FAMILY- Kids' stuff!

FUN, FUN, EVERYWHERE!

Virginia Discovery Museum- East end of the Downtown Mall- A hands-on, interactive children's museum for kids ages 1-13 featuring 12 permanent exhibits, a brand new carousel, rotating exhibits in the Discovery Corner, and changing Back Gallery exhibits. Other ongoing programs include Magic School Bus and Poetry Clubs, Toddler Times, Storybook Dance and drop-in art projects. Tues-Sat 10am-5pm. Sun 1-5. $4 all ages except <1 free; $60 annually for a family or the $100 explorer membership, which gets you into 140 different kids museums worldwide. 977-1025


The Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center- In Darden Towe Park, Rt. 20 north- This hands-on facility commemorates the hometown origins of Lewis and Clark's westward journey. While the museum buildings have yet to be built, there's still a lot of activity going on, giving kids young and old the chance to experience the excitement of the expedition. On display are full-size replicas of a keelboat, pirogues, and dugout canoes– water craft used on the first leg of the expedition– all constructed at the site by young volunteers using hand tools and historic techniques. Saturdays May through October 10am-1pm. Free. 979-2425.


McCormick Observatory- McCormick Road at the top of Observatory Hill- UVA's astronomy department opens the dome at the observatory and allows visitors to step up to three research telescopes for awesome views of the heavens. Department staff and graduate students answer questions and narrate a slide show. First and third Friday nights (weather permitting) 9-11pm DST. 7-9pm EST. Free. 924-7494


Putt Putt Golf Course- 1525 E. Rio Road- Legendary miniature golf, with two 18-hole courses suitable for even the smallest golfers. A hole-in-one still wins a discounted game. Open daily March 1 - November 30, 10am-10pm; weekdays 10am-11pm, depending on weather. $5 per person. 973-5509


ACAC Adventure Central- 200 Four Seasons Drive- With a three-pool water park complete with slides, fountains, and a huge floating crocodile, classrooms, indoor playstructures, tennis courts, and a new $2.2 million arena for indoor sports, Adventure Central is home to a summer camp, an after-school program, birthday parties, and now the Charlottesville Day School. 978-7529


Charlottesville Ice Park- West end of the Downtown Mall- The Ice Park offers year-round indoor ice-skating with public skating sessions, ice hockey leagues, freestyle and speed skating sessions, skating school, and reduced-price family sessions. Times vary daily. Check the website to be sure.

General admission for the public sessions is $7.50 but just $6 if you have your own skates. Deals for kids under five, seniors, and college students. Schedule: 817-1423. Office: 817-2400


Old Michie Theatre- 221 E. Water St.- Inspiring students with the joy of live theatre and puppet arts is the mission of this educational and performance venue for kids. Classes, workshops, summer camps, and public performances of children's plays and puppet shows. Kids can even audition and make their stage debut. See our weekly website calendar for performance schedule. 977-3690


Kegler's Bowling Lanes- 2000 Seminole Trail- There are lots of family perks at this bowling alley, including bumpers available on all lanes to help little bowlers keep the ball out of the gutter, a newly refurbished arcade room, seven billiard tables, a snack bar, and– especially for teens– extreme bowling every Friday and Saturday. Mon, Wed noon-11pm; Tues, Thurs 9am-11pm, Fri noon-1am, Sat 10am-1am, Sun 11am-11pm. Fees: Mon-Fri adults, $4 before 5pm, after 5pm $6. Shoe rental is $4.73, $3.63 for kids before 5pm. 978-3999


UVA sports, various locations- Football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and lots of other competitive sports are accessible for families at the university. Sports fans can find some sort of game or match several times a week during the school year and even some during the summer. Kids up to 8th grade can sign up for Cavalier Kids Club for $35 a season and get free admission to six sports, freebies, and meet-and-greet opportunities. Check the website for schedules. Call the UVA ticket office for information, ticket prices, and Kids Club sign up: 924-8821.


Science Museum of Virginia- 2500 W. Broad St., Richmond- Hands-on and interactive exhibits make science fun for the whole family. Exciting rotating exhibits and an engaging array of permanent displays, IMAX movies, planetarium shows, special events, and lots more. Check website for hours and admission fees. 800-659-1727


Children's Museum of Richmond- 2626 W. Broad St., Richmond- An award-winning place for kids ages 12 and under to learn while they play. Lots of active, hands-on, entertaining displays; rotating exhibits; and special events and programs. Check website for hours and admission fees. 804-474-2667


Frontier Culture Museum- Rt. 250 west in Staunton or exit 222 from I-81- A unique experiential museum portraying the historical context of our immigrant ancestors with authentic 17th, 18th, and 19th century working farms and costumed interpreters from Germany, Northern Ireland, England, and the Shenandoah Valley. Daily: 9am-5pm.Winter hours: Dec. 1-mid-March 10am-4pm. Adult $10, children 6-12 $6, under 6 free. 540-332-7850


Fruit fun- Three of the closest orchards to town are Carter Mountain Orchard (977-1833) next to Michie Tavern, which offers apples, peaches, and stunning mountain-top views in the summer, Chiles Peach Orchard near Crozet, which also grows blackberries, apples, and melons, and The Berry Patch (963-0659) which has blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries in the spring.


The Gypsy Express- You think Charlottesville has trains? Our Valley neighbor, Staunton, is train central– at least for the kiddies. Not only can you ride an Amtrak over to Staunton, but once you're there, you'll find a miniature train in Gypsy Hill Park. The mini-train was revived by a nonprofit a few summers ago after several years of flooding and track problems had kept it out of service. Volunteers now operate it on weekends during warm months. The train loops around a narrow-gauge track complete with two bridges and two tunnels. Can you scream? "You're supposed to; otherwise the engineer goes to sleep," says the nonprofit's president, John Zinn. It's $1 a ride, which consists of four loops– "unless they lose count," notes Zinn, "and then you get five." And if your tots get bored riding the rails, they'll perk up when you whip out a loaf of bread and stroll over to the adjacent duck pond. Sat noon-6pm, Sun 1-5pm. 540-885-0513


YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS

Boys and Girls Club-  The goal here is to help youth from all backgrounds (with a special concern for youth from disadvantaged circumstances) develop qualities and skills needed to become responsible citizens and leaders. Trained staff provide programs that enhance character and self esteem, are educational and fun, and contribute to the development by allowing young people by allowing to realize and reach their full potential. 383 Hickory St. The administrative office is at 1000 Cherry Ave. For children ages 6-18. $10 per academic school year or $25 summer fee. 977-2001


Boy Scouts-  Part of the Boy Scouts of America and Stonewall Jackson Area Council, the Monticello District includes troops all over Charlottesville as well as Albemarle, Orange, Madison, Fluvanna, and Greene Counties. Open to all boys ages 11-18. Info: moticello763@hotmail.com or avenue.org/mont-bsa/info.htm.


Cub Scouts- It all starts right here for the young scout. The Monticello District is home to 33 different packs in Charlottesville, Albemarle and surounding counties. monticello763@hotmail.com or avenue.org/mont-bsa/info.htm.


Girl Scouts- Unlike Boy Scouts who help old ladies across the street and get to dance around campfires at their Order of the Arrow induction, Girl Scouts "inspires girls ages 5-17 with the highest ideals of character, conduct, patriotism and service so that they may become happy and resourceful citizens." Oh, well. 296-5156 or 296-5157.


Hoof-N-Woof 4-H Club- Horse ownership not required. The 30-year-old program meets the second Thursday of every month at 7pm throughout the school year emphasizing horse education. Open to ages 9-19. Info: Bertha Durbin, 973-8755.


Young Women Leaders Program- For middle school-aged girls. 924-8979

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