Places to Go - Roanoke Island Festival Park (Outer Banks, NC)

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Since we finished with the beach by mid-morning (after arriving in the early am), we had a lot of free time in the afternoons (the incredibly pale can only spend so much time in the sun). So we spent the latter half of the day exploring local attractions. First, we visited Kitty Hawk, which, for the flying fanatic or history buff may be a great tourist attraction, but there IS NOT very much for children to do there. Then we checked out the Bodie Island Lighthouse, which was very cool. But my favorite adventure of all was, hands-down Roanoke Island Festival Park.

We first read about the park in a tourist brochure, so we were all a little hesitant of the possible kitsch factor. Thus, wow, what a lovely, surprise to visit such a well-done, kitsch-less destination. The park hosts an American Indian village, a 1585 settlement site (complete with actors in period costume), Roanoke Adventure Museum, a film on native americans, a 16th Century representative ship (which, sadly, was not there while we were there), and a short lovely trail around the sound.

Upon arriving, we first toured the indian village and settlement site. Both of which managed to entertain the children and adults. In the indian village, the children loved walking through the Long House and marveling at the animal skins and the bowls made of gourds. At the settlement site, the actors were incredible (F's still talking about the nice man who didn't know what a train or car was - "isn't that crazy mom?"). Despite not understanding what a reenactment is, the girls had a great time playing skittles (16th century bowling) and working the lathe. F even tried on a suit of armor. In the meantime, my dad spent over thirty minutes bonding with the blacksmith and receiving many nails as presents. Although the settlement site is small, they do a great job entertaining the whole family. We loved it. We even returned on Friday for the pirate festival, hence the man in striped tights pictured above.

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From the settlement site, we made our way to the Adventure Museum, which is probably the best blending of a kid place and an adult place I've ever witnessed. Almost every exhibit has something for children to try on or play with - pirate hats, civil war uniforms (grey or blue, you get to choose), old fashioned dresses, a sailboat to play in, an old-time shop with fake fruit to shop for and weigh, etc. In the meantime, adults can learn all about the history of the island - from native americans to Freedmen's Colony for former slaves to hunting and lighthouses. Lots of information. A lovely lovely space for the whole family. And next door to the museum is a 45 minute fictional historical film about the island's indians. F (my oldest daughter) has been asking a lot of questions about cowboys and indians lately, many of which are tricky to answer due to the brutal history involved. The historical film answered many of her questions through the coming of age story of a teenage indian boy.

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Finally, the park has a short trail with views of the sound. It was positively beautiful to walk on close to dusk. (check out F's "jangly" bracelet in the bottom picture).

Have a great weekend everyone! I'll be back on Monday with various "fall" posts (which seems somewhat incongruous following the beach posts, but I suppose this is the downside to vacationing off-season). Oh, and if you're in the DC area, don't forget Crafty Bastards is this weekend, which always has amazing stuff - http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/craftybastards/

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