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Archive for December, 2011

Happy Birthday President Wilson!

by Casey | Posted on December 28th, 2011

On December 28, 1856 Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Virginia. While he was taken to Georgia as an infant, he always referred to himself as a Virginian. Wilson was the 28th President of the United States of America.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton, Virginia.

Visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton today – for free – until 5 p.m. On display is his Pierce-Arrow limousine, and you’ll be intrigued with the new state-of-the-art World War I trench exhibit. Children will enjoy the interactive Kids’ Corner, and it’s a beautiful day for a stroll through the boxwood garden.

Can’t make it today? Visit 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday or from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday (winter hours). Admission is $5 to $14 depending on age; kids 6 and under are free.

Additionally, the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia is hosting a multi-gallery long-term exhibit called The Story of Virginia in which Woodrow Wilson is included in the Americans Again segment focusing on World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, and the Cold War. The Historical Society is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 ’til 5 p.m. Admission is free.

Learn more about Virginia’s Presidents at http://www.virginia.org/BirthplacePresidents/.



Events, Family, History, History | Comments Off

Family Friendly New Years Eve

by Tom | Posted on December 22nd, 2011

Winchester New Years Apple

Winchester New Years Apple

Technically, “First” Night should be “Last” Night, especially for those of us who don’t make it past 12 anymore. But ever since the family-centric movement started in Boston in 1976, these celebrations have popped up in hundreds of cities around the country.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly, arts and culturally-based event on the last night of December, look no further than a First Night.

Of course, your kids need the stamina to stay up that late, but you’re sure to find a high-quality, beer-bottle-free good time. Just don’t forget the right “bottles” for your little ones.

Some notable First Nights in Virginia:

For a more complete list of First Night and New Years events in the Old Dominion, check out this page on Virginia.org.



Events, Family, The Holidays, Winter | 1 Comment

The Stars are Aligned for Family Fun!

by Casey | Posted on December 13th, 2011

An often overlooked family fun spot is the planetarium.

Think of it. It’s dark, the stars are bright and twinkling, and you’re not a bit cold even though it’s December.

Consider these planetarium events in the coming weeks as you entertain children on break from school.

Star of Wonder at the Virginia Living Museum

Star of Wonder at the Virginia Living Museum

In Newport News is the Virginia Living Museum Planetarium. This month you’ll find a variety of special star shows, including “Star of Wonder,” an immersive look at the journey of the Magi following the Star of Bethlehem. See “Star of Wonder” on these dates at these times:

  • December 14-16, 18 @ 2:30
  • December 17 @ 2:30 and 6:30
  • December 19-23, 26-31 @ 11:30 and 2:30

Also at the VLM is the show “Virginia Skies,” an ever-changing program with an astronomer. Take a current look at the skies above while the astronomer highlights visible planets and details signs of upcoming astronomical events. Q&A is encouraged! Visit December 14 through 31 for 1:30 p.m. showings.

In Harrisonburg, James Madison University hosts free shows at their planetarium every Saturday at 2:30 and 3:30. Expect a 25 minute talk about the current night skies, including the identification of any visible constellations, planets, and comets.
Likewise, Radford University near Blacksburg offers free planetarium shows. “Star of Bethlehem” is akin to the “Star of Wonder” show at the Virginia Living Museum, and can be seen the following dates and times:
  • December 15 @ 7:30
  • December 17 @ 10:30
  • December 20-22 @ 7:30
Head to a college observatory for free star-gazing. Those you can utilize are:
  • Keeble Observatory at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. Open Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 10 p.m. September through May as the weather and viewing conditions permit. Call ahead to verify availability.
  • Leander McCormick Observatory at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Open the first and third Friday of the month (except for holidays) from 7 to 9 p.m. Public nights are not for large groups. Groups should make a reservation for a second or fourth Friday night viewing. Call ahead to verify viewing conditions and availability.
Have fun exploring and put LOVE at the heart of your time together this month.



Family, The Holidays | 1 Comment

A Unique Ride for Lights

by Casey | Posted on December 9th, 2011

Natural Tunnel State Park. Courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Natural Tunnel State Park. Courtesy Virginia State Parks

In Duffield, the Heart of Appalachia, lies Natural Tunnel State Park. It’s a beautiful setting year ’round, but something really exciting for visitors of every age happens around this time of year: 8 Days of Christmas!

Eight Days of Christmas at Natural Tunnel occurs December 9, 10, 16, and 17, and is a light show with a twist: experience the lights from the chairlift! Thousands of bulbs and animated figures are delightful sights as you descend. The fun doesn’t end when the chairlift does. There are carolers and other entertainers by campfire for your enjoyment. Add a cup of hot chocolate to this peaceful night and you’ll realize you’re in a real winter wonderland.

Care to stay? There are still cabins available for this weekend, but the weekend of the 16th is sold out.

Park Fees:

  • Weekday Parking: $2
  • Weekend Parking: $3
  • Chairlift: $3; under age 6 is free
  • Off-Season Nightly Cabin Rate: 2BR $88; 3BR $110; 6 BR $275
Natural Tunnel image courtesy of Virginia State Parks

Natural Tunnel State Park. Courtesy Virginia State Parks

Getting There:

1420 Natural Tunnel Parkway
Duffield, VA 24244

Natural Tunnel State Park is about 13 miles north of Gate City and 20 miles north of Kingsport, TN. From I-81, take U.S. 23 North to Gate City (about 20 miles). The turn-off to the park is at mile marker 17.4 on Rt. 23. Take Natural Tunnel Parkway about one mile east to park entrance.

 

Quick facts about Natural Tunnel:

  • The Commonwealth of Virginia acquired the tunnel and 100 surrounding acres in 1967, and later acquired an additional 850 acres. The park was opened in 1971.
  • The tunnel is 850′ long and 100′ high inside.



Family, Outdoors, The Holidays | Comments Off