My family loves to visit National Parks. You can bet that if there is a National Park along our route anytime we take a trip, we try to fit it in if at all possible. We’ve been fortunate to have walked in some of the nations most historic and scenic parks and we look forward to seeing even more of what the National Park system has to offer when we take a trip out West later this year.
I have a hard time determining our favorite park because with the exception of two, we’ve loved them all. And we can’t really blame having a bad day or family squabble against the two that didn’t win high marks, now can we?
I asked my husband and asked my kids which parks they have loved and though the Great Smokey Mountains, the Statue of Liberty, and Shiloh National Battlefield have all received a thumbs up, there is one that we think was really fun.
When we first began traveling with my husband’s job, one of our first stops was to Virginia Beach. I loved temporarily living in the Hampton Roads area- there was certainly no shortage of things to do and with Jamestown, Yorktown and Colonial Williamsburg about an hour away, it’s great for those that love American History.
Centrally located, Virginia Beach is an easy three hour drive to Eastern Virginia, home of Assateague Island National Seashore and the Wild Ponies of Chincoteague, while three hours in the opposite direction leads you to the famous Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was there that we found Fort Raleigh, home of the Lost Colony.
You’re probably aware of the mystery surrounding this National Historic Site. Fort Raleigh is now known as the Lost Colony because the colonists, which included Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the New World, disappeared without a trace in the late 1580’s.
Though we enjoyed our visit here, I have to admit that we were all a bit creeped out by the disappearance of the colonists. We’d also arrived too early in the season to enjoy the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens that I’d seen as a child or to enjoy The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama that has been performed since 1937.
Our really fun stop was located minutes away at Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This stop didn’t appeal to me. In fact, I really didn’t care to go. We were from Ohio, we’d heard so much about the Wright Brothers. I thought we’d stop for a minute, see where they’d taken their first flight and hit the road. I had no idea what I was in for.
This National Park site has easily become one of our favorites in part because of the Rangers. We spent about an hour and a half at the memorial and really should have allowed more time for our visit. Since my kids were younger then, they participated in the Jr. Ranger program, and LOVED it. They took part in a fun scavenger hunt that led them around the grounds, and we sat in on one of the Ranger’s demonstrations where he described the hardships that the Wright Brothers endured as they attempted to get their plane off the ground.
The Ranger’s gave us free educational material, pointed out a nutria on the property (a rodent much like a ground hog), and gave the kids permission to fly Styrofoam gliders on the grounds before we rushed off as the gates closed. This was certainly a fun and educational stop and one I’m glad that we didn’t miss.
If you’d like to share some of your National Park stories, you can join the link-up on my post from last week.
What has been your most memorable National Park experience, and why?