This museum combines exhibits of the natural history of Virginia with living exhibits of animals, birds and fish native to the state. The VLM is not a zoo, please note – all of the animals there were either injured, orphaned, or born in captivity.
I’ll discuss how to get there first, and then describe the exhibits and activities you’ll see there. To get to the nitty gritty immediately – this is an excellent museum, and is popular with kids, so families will enjoy it, as will anyone with any interest in natural history or the environment.
How Much Time Will You Need?
You should plan to spend about two hours at the museum, although you can certainly spend as much time there as you like. There are four Galleries featuring the natural history exhibits, a few large aquarium tanks, and a long outdoors, handicapped-accessible elevated boardwalk which enables you to walk through various habitats and view the animals, as well as various types of trees.
A new “Wild Side Café” opened in late September, 2007, so it’s possible to get food, and then take it outside to the picnic areas in order to relax and eat.
How To Get There
The Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd. I suggest you get precise directions from your location to the museum via an Internet driving directions site.
J. Clyde Morris is an extremely busy stretch of road, with three lanes of traffic heading south, and three north, for much of its length, so you will do well to have a second pair of eyes looking out for the signs – most of which are relatively small, pale cream-colored, with pale green print alerting you when to turn.
The museum is located in a hollow, such that, if you’re driving north/east on J. Clyde, across the three lanes of traffic coming in the other direction, you won’t be able to see the buildings themselves. You’ll see a sign for the SPCA on your right – and the large sign for the Virginia Living Museum is on your left. There are a set of stop lights here so it will be easy for you to turn left, go across the three lanes onto the frontage drive, which you’ll follow along to the right.
If you’re coming south/west on J. Clyde, you will first pass the Riverside Hospital, then go up a bit of a hill. Looking to your right, down in the hollow, you’ll see the green roof of the museum, as well as a silver cupola on the right hand side of the building that houses the observatory. You will see a small sign telling you that the Museum is the “next right,” and the first turning you come to on your right, which also happens to be the first set of stop lights you come to, is the one you take onto the frontage road. (The large sign, visible in the other direction, isn’t visible from this direction until you’re right on top of it.)