Once pop culture epicenters as much as retail juggernauts, malls as we once knew them may finally be relegated to the realm of retro set pieces (think Stranger Things Season 3). Many local malls have struggled, exacerbated by online shopping and the pandemic. Some, like Peninsula Town Center, have gone the open-air, mixed-use revamp route with varying results. Others, like Macarthur Center, have leaned into promoting shopping “experiences” and events in the wake of the loss of big anchor stores like Nordstrom’s. Among the latest in the mall makeover game: a $200 million redevelopment of Pembroke Mall that may include a retirement community along with shops; a potential plan to transform Military Circle Mall into an arena or amphitheater, and $20 million update to one half of Chesapeake Square Mall to be anchored by a new retail store.
Hot History Deal
One dollar doesn’t go far these days, but the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News throws inflation to the wind by offering admission to the museum for just a buck. The best part? The plan is to keep the admission at $1 for “all time,” part of an initiative that started in 2018, an effort to make the museum’s extensive maritime history collections more widely accessible. While you’re there: explore small craft from around the world, discover the USS Monitor Center, experience the world’s largest marine metals archaeological conservation project, view world-class miniature ship models, follow the history of the U.S. Navy, see the catamaran that won the 2013 America’s Cup, watch a 3D movie in the Explorers Theater and, of course, hike the Noland Trail in the Museum’s 550-acre park.
Historic Hubbard Peanut Company, located in Sedley, VA, was one of approximately 200 vendors showcasing Virginia-made food products, craft beverages and more at the 2022 Food and Beverage Expo in Richmond in March. They were shelling out all the artisanal Virginia peanut goodness, including their recently introduced, limited-edition Single Origin peanut line, made from peanuts grown on a small farm in Southampton County. But for those with a sweet tooth partial to that magical combo of peanuts and chocolate, their new Choco Covered Peanut Brittle is a decadent delight: “What could be better than a layer of chocolatey goodness married to our delicious Hubs salted peanut brittle? Try this and you’ll want more!” Look for it in specialty shops or at their Hubs Vine location on Route 58 in Franklin.
Seal of Approval
Everybody loves an adorable pup. That includes the kind with flippers and a decidedly fishy diet. One of the latest residents to join the family at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center is a young male harbor seal named Javier. Javier was safely transported from the Long Island Aquarium in New York to the Virginia Aquarium in February and will soon be one year old. After standard quarantine procedure and some behavioral training to get him adjusted to his new home, Javier will join three current harbor seals, Hector (17 years old), Rudder (7 years old) and Monty (1 year old), in the Aquarium’s main outdoor exhibit, where they greet guests as they arrive and serve as marine ambassadors for the City of Virginia Beach.
A Pot of Patience
In case you’ve been living under a rock in the shape of a cannabis leaf, the Virginia General Assembly fast-tracked an effort to legalize marijuana in the Commonwealth in 2021, making it currently legal to possess and use in small quantities in private settings—a move that would have seemed like a far-fetched, fringe notion just a few years ago. But a current House of Delegates subcommittee recently pumped the brakes on attempts to accelerate recreational marijuana sales in the state, citing the need to work through the finer policy points relative to things like regulation, enforcement, tax revenues and reinvestment. So, don’t expect to see a dispensary on your neighborhood corner any time soon.