Very excited to welcome Christina, otherwise known as Hampton Roads Mom, as our guest blogger with her great review of the Virginia Living Museum. Make sure to check out her website with lots of information for families on the Hampton Roads Peninsula at Hampton Roads Mom!
The Virginia Living Museum
Hidden along the side of J. Clyde Morris Blvd. in Newport News (across from Peninsula SPCA), the Virginia Living Museum is must see for children in the area. With four interactive discover centers, five indoor exhibits covering all of the state's geographic regions, a planetarium and observatory, outdoor exhibits and a changing exhibits area, there is something to keep everyone busy and happy!
On our most recent trip, we went with a few playgroup friends to enjoy the sights and sounds. Previously, I had gone as a 3rd grade teacher with my class...a totally different experience (which I'll mention a few things about at the end).
Like many children, Little Man loves fish, and it was no surprise that he gravitated towards the tanks and stood there for a long period of time saying, "fish, fish", while pointing and watching.
Because it is the Virginia Living Museum, all of the plants and animals found there can be found in one of Virginia's geographic regions. This includes animals such as moon jellies, the timber rattlesnake, an alligator, vultures, and the state threatened barking treefrog. There are many additional endangered and threatened animals that call the VLM home, as well.
Of course, what would a trip to almost any animal exhibit be without seeing a Bald Eagle. There is always a concern about where the eagles come from for exhibits like these. It is nice to know that the eagles at the VLM were injured and are no longer able to fly, and so now find themselves in this safe haven.
We spent nearly three hours, wandering around the inside exhibits, and the boys running around on the outdoor trails. I would totally recommend going on a day where you can experience both the indoor and outdoor exhibits. By the time we were done, Little Man had worn himself out and yet we weren't a both to anyone with the kids' running outdoors. Plus, the trails outside are a super safe place for them where they are unable to get through to the water or the animals, but can see everything...along with, well, run. I will say, however, that your experience will vary based upon the ages of your children and also how busy the museum is on any given day.
Besides their normal day-to-day operations, the VLM has many special events throughout the year along with kid-specific activities (story time, Spring Break program, Summer camp, etc.) and family and adult programming (classes, safaris, etc). Admission is $17 for adults (age 13+), $13 for children (age 3-12), and children 2 and under are free. There are a multitude of membership levels and benefits.
I mentioned having gone to the VLM last when I was a teacher, and so I want to hit upon that quickly. The VLM offers free curriculum guides to homeschooling families and hosts a homeschool day (this year, it occurs on February 29th). As a public school teacher, however, we took our students and would take part in a classroom program where we were introduced to and learned about some of the animals at the museum. The classroom portion is individualized to the age/grade of the class attending so that it works with Virginia's Standards of Learning. I found that to be very informative at the time. Given that I haven't returned in a teacher's capacity since 2009, I am unsure if the programs have really changed, but I am confident they would be on par with what I experienced.
*Disclosure: I was neither asked to do this review nor I was compensated in any way for it. I did, however, visit the museum for free as a member's guest on this day. That fact had no bearing on my opinions and what has been written here.*
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