Close-by treats

Finally it’s winter break; no more school for nearly two full weeks. With this sort of freedom, it’s the perfect time to set off on family adventures that we don’t usually have time for when homework, basketball games, and play practice crowd the schedule.
The first thing my boys want to do is take off for Richmond where the Science Museum of Virginia is showing the larger-than-larger-than-life IMAX version of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. Never mind that these guys have already seen the original film twice. And never mind the museum’s other terrific interactive science displays and the outstanding visiting exhibit, “Titanic Science: The Real Artifacts, the True Stories.” All my kids want to do is fly off to a galaxy far, far way in this awesome, tummy-turning sci-fi fantasy.
I, on the other hand, have been longing to make the admittedly long trek down to the Science Center in Danville where we can sleuth our way through the “Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery” exhibit. Our family has read every Sherlock Holmes story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published, so we already know about problem-solving skills and the powers of observation and deductive reasoning. I’m thinking we should do pretty well as amateur gumshoes making our way through the seven scenes of this interactive drama, sniffing out the sensory clues, and trying to figure out who done it. 
So even though we’ll be spending the holidays close to home this year, my kids and I are still looking forward to a few out-of-town forays just for the fun of it.

Star Wars runs through January 5 at the Science Museum of Virginia. Tickets are $10 for adults ages 13-59, $8.50 for children and seniors. Advance tickets (for an additional $1 service charge) are available by calling 1-800-659-1727. Titanic Science is included in the price of general admission and is on display through January 5. The museum is at 2500 W. Broad St. in Richmond. www.smv.org. The Sherlock Holmes exhibit runs through January 4 and is included in the price of admission at the Danville Science Center: $4 for adults, $3 for kids 4-12 and seniors. 677 Craghead St., Danville. 971-5160.  www.dsc.smv.org.