Do you have a shark-obsessed toddler? Are you looking for a day or weekend excursion that combines fun, nature, and a whole lot of learning? Then point your compass south to Westmoreland State Park in Colonial Beach, Va. Just a 2-hour drive from D.C., this gorgeous park features 1200 acres on the Potomac River’s Northern Neck and neighbors the former homes of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee. From the park’s Horsehead Cliffs you’ll get spectacular views of the Potomac River. It’s a beautiful spot to take the kids for a weekend of hiking, camping, fishing, boating, swimming and–the best part–hunting for ancient shark teeth.

Photo: Virginia State Parks via Flickr

So. Many. Teeth.
Millions of years ago, Westmoreland County, Va was under water and a breeding ground for sharks, including the Megalodon, which is said to be the ancestor of today’s Great White shark. If you scoop up some sand at the water’s edge and sift through the pebbles, beach glass and mollusk shells, you’ll soon catch a glimpse of a pointy triangular-shaped shark tooth that is most likely millions of years old. You’ll find teeth from sharks such as mako, cow, sand and tiger, and if you’re lucky you might even find the tooth of a Megalodon (some are the size of a human hand!). But the coolness doesn’t stop there; you’ll also come across other artifacts, such as whale vertebra, stingray dental plates and crocodile teeth.

Photo: Virginia State Parks via Flickr

Know Before You Go
But why so many shark teeth? If your shark-loving lad asks you this question, you can remind him that sharks have an unlimited supply of teeth, which are not firmly set in their jaws but in their gums, where they appear in layered rows. If a tooth falls out, another one simply moves forward to take its place. That means lots of fun fossil finds for the rest of us!

Photo: Virginia State Parks via Flickr

Save the Date
Combine your trip with one of these upcoming kid-friendly summer events at the park: Kids to Park Day on May 20th where a park naturalist will guide you in finding fossils and help you make a shark-tooth necklace; Clean the Bay Day on June 3rd, where you’ll learn about blue crabs that inhabit the Potomac while helping clean the beachfront; and the Great American Campout which will feature all day activities, such as ice cream making, camp cooking lessons, and nature walks.

Westmoreland State Park
145 Cliff Rd. (Colonial Beach, Va)
800-933-7275
Online: dcr.virginia.gov

Have you visited Westmorland State Park? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

–Jamy Bond