|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|Virginia: Virginia Beach, Whale Watching - A Winter Family Vacation Adventure. How about a whale for the holidays? The Atlantic Coastal waters just off the Chesapeake Bay provide a comfortable wintering home for hundreds of humpback and fin whales. Their annual appearance provides an excellent opportunity to share the real thing with your kids. Grab you sweatshirts and old sneakers and head for the beach.
It's a whale! 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 2-hour boat tours.
Here's the scoop. 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.
Family adventure value packages. 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.
Live the beach life. This winter season, maybe even for the holidays think about creating an awesome family adventure at the beach. The perfect addition to a whale watching adventure is a visit to the world class Virginia Marine Science Center where exploring the marine environments is a tactile thrill. A visit will take the greater part of a day. There are two separate sections and plenty of activities in between. The Atlantic Ocean Pavilion and Main Building contain the 300,000-gallon Norfolk Canyon Aquarium. There is also a 70,000-gallon sea turtle aquarium and a sea turtle hatchling laboratory. One of the most popular touch tanks allows visitors to pet a ray. A short walk through a partially shaded pathway connects visitors with the Owls Creek Marsh Pavilion where life in a salt marsh is showcased. Exhibits include aquariums and terrariums featuring 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 museum is a launch pad for a wide variety of learning excursions which include boat trips with wet lab experiences. (Virginia Marine Science Center 717 General Booth Boulevard, Virginia Beach, 23451. 1(757) 441-2374, 1(757) 427-4305 or www.vmsm.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. and within a day’s drive or less from one-third of the U.S. population.
Make it happen. For more information, call the Virginia Beach Whale Hotline toll-free 1-866-59-WHALE (1- 866-599-4253) or visit www.vbfun.com for online trip planning.
Content researched and written by Nancy Nelson-Duac. Images provided by Virginia Beach CVB. Updated copyright 2012.