Things to Do with Kids in Norfolk, Virginia

The area is comprised of seven cities close in proximity yet distinctly different. If you’re planning to vacation in the area or are already living nearby, I’ve compiled a list of things to do with kids in Norfolk to help keep your little ones busy this summer.

Hampton Roads is a wonderful place to live and visit. The area is comprised of seven cities, close in proximity, yet distinctly different. If you’re planning to vacation in the area or are already living nearby, here’s a few things to do with kids in Norfolk to help keep your little ones busy this summer.

One of our favorite spots to visit is Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Explore the grounds including the lovely Japanese Garden, Wildflower Meadow and Butterfly Garden. Afterwards, kids will have a blast at the WOW Children’s Garden. This area is dedicated to kids and families and includes a splash area-  so pack sunscreen, bathing suits and towels.

Another attraction you don’t want to miss is the Virginia Zoo. The zoo has been undergoing expansion for years and now houses extensive Asian and African habitats. You should be able to explore all the exhibits in a few hours, so consider packing a picnic lunch and eating at Lafayette Park right next door!

Spirit of Norfolk on the Elizabeth River

Town Point Park is on the waterfront next to Waterside. Check the Norfolk Festevents website for up-to-date events throughout the year. These events are usually free and open to the public.

Visit Nauticus to “explore the naval, economic, and nautical power of the sea.” The exhibits include Secrets of the Deep, Shark Experience, activities related to the Battleship Wisconsin, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and many more. There are also changing exhibits and a large HD screen to watch The Last Reef and The Ultimate Wave.

*There is no charge to visit the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, but there is a fee for Nauticus exhibits.

While visiting Nauticus, make a starboard turn (for landlubbers, that’s make a right) and you’ll run smack dab into  one of the US Navy’s largest battleships, the Battleship Wisconsin. Portions of the interior can now be viewed as part of your Nauticus admission.

Take me out to a ball game at Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides! When picking your day to take in a game, check the promotions page. My kids love attending games that end in fireworks!

Ride The Tide. No, I’m not taking about waves. The Tide is Norfolk’s public light rail system that serves 11 stations in Norfolk starting from Eastern Virginia Medical  College and ending at Newtown Road near Virginia Beach. If you’re kids aren’t used to riding a tram, this is a new adventure that often delights kids of all ages.

Explore Norfolk on the water by sailing with American Rover Sailing Cruises.  There are two options – the Harbor Tour or Sunset Cruise. Kids will likely prefer the Harbor Tour as the cruise takes place during the day.  This is something my kids haven’t experienced, but we’ve heard great things about the cruise.

Willoughby-Baylor House is home to the Norfolk History Museum. Built in 1794, it’s a great way to teach kids a bit of local history.

The Chrysler Museum of Art is home to approximately 30,000 objects including European and American painting and sculpture and glass art demonstrations. Admission and parking is FREE!

Ocean View Fishing Pier

Head over to the Ocean View Fishing Pier on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  Let the kids fish or just stroll along the pier taking in the scenery.  Rod rentals are available for those without fishing gear & a tackle shop is on site to purchase bait.  There is a fee to fish or $1 fee to walk the pier.

Take a tour of Norfolk Naval Base and let kids see aircraft carriers, destroyers, amphibious assault ships, just to name a few. Norfolk is home to the world’s largest naval base, so it’s the perfect chance to let kids learn about our Military.

Norfolk, VA boosts many fun experiences to break up those everyday summer routines and give kids a little bit of education – even when they don’t realize they are learning.  You might also like things to do with kids in Virginia Beach or things to do with kids in Williamsburg for more staycation ideas!

What other ideas for things to do with kids in Norfolk, VA can you share?

The area is comprised of seven cities close in proximity yet distinctly different. If you’re planning to vacation in the area or are already living nearby, I’ve compiled a list of things to do with kids in Norfolk to help keep your little ones busy this summer.

Need more ideas for Staycations in the US? Check the list of states below:

A – D

Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous

F – I

Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida —
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss

K – P

Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High

R – W

Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That

Photo Credit: Jennifer Carr Photography.  All images used with permission.

Family Friendly Accommodations in Costa Brava, Spain

Family Hotels in Costa Brava, Spain

The Costa Brava area of Spain is the perfect choice for families with countless family-friendly accommodations to satisfy all travelers and budgets.  We stayed in three different villages during our recent travels.  Below is a peek at our lodgings and why they are excellent options for families.

Camping Costa Brava in Plaja d’Aro – Valldaro

Valldaro moble home

Valldaro game room

Valldaro is family run and feels more like a little village than your typical campground. In addition to a place to rest your head, you can find 3 swimming pools, 2 supermarkets, a laundry mat, 2 restaurants,  a hair salon and a game room.  There’s even a Zen center to relax and enjoy a massage, waxing or other spa services.

There are numerous  accommodation options at Valldaro. You can pitch a tent, hook up your RV, rent a bungalow or mobile home  or choose to stay in one of the new Fun Tents.  There are many families that return year after year, leaving their RV set up,  waiting for their next vacation on Spain’s sunny coast.

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Disney Cruise Money Saving Tips {Don’t Cruise Until You’ve Read These Tips!}

Disney Cruise Money Saving Tips header

Walt Disney had a magical vision.  His vision was not only transformed into the most popular amusement parks in the world but that magic is now traveling across oceans.  A Disney Cruise Line vacation offers more than just your favorite characters – from Broadway style musicals and relaxation by the pool to unlimited gourmet cuisine and family-friendly activities around the clock.

Disney Cruise Money Saving Tips:

1. Discounts and Special Offers –

When planning your next Disney Cruise vacation always check their special offers page online before booking.  Disney provides discounts for residents that live in Florida and U.S. Military rates year round.  Annually they will offer kids cruise free aboard some of their ships, usually in the spring or fall. In addition if you are able to sail during the off seasons you will save tremendously compared to sailing during the peak summer months or over a holiday.  We sailed for HALF the cost in February vs Christmas vacation.

2. Transportation to Port –

Compare prices for your transportation options.  Many local hotels provide a park and cruise option included in their one night stay.  If you arrive in Florida the day before your cruise you can park the rental car and ride the shuttle to the port.  There are also local transfer services available.  Depending on the number of people in your party, will determine which option is less expensive for you.  Disney’s airport shuttle is not the only option.

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My 5 Top Family Travel Tips

Top Family Travel Tips

This month I’ve joined some of my fellow family travel bloggers on a blog hop. Each blogger has provided their top family travel tips, so you can jump from blog to blog and read all of our expert advice.

Family Travel Tips:

Let’s face it.  Traveling with kids is not easy. These tiny people run on their own schedules. They need a mid-morning or afternoon nap, regular feedings, constant supervision & a suitcase full of diapers, toys or books.

But even with kids, the world can still be your playground.  It’s just different, slower, and far more rewarding.  It’s an amazing feeling to see your child’s face light up while gazing at the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, to watch them scarf down fresh conch salad on a Caribbean island, or to hear them say “hello” in a foreign language.

All you need is a bit of extra planning and a whole lot of patience, and you too can travel with kids.

1. Set a treat & souvenir budget.   Prior to departing on your trip, discuss with your kids how much money Mom and Dad will spend on treats and souvenirs.   $25 for the week?  $5 per day?  Let kids know in advance that anything over that amount will be on their own dime.  This is a great lesson in money management, helps cut down on the “I wants” and forces kids to choose their trinkets more carefully.

2. Bring Wet Ones When was the last time the tray table on the airplane was REALLY cleaned?  Have you seen your child’s face after eating ice cream?  I carry Wet Ones packets in my purse and in our travel backpack, so they are always on hand.


Escargot anyone?

3.  Try local foods, but keep kid favorites on hand.  Let kids experience local foods.  My kids always try a bite of local cuisine whenever we travel.  Nine times out of ten, they like it.  For those times that nothing is available they will eat, keep favorite granola bars, animal crackers or other easy to pack snacks in your travel bag.  This is also helpful if you get stuck on a bus longer than expected and need to keep the hunger monster at bay.

A stash of lollipops or other treats can also be a life saver to head off a meltdown or allow for a few more minutes of peaceful dining.

4.  Agree to have one parent activity and one kid activity per day.  Before you jet off, research the areas you plan to visit as a family. Discuss with the kids all the things you want to do, and help them pick out places they want to see.   Each day, plan one parent activity and one child activity.  If the kids know in advance that after visiting a museum they get to go to the cool park with the dragon, the museum is usually more bearable.  They know what to expect, and might even enjoy looking at all the those paintings.

5.  Teach older kids history, but make it cool.  Make the places you visit come alive with fun facts.  Play up the battles for boys or explain to girls how other kids dressed “back in the day.” Ask if they would want to wear those types of clothes.  Make history interesting and avoid the drone like tone of your high school history teacher.

Family travelers may have more luggage and may see less at each destination than a solo traveler, but the memories made together as a family are priceless.   Who knows – the love of travel you help instill in your child at an early age, could open new educational and career doors for them in the future.

Don’t forget to visit these blogs for more great tips:

Shannon at 100 Routes Across America
SJ at Chasing the Donkey
Kimberly at Stuffed Suitcase
Keryn at Walking on Travels
Tamara at We3Travel
Francesca at The Working Mom’s Travels

Best Family Travel Tips

Our March 2015 Expenses in France

Expenses in France

Another month has come and gone.  We closed out March WAY over budget – $1,000 over budget!

So what happened?

First, we became official French residents.  Part of our final approval involved paying 482€ in taxes (241€ each.)  We also prepaid 10 hours of French lessons in the amount of 197€.  That is only 20€ per hour which is AMAZING!  French lessons are ridiculously expensive in Nice.

We also went over our grocery budget by $300, spent $40 on a taxi getting to the OFII to obtain our residence sticker, bought Derrick a new pair of jeans, and well… you can see how things start to add up quickly.

March 2015 Expenses Chart:

Can’t view the chart? Click HERE


Grocery $1,320.38
Eating Out $450.48
Miscellaneous $1,082.33
Entertainment $13.10
Transportation $128.10
Housing $1,302.85
Health Insurance $499.00
US Car Insurance $97.61
US Storage unit $136.00
Total $5,029.85

Our US expenses are $233.62 total for our US car/umbrella policy and our storage unit for the items we kept for our return to the US.  We also have an international health insurance policy (required for our Visa) that is $500 per month.

The exchange rate is still low at just 1.07€ to the $1.  I prefer to translate all our expenses to USD since our income is in dollars. My goal is to not exceed $4,000 per month.  While other travelers could spend significantly less, this budget allows my family of 4 to live comfortably.

What are your secrets to staying in budget while living abroad?

See more of our monthly expenses here.