Editor’s note: We’re making every effort to provide you with the most up-to-date information. However, there may be last minute closures due to Covid-19. We highly recommend that you call ahead or check a park’s website before you pack your kids  (and all those snacks, and diapers…) and haul them across town. Stay safe!

Looking for a day trip 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 DC, this gorgeous park features 1200 acres on the Potomac River’s Northern Neck.  It’s a beautiful spot to take the kids for a day (or 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

Mark Your Calendar
Combine your trip with the free public event Music on the Cliffs which takes place on July 18  and Sept. 19. Grab a lawn chair and enjoy the sounds of summer while taking in a spectacular view of the Potomac River. Pets are welcome at these events!

145 Cliff Rd.
Colonial Beach, VA

—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Jamy Bond


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