Peninsula Fine Arts Center isn't a passive art museum where guests stare silently at paintings and statues. Instead, the center uses rotating exhibitions of paintings, photographs, and pottery to inspire visitors to create their own artwork. To that end, the exhibiting artists often teach in the center's Studio Art School. Classes range from single-day workshops to 10-week sessions, during which instructors might teach small groups to paint with watercolors or change out a flat pottery wheel. The instructors keep their schedule balanced, leading classes that suit all ages and skill levels. Other classes, such as Little Helping Hands Adventure in Clay, let kids and adults create artwork together.
Kids don't need to sign up for classes to try out their art skills, however. In the Hands On for Kids interactive gallery, young patrons draw on a chalkboard wall, build with blocks, and complete various projects inspired by the exhibitions.
Before visitors to the AZA-accredited Virginia Zoo see any of its live animals, a life-size statue of an African elephant greets them. The zoo's 53 acres of landscaped grounds have welcomed new sculptures, enclosures, and eco-friendly innovations in recent decades that build on a 100-year legacy of conservation.
Mammals such as African lions and kangaroos, birds such as rhino hornbills and African crowned cranes, and a variety of snakes and amphibians roam themed habitats—some of which are interactive or equipped with viewing bubbles that protect visitors from any monkeys with paintball guns. Visitors can view these protected creatures by walking or by taking a narrated ride on the Zoo Train, a one-third scale working model of a C.P. Huntington steam engine. Zoo staffers work to preserve 16 of the resident species through cooperative breeding, field projects, and reintroduction initiatives as part of the AZA's Species Survival Programs.
Each year, Virginia Zoo staff and volunteers work together to design and plant 10 themed gardens filled with colorful exotic plants, many of which are given as treats to their 400 animals. In the garden, visitors can learn about composting, using rain barrels, and ticketing littering garden gnomes. Projects, such as recycling old tires into planters and industrial spools into stepping stones, teach children about reuse, too. The zoo also builds on its conservation efforts with an array of environmental conservation programs. Staffers use only natural rainfall and drip irrigation to water the gardens, establish rain gardens to absorb runoff, and educate visitors on environmentally friendly gardening practices in the eco-garden—earning the zoo a designation as a Virginia Green attraction.
Deemed "among the top museums in the country" by a Washington Post critic, the Chrysler collection features more than 30,000 masterpieces from around the world, encompassing thousands of years of painting, decorative art, photography, and sculpture. The household membership entitles two adults and their children or grandchildren under 18 to a cornucopia of benefits, including free admission (and visitors' guest passes) to the museum's special exhibitions, invitations to members-only events, and discounts at The Museum Shop and Chrysler Café. Current exhibitions include Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H. A. Rey which tells the story of the mischievous monkey’s creators’ narrow escape from Nazi troops during World War II. Members can wind down with free admission to the museum's weekly seasonal Warm It! and Cool It! series of after-work concerts and discussions, geared toward young professionals and well-behaved dancing bears.
In 1996, Matt Redford opened Chesapean Kayak Tours to introduce others to the beauty of Hampton Roads' waterways, which he called the "backyard of his youth." Years later, he expanded his small kayak company to Chesapean Outdoors, adding biking, standup paddleboarding, and surfing lessons to his lineup of outdoor adventures. Today, Matt leads groups on seaborne sojourns to catch glimpses of bottlenose dolphins, blue herons, and bald eagles in their natural habitat, and his bike tours meander the 2.5-hour trail that winds around First Landing State Park. Atop standup paddleboards, groups navigate the flat waters of Virginia Beach and its state parks as well, and Matt leads more experienced paddlers out into Chesapeake Bay to catch sight of dolphins or fulfill a lifelong dream of feeding a wild catamaran.
Apart from the number of respective members and guests, the benefits of the Otter and Crab memberships are exactly the same. Both grant you a year of unlimited admission—including express entry through the mythical members' entrance—and, if you travel in an especially large school, both grant up to four additional guests half-off entry when accompanied by a cardholding member (per day). Although prices vary, today's deal offers you a year's access to the aquarium at a cost comparable to a single day's admission for the same number of people.
Marshmallows and hot dogs roast above flickering bonfire flames.Children pet farm animals while surrounded by colorful lights. Santa even makes appearances, greeting the crowds and granting children's holiday wishes. This is the scene at the Winter Wonderland at Hunt Club Farm?a celebration of the festivity-filled season intended for family members of all ages. While touring the 5,000 square feet of animated displays, families can view intricately staged scenes featuring lifelike reindeer pulling sleighs, penguins standing atop snow banks, elves diligently crafting Christmas toys, and more. Additionally, the Winter Wonderland includes a shopping area with a full-service Christmas tree market as well as booths selling the holiday-themed wares of local bakers, artisans, and snowflake chislers.