Children's Museum of Richmond


While we love the Children's Museum of Virginia, sometimes it's nice to change things up and that's what we did back in November, with a day trip to visit the Children's Museum of Richmond. We started the day with a "sunrise" visit to see Santa and decided that we'd better check out the rest of the offerings while we had the chance.

The Richmond Children's museum is a lot like our local one in Portsmouth, but with some fun differences. We loved the television studio, where we could do the weather report and practice reading the news on camera. The schoolroom was a hit with Anouk. And the carousel! With some of the most whimsical carved animals I've ever seen. We could have ridden it all day.

And then there was the art room. Oh, the art room! It was kind a paradise, I could have spent all day there even without my kids. You had boxes and bins of art supplies and big tables at which to sit and create free-form art, or else to follow one of the instruction sheets to make a craft (a picture frame, magnet, small flag).

Outside there were more offerings, with an al fresco artist's hut and sandbox, but it was raining (boo) and we didn't get to see everything there. I guess that means we'll have to go back soon!

The verdict: worth a day trip, pair with Oreo pancakes for lunch at Galaxy Hut and Maymont Park after lunch and you've got a perfect way to spend a school vacation day. Spring break ideas anyone?

If you're going to be in Richmond in the near future, there are some fun events coming up at CMoR,
including Valentines Day this weekend and Black History Month programs. Check it out here

Doodle books


 We're fans of illustrator Taro Gomi's work (Bus Stops, Everybody Poops) but lately we've been getting super into his doodle books with their charming open-ended illustrations that are prompts for kids to tell stories through their own works of art.

Right now we're working our way through his Story Doodles book (the thick-paper pages are meant to double as place mats) but there are several more to choose from, including one of postcards for kids to design and a puzzle book. We can't wait to collect them all (and we think they'd be great birthday/holiday presents for little ones, too).

Happy Monday! 

Grandview Nature Preserve



Would it surprise you to learn that one of the prettiest and remote beaches in the HRVA area is just a few minutes from Downtown Hampton? Grandview Nature Preserve starts out with a walk down a gravel path that begins in a neighborhood but by the time you reach the beach, a half mile away, you have left it all behind. The two-mile stretch of beach is pristine, covered with driftwood and shells and clean fresh sand. You hear the cheeps of birds and the grasses moving in the breeze but not much else. It's like a world into itself.

Grandview wasn't always so remote. Back in the 1800s, Grandview was a swinging social destination. There were parties and dances in the glow from the old lighthouse and dozens of painters set up their easels to paint it. You can walk to what remains of that old lighthouse from when it finally succumbed to erosion and disrepair in the '50s, a lonely pile of rocks standing a few yards offshore. It's kind of eerie to look at them -- if you stare long enough you can almost see the old light standing up from them again.

The nature preserve covers 475 acres of salt marsh and wetlands, and there is excellent canoeing through the inlets. Besides that, it's a good place to observe migratory birds and sea turtles (be sure to save this number in your phone before you go  -- it's not out of the ordinary to see wildlife stranded and in need of help). In summer the swimming is great but the walk down to the beach may be too far for very little ones in the heat.

To read another local blogger's take on Grandview (and see her gorgeous pics), click here! Have you been to Grandview Nature Preserve? How did it compare to other area beaches, in your view?

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