Category Archives: Beach Vacations

7 Things You Must Do in Colonial Williamsburg

Travel back in time to colonial America at Williamsburg, Virginia.  With cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and colonial music, featuring fifes and drums, being performed in the street, you will experience a vacation like no other—and even learn a few things about our country’s history along the way.  You can even tour historic buildings and colonial shops to see what life in early America was really like.  On your next trip, here are 7 things you must do in colonial Williamsburg.
Colonial Williamsburg: 7 Things You must do on Your Next Visit // Money Savvy Living

Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center

The Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center is a great place to start, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area.  You can talk with knowledgeable professionals about all of the local attractions, bus schedules, and special events.  You are also able to get tickets here for America’s Historic Triangle—Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

This is also a good starting point, especially if you don’t happen to be staying within walking distance of the historic district.  You are able to park here for the day and take a shuttle bus to the historic district, find out about all events that are going on, get tickets for certain attractions, and even enjoy some shopping.

A stop here wouldn’t be complete without the kids trying on the colonial style tricorne hats…Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

The Historic District of Colonial Williamsburg

When you think of colonial America, all of the images that your imagination may conjure up can probably be found in the Historic District of Colonial Williamsburg—cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, colonial musicians, and plenty of townspeople in full colonial garb at each of the colonial shops.  Your family can visit everything from a colonial candle-maker to a shoemaker, a weaver, or even a silversmith’s shop and see how things were made over 200 years ago.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Duke of Gloucester Street is the main street where you can find most of the tourist and historic sites, although there are more places to visit just north of Duke of Gloucester Street.  What was really great about the Historic District is that everything is within walking distance—although you will be walking a few miles by the time you take in all the sights—so wear some comfortable shoes!

While you are in the historic district, you can even get a photo opportunity in the Pillory (a form of colonial punishment for criminals).  Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

Williamsburg honors military service

While visiting the historic district, active duty military, veterans, retired military, and their families can visit the Liberty Lounge absolutely free.  This air-conditioned lounge area features vintage military memorabilia and offers complimentary hot and cold beverages.  Visitors can also access wireless internet and enjoy the children’s area.

I must say, on the hot, sultry day that we were there, the AC and cold water sure hit the spot!

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Military families can also get discounts on single day and annual pass tickets—active duty military can get one complimentary ticket per year and up to three more for dependents; veterans and retired military can receive 50% off their tickets and for up to five dependents.

 

Eat a colonial meal

While you are in the historic district, eating a meal at one of the colonial-style restaurants is a must.  We ate at the King’s Arms Tavern and the experience was wonderful.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Of course, the meal was enjoyed by candlelight and served on china and glassware (if you have small children, you won’t be getting a plastic cup with a lid or straw here!)   You can even try some colonial-style food too, like this peanut soup:

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

Visit the Historic Venues

There are several buildings that are original historic sites—such as the Governor’s mansion and the Capitol.  The beauty of the architecture can be enjoyed from the outside, but you can also get tickets to take tours of the inside as well.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

Visit the College of William and Mary

Literally within walking distance of the historic district of Williamsburg, the college was established before Williamsburg ever existed.

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Even though the plans for this college date back to 1618, the College of William and Mary actually is the second oldest college in America (Harvard is the oldest college, just in case you were wondering).

One of the most interesting parts of the college was the college camp.  Students camped here with the college president Rev. James Madison to form a college company before the Battle of Yorktown.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Despite the plans for the college being delayed, the College of William and Mary has plenty of firsts to tout, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Construction for the Wren building, named in honor of Sir Christopher Wren, started in 1695, making it the oldest college building still standing in America.
  • First college in to have plans pre-dating Harvard, even though the college was established after Harvard became a college.
  • First American college to receive its charter from the Crown under the Seal of the Privy Council in 1693, and appropriately named as their Majesties’ Royal College of William and Mary.
  • First and only American college to receive a Coat of Arms from the College of Heralds in 1694.
  • First college to have the elective system of study, 1779.
  • First college to become a university, 1779

williamsburg college of wm

 

Enjoy shopping at Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square

While there are over 40 shops and restaurants at Merchants Square, there is also live entertainment at various spots, to enjoy as you browse and window shop.  If you parked at the Visitor Center, this is also a stop along the shuttle bus route, so you can easily go from the historic district to Merchants Square.

 

A fun trip can also be an educational trip.  This trip back in time to colonial America gives adults and children an experience that you won’t find in a textbook.  Williamsburg truly is a historic adventure for the whole family.

 

 

 

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach for FREE
7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

 

Taking a family vacation is definitely an investment—one which I personally think is invaluable because you can’t put a price tag on creating memories with your kids, right?  While theoretically, money is no object when it comes to my family, the reality of the situation is that we do have to live within a budget.  So, with that in mind, I always like to look for places to go and things to do that can provide a lot of fun and entertainment for the boys, while taking it easy on our bank account…

 

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

 

If you are looking for a fun, frugal, and family-friendly vacation, then you will love Virginia Beach!  Of course, there are several other things to do on a Virginia Beach vacation, but these seven things won’t cost you a dime!

 

The Beach                       

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Okay, obviously, this is the main attraction—the beach itself!  Whether you like to just lay out and soak up the sun, build a sandcastle, search for seashells, or play in the ocean, the beach will keep you and your kids busy all day.  These nice, wide beaches have plenty of room to lay out by the ocean, or spread out under your own little umbrella or tent.  Besides that, at certain spots along the beach, there are actually playgrounds that your kids can play on, still on the sand, but close to the boardwalk.  Bring a volleyball or Frisbee for the bigger kids (or the parents!) because there is plenty of room for that too!

 

Dolphin Watching

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

You can pay to take a boat ride for dolphin watching, but you really don’t need to… because the dolphins actually swim close enough to shore that you can see them right from your spot on the beach.  While the dolphin excursion boat rides would definitely get you up-close, you can still enjoy seeing the dolphins right from shore—and that’s free!

 

Stroll along the Boardwalk

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Virginia Beach has a beautiful boardwalk that stretches for 3 miles of the Virginia Beach coastline—so you can literally walk up and down Virginia Beach oceanfront!  We absolutely loved strolling the boardwalk to find new restaurants or just to see what else was around… and never had to take our eyes off of the ocean.  The boardwalk also had a couple of “lanes” devoted to bicycles, multi-person carts and skateboarders.  So bring your bicycle… or you can choose to rent one if you want…

 

Neptune Statue

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

While you are at Virginia Beach, you have to at least stop by and see the colossal statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

 

Cape Henry Lighthouses/Fort Story

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

You will definitely want to check out the lighthouses at Cape Henry.  However, once we got there, we realized that there was so much more to Cape Henry than just the lighthouses.  There were great history lessons to be learned there.  Did you know that the original lighthouse was the very first federal building authorized by the United States government in 1789?  Did you know that construction of the lighthouse actually started in 1772, but was interrupted by the American Revolution?  Did you know that the sandstone used to build the original lighthouse came from the same Aquia Virginia Quarries that provided stone for Mount Vernon, The U.S. Capitol, and the White House?

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Besides the lighthouses, there were also other statues: a memorial cross, Battle of the Capes, and Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse.  The memorial cross erected in 1935, which serves as a reminder of the original oak cross built by the colonists when they arrived in 1607 and named Cape Henry for Henry, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King James I.  The Battle of the Capes in September 1781 was a major turning point in America’s struggle for independence, and you can learn all about it here…  And a statue of De Grasse commemorates his role in the Battle of the Capes that lead to the victory of American Independence from Britain.

Who says a fun beach vacation can’t be educational too?!

 

Street Performances

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Every evening, visitors to Virginia Beach are entertained by music from individuals and small group musicians, to painters, jugglers, and so much more… all FREE!  There are signs posted that let visitors know that no tips are necessary because these live performances are actually paid for by the city of Virginia Beach.

My son, Chase, actually got to be a part of one of the shows—Up, Down, Go!  He was pretty excited!

 

Concerts

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

The street performances are great, but in addition to the single or small group musicians that you can enjoy as you stroll, there are also actual concerts—everything from orchestra music at the small amphitheater at Neptune’s Park, to concerts at various stages along Atlantic Avenue between the street and the boardwalk.  No tickets necessary, just find a seat and enjoy!

 

When planning your next vacation to this wonderful destination, you may also find it helpful to check out VABeach.com.  This is a great resource to discover hotels, restaurants, events, and so much more!

 

 

5 money saving tips for planning your next vacation

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Going on vacation can be a nice escape from reality. Visiting somewhere new and exciting with your loved ones is also a great opportunity to create lasting memories. However, all of the costs associated with taking a vacation can really add up. Because things can get a little pricey, here are some tips to help you get the best deals, no matter what your destination is:

1) Take your vacation during the off-season.

  • Taking a beach vacation in May or late August can save a lot of money. Typically, June, July, and early August are the peak season for tourists headed to the beach because those are the hottest times, also when most schools are out for summer vacation. Going just before or slightly after the busy season, can save you hundreds of dollars and, many times, the beaches are less crowded.
  • Save at Disney in September and October. Taking a vacation to Disney during Autumn will save you hundreds (maybe thousands!) of dollars, depending on how long you stay. While you won’t really save on tickets to the part itself, you can save BIG on accommodations. During this time, you can save 50% or more on hotel rooms that are $400-500/night during peak season. The parks are less crowded during this time as well. Undercover Tourist is an app that also gives you an idea of events going on at each park, and based on historical data, it estimates how crowded the park will be on the days that you are looking to visit.

2) Know the cancellation policies.

Whether it be your airline or hotel, make sure you know the cancellation policies. If someone were to get sick or some other reason arise that your family cannot go on vacation, you certainly don’t want to be stuck paying for it. Many times, hotels allow guests to cancel within 24-48hours without any penalty. For airline tickets, it is well worth the small fee per ticket to be able to get a refund. It can literally save you thousands of dollars if your entire family is planning on flying.

3) Avoid holiday travel.

Vacationing during almost any holiday, whether it’s Labor Day or Christmas, can cost you extra. More people are off work during these times and kids are off school, so more people are travelling, which means paying a premium.

4) Visit the Chamber of Commerce or other visitors website of your chosen destination.

Many times, you can find out about free festivals, children’s activities, or local tourist attractions that are inexpensive. Here is one example of such a website for Myrtle Beach, SC. You can also do a search for local restaurants on Restaurants.com to find money-saving coupons on dining. Doing a little research ahead of time can save you a lot of money once on vacation.

5) Don’t buy “necessities” on vacation. Most of us remember to pack toiletries when going on a trip, like toothpaste and deodorant, however, it is also important to remember to take the less essential necessities:

  • Beach/warm weather destination—take sand and water toys for the kids with you. Yes, this is just more stuff to pack, but once you get to the water, your kids will love playing in the sand with their buckets and shovels. Don’t forget arm floaties, sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, or goggles for the pool either. These items may not seem significant, but if you end up having to buy them once you get to your destination, it will cost a lot more than getting them at Walmart or the dollar store.
  • Skiing/cold weather destination—don’t forget gloves, hand-warmers, long underwear, wool socks, and even sunglasses for the slopes. If you have to buy these items at a specialty shop, you will end up paying a huge premium.

This article was originally published on my Personal Finance Examiner page.

Money Savvy Beach Vacations

Hilton Head Beach

Planning your summer vacation? Here are some great money-saving deals for beach vacations! Click the following link for
Great Beach Destination Deals!

Beach vacations can be a lot of fun and you can plan a great trip relatively inexpensively too. The best part, though, is the focal point of the vacation– the beach– is free to enjoy! Hotels on the beach can get a little pricey, so here are some tips to get the best deals:

* Take your vacation early or late in the season. Taking a beach vacation in May or late August can save a lot of money. Typically, June, July, and early August are the peak season for tourists headed to the beach because those are the hottest times, also when most schools are out for summer vacation. Going just before or slightly after the busy season, can save you hundreds of dollars and, many times, the beaches are less crowded.

* Know the cancellation policies. Whether it be your airline or hotel, make sure you know the cancellation policies. If someone were to get sick or some other reason arise that your family cannot go on vacation, you certainly don’t want to be stuck paying for it. Many times, hotels allow guests to cancel within 24-48hours without any penalty. For airline tickets, it is well worth the small fee per ticket to be able to get a refund. It can literally save you thousands of dollars if your entire family is planning on flying.

* Don’t buy “necessities” on vacation. Take sand and water toys for the kids with you. Yes, this is just more stuff to pack, but once you get to the water, your kids will love playing in the sand with their buckets and shovels. Don’t forget arm floaties, sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, or goggles for the pool either. These items may not seem significant, but if you end up having to buy them once you get to your destination, it will cost a lot more than getting them at Walmart or the dollar store.