|Virginia: Virginia Beach, Family Vacations for Grandparents and Grandkids - Harbor Seal Splash, Crabbing Classes, and a Boardwalk Surrey Ride. Virginia Beach meets the vacation needs for multiple generations because there are so many options from which to choose starting with the signature oceanfront boardwalk and 35-miles of additional beach. Add to that world-class sunrises, friendly people, great restaurants, and awesome entertainment and one-of-a-kind museum programs.
The location delivers on the good stuff. We have assembled a few vacation activities to consider sharing with your grandkids during your holiday at the beach.
Live the beach lifestyle. It all begins with the beach with dramatic sunrises, calming waves, people watching, and quirky conversations and serene lavender-blue sunsets. If you need more, just take a stroll down the oceanfront boardwalk. The three-mile thoroughfare frames the waterside and provides space for bicyclists, in-line skaters, and strollers. Outdoor cafes and ice cream stops make the boardwalk tour a blast for all ages. The beach along the boardwalk is wide, clean and a “bored no more” kind of place. Bonus points: The atmosphere is festive with lively open-air and often free concerts that encourage spontaneous dancing for all ages.
Climb a lighthouse. The Old Cape Henry Lighthouse is a signature beacon for the area. Built in 1792, it stands guard where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Kids love the spiral staircase and the narrow ladder that takes visitors to the observation platform at the top. Down below, is the spot where English settlers first landed in the New World in 1607.
See it to believe it. Without a doubt the Virginia Marine Science Museum, ranked among the top 10 most-attended aquarium facilities in the country, is not-to-be- missed. It is the ultimate family field trip. The world-class facility features 800,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats representative of Virginia’s coastal rivers to the Atlantic Ocean as well as a six-story-high ABC Family Channel IMAX® 3D Theater. Bonus points: The touch tanks are awesome and the interactive kiosks fun for all ages. Thinking while having fun, what could be better?
Splish, splash, like taking a bath. There is no substitute for being part of the action. Extraordinary in every way, the Harbor Seal Splash created by the Virginia Marine Science Museum staff is all about action. The 90-minute in-water, interactive educational program is an opportunity for visitors to learn firsthand about the natural history of harbor seals. The mini adventure experience provides plenty for the next science report and hours of one-of-a-kind memories.
Explore the outdoors. First Landing State Park is a lovely slice of wilderness right off the boardwalk which offers night hikes, stargazing and nature hikes. Ever wonder what the first settlers saw when they set foot on American soil? The park itself is the most-visited state park in Virginia and was the landing site of the first permanent English settlers in 1607 before they colonized Jamestown. Bonus points: If parent time away from charges is an option there are also camps that offer classes and fun-for-kids-only programs. Translated: free time for adults.
Out on the water. Try out an eco-kayaking tour from Chesapean Outdoors, which offers dolphin spotting tours, as well as tours of First Landing State park by water complete with a brief but fascinating talk on estuarine ecosystems. The pace is leisurely, the guides friendly and the scenery is spectacular.
Go dolphin spotting. Once the whales head north, dolphins take over the waters skimming and frolicking as if teasing boaters. Boats depart from the Virginia Beach Fishing Center at Rudee Inlet, not far from the Aquarium. Sighting dolphins is not a guarantee (they are not paid to appear), but guides share with passengers plenty of interesting information about the powerful yet friendly mammals of the sea. On board passengers engage in hands-on activities with marine mammal artifacts.
Comb the other beach. False Cape State Park has more than 10 miles of non-commercial beach, bordered by acres of dunes, marshland and woods. The pristine beach is populated by gulls, piping plovers, sandpipers and tiny crabs. It is easy to bike to the edge with older children or with tiny tots take the tram at Little Island City Park in Sandbridge. Bonus points: The tram, called “The Terra Gator” is departs Little Island City Park in Sandbridge daily at 9:00am (returning at 1:00pm) during the warm season. Tickets are $8 per person.
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. and within a day’s drive or less from one-third of the U.S. population. Make it happen. Virginia Beach offers a change of pace and plenty of options for customized family fun. Virginia Beach has crafted an itinerary for grandparents traveling with grandchildren, aptly titled It's All About the Grandkids. To ask a question call toll-free 1- 800-822-3224), head over to their Facebook page, catch them on Twitter (@VaBeachCVB) or checkout the big picture at www.visitvirginiabeach.com
Family Vacation Planning Details
Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum. 717 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach, 23451. (757) 425-3474 or www.virginiaaquarium.com
Chesapean Outdoors. (757) 961-0447 or chesapean.com
False Cape State Park. The Terra Gator is operated by reservation only and it departs Little Island City Park in Sandbridge daily at 9:00am during the warm season. Reservations available by calling 1-800-933-7275 or (757) 498-2473. Located at 4001 Sandpiper Road about 5 miles south of Back Bay. (757) 426-7128 or www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/fctrgatr.htm
First Landing State Park. 2500 Shore Drive, 23451-1415, (757) 412-2300, (757) 412-2320, toll-free 1-800-933-PARK or www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/1stland.html
Old Cape Henry Lighthouse. 583 Atlantic Ave, Fort Story, 23459. (757) 422-9421, (757) 287-0938 or www.apva.org/capehenry
Content reserached and updated by AL Nelson-Duac. Images by FTF staff. Copyright 2013.