Whether you’re new to the area or new to parenthood, welcome!
In August of 2013, I arrived in Norfolk with a 4-month old and very little knowledge about what to do in Hampton Roads. After two and a half years, lots of Googling, and countless awkward mom conversations (yes, making mom friends is TOTALLY like dating), I think I finally figured it out.
Here is the list I wish I was handed when we got here:
1. The Library
The Norfolk Public libraries have a pretty sweet lineup of classes for kiddos. From Babygarten and Toddler time all the way up to Kinder-read. Check out the NPL website for the complete list of programs at each location. (The Slover and Pretlow branches have AMAZING areas for toddlers!)
2. Botanical Garden
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is well worth the membership! There’s an awesome kid’s section (WOW Garden) with a playground and splash pad (open seasonally) as well as a huge sand mountain (aka big pile of sand) where kids can play and climb. Throw the kids in a stroller, wagon, or Ergo and get some fresh air.
3. Children’s Museum
There are a bunch of great museums throughout Hampton Roads but the Children’s Museum in Portsmouth takes the cake! It’s super interactive with lots of hands on learning to be had! There’s even a lovely little fenced off section for babies and toddlers so if you’re sick of chasing them around, you can go play, change diapers, and hang out there.
4. The Beach
Virginia Beach is great but if you’re in Norfolk and don’t feel like making the trek, there are a bunch of great beaches in here, too. If you’re thinking HECK NO the beach is way to complicated, keep reading…
The most stressful part of going to the beach with toddlers is thinking about going to the beach with toddlers. This past summer, my friend and I would take our combined 5 kids (all 2 and under, dads were deployed) to Community Beach Park a couple times a week. The kids LOVED it– they played happily in the sand for hours. Bring a backpack full of snacks, a big sheet to sit on, water and sunblock and BOOM, you’re about to have a lovely day. Pro tip: bring baby powder and when you get to the car cover your kids in it to easily remove sand. You’re welcome.
5. The Zoo
The Virginia Zoo is a once a month stop for us as it’s kind of like going on a long walk where you happen to see a bunch of animals. Great for my almost-3-year old, not impressive for my 1-year old. They do have some cool programming for older kids like Snoozes (zoo sleepover!) and occasional movie nights.
6. The Aquarium
The Virginia Aquarium requires a bit of a drive and is the priciest admission of the options listed here, but is lots of fun. They host Toddler Tuesdays and Toddler Treks for children ages 2-5 weekly. Learn more here.
7. Our Playgrounds
Our cities have great little playgrounds all over. Take a walk around your neighborhood (or check out Google Maps) to find the one closest to you. If you’re looking for an epic playground, check out Kid’s Cove at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach and Fun Forest in Chesapeake.
What did we miss? Leave a tip in the comments.