I’m a huge fan of safe adrenaline rushes – activities that feel scary but have next-to-no chance of injury and absolutely no chance of ending my fun times completely. Zip lines and challenge courses, one of the best examples, have become more common and lots more convenient.
Fortunately, Virginia has its share of such high adventure, including The Adventure Park at the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach. Of all of the zip line and challenge courses I’ve tried around the country, this is my favorite so far.
Like other such courses, The Adventure Park is made up of a series of platforms connected by bridges and zip lines as well as by cables to which the adventurer is always secured. Here at the Virginia Aquarium, each platform is secured on a tree in a wooded section on the grounds.
One advantage of The Adventure Park is its double-connected, always-locked-on climbing system. This brings two benefits: 1) it is impossible to disconnect from the cable system, thus it is impossible to fall to the ground; and 2) you and your party can navigate the aerial trial at your own pace – you don’t have to travel with a larger organized group and you don’t have to be accompanied by a guide.
Like other high-ropes courses, The Adventure Park provides different options, from beginner (easier bridges and less elevation) to expert – purple, yellow, green, blue, black, and double-black. The easiest is The Labyrinth, designed for families with children ages five to ten.
The size of the park is another bonus: 170 platforms along thirteen separate trails on five acres.
My daughter and I visited this high-ropes course on a recent trip to Virginia Beach. We began with two green trails and worked our way up to blue, rising to challenges like suspended wood blocks, rope bridges, skateboard on a wire, and tunnels of wood and of rope. We clambered and zipped, tackling even those bridges we regretted encountering and free-falling at the end of each trail.
Though tackling the more advanced blue trail granted a feeling of accomplishment and success, we finished our adventure with a green trail, in order to end with a feeling of ease rather than of nervous trepidation!
Perhaps the feature I appreciated most is The Adventure Park’s system of tickets and times. Rather than relying on specific start times, each ticket is good for a full three hours of adventure on the trails (or ninety minutes of fun on The Labyrinth). Your time is clocked from when you first begin, not from when you purchase your ticket. On another challenge course my kids and I tackled, we arrived late to the pre-set start and didn’t get to enjoy the full time allotted.
The Adventure Park is even open at night, featuring Twilight Climbing hours for the same safe and fun adventure experience lit by thousands of tiny lights.
The proximity of The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium to both the aquarium exhibits and to the other amenities of Virginia Beach is of course another advantage. There’s so much to do here year round. But that’s another review altogether.
The Adventure Park opened last May at Virginia Aquarium: 801 General Booth Boulevard – Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451/ Phone 757-385-4947 or visit Adventure Park