Hampton Roads has so much to offer, there's never really any shortage of things to do here if you have children. As a family, we aim to spend 1000 Hours Outside each year, so we've become pretty acquainted with fun, outdoor, and free things to do around here. (If you're interested in our 1000 Hour Outside Challenge and adventures, you can read more about them here!) This list is a little different than other lists floating around because this was made from kids I have surveyed myself and then I'll put my 2 cents in at the end.
Kids Choice for Fun, Free Things to do in Hampton Roads
One of my personal favorite places to visit, although not free (but very affordable!), so I'm not including it in the list, is First Landing State Park. The beach access side is wonderful and super easy to navigate. There's a little shop, restrooms, showers, and a snack bar there too. They have a little hands-on discovery area for kids too that has crabs and fish and lots of education exhibits. It's on the bay, so the waves are minimal. The trail side across the street is breathtaking. They have a marsh with bald cypress trees and Spanish moss with lots of well maintained trails for you to use. The Visitor's Center has a few exhibits as well (with little critter encounters too!), restrooms, and picnic tables. It's an amazing way to spend the day. Hike in the morning, eat lunch, swim and lounge around the beach in the afternoon!
What are some of your favorite free things to do in Hampton Roads? I want to hear about it! Maybe you've been somewhere I haven't and I need to check it out!
Let me know in the comments below.
Also, if you've got a session on the books with me, be inspired! Let's visit some of the places and explore together! I'm always up for an adventure.
If you love content like this, consider subscribing to my monthly newsletter. Every month, I find local events/festivals and compile a few of them into a section of my newsletter called "Happenings in Hampton Roads". You can subscribe here!
Last year, I had the idea to cut simple hearts out of brightly colored construction paper, write little love notes on them (one for each kid), and stick them to their doors every morning starting Feb. 1 and leading up to Valentine's Day.
I thought it would be a cute idea, I knew they would like it. But I guess I didn't quite expect how much it would mean to them.
When I say it made a difference, I truly mean it.
They had a little more pep in their step, it brought the biggest smile to their faces, and most importantly- it highlighted something special and unique to them that I loved so much.
It just filled their little love tanks right up and gave them a wonderful, positive affirmation to start the day with.
Have you read (or heard of) The 5 Love Languages? Well, mine is words of affirmation for sure. I need that verbal affirmation! One of my kids is also words of affirmation, so this really, really resonated with them.
So, what kinds of things did I write on their little hearts?
I wrote things about them that I liked:
- I love the way your smile lights up a room.
-You are the most kind human being on this planet.
-I love the way you laugh!
-You are such a great friend.
-You make my life so much better.
-I love when we do xyz together.
-You are doing really great at learning to read!
-You are so brave.
-You are so loving.
No treats, no trinkets- just my words handwritten on a cut out heart taped to their door.
If you do this for your kids (or other family members, spouse) let me know! Tag me on Instagram @jess.nicole.photography because I want to see! Tell me your experience with it! Also, I've got a reel on this project from last year on IG if you want to see it in action!
What to Expect At Your Maternity Session with Jess Nicole Photography
Pregnancy is such an exciting time in a woman's life. There are so many crazy changes happening in such a short period of time, it's honestly mind blowing! How can a body create an entire organ, grow a human life, bring forth that life, and then sustain that life for months afterward? And the way your body changes physically is just so hard to believe.
For some women, pregnancy is this magical and glowing time. Some women have a really hard time with it. I am a firm believer that both journeys are worthy of being photographed and the whole process deserves to be honored. So for that reason, my maternity sessions look a little different than my normal family and newborn documentary style sessions.
My Maternity Storytelling Sessions can be exactly what you want them to be.
It can be a celebration of your changing body and honoring all that it has been through. Yes, even stretch marks. It can be simple, with just you, your body, and light. It can be about the natural and organic beauty of pregnancy.
I'd like to briefly speak to Mama's with high-risk pregnancies or those who are on bedrest: I mainly shoot in home and I am comfortable shooting in your space in whatever capacity you are able to. Please don't feel left out if this is your situation- I know how you feel, I've been there.
Or. your Maternity Storytelling Session can be more artistic and abstract. It can be a celebration of the whimsy and the unknown (or the well-known journey). It can be more mindful or dreamlike. It can be creative. It could even be saying goodbye to one chapter of your life and the beginning of another, very different chapter.
Or, your Maternity Storytelling Session could be about your growing family and how it's a familial journey. It could be about family growth and the joys of being promoted to Big Brother or Big Sister. It could be about your day-to-day life and how this new baby is along for the ride. It could even be about preparing for the new baby.
Whichever direction you choose to take your Maternity Storytelling Session, it will surely be infused with love, hope, and wonder. It's about the Mama who is changing and shifting... coming into a new part of herself.
Here's what you can expect for your Maternity Storytelling Session:
When should I book my Maternity Storytelling Session?
I recommend booking as early as possible to get the most flexibility with dates. But always feel free to reach out and see what my availability is. I'm happy to try to accommodate you. I've even shot one in home maternity session as the Mama was in active labor!
When should I schedule my Maternity Storytelling Session?
I like to schedule maternity sessions at about the 33-36 week range, although there are always exceptions. Please reach out and let's talk about what your needs are!
Is there a discount for booking a maternity session and newborn sessions at the same time?
Absolutely! I offer a Belly + Baby Collection with an amazing incentive for booking both sessions at the same time. For more information, send me a message here or click here to view my Client Guide.
Can I do my session with my family?
Yes! If you include your family in your session, I typically shoot it the way I would any other session, in my signature documentary style.
Can I make payments?
YES. My payment plans are super flexible and I can work with anyone's budget.
Do you edit out stretch marks and lumps/bumps?
No. I don't. In short, I will not edit out stretch marks or other body features because I believe wholeheartedly that our bodies are unique works of art and they are perfect the way they are. Stretch marks are a part of our body changing and growing a whole new life- I think that is a beautiful testament to the love and sacrifice of a mother.
Got more questions? I'm all ears!
Interested in telling the story of your journey? I want to hear it and I want to be a part of it.
Click here or on the Contact tab above to send me a message. I can't wait to hear from you.
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.