Tag Archives: family travel

The Beach

The National Building Museum is a cool hidden gem in Washington DC. It is only 4 blocks from the Mall, tucked in over by Chinatown, but not always on the usual tourist path. The building is beautiful, the exhibits are always interesting, and change on a regular basis plus there are great hands on activities for kids. These things alone make the Building Museum a must do for locals and tourists anytime of year, but each summer the museum takes things up a notch by installing a summer themed exhibit in the main hall.

First there was the”building the Future” themed miniature golf course. Last year was The BIG maze080414 (1)

And this year they brought us the BEACH, which in my opinion, is the best exhibit yet.072815 (1)

The beach is a 10,000 square foot “ocean” filled with nearly one million translucent balls – so basically a giant ball pit. Visitors can sit on the 50′ wide shoreline or dangle their feet off the pier into the water.

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You can wade in slowly from the shore or just jump right in. At its deepest it is 3 feet and there is a small island in the middle. I experienced a slight panic when I first jumped in and found myself sinking with every movement. Wading around is definitely a little challenging and a helping hand is sometimes needed, but the mood at the BEACH is light and fun and people were always willing to lend a hand if needed.

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For planning purposes:

  • take the metro – parking can be tricky and expensive – just hop off at Judiciary square.
  • tickets to the BEACH are on a first come first serve basis. From the time we walked in to the museum it took about 45 minutes to get in to the actual beach area. I have heard of others waiting for a couple hours.
  • weekdays are obviously the best time to go, but if you can’t get there during the week get there early on the weekend. They open at 10am Monday thru Saturday and at 11am on Sunday
  • there is a concession stand, run by Union Kitchen, that serves, delicious but not necessarily typical snacks.
  • tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for kids
  • be sure to check out their website for more information – The BEACH

If you are a local, or planning on being in the DC area, add this to your summer bucket list. You won’t have to empty sand from your shoes before getting in the car and it is sure to bring a smile to your face.

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The exhibit is only open until September 7, so don’t procrastinate!

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

We live three hours from Williamsburg. We have talked about going for years, but for some unknown reason never made the trip down there, until this summer. We only made it down this year because my son’s little league team won districts and advanced on to the state tournament.

If it weren’t for Little League we would probably still be saying “we should go to Williamsburg sometime.”

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Tickets:
Like all amusement parks, daily ticket prices are crazy expensive. There are a variety of packages available and some good buys to be found, but the one option I found missing was a half day ticket option. After a few hours at an amusement park my kids are done. Plus if you are on vacation in an area like Williamsburg there are probably a lot of things you want to check out and might not want to devote an entire day to a park.

We ended up getting a 7 day flex ticket. It allowed us unlimited entry to both Busch Gardens and Water Country. It’s a good deal if you are in the Williamsburg area for a few days or even if you plan on just devoting two full days to the park.

Parking:
This is my biggest pet peeve. I don’t mind paying $5 or $10 for parking, but shelling out an additional $25 is a little annoying. And like the tickets there is no adjustment in price for half day.

As I said we bought 7 day passes, but were only able to make it to the parks twice. Even if our schedule had allowed us to go for all 7 days I doubt we would have, as that would have been an additional $175 – just to park. After spending almost $400 on tickets a break in parking would be nice.

Getting Around:
It’s an amusement park, it’s big which means a lot of walking. But, there is a lot to see and do while walking, plus there are maps galore making it easy to figure out how to get from one ride/attraction to another.busch gardens

When we first entered the park we were helped greatly by a guest relations employee. She saw us hovering over the map trying to make our plan and swooped in to help out. She helped us plot out a route that would get us to all the rides we wanted to see. She also provided a few nuggets of information to make our visit even more enjoyable.

Rides:
Not much I can say here, it is Busch Gardens, they know how to do rides. There is something for everyone and what is even better is the family can stay together all day. The thrill seekers don’t have to go off in one direction while those who like to keep their feet on the ground head off in the other direction.  There are kid sized rides in every area of the park allowing little ones to be entertained while older siblings are off riding the more adventurous rides. Families don’t need to just meet up for lunch, but can stay together all day.

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They also offer kid swap, which allows both parents to ride, but only one parent has to wait in line. The procedures vary from ride to ride so be sure to check in with the ride attendants.

Food:
Like parking, food at amusement parks drives me crazy.  The quality varies from stand to stand and is always over priced. While Busch Gardens offers a variety of meal packages we didn’t take advantage of any of the meal deals. I have heard that there is some good food to be found in the park, we didn’t find it, but again we didn’t look very hard, as we had limited time and were there to ride.

We did take advantage of the free water – this was a tip from the woman at guest relations who helped us when we first got there. All food stations, with soda fountains, will give free water if you ask. You don’t have to have a water bottle, but we found it easier than walking around with cups. We bought an $11 water bottle when we first got in the park, this fulfilled our souvenir quota and kept us hydrated throughout the afternoon. A win win in my book.

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We are already talking about our next trip to Busch Gardens. I would like to go back in the fall when the weather is a little cooler, my kids would be happy if we went back next week. The one thing I do know is there’s a lot more to see and do than we took advantage of!