I can't even explain just how necessary this vacation was for us! We haven't taken a vacation that was anything beyond visiting family/traveling for weddings since John Paul was a baby... So just picking a spot (the Outer Banks, in our case) where we didn't have to focus our efforts around other people was really nice!
And when I found out that we'd be staying pretty near Roanoke Island (where the first English child was born in the British Colonies), I knew the kids would be pretty excited to check out the Roanoke Island Festival Park! I contacted them to see if they'd be up for a collaboration, and Tanya sweetly offered us tickets. So we packed up and drove about an hour from where we were staying (the Outer Banks are LONG and the speed limits are low so everything took longer than I expected!) to check out the park.
There's an Indian Village, a settlement site, and a replica of one of the ships the colonists used to travel to the New World outdoors, as well as a nice air-conditioned museum and a great gift shop (also a movie they play in their theater, but Peter and the girls wouldn't have lasted through it, although I know John Paul would have loved it!). Admission covers two consecutive days and they have a coupon on their website, so I think it's a really great option for families, especially with young children, because they're not always able to take everything in in one fell swoop!
I *loved* the idea of Algonquin children having their first "job" as a lookout for the crops. Why don't we do this??? They just sat in a shaded hut all day and threw rocks at animals trying to eat the crops. Brilliant. And one of the kids' favorite parts of the museum!
The ship (Elizabeth II) was probably their absolute favorite - I imagine it would be tricky to navigate on a crowded day, but we got there early and there weren't many people around so the kids could take forever exploring the treasure in the holds (they would have done that for HOURS if we let them, I'm pretty sure), trying to play the games, and talking to Randall, one of the costumed sailors down below.
|A dugout canoe on the way to the settlement village|
Everyone was a little bit hot by the time we got to the settlement village - there wasn't much shade there, but John Paul was TOTALLY in his 7-year-old-boy element, taking the opportunity to use a lathe, get put in the stocks, and watch a blacksmith make an iron nail (which we subsequently lost, and the kids are still really upset...).
We were ready to head back to air conditioning! Inside to the museum, the girls were enchanted by a whole dress-up area with awesome costumes. I wish there had been more instructions on how to wear them, because I had trouble figuring out some of it... But I think we can conclude that they ended up looking pretty cute!
We had to cut them off because Peter was running amok, so we had to check out the rest of the museum pretty quickly. We only really knew the history behind the first settlement on the island, but there's a whole lot of pirate history and other local history that they include in the museum. The exhibits are all interactive and clearly-marked, which is such a relief because I'm generally terrified of taking the kids to museums because I'm worried they'll break something...
We had such a blast, and I wish we had had time to go back for a second day! If you're in the Outer Banks, you have to check out this gem of a museum. Thank you so much to Tanya for letting us come visit!