I won a mystery trip to somewhere in Virginia last month, and Katie told you all about day one already. The adventure continues…
The day before, our trip organizers had announced that we would be going kayaking on day two of our all-expenses-paid exploration of Virginia Beach. Everyone was pretty excited about this at first, but as the day wore on, the weather reports kept getting gloomier and gloomier. Cold, rainy kayaking? No, thanks.
Luckily, our fabulous guides were flexible (key when traveling with a group!) and let us know that we would be playing it safe and heading indoors to the Virginia Aquarium. I’m a huge fan of aquariums, so I was pretty excited to check out this one, since I had never been before. Plus, we got to sleep in an extra hour with the change of plans! Bonus.
We rolled out of bed and had breakfast a couple of blocks down at Catch 31, which was your standard breakfast buffet, and then headed to the aquarium. One of the employees took us on a whirlwind tour of the building (in which we stumbled upon the crazy toothy fish above, who was just staring dead ahead for a good five minutes). The aquarium is undergoing extensive construction and upgrades right now, so there were a lot of curtained-off parts and paint smells.
The cool part was that our tour guide was able to pull back the curtains and give us a little preview of what the new spaces would look like, and I can tell you definitively that it’s going to be awesome. They’re going to be adding a lot of new animals, including komodo dragons, sharks, and poisonous snakes, in spaces that really make you feel like you’re in their natural habitats. The komodo dragon part is even going to have a bubble of glass that you can duck your head under to get a close-up view! (When I expressed concern that this might freak the dragons out, to see heads popping up in part of their habitat, they assured me that they would acclimate the animals well before the spaces opened to the public.)
My favorites were the otters, which Katie and I had to run to the other building to go see (we did a lot of running in this trip), and the harbor seals. We arrived just in time to see the trainers feed and play with the seals, and an aquarium educator came out to tell us all about the seals and what was going on.
After the aquarium, VA Tourism treated us to a delicious lunch at Croc’s, which is all about organic, fresh, and local ingredients. Then, it was back to Mt. Vernon. The drive is definitely not short, especially when a bumpy mini-bus is your mode of transportation, so I would recommend spending more than two days down there. Other than the brevity of our time in Virginia Beach, it was pretty much perfect! And oh man, did VA Tourism treat us well.
So jealous of the win you can’t stand it? They’re still giving away trips left and right, to celebrate 40 years of the travel slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.”