A conference in Virginia Beach…

My latest adventure took me to Virginia Beach, to accompany the hubs to a work conference.  I can only recall being in Virginia Beach twice in my life, once at least fifteen years ago for a concert that got cancelled (boo!) and then back in middle school on a field trip.  We don’t live terribly far from the area but it has never been on my short list to visit.

Arriving at the beach, it was what I was expecting but not what I’m used to for a beach vacation.  I prefer quiet, family-oriented beaches with sand dunes, seashells, and very little commercialism so I struck out on all counts here.  I won’t lie, I wouldn’t visit the area again to hang out at the ocean.  However, this trip wasn’t focused on the water so we entertained ourselves at the pool area of the hotel (Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront), at the always delicious Duck Donuts around the corner, and at the conference activities.  We had a free afternoon that we planned to spend at the nearby aquarium but, the rest of the greater Virginia Beach area got the the same idea, so we bailed.

A speaker at the conference had mentioned the Military Aviation Museum in nearby Pungo, so we changed course and headed there.  Luckily, the museum was a short drive past the aquarium, so we were already going in the right direction.  Bombing out on a place that looked appealing for lunch near the hotel, we stopped in at Firebrew Bar and Grill on the way to the museum.  How delish!  Being a Monday at lunchtime, we had the restaurant to ourselves and dined on yummy pierogies, ahi tuna tacos, flatbreads, and pizzas.  The day was looking up!

After stuffing ourselves at lunch, we continued on to Pungo.  The bucolic fields and controlled retail environments made for a great experience on the drive.  Arriving at the museum, we were pleased to find that it wasn’t crowded.  Entering the main exhibit building, the staff gave us a warm welcome and intro to the facility with an overview of the areas to visit.  We saw working aircraft from World War II from the Army and Navy, various German vehicles, an Amphicar, and a real German Enigma machine.  Had we a little more time, we would’ve gone on the tour to visit the additional hangars that featured World War I replica and German aircraft.  If you visit anywhere in the greater Virginia Beach area and are an aviation or history fan, you need to make time to stop here!

Another evening took us to One Fish, Two Fish for dinner and we enjoyed a fantastic meal.  The restaurant is situated in a marina and offers local ingredients and stellar service.  Another place to add to the list.

So, yeah, not a fan of Virginia Beach’s oceanfront but I think the surrounding area has potential for a future visit.  I hear Sandbridge Beach is nice so maybe that would be a good home base to stay and then pop in to some of the other places we enjoyed and find some new fun at First Landing State Park or the Cape Henry Lighthouses.

Where will I go next…?

Ahi tuna tacos at Firebrews Military Aviation MuseumMilitary Aviation Museum

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Visiting Disney to enjoy new experiences

Hello all! Amber here. In late July, the kid and I visited Walt Disney World on a mission to try as many new things as possible, in a super short timeframe. Did we succeed? YES! I’m going to turn it over to the kid to report in with the things we tried and her take as a tween.  Here we go!!

Hi! I’m Hailey and today I am going to tell you about all the new things we tried on this past trip. First things first flying, in the middle of summer, and in the afternoon is just asking for a disaster! We had to sit in the airport until about two hours after our original flight time, because of the weather in Orlando. But now to the more important stuff.

Our first park day was at Animal Kingdom. We had so much fun in Pandora, and both the rides were amazing! I would recommend riding Na’vi River Journey, it’s worth it after waiting in the line or using a FastPass for the ride. The food at the Satu’li Canteen was very good. I would recommend the quinoa salad with the black bean vinaigrette, I really enjoyed that. The veggie curry pods I didn’t enjoy as much as the salad, I’m pretty sure that the curry, and the overall texture, was my problem. But if you are a fan of curry and like steamed buns, you would probably like the pods much better than me. If you eat at the Satu’li Canteen you HAVE to try the blueberry cream cheese mousse, it was AMAZING! I think that while it took a long time to wait to ride Na’vi River Journey it would be a lot more worthwhile to save your FastPass for Flight of Passage, if you have any hope of riding it in a fair amount of time. But if traveling to Pandora with younger children, or children who are afraid of thrill rides or heights, it would be of more use to use your FastPass on the Na’vi River Journey ride.

If you like thrill rides or Soarin’, but more action packed, than this is the ride for you! Flight of Passage was an amazing ride! It was a lot less jerky than I thought it would be. It was a nice way to cool off in the hot afternoon. I would recommend Flight of Passage for kids my age, early teens, teens, or adventurous kids who are tall enough, like Soarin’ and are not afraid of heights. While you aren’t off the ground, it simulates you being thousands of feet up.

The Caring for Giants tour was a wonderful tour. I would recommend the Caring for Giants tour for mature eight year olds to nine or ten year olds and up. It was a truly amazing experience, getting to see elephants, just going about their business, kicking up sand to protect them from the sun, living in their natural habitats. It was an fantastic tour.

At Tusker House the buffet was delicious, and extremely vegetarian, which was very good for me and my mom! I think there is absolutely no need to go there for breakfast, when the food served for dinner is delicious. Now that the characters, Daisy, Mickey, Goofy, and Donald, as safari versions, come visit your table with all meals you don’t have to go there for breakfast to see them, you can see them all the time!

For the Rivers of Light show or package, I would recommend arriving around 35-45 minutes before the show starts, in order to get a good seat. I would recommend trying to get a seat in the first row of normal seats, for the best view. I wouldn’t recommend giving your child a freshly refilled bubble wand when every one is all clumped up in one spot, no one likes to be sticky or have bubbles in their Starbucks.

Rivers of Light was a fantastic show! It didn’t need to have fireworks to be an amazing show! It was very nice I enjoyed the projections onto the screen of water, they were beautiful. Also, if you are visiting Animal Kingdom in the night you must visit Pandora! Everything starts glowing and it is beautiful! Just make sure to stay hydrated whether you are visiting Africa or a guest among the sights of the world of Pandora.

I definitely recommend the Amorette’s cake decorating class in Disney Springs for mature nine to ten year olds (and up) who have a passion for baking. For me, as a twelve year old, who loves to bake, I really, really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about cake decorating. I would definitely try out any of their new cake decorating classes!

In Epcot, I would recommend the Frozen Ever After ride to fans of Frozen and really anyone. But I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a Frozen ride to be so much like Splash Mountain! It was a great ride for cooling off. I also really enjoyed the Behind the Seeds tour, which is where you get to learn more behind the scenes information about The Land, I think it is more geared towards mature nine or ten year olds and up. I think it was a really neat tour and I learned a lot about the plants and fish in The Land.

On the way to Magic Kingdom from Epcot, we tried out the new Express Transportation service. It was very handy, being on a tight schedule, as long as you are there on the dot and ready to board the bus, or else you have to wait a half a hour for the next bus to arrive. It didn’t take nearly as long as the regular bus service, but that’s in the name right? Anyway, I would definitely recommend using the Express Transportation if you are on a tight schedule and park hopping, so you don’t miss your Be Our Guest reservations.

I really enjoyed Tony’s for dinner in Magic Kingdom, and I recommend it for anyone who likes pizza, pasta, and anything Italian of course! I also definitely would recommend the caprese salad there, it is amazing! I also would recommend the Happily Ever After dessert party, there are lots of different sweets there for you to enjoy, and they are wonderful! I really liked the cookies and cream mousse, it was delicious.

The Happily Ever After show was a spectacular show, with fireworks and projections onto Cinderella’s Castle. I think to get the full experience, you have to see the castle, not just the fireworks. I really enjoyed this past trip with my mom, we have tried lots and lots of new things, with a few familiar things among them.

In the future, look for more trip reports from me!

~Hailey

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Desserts at the Happily Ever After dessert party

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This is a Winter Melon!

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Cake decorating at Amorette’s in Disney Springs

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Safari Daisy at Tusker House

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Caring for Giants Elephant Tour

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Lunch at Satu’li Canteen in Animal Kingdom