Paul and I have been making a list of all the things that we like to do in this area with little kids. Some of of our suggestions are obvious, others are things we discovered as we lived here, as we saw what our children enjoyed.
In no particular order:
Book Exchange-Wards Corner--They will give you a credit when you bring in your used books. It is set up like a book store, and has a small toddler play area, and you can use the credit to buy new books. The kids LOVE this. (You can also buy books for half of the value.)
VA Childrens Museum in Portsmouth-there is a great cafe across the street. They also have donuts and ice cream for a post museum treat. I love the soup in there. Another option is Artisan Bakery, which is also close by.
Music at Ocean View Beach, Norfolk This is one of the many events sponsored by The City of Norfolk via their Festevents. I don't recommend going to this beach when they aren't having events or when there are no lifeguards.
Skinny Dip Frozen Yogurt- in Ghent (Colley Rd.)
Hermitage Park-The park is open to the public and has a nice fence around it, and is shaded by trees. There are also many kids events held at the Hermitage Museum.
Winter Whale Watching Boat at the VA Aquarium
VA Aquarium and Adventure Park-They also have Toddler Tuesdays.
Sandfiddler Cafe for breakfast, and then quick beach trip across the street.
Mermaid Factory- Paint your own mermaid or buy mermaid paraphernalia, especially "There Goes a Mermaid" book by Lisa Suhay. ("Mermaids and Yellow Jack" is actually my favorite book written by Lisa, but you have to get that on amazon.)
Jungle Golf Mini Golf (there is always a coupon!) and King Neptunes 3D Golf. You can host an event in the winter at King Neptune's for a very low price, as the oceanside is empty at that time of the year. During peak beach time, you can pay to park at Jungle Golf, (which is one of the cheaper places to park), and they will give you a free game!
Larchmont and Pretlow Libraries-Both have play areas and lots of events.
MacArthur Center-Toddler Play area on 3rd floor
East Beach, Norfolk-Because of the rock jeties that are in place there, the water forms a shallow pools of water, making it perfect for little ones.
Norfolk Botanical Garden- They have an entire children's section with a splash pad, which is barely even mentioned on their website. There is also a small cafe, and tons of places to have a picnic. Currently, they have a butterfly exhibit, which is also geared toward the little ones, as well as a huge sand area with hammocks and toys. You can definitely spend an entire day there.
Lambert Point Rec Center-Chess club, climbing wall, mini adventure course, lots of kids events
Beach when it is COLD-During the colder months, dress warm, pack a thermos of hot cocoa, a blanket, and bring the sand toys!
If you are military, we love the Little Creek or Oceana pools. They are like mini water parks. Also Ft. Monroe Beach Club is amazing. It is on the Bay, and has a pool, tiki bar, restaurant, volleyball, and live music. Lastly, Pierside Lanes-$1 games on Wednesdays.
If you have any other suggestions or questions about any of the above, please feel free to send me an email or comment below. I love this place, and will be sad to leave the area.
Our most recent trip to the Norfolk Botanical Garden.