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For Kids

Fun and Adventure Await

At The Mariners’ we work to connect the public to our shared maritime heritage and build a community of mariners. The most important part of that community is children. Young mariners and their caregivers are invited to enjoy every aspect of our Museum and Park.

In-galleries activities:

Discover stories that will ignite your child’s imagination. From mesmerizing objects to fun interactives, our galleries have something for kids of all ages. Caregivers can choose between a curated gallery experience guided by a scavenger hunt or a freeform experience where your child follows their instincts and interests as they set off to explore. If you have questions or are unsure where to go next, our friendly docents and Museum team members are there to assist. 

child works on scavenger hunt in museum gallery.

Museum Scavenger Hunt

Does your child enjoy searching for clues or solving mysteries? Then our scavenger hunt is just the thing! Our Museum scavenger hunt is designed to highlight all of the must-see objects in our galleries and will take your child on a fun and exciting journey.

Ask for one at the admissions desk upon arrival.

three children look at a ship model while talking to a modelmaker.

Ship Modelmaker Stand

Every one of the 35 models on display in our Ship Model Gallery was created by the attentive hands of a skilled modelmaker. Our Ship Modelmaker Stands allows you and your young mariner to witness this artform up close. Stop by and spend some time talking with a modelmaker while they build a new model. 

large battleship game

Toys Ahoy!

Toys Ahoy! is a fun exhibit that connects the young and the young at heart. With almost 100 different items on display, discover how toys and the concept of play have evolved. The exhibit includes wood and paper battleships, board games, play boats, puzzles, and other historical toys and collectibles from years gone by.

three adults and two children stand around gallery display.

Build Your Own Ironclad

Stop by our Ironclad Revolution exhibit and try your hand at designing an ironclad vessel.  Young mariners will put their engineering skills to the test as they step back in time and learn just how challenging it was to design a seaworthy ironclad. Will it sink or be a record-setting warship?

two children hold up their drawings while standing in front of story wall.

#iamaMariner Story Wall

Visit our #iamamariner Story Wall and allow your young mariner to share their story of maritime connection. Guests are invited to draw or write their connection to the water on a small note card, contributing to a mosaic of stories, thoughts, moments, and memories that demonstrate how we are all mariners.

Park activities: 

Explore our urban oasis, the 550-acre Mariners’ Park. Featuring the award-winning five-mile Noland Trail that surrounds the 167-acre Mariners’ Lake, our Park offers fun and welcoming outdoor experiences for mariners of all ages.

interactive outdoor educational sign in the Bumblebee Learning Garden.

Visit the Bumblebee Learning Garden

Are you looking for a fun destination in the Park where young mariners can also learn and explore? Look no further than the Bumblebee Learning Garden. Kids can use their senses to explore this fun space and note the changes throughout the year.  

Children run and play in the Lil' Mariners' Play Zone.

Lil’ Mariners’ Play Zone

Are you looking for a play area just for young mariners? Come check out our new natural playground. Children can hop from tree stump to tree stump around the playground and explore different features, including a giant checkers board, challenge courses, USS Monitor playship and a habitat tree. Picnic tables make this a great lunch spot for the whole family. 

two children crouch down to look at something in the grass.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts and nature walks are excellent ways for children and caregivers to explore our Park and Trail. Encourage curiosity and discovery in your young mariner as you help them find a variety of objects in nature. You can also take a break and color our unique maritime coloring pages.

Popular Destinations
in the Park

Come explore one of the nation’s largest privately owned and maintained parks that is free and open to the public. This 550-acre park offers visitors a quiet and serene place to walk, hike or run amongst rolling woodlands and features the award-winning five-mile Noland Trail that surrounds the 167-acre Mariners’ Lake. Guests can also picnic at the famous Lions Bridge overlooking the tranquil James River, which is also a favorite spot for nature enthusiasts.

Lion Statue

Become a Junior Park Scientist

Contribute to community science efforts in Hampton Roads in several ways.

Hand holding a smart phone with the City Nature Challenge logo on the screen.

City Nature Challenge

The City Nature Challenge (CNC) is a global bioblitz that happens annually in the spring. A bioblitz is a community data-gathering event. This data can assist scientists with research and broaden knowledge of species in the area. Download the iNaturalist app to participate and watch for local updates about the challenge. 

turtle sits on a log near Mariners' Lake.

Help gather nature data in the Park 

iNaturalist is the platform Mariners’ Park uses to categorize our species counts. Simply download the app, make a free account, and start snapping photos! This data helps The Mariners’ understand what species of plants, animals, and fungi are in and around the Park and Lake.

If you are concerned about data and GPS tracking with the iNaturalist app, families can also use the app Seek.  

robin perched on the branch of a tree.

Go bird watching with the family

Birds are some of the first animals children observe in the wild. We see and hear them even on a short Noland Trail walk. If you’re a birder or want to get your family into this fun and free activity, check out any Park bridges and overlooks, including Lions Bridge. Warblers, mallards, osprey, great blue herons, egrets, double-crested cormorants, gulls, juvenile brown pelicans, and so many more frequent these locations. 

large family enjoys a picnic in Mariner's Park.

Picnic in the Park

Having a picnic in the Park with your family is always fun! You can set out the classic picnic blanket at many locations around the Park, including Harvey Field, Williams Field, Lions Bridge, the front lawn by the Museum entrance, and other grassy areas.

You can also find tables at the Bumblebee Learning Garden, the natural playground area, the Holly Tree overlook by Harvey Field, and the Oak Tree overlook by Williams Field.

Visiting with Young Children

Stroller-friendly trails

The more than five miles of trails within Mariners’ Park offer experiences for all mariners. However, some trail sections are better for strollers and little ones’ legs. These paths are suited for all mariners:

  • Meadow Path (1.5 miles round trip)
  • Loop Road (0.25 miles)
  • Multipurpose Trail (2.2 miles round trip)
Adult and child walk on the Noland Trail.

Need a place to sit down during your walk?
The Noland Trail has 21 benches that are approximately a quarter-mile apart.

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