This year more than ever before I have seen more holiday Pop Up Bars and experiences all over the state. So far I have experienced two of these holiday themed pop up bars near me. One at the Island Shrimp Company in Rockett’s Landing in Richmond, Virginia called Rum and Reindeer and another at Waterside in Norfolk, Virginia which is part of the Miracle Pop Ups going on around the country.
Miracle at Waterside Drive Pop Up Cocktail Bar
This Pop Up bar was packed with festive decor. They had a whole menu of speciality holiday themed drinks and small bites. I liked the photo opps that were offered too. During the experience we chose to prepay to building a gingerbread house. The gingerbread house was in a kit and had everything we needed to build it during our visit.
This Pop Up experience would make for the perfect girls night out or a date night. If you’re local to or visiting Virginia and want to go you’ll need reservations to check this out at Waterside in Norfolk, Virginia before it ends Jan 1. If you’re not local check online because there may be a Miracle Popup bar near you.
Reindeer and Rum Bar+ Igloo Experience Island Shrimp Co.
Rum and Reindeer Bar and Igloo Experience is located at Island Shrimp Co. Rockett’s Landing in Richmond, Virginia. During our experience we enjoyed tropical drinks with holiday themed names at the holiday decorated bar and then were led outside on the restaurant’s deck to our private igloo.
The igloo is reserved for two hours and seats four people. The igloo included a personal faux fireplace heater, blankets, a faux fur loveseat and a table. We enjoyed drinks and a delicious dinner with dessert followed by adult milk and cookies. All this while being cozy inside our igloo and looking at views of the illuminated Richmond, Virginia skyline. This experience was very unique and memorable!
Opinion of Pop Up Bars
Overall I think these themed pop up bar experiences are really cool. Both of the pop up bars I visited added to my celebration of the holidays and making new memories. For someone that loves taking pictures both of these locations offered plenty of photo opportunities too. If you’re looking for something unique to do this holiday season I would recommend checking out a pop up bar near you!
When I visited Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va in November I knew I wanted to plan a trip back soon. A month later (December 2021) we decided to make another trip and check out the holiday decorations and Snowland. The hotel was beautifully decorated and the new addition of holiday drinks, food items and the Snowland package were worth the holiday visit. 🎅🏼
This is a quick story of some of my favorite pics from the trip!
There is something magical about holiday decorations and this time of the year. The twinkling lights, the smell of cookies baking and the cozy feelings that come with the holidays. Not everyone wants to put up an elaborate display of their own though and going to visit a holiday light display is a great way to enjoy beautiful decorations without the stress.
The Gaylord National is one of my favorite holiday displays to visit. Not only is the atrium always beautifully decorated and full of Christmas lights, but the hotel also, has many themed activities. Some of the holiday activities for purchase this year include the I love Christmas Movies walk through, holiday Build-A-Bear popup, Sweet Shoppe, Tree Lot bar, a rendition of the Christmas Story and a holiday light show in the atrium (free).
I Love Christmas Movies Experience
One of the new activities this year is the I love Christmas Movies features a unique walk through. This experience emerges the visitor in some of the classic Christmas Movies sets such a Year Without a Santa Clause, Christmas Vacation, Christmas Story, The Polar Express, and Elf. In the experience one can walk into areas with backdrops and props from these movies. Santa’s workshop from Elf, the train from Polar Express, the house from Christmas Vacation and the town from Year Without a Santa Clause were my favorites of the experience.
Outside the walk through is a gift shop featuring many products from classic Christmas movies and the Snow Factory area which has many fun holiday themed activities. Some of the activities this year include an ice hill for tubing, snowball fight games, a Build-A-Bear popup shop, Gingerbread house decorating, a scavenger hunt and other activities like ice bumper cars. There is enough to keep young and young at heart entertained for the day.
Sweet Treats and Food Options
The hotel restaurant Old Hickory Steakhouse is a great option is you have time to sit down and enjoy a meal during your visit. I would suggest making reservations in advance if you want to dine there though. Other food options include a market place for quick service eats and a popup pizza place in the atrium. There are plenty of options for festive holiday drinks and treats as well in the atrium.
At the popup Holiday Sweet Shoppe I tried eggnog with a choice of fireball for an extra kick. The Shoppe also, contained gingerbread houses, holiday treats, Yule log cakes and desserts to tempt. There was a popup themed Tree Lot bar in the atrium that had some delicious seasonal drink options as well. I tried the Home for the Holidays cocktail there featuring rum and clove. Both drinks and the macaroon cookies I had at these locations were delicious.
Visiting Gaylord National kicks off our Christmas season and I can highly recommend going to the Gaylord National to celebrate the holiday season. We have made coming to Gaylord National part of our holiday traditions and our first Christmas activity each year. My favorite part of the night is grabbing a drink and watching the light show inside the atrium each year. If you’re local to the National Harbor area the Gaylord National is perfect for a day trip and if you’re a few hours away like me booking an overnight stay extends the fun of this wonderful holiday experience. This would be the perfect place to start a holiday tradition.
I have heard a lot about Great Wolf Lodge since it was built in Williamsburg, Va and it has been on my places to visit for awhile. As an adult in my mid-30s with no children I kept looking over many reviews, comments, concerns and complaints dealing with topics related exclusively to people with children. I was hesitant to book a stay at Great Wolf Lodge because of the lack of reviews pertaining to adult only visits. I wasn’t sure if there would be enough for my husband and I to do or if it would be too noisy for us.
Make no mistake Great Wolf Lodge’s main focus is on children, but we found there was plenty to do to keep us (adults) entertained as well. I felt that a review of the lodge from an adult without children was definitely due. I should mention we are both kids at heart and love theme parks. From the time we arrived at Great Wolf Lodge we honestly had a blast! For our first visit we chose to go during Halloween. We figured a lot of people might take their children out and maybe not as many people would be vacationing. During our visit we found the lodge to be busy, but not packed. (Note: The resort did have Halloween activities for children including trick or treating for Halloween.)
Upon arrival I was shocked at the homey feel of the lodge and the lack of a smell of chlorine from the water park. In the lobby when we arrived were a group of children on the floor in front of the fireplace doing a staff led craft. We used the mobile self-check in on the app and when we arrived our room was ready for us. Upon check in we received an envelope with our wristbands for our stay. We opted to link our credit card to our wristbands putting a $100 hold on the account for charges. This is definitely something to consider if you don’t want to lug around a credit card while you’re at the water park.
Lodging at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg, Virginia
The wristband is also, your room key and will unlock the door outside the lodge going to the parking lot as well (this feature is not on the children’s bands). The lodge was busy, but it wasn’t overwhelming. We easily located our room. The family fireplace suite was spacious with 2 queen beds, full size bathroom with a shower/tub combo, a kitchen area with a microwave and mini fridge, a sofa, 2 TVs and a fireplace. We especially enjoyed the fireplace and snuggling up on the sofa to watch a movie. The lodge has many types of rooms including themed rooms with cabin bunk areas for children.
Dinning at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia
There are several dinning options at Great Wolf Lodge without having to leave the lodge. I liked being able to stay on property and to relax with some bar drinks, not having to worry about taking an Uber or taxi. The Loose Moose is off of the main lobby and is a buffet style restaurant with a bar. They are open for breakfast and then close and reopen at 5 for dinner. We ate here twice during our stay for dinner and enjoyed our food and our bar drinks. Great Wolf Lodge has a frozen Jack and Coke that is really good by the way!
I was most impressed at their concern for dietary restrictions. A staff member came out and went over items that didn’t contain any meat for me and addressed any concerns I had on vegetarian or vegan choices. The salad bar area was full of delicious fresh veggies, pasta salads, potato salad and a variety of greens. They had a great selections of side dishes too including veggies and an area for main dishes/meats (fish was an option too). Everything we had here was flavorful and tasted fresh.
Other choices for food include pizza, take and go salads/sandwiches downstairs from the lobby called the Hungry as a Wolf. There is also, a walk up restaurant in the water park area called Buckets, a waterpark bar and an ice cream parlor beside Hungry as a Wolf. In addition the resort has its own Dunkin’ Donuts in the lobby and we had donuts from there one morning. I enjoyed the ability to place an order on my phone from the resort dinning and then pick up my food. It made it hassle free even ordering from our room by using the app.
During our time inside the water park we enjoyed food from Buckets as well as drinks from the bar inside the water park. The water park bar also, had the football games showing on two TVs on Sunday. Just outside the parking lot of Great Wolf Lodge is another food option in the form of a non lodge restaurant called Sportsman’s Grill. The restaurant is within walking distance of Great Wolf Lodge and stays with the wilderness theme.
Sportsman’s Grill is similar to a game lodge and the walls are covered in taxidermy animal trophies. The menu is unique too with items such as frog legs, venison stew and alligator gumbo. They also, had a nice beer/wine list. We enjoyed having lunch there during our stay.
Things to do at Great Wolf Lodge (Paid Activities)
In addition to the water park there are many fun activities to do at Great Wolf Lodge. Obviously most are geared directly towards children like the MagiQuest game which has a spot to buy a wand and play an interactive game through the resort. However as adults we enjoyed several of the other activities. The lanes at Ten Paw Alley were shorter and it was similar to duckpin bowling with smaller balls and short pins. This bowling was actually a bit more challenging than normal bowling and we had fun playing.
We also, visited the Build a Bear where I stuffed my own wolf plush to take home. I’m already a Build a Bear fan and was excited for the exclusive options only offered at Great Wolf Lodge. During our stay we played a game of laser tag when the room wasn’t busy and we had a whole game to ourselves. For late night fun the Northern Lights arcade is open late and has many fun traditional style games that bring back nostalgic feelings.
The price of the tokens was typical of arcades and with $50 worth my husband and I enjoyed chasing each other on motorcycles, racing each other in cars, playing skeet ball and basketball against each other. Many of the arcade games give out tickets to redeem for prizes and several of the claw machines allow for play until a prize is won. I felt like a kid again playing some of the games all while enjoying drinks we had gotten from the Loose Moose bar.
Great Wolf Lodge Water Park in Williamsburg, Virginia
On our first day we didn’t go into the water park until around 4. They were open from 9-7 the days we visited. On our first time inside we walked around and visually checked out the area. Though the water park was busy we didn’t feel overwhelmed by the foot traffic or by children enjoying the fun.
We opted to go to the in-water park bar Grizzly Robs and get some tropical drinks and then go into the 21+ hot tub. The adults only hot tub is huge and near a family hot tub for people that want to sit with their children. It’s a cozy area and we enjoyed relaxing and having a few drinks before going back to our room when the water park closed. As mentioned there is also, a bar inside the Loose Moose restaurant. A second bar can be found in the hotel lobby if you don’t want to go into the water park area for a drink.
For those not staying at the lodge there were ample locker to rent to store belongings, a small necessities shop for things one might have forgot to bring and showers/changing rooms. The layout of the park has multiple restrooms too and I never saw people having to wait.
On our full day at the water park we rode all of the rides and enjoyed the Howlin’ Tornado the most. Though the rides are inside the water park doesn’t skimp on the size of the tubes and slides with many going outside of the building and looping back in. We really liked that there were areas just for smaller children to play, areas geared towards teens/adults and things families could ride or enjoy together like the wave pool all under the same roof. The Crooked Creek lazy river was one of our favorites and between it and visits to the hot tub we felt relaxed. We enjoyed being able to ride things together in a double tube.
Review of Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia
We don’t live far from Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia so we didn’t venture out during our stay and are familiar with the area. However, for adults that haven’t been to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown or nearby Yorktown this could be the perfect hotel to use as a base. The lodge rooms can be accessed without going into the children’s areas or the water park for a quieter stay. The rooms are very spacious and clean. The location of Great Wolf Lodge would make the lodge great for conferences.
Overall we enjoyed our stay at Great Wolf Lodge and would go again. If you’re looking for a quiet couples weekend this might not be the place for you, but if you love adventure and feeling like a kid again I would highly recommend a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va. I didn’t see anyone else visiting without children or grandchildren, but I don’t feel like people without children are excluded from the lodge. This was a perfect staycation for us as adults and we were glad we tried Great Wolf Lodge out. This trip was definitely a good break from adulting and who couldn’t use more days like that!
Return Visits to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia
Since writing this blog we have returned to Great Wolf Lodge five other times. We even went during December to check out the holiday decorations and Snowland. You can see a brief story about that experience here: Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge . I really like going in the off-season when the lodge is less crowded. During our most recent trips I have noticed staffing issues have effected Great Wolf Lodge like many establishments. I have seen some ride and amenity closures like the bar running on limited hours or closing down some rides to alternate staff. Guests still get a quality experience, but have to be patient with the staff of Great Wolf Lodge.
On our latest visits in 2023 I really liked how the entry to the lobby at Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg had been updated. The lobby was always very crowded during the children’s event times with people checking in/being at the front desk and parents watching their children. Now a designated area with a stage has been made for the children’s programs in the lobby and it is not blocking the entry way to the resort. This lobby update was very much needed. I hope to see Great Wolf Lodge continue to improve and renovate the lodge.
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I made my way up Virginia’s Eastern Shore to Chincoteague Island recently for a weekend trip. If you’ve never been to Chincoteague Island it is peaceful and a quiet piece of paradise. Known for wild horses and a slower pace of life. The town is very charming and has many unique shops and delicious restaurants.
What is so special about Chincoteague?
If you’re not familiar with the book Misty by Marguerite Henry (written on the island) or seen the 1961 movie you might not know about this island’s unique tradition.👩🚒 Chincoteague Island’s fire department is know for its annual pony auction fundraiser where the saltwater cowboys go onto Assateague Island and head up the wild horses that roam there.
The horses are vet checked and swim across Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island where foals from the herd are auctioned off to the highest bidder. The proceeds go to future wild horse care and to the fire department. The adult ponies and a buy back foal (one bought to return to the island) are swam back to the island.
The 2021 auction is canceled this year due to the pandemic, but the horses from the island have still been receiving vet checks. It is really a spectacular event to watch if you ever get the chance to go. I have fond memories of going as a child. If you’re lucky you can often see the wild herd off the island.
Things to do and see on Virginia’s Eastern Shore
There are so many beautiful overlooks and wildlife areas around Chincoteague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. 🦋 During our stay we were able to visit the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and watched the wild horses in the distance.
After coming across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel there is a refuge for example that has a visitor’s center, butterfly trail, a marsh overlook, boat launch and lots of information on the area. Thought the weather was a bit gloomy and it did rain when I was there it was still a pretty area to visit. Plenty of signs are visible after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to direct to the parks and overlooks.
The Kiptopeke State Park also, has some cool views and from the shore one can also, see the ghost fleet of Kiptopeke. The ghost fleet is comprised of old cement ships used during WWII to transport commodities. When no longer needed they were moored off the coast to stand as a jetty. On a clear day more details can be seen, but in the mist they looked quite eerie.
If you’re a horse enthusiast seeing the wild ponies is quite exhilarating and worth the visit in itself. If you love fresh seafood look no further than the local restaurants that serve it up fresh daily. If you enjoy fishing for your own dinner there are plenty of places to launch your boat and charters available too. If you’re looking to get outdoors you can find a slower pace of life by walking or bike around breathing in the fresh sea breeze. Chincoteague and Virginia’s Eastern Shore truly has something for everyone! Book your own stay today.
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