Now that summer is winding down, it’s time to get the family into back-to-school mode. Here are five great weekend field trips what still feel like the sweet relaxation of summer but will get everyone in the mood for learning come fall.
For Nature Lovers:
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is the perfect place to spend a Saturday or Sunday. The grounds include 175 acres with more than 60 themed gardens that can be viewed by foot, tram, or boat. Little ones adore the magic of the Bristow Butterfly Garden and kids will enjoy learning about state plant life at the Virginia Native Plant Garden.
The Botanical Gardens are run by volunteers, who give more than 17,000 hours every year to the acres and acres of land. Over 20,000 children and adults attend classes and programs at the gardens, too. Some notable August events include creating your own nature-inspired picture frame, a family twilight trek, and an end-of-summer celebration. 700 Azalea Garden Rd., Norfolk
For Science Fanatics:
If your kids say “been there, done that” to the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall, you’ll want to show them this place. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center displays thousands of aviation and space artifacts in two hangars. The Space Shuttle Discovery is awe-inspiring, as is a Concorde Air France jet. For even the most seasoned museum-goers will have a great time here. 4390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly
For History Buffs:
Dubbed “the world’s largest living history museum,” Colonial Williamsburg is a hands-on experience perfect for families with kids of all ages. The 18th-century city always has something going on — don’t miss the field music with the fife and drums, or authentic street-theater experiences. Also this month are ghost tours for the whole family, colonial-themed family activities, and a historic organ recital. 101 Visitor Center Dr., Williamsburg
To Learn About an Important Figure:
The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy, Virginia, is a must-see for all. Washington was born a slave in April 1856 on the farm of James Burroughs. After the Civil War ended, Washington became known for being an adviser, author, and orator.
He also served as the first principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial School. The monument includes walking trails, a picnic area, farm with sheep, pigs, horses, and chickens, and a garden area. Guests can learn about gardening techniques used by owners and slaves on the farm and on the quarter-mile Plantation Trail, you’ll see reconstructions of 19th-century farm buildings similar to those that once stood during Washington’s time there. 30 Booker T. Washington Hwy., Hardy
For Arts Enthusiasts:
The gallery and gathering space in Abingdon has a few noteworthy exhibits on display the moment. Ending September 18 is The Open Road: The Art of the Motorcycle, which examines the art, design, and history of the motorcycle. Off-road bikes, street bikes, vintage bikes, and more will be on display.
There’s also the just-opened God Willing, We’ll See Each Other Again: The Life and Work of William Fields. Fields, a painter of the region, reflects memories of his own life and invokes the way he lived: in the moment and focusing on the time we have today.
The William King Museum of Art is open every day of the week, but check the website for hours. 415 Academy Dr., Abingdon
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