Whale Watching - A Winter Family Vacation Adventure. Fin Whale Spotted Virginia BeachWatching whales breech on the Discovery Channel doesn't yield quite the same thrill as sharing the 'real thing' from the deck of a boat cruising the Chesapeake Bay.

Here's the scoop.
 From December through March the Atlantic Coastal waters just off the Chesapeake Bay provide a comfortable wintering home for hundreds of humpback and fin whales. Their annual migration provides an excellent opportunity to share a terrific marine life experience with your kids. Grab your parkas and sea gloves then head for the sea.

Imagine sailing on the water where Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic. You and your feel the crisp ocean breeze and watch the warm tones of the sun blanket the sky. In the distance, you see a massive, majestic creature emerge from the water. A jet of water sprays a mile high. It’s a whale! Fin and humpback whales captivate visitors during two-hour boat tours.  

Each year the waters off Virginia Beach becomes a highway for mysterious creatures of the sea— the awesome fin and humpback whales. Though the whales don't use a calendar for planning purposes starting in early December, these mammals journey to the food-rich mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean for their annual retreat. Weighing up to 40 tons and ranging up to 52 feet long, humpback whales have made their trip along the shores of Virginia Beach for decades.  Fin whales,
ranging up to 85 feet long and weighing up to 70 tons are known to be the second largest mammal on the planet after the blue whale. Each year from late December through mid March, Virginia Beach offers visitors the rare opportunity to spot these magnificent creatures up close on whale-watching boat tours.

Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop.
Why not combine ice skating with whale watching? The newest addition to winter fun at the beach is the Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop. The 8,000-square-foot outdoor ice skating rink will be open until February 2015. (www.oceanfronticepark.com)
 
Rudee Tours Winter Wildlife Tours. Launching from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center on the oceanfront, Rudee Tours offers dolphin tours and whale spotting adventures aboard the Rudee Flipper. It’s a chance to count humpback and fin whales and watch countless sea birds soaring over the waves and diving for lunch. The atmosphere onboard is fun and informative with each trip providing a unique glimpse of the complex beauty of the sea. (Rudee Winter Wildlife Tours)
 
Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. At heart of any sealife family adventure on the Chesapeake Bay is the Virginia Aquarium
 where exploring the maVB524Whalerine environments is a tactile thrill. The museum is a launch pad for a wide variety of learning excursions which include boat trips with wet lab experiences. Any visit will take the greater part of a day because there are so many cool things to enjoy no matter what your age. From the 300,000-gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium and the 70,000-gallon sea turtle aquarium and a sea turtle hatchling laboratory to the awesome touch tanks, sealife surrounds guests. No one will be bored. The Owls Creek Marsh Pavilion showcases river otters, seahorses, and fiddler crabs. A thrill for kids is the macro-marsh section where animals and plants are ten times larger than their normal size. Bonus Points: The newest addition to the museum complex is an impressive adventure park area which includes challenging ropes courses for all ages and ziplining experiences for extra thrills. (Virginia Aquarium 17 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach, 23451. (757) 441-2374, (757) 427-4305 or www.virginiaaquarium.com)  

Location on the planet.
  Anchored in the southeastern corner of the state where Virginia meets the sea, Virginia Beach is four hours by car southeast of Washington, D.C. 

Make it happen. Generally the whale watching adventures include three days, two nights accommodations (breakfast included at some hotels) and admission aboard a 2 – 2 ½ hour whale watching boat trip. The packages also include admission to the Virginia Aquarium and its 3-D IMAX® Theater making it an incredible value for an extraordinary adventure. Actual package prices vary depending on the property selected, and group rates are available. The Virginia Beach Whale Hotline is toll-free 1-866-59-WHALE (1-866-599-4253).  

 
 
Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images provided by Virginia Beach CVB. Updated copyright 2017.

 

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