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Posts Tagged ‘Day Trip’

Well, we finally got rain after one of the worst water shortages in recent history so that can only mean one thing.  Its time for the Virginia State Fair.  The Fair is a guarantee every year for a good rain storm.  This year the fair runs until October 3rd so there is still time to enjoy it.  This is the second year the Fair is being held at Meadow Event Park next to Kings Dominion. You can find directions and maps here.

The Fair is huge and there is a Map and Daily Guide with show times  provided.  Make sure you take one so you can get around to see everything.  Each area also has a different “theme” of food provided — another great reason to make sure you visit every area!

In the “Livestock Loop” you can see farm animals, tractors, farm equipment and even lumberjacks.  Here you can also  fill up on fried catfish, barbecue, kettle corn, and sno cones.

Next you can head over to the “Media General Trail” where in addition to some shopping, you can watch magic shows and musicians on the theater stage.  If you are still hungry this is where you are going to find pizza and dippin dots (what the heck are those things anyway?).

You can see the racing pigs and high-flying K-9s at the “South Festival Loop.”  Make sure you leave some room for funnel cakes, fried ice cream, gourmet soups, chinese food, and more.

The “North Festival Loop” has the best food in my opinion.  Here you will find burgers, crab cakes, shrimp creole, cinnamon buns, and hot apple dumplings.  While you are stuffing your face (or at least I was) you can see the firefighter training show and check out the quilt show and some of the craft vendors.

What would a fair be without scary looking rides that your kids cry and scream for?  You’ll find the rides at the “Kidway and Midway.”  All the classic rides are there including the Himalaya (definitely do this ride BEFORE you eat), Scrambler, Tea cups, Ferris wheel, and the Carousel. You will also find a circus show and millions of ways to spend money and hopefully win stuffed animals to please those crying kids.

The main shows are held at the Horse Complex and Festival Stage.  In addition to nightly concerts, you will also find bull riding, rodeos, horse shows, and other animal shows. You can find the daily concert schedule here.  Concerts are included in your general admission.  There are no seats so make sure to bring blankets or chairs to sit on or you can rent a folding chair for $5.

Other activities you can see daily at the Fair include cow milking, soap making, violin making, masters of the chainsaw, and pumpkin carving.

The fair is open daily at 10am, although most of the shows, events, and activities don’t open until 11am.  Tonight the fair is open to 1am, Saturday until midnight, and Sunday until 10pm.  Admission is usually the most confusing part of the Fair, so I’ll do my best to explain.  General admission fees range from $10-$15 per person.  Rides are not included with general admission.  Each ride requires a specific number of tickets (a few cost money at the ride).  Tickets needed for rides range from 3-6 tickets per ride.  You can find the list of tickets needed here.  Tickets cost $1 each or $20 for 25.  There are supposedly coupons floating around out there at McDonalds that will give you 30 tickets for $20.  You can also purchase a combo ticket which will give you admission and 40 ride tickets for $30.  This is probably your best bet if you plan on riding a lot of rides.  In case I did a terrible job explaining that, you can get ticket information and prices here.

Don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this is the last weekend.  There is still plenty of time to enjoy the State Fair.

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Today is a perfect day to visit Chesterfield Berry Farm.  The Farm, which opened in 1983, is a “pick your own” farm with different harvests throughout the year.  It is family owned and operated by the Goode family.  They now grow over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables. The farm is open from Mid-March through December 24th and holds fun season-specific festivals throughout the year.  Of course, there is also a Farmer’s Market where you can buy fresh produce grown on the farm and picked daily.  Throughout the year you can buy strawberries, blackberries (usually), tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, onions, squash, green beans, watermelons, and more.  For all the blackberry fans out there, this year’s crop was damaged in the snow so no blackberries this year.  The Farmer’s Market also carries preserves, salad dressings, bedding plants,  Peaks of Otter Wine (20 varieties),  and other novelty items.  Tip:  The Farmer’s Market and Pick Your Own Farm (where the festivals are held) are NOT in the same place!  Plan on hitting the Farmer’s Market before or after your trip. 

The festivals have a lot of activities, in addition to “pick your own” to keep the family busy.  One of my favorite festivals is the Pumpkin Festival with haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides to the pumpkin patch.  Another good one is going on right now–the Spring Strawberry Festival.  The Strawberry festival runs this weekend and next weekend from 9:30-5pm (no guarantees there will be any good strawberries left next weekend!)  Tickets are $5 (2 and under are free) and includes hayrides to and from the strawberry fields, pig races, playgrounds, corn play area, farm animals, strawberry picking containers, and entertainment.  For $10 you can purchase a Super Pass which also includes wagon train rides, strawberry cannons (they do pumpkin cannons in October), duck races, paintball target shooting, and moon bounce.  There are also pony rides, wine tasting, and gem panning for an additional cost. Once you get there they always have other activities too like games, face painting, a riding toy area (for the very little ones) and more.  Really, the $5 pass will keep everyone busy with young kids, but the teens may need the $10 superpass.  There is also a concession stand where you can buy homemade barbecue, coleslaw, & beans. You can also purchase hotdogs, nachos, chicken nuggets, french fries, and ice Cream (which I can personally attest is delicious!).  In honor of the Strawberry festival you can find delicious strawberry slushies and strawberry milkshakes. 

There are picnic areas with tables in a shaded area on the other side of the parking lot.  You can definitely bring your own food and drinks and enjoy a lazy picnic while you are there.  Although you can bring your own people food, you can’t bring outside animal food so leave your stale bread at home.  You have to purchase animal food there.  Tip:  Bring the hand sanitizer, a lot of it. 

If you can tear yourself away from all the activities (and ok, delicious food), hop on a hayride and head to the strawberry fields. Tip:  The hay ride is actually a very large trailer pulled by a tractor that has hay bales instead of seats.  The kids love it, but just know your seat will be somewhat uncomfortable.  Also, they will pack you in like sardines if they have to.  Just grin and bear it, its worth it.  Once you get to the strawberry fields you can pick strawberries for $1.99/pound.  If you don’t feel like doing the labor yourself, you can buy pre-picked strawberries over at the Farmer’s Market. 

Today if you bring your military or public servant I.D. you will get a free super pass.  Next weekend all Fathers get a free super pass as an early Father’s Day present.  Now, the details.  Credit cards are accepted everywhere which is really nice.  No pets or alcoholic beverages (no matter how much you feel you might need them after this long weekend!) 

Because it is a large working farm, it is of course located in what feels like the middle of no where, but it is actually in Chesterfield down by the zoo.  You can get directions here.  Just remember, once you feel like you’ve gone too far and you better turn around, you are almost there.   This place is a favorite of my family (we go every year several times).  We are especially excited to go and see some of the wonderful updates it looks like they have made.  Happy Memorial Day!

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If all the sun, sand, and barbecues just aren’t for you, but you still feel like you want to get away, then this is the perfect activity for you.  The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is hosting an exhibition called Tiffany: Color and Light starting on May 29-August 15.   This exhibition features the work of renowned designer and master of glass,  Louis Comfort Tiffany.  Think windows and glass lamps.  VMFA is the only American museum to show the exhibition (Go Richmond!).  To complement this exhibit, VMFA has put together a driving tour of Tiffany windows throughout Virginia.  Don’t worry if you don’t want to spend your weekend driving all over the state, a large portion of the windows are right here in Richmond.  Just download the audio off the website and you are set to go! 

The entire central Virginia tour is laid out here. I don’t think there is any set order to the sites and the interior access hours of each site are different so be sure to check before you go.  There are no entrance fees except where noted.  There are audio downloads for each site as well.  If you don’t have an iPod or some other fancy audio device to put it on, there are written transcripts you can print out and read to yourself. 

The first Richmond location is All Saints Episcopal Church which has 2 Tiffany windows.  Interior hours here are very limited, Tuesdays from 9-12pm.  Something tells me though that you can probably see the windows from the outside as well. 

Next head over to the Congregation Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives where you can see the Mount Sinai Tiffany window.  This isn’t the hospital, its a window featuring a large volcano and it is amazing. 

Now head over to the Historic Ginter Park neighborhood to visit Ginter Park Baptist Church where the ornamental windows from the former Grace Street Presbyterian Church are located.  If you want a tour you need to call ahead for an appointment, but roaming around on your own is free. 

Next go to N. Laurel, next to the Landmark Theater, and visit the Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church where you can see the Angel Gabriel window.  

From here, drive over to the Lewis Ginter Mausoleum at Hollywood Cemetary.  Here you will find 3 Tiffany windows that are incredible.  There is no audio for this portion of the tour, but that is probably because Hollywood Cemetary offers their own walking tours. 

Maymont Mansion  is your next stop, where you can see a 15 foot stained glass window over the mansion’s grand staircase.  The mansion also has many other pieces by Tiffany.  There is a suggested donation of $5/person for entrance into the mansion.  Maymont is also offering a a 1 hour guided tour every Friday that features Tiffany’s works throughout the mansion and is meant to compliment the VMFA exhibit.  There is a $10/person charge for this tour, but if you are a diehard, why not go for it, everything else has been free up to this point.  

Saint James Episcopal Church has 4 windows and free admission, but if you want to get in, you need to call ahead.  There is also no audio for this stop so you may want to try and view the windows from outside. 

Next is the biggie, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where you will find 10 amazing Tiffany windows and an altar piece mosaic.  This is one of the largest displays of Tiffany pieces in the area.  The Church also put together an awesome online site where you can learn everything there is to know about the windows.  If you were going to go to just one place on the tour, this would be it.  There are good access hours here and free guided tours. 

Finish up back at the VMFA where in addition to the exhibit, there are 2 Tiffany windows on display.  If all of those stops weren’t  enough for you, there are plenty of stops in Charlottesville and Petersburg too so why not make a few days of it.  I’m not sure the kids will get a kick out of it, but what a wonderful and peaceful way to spend a day or two.

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Memorial Day is traditionally the weekend for the pools to open, unless you are in Richmond it seems.  If you aren’t lucky enough to have a neighborhood pool or be a member at a private pool (after 10 years on the wait list) that leaves the Richmond public pools, which, unfortunately, don’t open until mid-June.  So are there any other options?  A few.  But here is one I found recently that looks very intriguing.  I found this a few weeks ago and hesitated to post since I hadn’t been there myself.  But everything I have found seems to be positive and I just come back to the idea because it simply reminds me of the places we used go when I was young. 

Hadad’s Lake is located on 40 acres in Henrico, East of 95, so why haven’t I ever heard of it?  For all of you 30 and 40 somethings, this is definitely going to remind you of your childhood.  It’s like a piece of summer camp right in our backyard!  There are 3 pools, a large lake, gazebos & pavilions, miniature golf, clubhouse, inside game room, concession stand, beach area, roaming clowns, crazy inflatables and yes, even more.  They seem to have thought of everything and everyone in the family.

 

First, the swimming.  There are 3 sand-bottom pool areas.  Two are shallow (up to 4 feet deep) and are open to everyone.  One of these sections has water volleyball and basketball while the other has giant inflatables in the water.  The largest pool section has a deep end and goes up to 16 ft deep.  This area has a water trampoline/bridge, rope swing, and inflatable water tower.  To swim in the deep end or play on the inflatables, you need to pass a swim test (just like camp!) or wear a life preserver.  They have some there, but definitely not enough so if you have one, bring it.  There is even a walk in beach area and smaller slide for the little kids. 

If you aren’t going to brave the water, there are plenty of other things to do.  There is an outdoor basketball court, horseshoes, volleyball court, paddleboats, miniature golf (not too fancy, but it’ll keep the kids busy), children’s playground (with a big pirate ship!), inflatables on land, and fishing (bring your own bait & tackle).  On weekends Bubbles the clown roams around and does face painting and balloons.  There is even a little train to ride.  If the heat gets to you there are places to cool off inside and a game room with pool and video games.  Are you tired yet?

Of course, this place would not make sense without a picnic.  Although there is a concession stand, picnicking is allowed here, just do not bring any glass.  Feel free to bring chairs, towels, blankets, coolers, and baskets.  Some people even bring grills I believe.  There are shuttles available in the parking area to help you lug all that stuff up to the picnic area. If you are going with a large group (we’re talking 35 or more) they have pavilions to rent at a reasonable price (esp. if everyone pitches in).  The pavilions have grills, electricity, and refrigeration which is really nice.  There are also several gazebos you can reserve.  There is no minimum number of people for these and they run $40.  Probably a good investment if you are planning on spending the entire day. 

Ok, so if you are anything like me, you’re asking “How much is all this throw back summer camp goodness going to cost me?”  Admission is $12/person (only ages 1 and under are free).  That price includes everything it seems, except for video games and the concession stand.  I think that is a good deal for a day trip.  If you are taking the kids to the museums in town, you are going to pay this much anyway.  Heck, even a meal for 4 these days runs about $40, unless you are eating at Cicis.  But I digress.  If you have larger groups the price per person goes down, and season passes are available. 

Starting this weekend the pools are open 7 days a week.  Sunday-Friday they are open  10am-8pm, Saturdays they are open 10-10.  So if you can’t get away to the beach, and you have no pools at your disposable, heck, even if you do, head out and enjoy a day here.  I am definitely going to try it out and I would love to hear from anyone that has already been there!

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One of the best things about Richmond is its proximity to almost everything.  Whether you want mountains, city, or beaches, everything is within a few hours.  That includes amusement parks.  In keeping with my Spring Break theme, here is another family friendly activity.

Busch Gardens is located in Williamsburg, Virginia, about 45 minutes outside of Richmond.  It’s the perfect distance for a day trip.  I know it is expensive, we save up every year for our tickets, but I’m all about getting a discount in whatever we do, so there is a deal here too!  Busch Gardens offers a Fun Pass for Virginia residents.  You pay regular 1-day admission for the adults (right now that is $61.95), and adult-priced admission for the kids as well ($10 more than regular child admission).  Then you get to use the pass all summer long until it expires 9/6/10.  So, you pay for one day (a little higher for the kids) and you get the entire summer.  It’s a great deal.  If you aren’t interested in the Fun pass, then starting around June some of the local grocery stores and/or fast food chains start offering $6-$8 discount coupons, so keep an eye out. 

Busch gardens is great for families (and I think better than Kings Dominion) because it has rides for kids of all ages, in addition to activities and shows.  So, if you aren’t a big roller coaster person, there is still plenty to do.  If you are a roller coaster person however, then make sure you check out the Griffon, the world’s tallest and first floorless dive coaster. There is also the Alpengeist which is consistently voted one of the top 10 steel coasters in the world.  This year the park will be debuting a new ride called Europe in the Air where  a high-tech simulator takes guests on a fun-filled journey across the terrain, over the seas and through the air over Europe. This ride should open late spring.  Tip:  There is a parent pass off procedure where you can wait in line with the kids.  One parent can ride (while the other waits with the kids) and then you can switch off and the other parent can ride, without losing your place in line.  In fact, I’ve done this before and was able to go in a separate line and avoid the crowds! 

There are also plenty of water rides so don’t forget your swimsuits, or at least a change of clothes.  Water rides include the Roman rapids, Escape from Pompeii, and of course, the Log Flume.  A year or two ago they lowered the height requirements on some of these rides so that smaller kids can ride them.  Last time I went there was no height requirement anymore on the log flume as long as the child was with a parent.  Tip:  You will get soaked on these rides.  In fact, if you stop to just watch Escape from Pompeii, you will get SOAKED!  Watch from a distance if you want to stay dry!

A few years ago Busch Gardens did a major upgrade to the kids area and built the Sesame Street Forest of Fun.  Although not very big, this area is awesome if you have young kids.  The dry rides are the same as at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania if you have ever been.  There is even a kid’s roller coaster which is great.  There are water rides for the kids here as well, including a sprinkler area.  Tip:  The sprinklers go off during the stage show so the kids can get closer to watch.  They turn them back off IMMEDIATELY after the show ends so don’t stand there too long!  Make sure you bring a change of clothes, keeping them dry here is almost impossible.  One of the best parts of this area is that the Sesame Street characters roam around and mingle with the kids.  They also do a periodic show up on the stage, hang out in the photo area, and offer a 4-D show.  Last year the park started offering a character meal (like you would see at Disney) where the kids can eat with the Sesame Street characters.  I did one at Sesame Place that was awesome but I haven’t done the one here yet.  Tip:  This area of the park is right inside the entrance so it is packed earlier in the day.   Skip it and head to Land of the Dragons which will likely be empty and then hit Sesame on the way back later in the day (if you can get the kids past it!)   

The rides in the old kids area, Land of the Dragons is still there, although the water play area is not.  There are rides for the smallest kids in addition to a large climbing “tree house.”  Tip:  Most of these rides no longer allow parents on them so your kids need to be able to ride alone. 

Busch Gardens also has tons of shows.  For kids, there is the Sesame Street show and the Pet shenanigans show (one of my kids’ favorites).  We also enjoy the Oktoberfest show in the Festhaus.  Tip:  This is very close to Land of the Dragons and is a great place to eat inside, while watching a show, and enjoy the air conditioning!  This year the park is debuting a new show called Celtic Fye, which will feature singers, Irish dancers, and musicians.  It sounds great. 

There are plenty of other attractions and rides throughout the park.  There are usually some kids rides sprinkled throughout as well.  One favorite of ours is the train.  Its a great way to see the park and go long distances without wearing out tired little feet.  This is an actual train on tracks (not a tram) so the kids love it.  It’s another great way to give them some down time.

Check the events calendar too.  BG usually has concerts throughout the summer.  They also have great Halloween and Christmas festivals, which are not included in the Fun Pass price and I won’t discuss here.  The park is open 10am-8pm all week for spring break.  Have fun!

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