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Monday, February 18, 2019

Family Fun at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk

The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia
A few months ago we spent the weekend down in Virginia Beach enjoying an end-of-summer vacation. We spent 5 days and 4 nights exploring the Virginia Beach area and having some family fun. When our family travels we enjoy visiting zoos, wildlife parks, and aquariums, so we had to take a little trip up to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. The drive took us approximately an hour from Virginia Beach, however, if you're driving down from south central Pennsylvania, it will take you approximately 5-6 hours to get there.

The Virginia Zoo was founded in 1901 and is spread out on 52 beautifully landscaped acres with over 500 animals calling it home. During your visit you'll see giraffes, zebras, ostrich, kangaroos, lions, bald eagles, black bears, beavers, cheetahs, bison, emu, wallaby's, prairie dogs, elephants, flamingos, tigers, snakes and more!
The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia

If you've never visited before, I highly recommend that you visit the Virginia Zoo's website and print out a copy of the zoo map to take along with you. It will show you where all of the exhibits are, the suggested routes to take, marked places to grab something to eat and of course...where you can find all of the public bathrooms. Not interested in printing out a map? Don't worry, you'll find them located at the entrance gate too! I highly suggest you grab one when entering the park.

Within the zoo you'll find the "ZooFarm" which is their hands-on petting zoo. Children love petting and feeding the animals. Throughout the year you'll find the zoo hosting a variety of different children's educational programs, which allows the kids to get up close & personal with some of their favorite animals. I'm all about "hands on" learning when it comes to kids!
The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia

We have two grandchildren (ages 3 years and 9 years) and one of their highlights from our trip was their ride on the popular Zoo Train. You will have to pay a separate fee to ride the ZooTrain, but the kids loved it. The entire ride lasts for approximately 20 minutes as the train takes you around a lot of the areas within the zoo. The train is handicap-accessible and fun for both kids & adults.

When visiting the zoo I recommend that you wear comfortable walking shoes (you'll be doing a lot of walking) and dress seasonably appropriate. Like most places, you'll be spending the majority of your visit outdoors. There are places within the zoo where you can sit down for a rest, grab a bite to eat, etc. If you're looking to pick up some souvenirs & gifts, you'll find those in the gift shop located near the entrance gate to the zoo.
The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia

The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, Virginia

This was our third visit in the past 6 years to the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk and every time we visit, it gets better and better. We enjoy visiting in the spring or early fall months when the zoo isn't quite as busy. In other words, during their "off peak" months. When planning you're visit, I recommend spending a minimum of 3 hours at the zoo. You'll want to experience as much as you can during your visit.

You can learn more about the Virginia Zoo by visiting their official website online. You can purchase tickets on the web or pay your admission price at the zoo. You can connect with them on social media by hooking up with them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Beautiful Farms and Barns in the Hershey Area

Beautiful Farms and Barns in the Hershey Area
When we're looking for something to do that doesn't cost a lot of money, we like to jump into the car and take a little road trip. My wife and I are big fans of checking out various barns and farms in the south central Pennsylvania area. After all, agriculture is a huge commodity in our great state and once your outside the city limits, you'll find miles upon miles of farmland.

A few weeks ago we spent our Sunday afternoon driving on several of the different back roads that lead in and out of Hershey Pennsylvania. It's a beautiful drive, especially during the late spring and early fall seasons. If you're interested in seeing fall foliage, take the drive in early to mid-October.
Beautiful Farms and Barns in the Hershey Area

One of the things you always want to remember is that these farms and barns are on private property. You can NOT go onto their property to photograph them without permission. You can pull over alongside the road, get out of your vehicle (if it's a safe pullover spot) and take photographs. Please respect their privacy and do NOT photograph house numbers, street names or mailboxes!

We enjoy looking at the older barns, although some of the more modern ones are cool to see too. In addition to the barns, we like looking at the silos, out-buildings and of course...the old farmhouses too! If we're really lucky, we can see cows, horses, goats, pigs. sheep and chickens grazing around. When we head out on these little "road trips" we take a pair of binoculars, so that we can see from a distance. If you plan on photographing them, take your telephoto lens too!
Crossroads Antiques Mall in Hershey

Some of the farms that you see will have signs hanging out front near their driveways that welcomes guests to come onto their property to buy fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, meats and other goodies. We love purchasing these type's of food items from our local farmers who work hard for their money. If you have the opportunity, always try to support your local community and their businesses.

The barn that you see in the third photograph is an old barn that was totally remodeled. It's now a business - Crossroads Antique Mall and sits in Hershey. I absolutely love the shape and size of this barn and I do enjoy visiting the antiques mall a few times every year to shop for products & gifts.
Strites Orchards Farm in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Finally, the farm that's featured in the photograph above is actually located in the suburbs of Harrisburg, about a 15 minute drive from downtown Hershey. It's the farmhouse, barn, silo and surrounding farmlands that make up Strites' Orchards and Farmer's Market in Harrisburg.  Right across the road from the property is a big building that houses their year-round farmer's market where you can buy fresh produce, milk, eggs, cheese, bakery items, honey and more!

Well, there you have it! Something fun that my wife and I enjoy doing when we're looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon that doesn't cost a lot of money. Pennsylvania has some of the oldest, largest and most-beautiful farmlands in the entire country. At least, in my opinion.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Chubby Checker Musical Icons of the Wildwoods Wall Mural

Chubby Checker Musical Icons of the Wildwoods Wall Mural in New Jersey
When I think of Doo Wop music, I think of the Wildwoods. Every where you go in Wildwood you'll see Doo Wop architecture, neon signs and you'll hear that famous Doo Wop music playing. Heck, you'll even find a Doo Wop Museum located near the Wildwoods Convention Center that is free to visit.

We try to visit the Wildwood Island at least three times every year. Every time we're down...we seek out some of the beautiful wall murals and street art that you can find all around the city. Almost every block or two has some kind of mural or street art piece that you can see.
Chubby Checker Musical Icons of the Wildwoods Wall Mural in New Jersey

Several years ago the Wildwoods started to honor some of the famous Doo Wop musical artists from the 1950's and 60's. The first mural featured Bobby Rydell and can be found up on the Wildwoods Boardwalk, painted on the side of a building. You can read all about it by visiting our original post here on the travel blog.

The second Musical Icons Wall Mural to be added was the mural featuring Bill Haley and his Comets in 2014. According to the information I found online, it was selected to commemorate the 60th anniversary of their hit song, "Rock Around the Clock" which was first performed live in the Wildwoods in 1954. You'll find this mural on the side of a building located at Oak and Pacific Avenues. You can check out our previous post to learn more about it and to see some photos.
Chubby Checker Musical Icons of the Wildwoods Wall Mural in New Jersey

A few weeks ago we were down in Wildwood and finally spotted the third Musical Icons Wall Mural and this one features Chubby Checker. I really love this one and it highlights one of his most famous songs...The Twist. The mural actually depicts Chubby Checker doing his famous Twist (dance).

If you would like to view the third wall mural you'll have to head downtown on Pacific Avenue and you'll find it painted on the side of a building. There is a parking lot right in front of the mural that you can pull into, so that you can photograph it. I recommend going early in the morning if you plan on taking photos, before the cars park in the lot for the day.
Chubby Checker Musical Icons of the Wildwoods Wall Mural in New Jersey

The wall mural was painted by the artist S. Daly on Labor Day in the year 2015. This is the same artist who did the Bobby Rydell wall mural back in 2014. These murals are absolutely beautiful to look at and I really hope that the artist will consider adding a few more to the Wildwoods Musical Icons series.

Fans of outdoor wall murals and coastal-style street art would love visiting the Wildwoods Island. Over the years we've documented over 30 different murals and outdoor street art designs here on the blog. What's really cool is that every time we visit the area...we spot old ones that we've never seen before and new ones that were recently added. Wildwood is definitely a great place to visit!