Julie Fabing Burleson and Suzy Vinson Nettles feel that the kitchen is just another place for kids to flex their creativity. They opened Young Chefs Academy to provide kids aged 3–18 with cooking programs targeted to preschoolers and kindergarteners, elementary schoolers, and older kids ready for trickier techniques and intricate recipes. Regardless of a student’s age, he or she is always taught the pillars of home cooking, including how to be safe in the kitchen, how to properly handle and prepare food, how to bake, and how to talk down an oven that constantly overheats. While participating in the entertaining cooking lessons, kids may not even realize that each class also allows them to practice their math, reading-comprehension, and communication skills.
The waterpark's family-friendly layout is set up with 16 waterslides, a one-million-gallon wave pool, stately palm trees, a water playground, and water. The park's newest attractions, Pirates' Plummet and Walk the Plank, are covered/open-air 200-foot-long flowing slides that end with a 50-foot photo-worthy plunge into the depths of a pool below. Go tubular in the Runaway Bay Wave Pool or the whitewater Jungle Falls. The Hurricane, a swirling slide that is under rising pressure until a final drop dumps you in a pool, is the perfect place to test if sewing your passport into your appendix keeps it safe.
In a 2011 interview with the Rocky Mount Telegram, George Millar reveals he has been a facilitating fun for a long time. "Soccer wasn't in existence when we started," he points out, and neither were home video games. Noticing a dearth of places in his hometown where kids and families could safely enjoy themselves, he put his skills as a professional contractor to work. In 10 outdoor batting cages, he installed pitching machines that sling baseballs and softballs from T-ball speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Next, he and his crew of five guys—all of whom are still operating the business today—built an 18-hole mini-golf course modeled after those in Myrtle Beach, designing a path that winds past waterfalls, natural plantings, and tricky bunkers filled with saltwater taffy. An arcade blares with games and the crack of pool balls ricocheting inside, and an elephant-shaped inflatable bounce house bobs with jumpers inside until they come zipping out down its slide.
Whether settling a pool-hall bet or the question of who can finish a burger the fastest, gamers have been fueling their competitive spirits at Jillian’s of Chesapeake for more than 20 years. Balls tumble down nine lanes toward clusters of pins in the bowling alley, while players at the billiard hall’s 10 tables psyche out pool sharks by reenacting the ending to Jaws. Elsewhere, joysticks and racing wheels test hand-eye coordination on the arcade’s more than 100 video games. In between each frame, shot, or level, players can reenergize with salads, burgers, and flatbreads at the restaurant while catching up-to-the-minute sports and highlights. The facility’s private rooms and semi-private lounges further accommodate feasting guests, with bites from Jillian’s of Chesapeake’s catering menus keeping them pleasantly sated throughout their soiree.
Owner Jessica Jones-Healey founded Tidewater Studios for the Arts Inc. in 2009 as a noncompetitive forum for kids to practice performing and visual arts. Winner of a 2011 Virginian-Pilot Reader's Choice Award for Best Dance Studio and Best Performing Arts Academy in Portsmouth, Western Branch, Churchland, and North Suffolk, the facility inspires children with engaging explorations into the joys of hand-made art, hand-played music, and hands-free dance.