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.
Great White Water Sports creates a harmony with the gentle crash of waves, the powerful growls of jet skis, and the excited yelps of families as they launch a variety of jet-ski rentals right from the sands of Chesapeake Bay. Ranked second on the Norfolk activity list by TripAdvisor, and backed by favorable attention from USA Today, their lifeguard-trained team also saddles up jet skis in waters warmer than the Atlantic and with smaller waves. Their jet skis are not equipped with any speed-restriction devices, allowing guests to rev up their engines and feel the wind hit their faces as they send wake waves rolling shoreward.
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.
With the Chrysler's household membership, art enthusiasts get a diverse palette of benefits, including unlimited free admission to all special exhibitions, such as Dawoud Bey's large-as-life photography of an economically varied set of high schools, which runs through August 8, 2010. You'll also receive special invitations to members-only exhibition previews, guest passes for friends and family, and numerous chances to learn about Monet's disregarded BMX dirt-bike sketches. Young, aesthetically minded professionals also gain membership to For Art's Sake, a social networking group that provides free admission to every Warm It! and Cool It! seasonal after-work concert for an audible edge to the visual feast. Check the museum's website for a full list of benefits, including discounts at The Museum Shop and Cuisine & Company at the Chrysler Café.
Plenty of utensils and wares decorated tables in 18th-century America, but only a few became a symbol of protest during the Revolution, one of them was the teapot. It's these subtle traces of cultural change that take center stage in the permanent and temporary exhibits at DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Here, developments in civilian and military infantry, such as ignition systems and muzzle-loading firearms, signal the progress of 18th-century weaponry, while 1690s-1820s furniture from New England through the Mid-Atlantic highlight developing cultural and regional trends.
Though a bulk of the museum's collection—including one of the biggest assortments of British ceramics outside England—was mainly used in the home, some objects were designed for outside the domestic sphere. An original fire engine built in the mid-18th century stands unscathed by flames, and a collection of medals made for George Washington honors the time he beat up that cherry tree. Scholars delve deeper into these and other artifacts during lectures held in Hennage Auditorium.
Taste of Williamsburg's guides would love to spend the whole day showing you the sites of the city. But they'd rather do that while they show you where the city's best ribs are. And since you're already on that side of town, they may as well as take you across the street for a life-changing slice of cheesecake, available only during its Dessert Attack tour.
During enthusiastic walking food tours, a savvy guide shows small groups around Williamsburg's thriving dining scenes, taking them through neighborhoods from Merchants Square to New Town and helping them discovering new dining digs across the city. At each stop, chefs at an array of restaurants prepare traditional regional dishes or global cuisine—at one establishment guests may sample Virginia ham or peanuts, at the next they'll enjoy reinterpreted macaroni-and-cheese or goat-cheese pizza (which George Washington often enjoyed cold for breakfast).