A Family Guide to Richmond Virginia

Have you ever wanted to visit the history filled Richmond, Virginia area? Both the Revolutionary and Civil wars have marks on Richmond and the surrounding area, making it a great place to learn from hands-on field trips or to just take in the beautiful parks and nature that is found all around this beautiful city.

A Family Guide to Richmond Virginia - The beautiful, history filled city of Richmond has so many opportunities for adventure. | www.joyinthehome.com

A Family Guide to Richmond, Virginia

Whether you are a visitor or new to our area, you will find a lot of things to do for free in the Richmond, Virginia area and some things completely worth paying to do.


Outdoor Fun



Things worth the drive…

President's Homes

Amazement Parks

Looking for a great place to stay while in Williamsburg, Virginia?  Take advantage of a special from Westgate Resorts with Reference Number #9018954900.



The Homeschool Guide to Williamsburg, Virginia

A Homeschoolers Guide to Williamsburg, Virginia www.joyinthehome.com.jpg

As a homeschooling family, we love field trips and living only 45 minutes from Williamsburg, Virginia is as wonderful as it seems.  I know that not everyone is so blessed, so I thought I would offer a homeschoolers guide to Williamsburg, Virginia.  Even if you aren't a homeschooler but would love to take advantage to this historically rich area, you will want to be sure to pin this post and save it for your travels.

A Homeschoolers Guide to Williamsburg, Virginia

Historic Jamestowne

Historic Jamestowne is the site for the first permanent English settlement in America.  The original fort is no longer standing, however the church is still standing, along with a museum that holds the artifacts that are being excavated at this site, at the side of the James River.  You could see almost everything in about 3 hours.

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement is a great hands-on museum with the replica of the original Jamestown fort, Indian villages and an indoor museum of the historical details of this important beginning of the new world.  However, going on board the three replica ships and learning about the long, hard journey to the New World will likely be the highlight of your day… well, that and the shooting of the musket guns. You can easily spend all day learning, exploring and discovering.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg is an amazing opportunity to study the colony, the functions of the colonist, see the culture and dress and experience time travel like nothing else.  The moment you step into the large area of Colonial Williamsburg, you will be transported back into the days of before the Revolutionary War.  You can step into shops and watch work begin down just like it was done in that day. All works are there for your experience, available to answer questions and demonstrate the day in the life of a blacksmith, silversmith, shoemaker and more. Our favorite part of this experience is when it comes alive with Revolutionary City. You must experience this reenactment in the streets, as it moves from one part of the city to the next. By far my favorite part! My children absolutely love the entrance of the Governor's Palace.  Don't forget to bring your picnic and enjoy it on the lawn in from of the Palace. You can spend two or three days enjoying all that Colonial Williamsburg has to offer.

Yorktown Victory Center

Yorktown Victory Center is the location of where the Revolutionary War was won and our independence secured. You can learn about the colonies and the entire Revolutionary war at Yorktown Victory Center. The artwork is amazing and historical, which makes it one of my favorite things there. My children enjoyed the dress up area and we have great memories of our son being a volunteer to demonstrate how the cannons were loaded and fired. Oh, and be sure to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the view of the York River.  You could spend all day enjoying everything.

Each of these locations have ‘Homeschool Days' which allows for great discounts during special times of the years. To learn more about these days, contact the location for your choice and get the dates. It is always the same time for all these locations, but the fees change and are different for each one.

Looking for a great place to stay while in Williamsburg, Virginia?  Take advantage of a special from Westgate Resorts with Reference Number #9018954900.




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A Family Guide to Sea World

A Family Guide to Sea World www.joyinthehome.com

Our family visited Sea World Orlando and they gave me two tickets to write a Family Guide for families like ours to come and get the most of their park. 

Get 2 Day Tickets

Our family absolutely loved Sea World!  We are already talking about going the next time, but getting a two day pass because you just can't do it all in one day and we want to do it all and then do somethings a second time. I'm not joking!  We may even be getting a 3 day ticket because this was the highlight to our Orlando trip.

Sea World Dolphin Show www.joyinthehome.com

Plan a Head for Your Favorite Things

For our family, the dolphin show, Up Close with the Killer whales and the Sea Lion show were the best things about the park.  These are the things we would love to do more than once.  We recorded some of these things on my cell phone and my little guy LOVES to watch it again and again.

He is all about the animals since our visit! (I will be adding a learning section at the bottom of this post that I will be doing with him because he just can't get enough)  He even tried to swim and dance like the dolphins later in the pool and now in his bath.

Be sure to visit Sea World's website to find out what is offered and plan according to the time that you have to enjoy the park.

Sea World Flamingos www.joyinthehome.com

Pack a Backpack

We never visit an amusement park without a backpack. Not all parks allow you to bring food or drinks in, but Sea World does and we did!

We packed sunflower seeds, sesame sticks, nuts, raisins and cranberry boxes, granola bars and beef jerky to snack on when we needed it.

You can also get wet while you visit Sea World! So pack a towel and maybe a change of close for younger children.  We went on a rainy day, so we purchase rain ponchos to stay dry from the weather, because it was cooler than normal.  We were glad we did!

A Few Other Tips

I lost my son for about 5 minutes while at Net Climb.  It was the most frightening thing I have experienced.  I shared what I learned through this fear gripping experience for my own knowledge that next time we go and for parents like me, who are very attentive and because of an obstruction from view and to much temptation for a little guy to ignore.

If you can purchase the Dine All Day ticket, you should! My oldest son can't seem to get enough to eat these days and the energy you go through at an amusement park can really make you hungry and thirsty. This pass was worth the money!  He ate anytime he was hungry and got as many drinks as he needed… all day! (only certain restaurants participate)

A Family Guide to Magic Kingdom

A Family Guide to Magic Kingdom www.joyinthehome.com

Our family went to Magic Kingdom recently, so I contacted them and asked if I could write this Family Guide for them.  They gave me two tickets in exchanged for helpful tips to families, like ours that visit Magic Kingdom year round.

Plan Your Day Before Arriving

Using the online map of Magic Kingdom, our family mapped out what rides, attractions and shows were important to us.

From that list of ‘must do', we planned our day to navigate the park in a methodical way to save on energy and maximize our one day ticket.  Because our family has two adult children and two younger children, we decided to divide and conquer at the beginning of the day, taking advantage of shorter lines at the start of the day.

Stick to your plan!  By knowing what you want to see, ride and experience, along with the times that each of the shows start we were able to see everything we desired to do and in recorded time.

Arrive Early

We were so happy we arrived early on the day we went to Magic Kingdom.  I was so surprised by the lines already formed when we arrived and entered the gates about 10 minutes before the crowd of people, excited to start their ‘magical day'.

For those eagerly waiting, they were witness to Mickey Mouse, Minnie and other of his friends arrive on the train and entertain you at the start of your magical day. When the gates open, fire works go off and the crowd literally starts running into the park!

The Castle

The Castle is what everyone thinks of when you mention Magic Kingdom, so no wonder it is the first thing you see when you enter the gates.  Be sure to stop and get your photo taken with that icon behind your family.


goofy and pluto

Character Experiences, Stage Shows and Parades

Using the interactive map to plan your day and to be sure you see the Disney Characters that matter most to your children, you will want to pay attention to the times these are happening throughout the park.

You can bring your own autograph books for them to sign (or buy one at the many shops around the park), take pictures of your children with the characters or have lunch in one of the restaurants that provide even more of a magical experience.

Be sure to escape the heat and enjoy the President's Hall in Liberty Square, where all 44 presidents are on stage.  Our family has also enjoyed the escape from the heat or weather with the Mickey's Philharmagic 4D Show.

jungle cruise

Family Attractions

When you think of Disney's Magic Kingdom, you already think of the popular rides that are advertised everywhere.  I want to share with you a few of the ones you may over look and shouldn't!

Our family really enjoyed the very entertaining Jungle Cruise and you will love the Liberty Square Riverboat!

One of my favorite rides to enjoy with my youngest was the Many Adventures of Winnie Pooh.  All along the line are hands-on playing stations for your children to explore, experience and enjoy as they move up the line with you.  Save this one for when your children are needing a break from waiting in lines, because you will not hear them complaining in this line!


Thrill Rides

My older children are thrill lovers.  Arriving early allowed them to ride Space Mountain four times in about an hour and that truly was the magical moment for their day.  They have also enjoyed Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, as well.

These are popular rides and tend to have very long wait lines, so using the FastPass+ option for the must ride would be the best way to use this option.

Other Helpful Tips

Pack snacks!  

You are able to bring food and water into the park, so do it!  We always use a backpack.  We packed it full of sunflower seeds, sesame sticks, pistachios, sweetened walnuts and pecans, granola bars, raisin and cranberry boxes and beef jerky, plus our water bottles.

We took breaks to snack and get drinks before heading out of one area, to be sure we did everyone and reconfirm our plan for the next area of the park. This really helped to keep hunger and attitudes from popping their ugly head in long lines.

Bring a Stroller with Storage Room

Save money and bring your own stroller, but be sure there is storage for your water bottles and bag when you need a break.  There are stroller parking at different parts of the park and although we have never left our book bag, the items we have left in the stroller never seemed to be touched.

Pack a Towel and Dress to get Wet

There are a few places around the Magic Kingdom to help you beat the heat and cool off.  We always through a towel in our bag and pack a change of clothes for the younger ones in the car, so that they can get out of the clothes when we leave (if we plan to leave early) or pack them in the backpack if we are making it a full day until closing.

Don't Overlook Your Children's Needs

I was surprised to see how many parents were not having a good time, because their children were struggling with the overload of the day.  If your children are still taking naps daily and they are off their schedule, you are going to run into some issues. Plan an indoor show for the adults around their nap time and cuddle with them, allowing them the opportunity to rest or take a nap.  Do the same later in the day, if you plan on staying for the nightly fire works!

Feed your child often.  Don't allow their tummies to get hungry because all hungry people get grumpy.

Acknowledge their needs when their attitude shifts and take time to meet them and your time will be built around the memories you are making for them at their age and their ability.

I hope these tips help your family to enjoy the ‘magic' of your visit to Disney's Magic Kingdom!

What I Learned When I Lost My Son at Sea World

What I Learned When I Lost My Son at Sea World www.joyinthehome.com

We recently visited Sea World in Orlando on a day in February that was rather cool and rainy in the morning.  Due to the weather, Sea World was not as busy and we really were having a wonderful day exploring, learning and making memories.  All that changed so quickly, when my sweet four year old boy disappeared and I lost my son at Sea World.

It was getting late in the day and dinner time for our family.  We decided to split up and conquer, which we do often.  My husband and my older three children went for our dinner, while my four year old and I headed for the children's play area.  My son was so excited about the Net Climb and I was excited for him, but knew that his siblings would LOVE to explore this area with him, so I told him that we will just enjoy the slides together, while we waited for them.

My son tends to be an obedient boy and because of this obedience, I gave him some liberties to enjoy with my supervision.  The photo below (provided by viajaretudodebom.com.br) is the Net Climb at Sea World and the pink, purple and green slides were where I gave him permission to play.  I watched him climb the steps, as I waited by the bottom of the slides.  From that area, I could see his feet and see where he had entered.  He loved coming down the slide and peek through the openings to see me waiting with a smile.

netclimb 3 slides

This routine continued for six turns, two trips down each of the colors of the slide.  He was heading for the steps again and I wanted to be sure he remembered that he could only go down the three sides and he replied ‘yes, ma'am'.

So again, I watched from the bottom of the slides and moved with his fee to the green slide, which was the furtherest slide from the stairs.  I saw his feet disappear and waited to see his face through the openings on top of the slide… but NOTHING!  I popped my head into the slide and called his name. NOTHING!  Seeing the light at the top, I popped up and thought that he must have changed his mind in went into the next one. I began scanning the top and looking through the other slides. NOTHING.  I called his name again. NOTHING.

I ran up those steps as fast as I could to only find NO ONE at the top.  I began to scream his name, as I spun in all directions trying to spot where he went and the only options was into the Net Climb through a yellow tube.  Once entering this tube, there is a large rope floor that leads to the next level.  I scanned that area to the right and I saw nothing… NO ONE!

netclimbing entrance mouseplant.com

As I began to scan more to the left, while screaming his name, I saw an area that lead to the left side of the Net Climb and I didn't see him, but I noticed a stair way down the other side.

My mind went wild…. ‘SOMEONE TOOK MY SON!'

netclimb's back stairs at Sea World by mouseplant.com

I ran down the stairs that I came up and began to look frantically in all directions for a glimpse of my son and couldn't!  I called my daughter's cell and began to cry into the phone, “I lost Manoah and I need y'all to help me NOW!”

I ran back up the stairs and a young father stopped me.  He looked me in the eyes and said, “Ma'am, what does your son look like and what is he wearing?”  I began to try to get a photo from my phone and I couldn't even stop from shaking. I stopped and prayed out loud, “Lord, help me!”  Immediately, I started to remember what he was wearing.

We both started scanning the second level and the young father pointing to the stairs between the second and third level said, ‘Is that him?'

“YES!!! YES!!!!” was all I could say.  I screamed his name and told him to come to me right now. He was coming in my direction and everything hit me. I hugged the young father, thanking him again and again.  I watched as my little boy was making his way to me, just as my family arrived.

I couldn't stop hugging my boy and then my husband, bawling the whole time!

This experience of losing my son has taught me somethings, even after 20 years of parenting and I wanted to share them with you.

  • Paying full attention to your child isn't enough – I was not distracted with my cell phone, talking with another parent or looking around. I have full attention on my child, but the obstacles in my way from a full view wasn't enough for me to know where my son was at all times.
  • It really only does take a few seconds – I have gone through this time again and again and can only expect that he was in the Net Climb for about 1 minute before I was at the opening. We are still puzzled of how he got where he got without me seeing him, but there are tunnels inside and although we can't get a full understanding from him, we believe that he was inside one of these obstructing my view of him.
  • First time obedience is crucial – My son is obedient most of the time and he admitted that he willingly disobeyed because he really wanted to go inside and play.  Even if your child is characterized to be obedient, situations can be more temptation for them then we realize.
  • Current photo is crucial – From now on, I will be taking a photo of my son and putting it on my screen shot when ever we go to anything that can obstruct my view from having full knowledge of where he is at all times. If I could have pulled that up immediately, he may have been noticed sooner.
  • Dress in something that stands out – Bold colors or in his case, a polar bear on a black sweater was helpful to spotting him quickly.
  • Ask for help before freaking out – No one stepped up to help me when I called his name several times and I didn't ask for it either.  I was freaking out before someone offered to help me. If my son was taken, that was precious time lost because I tried to do it on my own.
  • Train my son who knows no strangers safety rules – He talks to EVERYONE and immediately tells them his name and age. He just loves people. In today's culture, this could be harmful to him. We have already started to train him about stranger danger and walking away from us.  I have even gone so far as to have a family password, so he learns that if someone tries to get him to go with him, he can only go with them if they know our secret word.

I hope these tips help you to never know the fear that gripped our family that day.  Meanwhile, we look forward to go to Sea World again and build more memories that bring smiles to our faces.

Staycation Enjoyment for Richmond, Virginia

Staycation Enjoyment for Richmond, Virginia

Have you ever taken a ‘staycation' before? A staycation is a vacation at home and it is really growing in popularity with the economic condition of our country.  I would love to share with you great things that can be done in Richmond, Virginia (and surrounding areas) if you ever decide to look for staycation enjoyment or if you have desire to visit our area.

Here is a list of staycation enjoyment for Richmond, Virginia that are free or inexpensive, with a few ideas for those days when you just want to splurge on the fun:


Richmond is a very beautiful city and there are a lot of wonderful things to do in the open area. One of our favorite places to go, when we desire to get up close with nature is Maymont Park, which has over 100 beautiful acres to walk, explore or just relax. We have had picnics here, enjoyed the animals, Italian gardens, Japanese gardens and threw the ball around. Many people flock to this area for painting opportunities, photo sessions and even weddings. Simply gorgeous and free to the public, with donation boxes at the gates. A few other of our favorite places to visit for nature studies is Pony Pastures, Three Lakes Nature Park, Meadows Farm Museum and Canal Walk.


There is so much history to be found, in Richmond. One of our favorite parts of history is St. John's Church, where Patrick Henry, from near by Hanover County, gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. Every summer you can enjoy a free reenactment of this historical meeting of our founding fathers. We are surrounded by battlefields and among them is the popular Richmond National Battlefield. If you want to enjoy a few other history rich things that Richmond boast to be their own, you can visit the home of Robert E. Lee that was taken seized in 1865, during the Civil War. If you enjoy Civil War history, you will really want to check out the Museum of Confederacy. Enjoy a day at our local government, when checking out the Virginia Capitol and the Executive Mansion, where our Governor and his family resides during his tem. Lastly, you may enjoy a visit to the popular Hollywood Cemetery and a stroll down Monument Ave. Richmond Concert Band at Dogwood Dell for July 4th Music

If you enjoy outdoor concerts, you will want to check out the Pocahontas Live concerts. Our family have great memories of listening to the Richmond Symphony, while enjoying our picnic dinner on the lawn.  One of our favorite concerts of the summer is on July 4th at Dogwood Dell. It is put on by the Richmond Concert Band, which includes my husband's brother and his family.  They play at other locations through the year, as well.


I absolutely love theatre and one of my favorite local places to go is Theatre IV.  They are one of the ‘splurge' things that I would recommend. In addition to this historical theatre, we also brag of the Bryd Theatre.  You can almost feel the history in this theatre, from the aged seats, decor and history of the famous patrons of the past.  For only $2 a person, this is a must for any time of the year! Our newly renovated Virginia Museum of Fine Art is also a great place of lover of fine art to visit.

Busch Gardens Staycation

Near by Atttractions, you may want to ‘splurge' on…

We recently went to Busch Gardens, in Williamsburg, Virginia about 45 minutes east of Richmond, for the first time and I would highly recommend it for a great family day!  Their sister park, Water Country, USA is one of my favorite parks to visit, maybe because my husband leaves all the cares of life in the parking lot and easily turns into a kid again or just the way the water makes me feel giddy all over.  Then of course, there is Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown, all in the same area. Just about 30 minutes north of Richmond, is the popular King's Dominon. I hope you enjoy these tips for staycation enjoyment for Richmond, Virginia. Come back tomorrow and I will share with you Staycations Across the United States.

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