So while we were in Virginia Beach the other week (and it was humid enough to cut the air with a knife) we decided to cool off and visit the Virginia Aquarium. This is a wonderful hands-on place for kids of all ages and there’s more than just fish there too!

When you pull into the main parking lot you’ll see the  Harbor Seals greet you as you walk up the walkway. These interesting animals will put on quite the show swimming around. In fact, Baby Girl asked to stop by later in the trip to just watch the seals play in the water. They have hoops to swim through and balls to play with.  We really could have sat there and just watched them all day!

The aquarium is actually housed in two different buildings and there is a long nature trail that connects them.  From one building to the other you’ll see the active (and not so active) wildlife in its natural setting. If the tide’s out, check out the crabs crawling around in the mud next to the water’s edge.

The aquarium offers something for everyone. You can buy a pass to just the aquarium, you can take a pontoon boat ride up the creek and out to the edge of the bay. There’s also an Imax theater there as well. With it threatening to look like rain we passed on the boat ride (although we did hear people talking about it as we walked around and they seemed to enjoy it) and we weren’t sure how Little Man and Baby Girl would make out with the movie so we didn’t go to that. But really the aquarium was enough of an experience for all.

There are some exhibits that have a dome in them so the kids (and agile adults) can get a closer view of some of the animal’s habitats.  The little ones seemed to really enjoy that. Then there’s the learning aspect of the aquarium, but since it’s all hands on projects, they’re too busy having fun to realize they’re learning when they’re not in school. Even the 17-year-old got into the fun. (just a little side note,  metal in the water does something that sharks don’t like, and the shark cages people put in the water, did you ever notice, made of metal, doesn’t seem like the smartest idea to me!) There are also places where you can touch stingrays, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs.

Another great aspect of the aquarium is all the volunteers (you’ll see their red shirts all over the place)They are at most of the exhibits ready to answer your questions and tell you a little about what’s going on in the exhibit. They all did a great job!

We really enjoyed our visit to the aquarium and we all took away new knowledge of the eco-systems and how they work. Figure on four hours at least to really enjoy all the aquarium has to offer. If you’re camping at the Holiday Travel Park, stop by their registration desk and ask to buy discount tickets.

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