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US: St. Augustine, FL- Learn all About Dolphins on a Dolphin Paddle

Join Anastasia Watersports and Marineland Dolphin Adventure for a fun-filled interpretive Dolphin Paddle on Salt Run at Anastasia State Park.

Dolphin Paddle 2 D81_5143The park’s estuarine tidal marsh is teeming with plant and animal life . Learn about the biosphere and natural habitats, hop into a kayak, paddle onto Salt Run, and keep an eye for birds, turtles, manatees and especially dolphins.

Staff will provide illuminating details about the ecosystem and the myriad wildlife that inhabit it.  A dolphin expert from Marineland, will fill guests in on fascinating facts about the dolphins that are born, breed and thrive in this waterway.

The event will start with 30 minutes of classroom discussion followed by 90 minutes of paddling.  Come out and enjoy real, undiscovered Florida. Program fee: $40/person, includes boat rental. Park admission fees: ($8.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.  email, info@anastasiawatersports.com to make a reservation.dolphin-paddle-on-salt-run-3138-6078

This informative event is Family-Friendly.

Location: Anastasia State Park,  300 Anastasia Park Road, St. Augustine, FL 32080
Date: Sat, June 16, 2018
Time: 9am – 11am
Tel: 904-460-9111
floridastateparks.org/park-events/Anastasia
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: floridashistoriccoast.com

US: Richmond, VA – Mother’s Day Fun or Just Stop and Smell the Roses at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is an oasis on a driving trip – 82 magnificent acres which started life as Powhatanhuntinggrounds and was at one time owned by patriot Patrick Henry.

In 1884, Lewis Ginter, who was orphaned at 17 and later became a millionaire from tobacco and real estate, developed a Wheel Club House here for Richmond bicyclists (now Bloemendaal House). His niece, Grace Arents, developed the gardens, and her original design is still here.

There are more kinds of gardens than we ever knew existed: four seasons, healing, Asian, rose, wetland, azalea and a community kitchen one where they grow food for the hungry. The children’s garden offers up a tree house and an activity center; there’s sidewalk chalk, hula hooping, digging and watering opportunities.  They love the Kids Quest treasure hunt. For walkers, there’s a “walk on the wild side” and a bird trail, and as if all that wasn’t enough, there’s a lush indoor conservatory with exotic plants from around the world.

Featured Events:

A Million Blooms

Until Thursday, June 1, 2017 A Million Bllooms - Flowers -3-28-2017 2-47-04 PM
A Million Blooms is included with Garden admission. A parade of blooms unfurls as the weather warms: daffodils, tulips, peonies, roses and  more.

Butterflies LIVE!

Butterflys @ Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Stephanie Gross 434.962.2019

Until  Sunday, October 15, 2017
Experience the wonderful world of butterflies! Butterflies LIVE! is an indoor exhibit in the Conservatory and is geared for all ages. Get up close and personal as hundreds of tropical butterflies feed, flutter and take flight all around you. Explore their origins, preferred habitats and life cycles.

Butterflys @ Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - Stephanie Gross 434.962.2019

Mother’s Day Weekend
May 12, 13 & 14, 2017
Regular Garden admission
A three-day weekend with many opportunities to honor and spend time with mom. Enjoy the popular Butterflies LIVE! exhibit, shopping and dining:

  • The long weekend kicks off Friday, May 12 with National Public Gardens Day.
  • On Saturday, May 13, create the experience your mom would like. Stretch out on quilts in the Louise Cochrane Rose Garden and read favorite books. Explore woodland walks searching for fairies. Get down and dirty with digging activities. Help weave a Maypole, try the hula hoop and chase bubbles! (10 am – 4 pm)
  • Sunday, May 14 is the popular Mother’s Day concert with Glenroy Bailey & Co. (1 – 4pm). Food available for purchase in front of Bloemendaal House. Guests are also welcome to bring blankets or lawn chairs but no outside food or beverage. Activities in the Children’s Garden include “make-and-takes” for mom (10am – 4pm)

Location: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave, Richmond, VA 23228
Hours: Daily 9am – 5pm
Tel: 804-262-9887
lewisginter.org
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitrichmondva.com

US: Folkston, GA – Canoe, Kayak, or Boat the Black Waters of the Okefenokee Swamp

Nature enthusiasts will relish the natural unspoiled and virtually unmarked by man Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge that was established in 1937 to preserve the Okefenokee Swamp. The refuge encompasses over 400,000 acres of canals, moss draped cypress trees and lily pads which provide sanctuaries for hundreds of species of birds and wildlife.Kayakers on canal

Okefenokee has the great distinction of not only being a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, but also the National Wilderness Preservation System. Swamp habitats comprise open wet “prairies,” cypress forests, scrub-shrub vegetation, upland islands, and open lakes. Wildlife species include wading birds, ducks, alligators and other reptiles, a variety of amphibians, bobcats, raptors, white-tailed deer, black bears, and songbirds.

To assist you on your exploration, Okefenokee Adventures offers a full range of tour options and is located inside the refuge on the historic Suwannee Canal.  Canoe, kayak, or boat the mirrored black waters of the Okefenokee Swamp: You can join a regularly scheduled 90 minute guided boat tours, or reserve a 2 hour sunset tour or arrange a half or full day private excursion with an expert, professional guide. Their staff includes well-known authorities on alligator biology, wetland ecology, and Okefenokee cultural history. gator on log

Experience canoe camping in the back-country wilderness of the Swamp interior, or head out on your own in a canoe or kayak. You can bike or drive the Swamp Island Drive, visit an authentic Swamp homestead or walk the nature trails and boardwalk and  get bird’s eye views of the swamp from atop the observation tower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Location: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, 2700 Suwanee Canal Rd, Folkston, GA 31537 , Tel: 912-496-7836 or 877-860-6787

Location: Okefenokee Adventures, 4159 Suwannee Canal Rd., Folkston, GA 31537
Hours: Open: ½-hour before sunrise every day,
Closed: 7:30pm – March 1 through Oct 31, Closed: 5:30pm – Nov 1 through end of Feb
Tel: 912-496-7156, 866-843-7926
okefenokeeadventures.com
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: visitkingsland.com

US: Cape Neddick, ME – Whoooo’s There?: Owl Prowl

Bring the whole flock out to the Center for Wildlife’s Owl Prowl; a fun, nature adventurous event and learn a bit about these amazing and mysterious birds of the night.Owl Prowl

Meet under the education pavilion to learn about native owl species, their ecology,  adaptations, hunting techniques, their amazing powers of sight and hearing, learn how to call owls and meet local representatives up close.

Following the presentation, take a short walk into the surrounding habitat to call for owls and listen for whooo might call back.

Owl prowlers of all ages are welcome, but patience and a quiet atmosphere are crucial for owl prowling. There is a $7 suggested donation per person for this event, and reservations are required. Take the Owl Prowl, it’s sure to be a hoot! Owl Prowl 2

Location: Center for Wildlife, 385 Mountain Rd., Cape Neddick, ME 03902
Date: Fridays, Feb 24, 2017 (also: Mar, 31, Apr, 28, 2017)
Time: 4 -5:30pm
Tel: 207-361-1400
thecenterforwildlife.org
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:yorkme.org portsmouthchamber.org

US: Lumberton, NC – This Show is Going to the Dogs…and Cats

If you are an animal lover, this show is for you. Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is a family-oriented blend of the unique comedy and juggling skills of Gregory Popovich, and the talents of his furry costars.popovichlyingdown

Featuring European-style circus extravaganza including physical comedy, juggling, acrobats from the Moscow Circus, along with mimes, contortionists and jaw dropping juggling by internationally acclaimed award winner Gregory Popovich. There are more than 30 pets in the show, including highly intelligent dogs, house cats, a variety of birds and a miniature horse, each one has been rescued from animal shelter. The animals show off their dexterity in a variety of unbelievable stunts and skits, including “The Dog Classroom,” “The Amazing House-Cats,” and “The Animal Train Station.”  cat-piggy-back

Popovich, a fifth generation circus performer who learned early on how to develop strong bonds with animals, has rescued a majority of his performers from shelters all over the country, and has transformed them into Las Vegas stars. He is a gold medal winner in Paris, France and a special award winner in Monte Carlo. Gregory and his pets were finalists on “America’s Got Talent”, were guests on TV shows with Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson and was a feature on Animal Planet. Do not miss this opportunity to see this unique family-friendly show featuring this legendary circus entertainer and his furry friends.popovich-carolina-civic-center

Location: Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater, 315 North Chestnut St., Lumberton, NC 28358
Date: Thurs., Feb 2. 2017
Time: 7 pm – 9 pm
Tel: 910-738-4339
carolinaciviccenter.com/event/popovich-comedy-pet-theater/#.WEg1Rn2rHfc
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: lumberton-nc.com

US: St Marys, GA – Wild Horses Graze on Georgia’s Cumberland Island

A short ferry ride transports you to the treasured, pristine Cumberland Island National Seashore, the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia, offering visitors over 17 miles of secluded, white, sandy beaches.

Preserved and protected for future generations, Cumberland Island National Seashore includes a designated wilderness area, undeveloped beaches, historic sites, cultural ruins, critical habitat and nesting areas. Walk on the footsteps of early natives, explorers, and wealthy industrialists.wild-horses-cumberland-island

You can’t explain Cumberland, you experience it. Time moves to the rhythm of nature. On this National Seashore, it is the animals that are the inhabitants and people are only visitors. The majestic sweep of deserted sandy beach is dotted with shells and usually deserted, except for the wild horses roaming at will. The dramatic slope of the dunes is a constant work in progress, sculptured by the wind and sea. The inland’s, majestic live oak and palmetto forests provide shelter for the horses, deer, turkey, alligator, armadillo, mink and a tremendous variety of coastal birds.

You’ll find campsites, hiking trails and first-come-first-serve bike rentals on the island. There are no amenities on the island beyond the restrooms and water fountains. You should bring lunch and water bottles to refill.

The visitor’s center in St. Mary’s, Georgia is the gateway to Cumberland Island. Here you can get tickets for the ferry over to the Island, as well as information about camping permits on the Island.

Location:Mainland Visitor Center, 113 Saint Marys St, GA 31558
Hours: Visitor Center  8 – 4 pm
Tel: 912-882-4335
nps.gov/cuis/index.htm
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:
visitkingsland.com

US: St. Marys, GA – Wild Horses Graze on Georgia’s Cumberland Island

A short ferry ride (passengers only) transports you to the treasured, pristine Cumberland Island National Seashore, the largest and southernmost barrier island in Georgia, offering visitors over 17 miles of secluded, white, sandy beaches.

Preserved and protected for future generations, Cumberland Island National Seashore includes a designated wilderness area, undeveloped beaches, historic sites, cultural ruins, critical habitat and nesting areas. Walk on the footsteps of early natives, explorers, and wealthy industrialists.

You can’t explain Cumberland, you experience it. Time moves to the rhythm of nature. On this National Seashore, it is the animals that are the inhabitants and people are only visitors. The majestic sweep of deserted sandy beach is dotted with shells and usually deserted, except for the wild horses roaming at will. The dramatic slope of the dunes is a constant work in progress, sculptured by the wind and sea. The inland’s, majestic live oak and palmetto forests provide shelter for the horses, deer, turkey, alligator, armadillo, mink and a tremendous variety of coastal birds.

You’ll find campsites, hiking trails and first-come-first-serve bike rentals on the island. There are no amenities on the island beyond the restrooms and water fountains. You should bring lunch and water bottles to refill.

The visitor’s center in St. Mary’s, Georgia is the gateway to Cumberland Island. Here you can get tickets for the ferry over to the Island, as well as information about camping permits on the Island. Wild Horses - Cumberland Island

Location:Mainland Visitor Center, 113 Saint Marys St, GA 31558
Hours: Visitor Center  8 – 4 pm
Tel: 912-882-4335
nps.gov/cuis/index.htm
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions:
visitkingsland.com

US: Miami, Florida – Jungle Island’s Parrots

Parrots enjoying themselves at Jungle Island near Miami. There are about 1,800 birds here, in addition to the tigers, vultures, flamingos, kangaroos, lemurs, hippos and a kookaburra. You can get very close to the animals, and you may even wind up with a parrot on your shoulder.

Jungle Ialand's Parrots

Canadian Museum of Nature is Museum of Fun

If you are heading out to Ottawa to enjoy our nation’s capitol, leave some time to explore the Canadian Museum of Nature. It’s the perfect place for all ages of the family to enjoy themselves. The brainy kids (or adults) can soak up extensive details about nature while the playful gang can pull levers or turn knobs in a deep sea sub, IMG_5043learn on many touch screens, or even dance around in front of  the endothermy camera checking out their colorful “hotspots”.

Everyone is awed by the the 19.8-metre blue whale skeleton in the Water Gallery but keeping going further in. All the way in the back are many interactive games for young and old alike: make believe areas for the wee ones, a board game along a wall,  animal jigsaw puzzles on touch screens, word games, etc.  

Gawk at the dinosaur fossils or walk amongst the fleshed-out dinosaur creatures for photo ops with kids. In the Vale Earth Gallery swoon over the 1200 gorgeous minerals, rocks and meteorites. Our 5 1/2-year-old couldn’t get enough of the joystick which controls a huge earth or the button to start the volcano.

Sure there’s a full size mammal gallery but the 11, 8 and 5 1/2 year-olds all stayed longer in the small Nature Live space where they oogled the cases of walking stick bugs in different camouflage colors and thicknesses. How many of you have come face to face with a tarantula? Then they listened intently as a docent showed fossils which were indigenous to Ottawa.

If you have time there are two 3D movies, “Prehistoric Planet 3D and Micro-Monsters 3D” (both too scary for the 5 1/2 -year old) but our gang liked the interactive museum more.IMG_5051

The famous Bird Gallery, with  one of the most extensive collections of Canadian birds in the world re-opened June 1. A special exhibit on now is Ultimate Dinosaurs June 11-September 5 and then upcoming is Reptiles: The Beautiful and the Deadly, October 6-April 2 .

A brand new Arctic Gallery will be unveiled on June 23 which is set to explain how the arctic is changing, including plants, animals and people of the area plus scientific research. Outside, three new ecozones will be shown off on June 17 including a woolly mammoths and an “iceberg”.

I’d like to give a thumbs up to the friendly security guards who answered questions informatively and helped to point out nearby bathrooms and water fountains.

Canadian Museum of Nature, a Beaux Arts building, was our first national museum, completed in 1912. Trivia buffs should note that this building  served as home to Canada’s House of Commons and Senate following the fire that destroyed the Centre Block of Parliament in 1916.

Location: 240 McLeod St., Ottawa
Phone: 613-364-4021
www.nature.ca

IMG_5036

Canada: Children Love National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa

Maman the Giant Spider

Maman the Giant Spider

Most people would not think of taking children to an art museum. However, The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa offers Artissimo,  one of the best children’s programs I have come across  – and at an amazingly reasonable price of only $24 for 2 adults and 3 children. They try to teach kids about the art through different senses.

– First up was the creation of Art Buddies, toys (like dolls or animals) which can be found in paintings. These exact reproductions are given to the kids to hold, and then they are pointed to galleries where they can try to find them in a painting. Our Marguerite Charlotte doll had golden curls intertwined with green ribbon, and was holding a little blue bird in her hand.

– Second fun activity was the touch box which the child wears around his neck. They can put their hands in the sides (like a muff) and feel textures inside. Each box relates to a painting which has these textures in it; they have to guess what they are feeling and what in the painting represents it: a feather, lace, fur, picture frame, etc.

– Thirdly, was a real hit for ages 4-10. In Sounds Like Art, they are given headphones which play sounds. In each gallery, they have to find a painting which would relate to that sound: water, a crying baby, horses’ hooves, crackling fire.

The Arts and Crafts Area

The Arts and Crafts Area

For completing these games, the kids are rewarded with collectors’ cards of the paintings.

– Lastly there is an arts and crafts area set up in the most beautiful setting possible – the Great Hall with its soaring windows. While they are creating their works of art, you (and they) can oogle the magnificent panoramic view of Parliament Hill, the Gatineau Hills and the Ottawa River.

The children also enjoyed finding the surprise garden (from above and at ground level), the ceiling water window in the lobby, the “sound sculpture” in the chapel and, of course, Maman, the giant spider outside.  And yes, there is also the fabulous collection of art. We spent 4 hours there easily.

Location: 380 promenade Sussex Drive, Ottawa ON K1N 9N4
Phone: 800-319-ARTS
Hours: Tues-Sun 10-5 (closed Mon Oct 1-Apr 30)
www.gallery.ca  www.beaux-arts.ca