Friday, March 27th, 2015 by Sherry Friel
This week in The Beach Report, Sherry Friel takes us to a happy place – Spring festivals in Virginia Beach!!!
I’m thinking it’s high time our family got out for some festival fun to celebrate these blissful spring temperatures. Specifically, I’ve got this image of Nathaniel, Skip and I strolling the upscale shops at Town Center, taking in some home-grown goodness at Virginia Beach Farmer’s Market, and enjoying some fun in the sun at the oceanfront. Fortunately, the city has us covered! Virginia Beach offers endless opportunities for family-friendly entertainment at a variety of destinations throughout the city. And the best part? The most interesting and engaging events are either free or nearly free.
Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 by Sherry Friel
Georgia O’Keefe painted them. Emily Dickinson curated species and wrote about them. Countless naturalists have studied and photographed flowers from every conceivable angle. Recently I learned about another kindred spirit through time: Anna Atkins. I cannot believe I didn’t know of her! Born in 1799, Atkins was a botanist and a photographer. She is believed to be the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images, and is also celebrated by some as the first woman to create a photograph. Indeed, botanicals have held a spiritual and scientific significance for many, myself included.
Thursday, March 5th, 2015 by Sherry Friel
Photo credit: Sherry Friel
Something spectacular has taken place in my home. Something warm, exciting and bursting forth like those daffodil sprouts emerging all over Virginia Beach. It started while my husband Skip was away on a month-long trip to Japan. On the first evening of his Dad’s absence, our 11-year-old son Nathaniel would go into his home office and shut the door. It was obvious he was sneaking in there to use Skip’s guitar, which I thought was a perfectly healthy thing to do since he was missing his Dad so much. Besides, this past year my husband noticed he was taking more interest in the instrument and prior to his trip he had been teaching him chords. They even worked out a few songs together. Nathaniel had permission to use the guitar, a vintage Guild, provided he was careful and returned it promptly to its case afterward. So the “sneaking” was unnecessary. But why did it seem so stealthy?
Apparently, more was afoot than I realized behind that closed door. Among the guitars, sound equipment, and inherent inspiration of a musician’s workspace, Nathaniel was definitely up to something as he stole to his Dad’s room each evening after homework. He was working. More precisely, he was perfecting the music he wanted to perform for an audition to be a part of the school variety/talent show. Of course I knew nothing about the audition because he didn’t tell me. But the minute his Dad arrived home from the airport, he couldn’t wait to share with him what he had been up to. The work paid off. Not long after announcing his audition plans, he serenaded us one night at the foot of our bed with an acoustic guitar version of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. What a delight!
As Nathaniel approaches his 12th birthday, I find myself reminiscing quite a bit about his life, and pondering the experiences that have influenced and nurtured his passions. He has had, I suppose, a unique upbringing in that he is the son of a talented singer-songwriter. His immersion in the consistent creation of music has no doubt made an impression, and picking up his father’s instrument was perhaps inevitable. I also am grateful to have had the opportunity to live in a region that celebrates the arts in ways that continue to strengthen Nathaniel’s desire to make music an important part of his life.
Indeed, as my son embarks on a turning point in his musical passions, I am newly inspired to seek out some of the tried and true musical events we have enjoyed close to home over the years. Here is a sampling of dates I plan to add to our family calendar:
The Out of the Box series at the Sandler Center is family-friendly & free
The Last Bison will perform the final show of the Out of the Box Emerging Artist Series at the Sandler Center. I attended the series last year and found it to be a warm, friendly gathering of people who are passionate about original music performed by local musicians. The event is held from 6-9 p.m. and admission is free. At previous shows, we met up with a group of friends and enjoyed a fabulous evening of good food, home-grown music and refreshing drinks.
I love the sultry sounds of the saxophone. So when I saw that the Washington Saxophone Quartet was performing at the Sandler Center, I quickly noted the details and marked my calendar accordingly. The show is part of the Tidewater Mortgage Services, Inc. Great Performance Series and starts at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $20. My plans are to arrive early in the evening and have dinner with my family at one of Town Center’s many restaurants prior to the performance.
The whole family will enjoy the mesmerizing choral performance of the African Children’s Choir. Part of the Great Performance Series at the Sandler Center, the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Advance admission to secure seating is required via donation, as proceeds benefit ACCESS the ARTS. Performance time is 7:30 p.m.
I hope you will join me as spring and summer unfolds in Virginia Beach. As I glance at the events, new festivals, and programs, it’s clear the season is going to be rich with music, art, and much inspiration for everyone.
Ready for a break?
We’ve got the welcome mat out.
All photo credits: Sherry Friel
Monday, February 9th, 2015 by Sherry Friel
Sherry Friel adds to our series on things we LOVE about Virginia Beach with her post about the adrenaline rush of new adventures in Virginia Beach!
Eleanor Friel, the authors's mother-in-law, fearlessly flew airplanes in WWII as part of the civil air patrol
I haven’t always had as many fears as I do now. In fact, for a brief window of time in my early twenties, I was pretty fearless. I was living on my own in an apartment, and in the process of relishing that sweet independence, I’d daydream about what I wanted do next. It should be something exciting, I’d tell myself. Something I never imagined myself doing. Keep in mind that in those early days I had no television, no Internet, no computer, and very few distractions outside the fantastic life I was dreaming of having. So when a GRAND IDEA hit me with a force I could not ignore, I picked up the phone and called my Dad. “I want to take lessons and learn how to fly airplanes, I excitedly told him. It’ll be fun!” I will not delve into the boring details of what he advised, but let’s just say he talked me out of it. I am a cautious person by nature, and at the time, the reasons he gave for not taking flying lessons made sense. Truthfully, I was having trouble just keeping my car repaired and I had no health insurance. My work was writing copy for the local newspaper, which enabled me to pay the rent, but not much more. Clearly, there were other priorities that needed my focus. But I can’t help imagining what my life would be like if I acted on such impulses rather than always taking the safer route. What if my Dad had said, “Wow, that sounds like a great idea. Hey, I’ll join you and we can learn together!” Would my more cautious nature have kicked in and said, “Nah, I think I’ll pass. Maybe one day.” Or would I have pursued it? I’m thinking with my father’s endorsement, I would have moved forward. In hindsight, I believe I was at such a crossroads in life that seeing that particular dream to fruition would have inspired me to find the courage to do other things with less trepidation and apprehension. I’d always have that accomplishment, you know? I could have been my own cheerleader with the mantra, “hey, I’ve flown airplanes; I can do anything!”
Adrenaline Junkie Nathaniel Friel readies himself............
Since then, I’ve met many people along the way who just do not seem to have boundaries such as mine. They are afraid of nothing. Rollercoasters?Let’s go! Airplanes? Why not? They are the typical adrenaline junkies you hear about surfing enormous swells at Waimea Bay or Pipeline. They live for adventure, speed and excitement. But I hate to generalize. For every adrenaline junkie who fits the stereotype I’ve just described, there are the people like me who, with a little extra encouragement, can conquer fears and do some pretty exciting things outside of their comfort zone. It also can be inspiring to surround yourself with adventurous friends and family. For example, my 11-year-old son Nathaniel seems to have a constant need for adrenaline-inducing activities. So it’s a good thing he’s growing up in Virginia Beach, where each season offers something new. It’s been quite a fun year for him. From climbing trees at The Adventure Park, the city’s first aerial trail park suspended from trees, to ice skating at Rudee Inlet, he is getting the childhood every adrenaline junkie should have. And just when I thought we had tried it all, a new attraction popped up recently that we couldn’t resist: INDOOR SKYDIVING at iFly on Pacific Avenue. The experience was a huge success and the perfect wintertime activity. The wind tunnel is the real deal, and offers authentic skydiving experiences for first-time flyers as young as 3 years old, as well as seasoned adult skydivers. The look on my son’s face as he rose in the air with his arms outstretched was pure bliss. But I have to ask, what’s next for him? I know he’s fearless, but what will next summer bring? I may just have to ask my Dad to talk some sense into my son. Something tells me Nathaniel won’t be as quick to listen to cautionary wisdom as I was. Nope. Not this one. For him the sky’s the limit! As it should be.
...and he's sky-diving!
Adrenaline-pumping adventures abound in Virginia Beach – we even have a Life the Life Adventure series which can be customized for your group.
Book yours today!
Monday, December 22nd, 2014 by Sherry Friel
Editor’s note; Oh, yes! It’s beginning to feel a lot like ________! You fill in the blank; I pick”brrrrr!” Whatever your choice, there’s no doubt it’s the perfect time to bundle up and go out to enjoy some very unique holiday experiences at the Virginia Beach oceanfront.
Today is the first day of winter break so we thought we’d combine two awesome posts by local mom and blogger Sherry Friel as she gives a first hand account of two of these exciting Oceanfront adventures, along with some of her awesome photos.
Readers, your mission, if you should choose to accept it (and why wouldn’t you??!!):
Read on and then go have some fun – and DON’T forget to share your pics with us on Facebook!!
Perfect Family Night Out! Visit Holiday Lights at the Beach for an Extra Special Treat!
So there I was, half my body hanging out of my husband’s moon roof, taking in the McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach as we inched along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk in our car. I’m sure it was a sight to behold-me excitedly focusing my camera and capturing each of the fabulous displays, with my patient husband at the wheel pausing just long enough for me to photograph my favorites.
Driving through this popular light show has become an annual holiday tradition for my family, and we’ve found it really gets us excited about the seasonal events ahead. For example, we were able to preview the new Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop (3rd & Atlantic) in anticipation of our upcoming family ice-skating adventure. While I had initially planned to ice skate and view the boardwalk lights in the same evening, I realized we might need more time for ice skating so we are planning that for another day. (See later in this post for more on this!)
The is the only time we find these creatures entertaining!
Recently, we started the light show at 5:30 p.m. and completed it just in time for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. Presented by Liberty Tax, the drive-through light show continues nightly through Jan. 3. Here are a few important things to remember before hitting the road:
5:30 to 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 5:30-11 p.m. Fri-Sat.
What to bring
Admission is cash only. Cost is $15 per car Monday-Sunday, $25 for Limousines, $45 for motor coaches, and $25 for mini buses. On Military Mondays presented by Liberty Tax Service, admission is $7 with military identification. Military Mondays kick off Dec. 1.
Don’t forget to set your radio dial to 103.5 for a musical program designed for your listening pleasure as you move through the displays. While I didn’t hear the music with my head sticking out of the moon roof, my husband and son have informed me that it is wonderful. They were humming holiday tunes for hours after we exited the light exhibits.
What you’ll see
This show truly has something to please every family member. My son’s favorite display was the “Surfing Santa,” while my husband and I loved the elaborate depiction of the “12 Days of Christmas.” I don’t want to spoil any surprises, so just be prepared for a fantastic light show at the water’s edge featuring everything from dinosaurs to a special sighting of Santa Claus and his reindeer! Some of the displays are between 20 and 30-feet high, and one of the show’s gems is a 40-feet-tall Christmas tree on the beach.
Rules of the Boardwalk
I’m not so sure how appropriate it was for me to stick my head out of the moon roof to get photographs, but my questionable behavior did enable me to get some nice ones! It was cold though, and I wouldn’t advise it. My hands, face, and ears took an hour or more to completely thaw out. Visitors to the boardwalk are asked to definitely stay in their cars and keep moving…no stopping. This explains why my husband wouldn’t pause for too long for me to get pictures. He was following the rules! It’s also a good idea to turn off your headlights during the show, but please remember to turn them on before entering the roadway. Also watch the space between you and the car in front of you. Just take your time and enjoy the ride.
A few tips to make it extra nice
In hindsight, I wish we had packed a few goodies to enjoy while driving though the show. Some hot cocoa or apple cider in our thermos bottles would have been a wonderful warm treat to enjoy along the way.
Holiday Lights at the Beach is a fantastic way to entertain family and visiting guests during the holiday season. It’s been named in the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 November Events and the American Bus Association’s “Top 100 Events in North America for 2011.” Each year, the display gets larger and changes so it’s never the same show twice. Just one more way to live the life in beautiful Virginia Beach!
Unique Virginia Beach Ice Park = Fun for the Whole Family!
- Sarah & Nathaniel, friends since preschool, enjoying the ice
Looking for one of the happiest destinations for families in Virginia Beach? Then your holiday plans absolutely must include a visit to the Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop.
My husband and I headed out there Saturday with our 11-year-old son, Nathaniel. We did not know what to expect, as when we visited McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach last week the ice park had not opened yet.
- Beth Kulas with daughters Sara and Sophia Schreiber enjoying a day at the Ice Park
So we made a plan to meet my friend Beth and her two daughters Sarah and Sophia for an absolutely fun family outing. Having grown up in Massachusetts, Beth is no stranger to ice skating and took to it immediately. My surfer son, on the other hand, found it difficult to stay balanced at first. He took many spills in the beginning, but within an hour he was gliding past me as if he had been skating his whole life. I think I can safely say he now has added a new, fun activity to his growing list of outdoor sports. And in Virginia Beach!
- Sarah & Nathaniel quickly got the hang of it!
I still can’t believe I am sitting here writing about our ice skating adventure with my windows open and 72-degree temperatures outside. Where else in the world can you enjoy the beach by day along with outdoor ice skating at night? It’s definitely a unique corner of the city tailored to families and built for pure fun. Here are just a few things I learned about this special park during our first trip (of course we will be heading back again and again):
Admission is $12 per person, and $45 for families of five. Time at the park is unlimited, so if you want to skate all day and into the evening, you can! Skate rental is included in the admission price.
Fun for non-skaters
Not everyone feels comfortable on the ice, but spectators are certainly not disappointed. As an observer, I got to enjoy a warm fire, hot cocoa, and take as many fun photos as I wanted. Photographers will appreciate some of the best morning light conditions ever. I was able to get crisp action shots of the kids-something that is often difficult in direct sunlight. I believe the magic was a combination of sunlight and blue skies reflecting off of the slick ice. Plus, if you are not skating, you do not need to pay admission. There is absolutely no charge for parents who just want to watch their kids skate.
Want to skate but unsure of your ability? For just $35 per hour, private lessons are available upon request from the Tidewater Figure Skating Club. I think I may need to look into this before I go next time. While it was completely thrilling watching my son ice skate with his friends, something about seeing Beth hand-in-hand with her daughter Sarah made me want to experience it with my son too. When I mentioned to him that I may try to skate next time, he was excited. “Mom, that would be even more fun!” he said.
- Sarah’s face = joy!
I was delighted to see the option to book the entire rink for up to 50 people during available non-public hours. The possibilities are endless. Can you imagine attending your company’s holiday office party at the skating rink rather than a typical hotel ballroom? Rental of the rink is just $125 per hour. Often we have family coming in town for the weekend and I cannot think of a more unique way to entertain everyone than scheduling a private gathering at the ice park.
Be sure to check the varying hours the park will be open, as they have scheduled special operating times when schools are on vacation. I was delighted to see that not only is the park open Christmas Eve until 5 p.m., but also Christmas Day until 11 p.m. In addition, the park opens New Year’s Eve until 12:30 a.m. as well as New Year’s Day from noon to 11 p.m.
What a cool way to ring in the New Year! Hope to see you on the ice soon.
Friday, November 28th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
Today is the perfect day to feature Sherry Friel’s post ” Treasure Hunting in Virginia Beach” ~ we’d love to see your finds.; SHARE them them with us on Facebook!
I close my eyes and visualize myself delicately placing the Victrola needle on my favorite record, listening hypnotically to warped yet crisp sounds coming from the intricately etched vinyl. Yes. I am there. It’s 1921 and….Kerchunck, Kerchunk, Kerchunk!…“Mom, how does this thing work? Where is the space bar? How do I get it to print?” My brief moment of nostalgia for a layer of life I’ve never truly experienced is interrupted by Nathaniel, my 11-year-old son. He’s just discovered a manual typewriter in one of the shops of Decoration Station, a Virginia Beach antique mall situated at the corner of Diamond Springs Rd. and Wesleyan Blvd. I am marveling over a gorgeous Victrola talking machine (or record player as most people would refer to it). Thankfully, the kind owners of the store showed him how to wind in a piece of paper and type. Voila! “Wow, that’s cool,” he said. “We need to get one of those!”
I soon learned Decoration Station is one of many destinations for treasure hunters in Virginia Beach. This particular mall features a large selection of 19th and early 20th century furniture, porcelains, crystal, linens, collectibles, jewelry and home décor. I was especially drawn to the number of vintage books throughout the space, and my son was delighted to discover and purchase a pristine copy of Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Jeanie Fuertes, the owner of Decoration Station Mall, gave me what I consider a gift-a wonderful brochure and map detailing close to 20 different stores specializing in antiques, consignments, and specialties. Titled, “2014-2015 Treasure Hunting in Virginia Beach,” the brochure can be easily found at the Virginia Beach Visitor Center at 2100 Parks Avenue near the oceanfront.
I cannot wait to visit the other stores in this wonderful compilation. Already, my son and I did some serious shopping this past weekend and brought home treasures we will cherish for a long time. My favorite purchase of the day was an Andrea Sadek porcelain magnolia, which I will display as a nod to one of my ancestors, Minnie Magnolia. I recently discovered Minnie while researching my family tree, and I believe she may be the inspiration for my passionate love of all things floral.
My next hunt will be for a near-perfect vintage manual typewriter. Unlike the circa 1921 Victrola I was admiring, the typewriter truly represents a layer of life I am well acquainted with. I learned on a manual typewriter as a teenager and was happy for this recent reminder of just how beautiful they are. No touch screen, no internet connection, nothing but kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk and ding! Time to get shopping. The holidays will soon be upon us and I have a feeling if Santa shops in Virginia Beach he will find everything he needs!
Photo credits: Sherry Friel
Friday, November 14th, 2014 by Sherry Friel
This week in The Beach Report, local mom Sherry Friel shares a preview of the winter excitement for those lucky enough to be in Virginia Beach this holiday season!
Virginia Beach kicks off its most popular seasonal events in November and introduces a new one for December: Ice Skating!
The skating rink at Rudee Loop is new this season!
We are so excited! My 11-year-old son and I are making big plans for the holidays here in Virginia Beach. I got a glimpse of the calendar for the season and realized that it all starts happening this month! Here’s a rundown of the events and activities we plan to participate in:
Ice Skating. The brand new Oceanfront Ice Park at Rudee Loop is slated to kick off the winter season Dec. 1, and we are certainly looking forward to it. Located at Rudee Loop (3rd & Atlantic), the Ice Park will boast 7,200 square feet of ice skating surface. A perfect family plan might include a relaxing drive through the Holiday Lights at the Beach afterward. This night is going to be a special one!
100 miles of lights!
McDonald’s Holiday Lights at the Beach. (presented by Liberty Tax) kicks off Nov. 21 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 5:30-11 p.m. Fri-Sat. Driving through this popular light show has become an annual holiday tradition for many Virginia Beach families, which features ongoing as well as new displays of light all along the boardwalk. If you’d rather walk through the lights, you can do so Wednesday, Nov. 19 for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Simply bring a donation to the entrance at 2nd Street and enjoy the show by foot before cars are allowed through.
Hunt Club Farm’s Annual Country Christmas. If you’re looking for a very special family night out complete with bonfires, s’mores and hot apple cider, this is the best deal in town. Christmas at Hunt Club Farm is truly a local holiday tradition-one that features 5,000 square feet of animated holiday displays, a full Christmas tree market, and petting farm. Take the kids to see Santa and visit the new Peddler’s Village featuring local vendors with a variety of goods for sale. The fun begins Friday, Nov. 28.
Hunt Club fun!
So what are your plans for the holidays? I hope they include many warm memories and lots of special time with family and friends. I know mine will, and I plan to share my experiences with you in future blogs as we try oceanfront ice skating for the first time, drive through our fabulous boardwalk light show, and take in the warmth and tradition of Hunt Club Farm.
Tis the season to live the life!