How do you make education fun? Take it to the beach! At Sandbridge Beach, VA, kids can expand their knowledge and boost their skills while having the time of their lives. Here are just a few possibilities.
Fish from Little Island Pier
If you’d like to introduce your youngsters to saltwater fishing, you’ve come to the right place. The 400-foot pier at Little Island Park is seldom very crowded, so you and your kids can cast your lines without feeling stressed or pressured.
Bring your tackle and cooler and stake out a spot where it looks like the fish are biting. Give your kids a few pointers, then let ’em loose. The best way to learn is by doing!
If your inexperienced angler hooks a big one, you may want to help reel it in. Then, use the free on-site cleaning station to teach your child a valuable lesson: If you keep it, you’ve got to clean it!
The Little Island Pier charges a small fee for fishing – $8 daily for residents, $10 for non-residents. Kids 9 and under can fish free if they’re accompanied by a paying adult. Ample parking is available at a modest charge: $3 a day for residents, $5 for non-residents.
Take a Hike to View (and Photograph) Wildlife
Want your youngsters to learn more about the animals they love? Bring them to Sandbridge Beach for a fun-filled walk on the wild side.
At Little Island Park, the large public beach boasts 2,000 feet of shoreline, so it’s ideal for a seaside hike. Along the way, you and your children may spot a variety of wildlife, from gulls to osprey, turtles to dolphins. Be sure to take photos of all the creatures you encounter. Afterward, you can Google them to learn more about their ways.
If you like, you and your children can print out your pictures and tape them into a scrapbook. Who knows? Your kids may even get extra credit in science class!
For even more educational hiking, visit Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Here you’ll find five miles of kid-friendly trails offering eye-popping views of native shorebirds and migratory waterfowl… along with grey foxes, marsh rabbits, white-tail deer, wild ponies, and even an occasional black bear.
The wildlife species you’ll see will vary depending on the season, but that’s part of what makes the refuge so fun and fascinating.
Take the popular East Dike Trail to spot ducks, geese, and swans (during winter migration), plus herons, egrets, deer, and loggerhead turtles. Or try the Seaside Trail for an up-close glimpse of freshwater wetlands and dunes, with a chance to see snakes, frogs, dragonflies, skinks, and more.
Back Bay Refuge has special impoundments (managed water pools) where migrating birds rest and feed. At one of these – D Pool – you’ll find the Wildlife Viewing Window, where you and your family can safely observe a wide range of colorful critters. Sit in comfortable indoor seating to watch ducks, geese, and other wildfowl through a one-way glass window. Or go outdoors under a sheltering roof to view seabirds through slots in the wall. Either way, it’s an incredible learning experience.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
What can you find at Sandbridge Beach? You might be surprised! Make a list of possible seaside finds, then send your kids out to search. For example, they could try looking for:
- Sand dollars
- Shells of all shapes and sizes – whelk, conch, crab, clam, snail, scotch bonnet, periwinkle, etc.
- Wild grasses like oat grass and beach grass
- Feathers molted by seabirds
- Stones, rocks, and pebbles worn smooth by the tide
- Leaves, sticks, and branches washed up after storms
- Litter such as bottle tops and candy wrappers… anything that shouldn’t be there!
Later, back at your beach rental, pore over your newfound treasures. Talk about the role each item plays in Virginia’s coastal ecology. Discuss ways to help reduce littering. And perhaps give each child some token recognition for his or her beachfront haul – for example, small prizes for “most items,” “strangest finds,” “biggest shell,” “smallest shell,” and so on.
Tour a Sandbridge Restaurant
If you’ve seen the Pixar movie Ratatouille, you know it takes a lot of coordinated teamwork to serve up delicious fare at a fine-dining establishment. (Or at a casual eatery, for that matter!)
If there’s a budding chef in your family – or perhaps a future business major – why not contact a Sandbridge restaurant to schedule a visit during off-hours? Ask if you and your family can meet with the chef, take a short tour of the kitchen, and learn some of the special challenges facing restaurants in resort areas.
Be sure to ask lots of questions. How does the restaurant source its raw foods? Does it get fish from local fisheries, shrimp from shrimpers, vegetables from nearby farms? Is everything cooked from scratch? How does the staff handle large parties and busy periods?
Your kids will find it fascinating… and chances are they’ll gain a new appreciation for cooks, cashiers, and wait staff the next time they eat out. You’ll find many other opportunities for impromptu education at Sandbridge Beach, VA. What a great excuse for a getaway!