Hermanas.Lest I give the impression that our home leave has solely been filled with educational and enlightening activities, I’ll now share a little bit about the post-Charlottesville leg of our Virginia stay: outlet shopping and a theme park. And not just any theme park: Busch Gardens Williamsburg.The Alpengeist.Kail and I spent a few nights visiting my sister and her husband, who live in Virginia Beach. And of course, what did we want to do in Virginia Beach? Go to the beach? Oh, no. We wanted to make two separate trips to Williamsburg — not to visit Colonial Williamsburg, mind you — but to do some outlet shopping and roller coaster-riding.Taking a ride on the Busch Gardens Railway.We had to rearrange our itinerary slightly owing to the aforementioned 100-degree heat sweeping through southern Virginia, so we braved the outlet mall on the hottest day (taking refuge within the icily air-conditioned stores) and, thankfully, lucked out with a more temperate day to spend at the theme park. I hadn’t been to Busch Gardens in probably about 15 years but I remembered thinking it was the best regional amusement park (when stacked up against Maryland’s Six Flags or Virginia’s Kings Dominion).“Grey” wolves (they’re more white in my opinion).Depending on what you’re looking for in an amusement park, I still think Busch Gardens is the best one in the Mid-Atlantic region. If you’re just looking for scary roller coasters, then this park probably isn’t for you (although I did scream like a little girl on my share of downhills and loops). But if you’re looking for a mix of rides, shows and more than just your typical theme park food, Busch Gardens has it.Clydesdale horses.We went on a few roller coasters and water rides, experienced a couple of the indoor simulated rides, watched two animal-related shows (“Pet Shenanigans” and “The Secret Life of Predators”), saw lots of other animals and rode the Busch Gardens Railway and the Aeronaut Skyride around the park’s grounds. We also had a delicious traditional lunch in “Germany” (Busch Gardens is divided into Western European Countries: England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, France, Germany).The nice thing about Busch Gardens is that all of their animals have been rescued and have been (or are being) rehabilitated. There were a lot of birds with a broken (or missing) wing, dogs and cats adopted from shelters and other animals that can’t survive in the wild on their own.The Secret Life of Predators.All told, we spent six and a half hours at Busch Gardens. That, preceded by a half day of shopping, left us pretty tired. We did manage to fit in one other activity during our visit to Virginia Beach: a trip to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, to which my sister and brother-in-law have memberships (meaning guests get in free!). We saw seals, sea turtles, sharks, otters and other aquatic life. Otherwise our time in Virginia Beach was spent catching up, enjoying tasty food and relaxing.What’s your favorite theme park?