Showing posts with label museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label museum. Show all posts

Top Tips to Beat the Mid-Atlantic Heat AND a New Giveaway!

Summer has certainly set in throughout the Mid-Atlantic and temperatures are rising fast!  No need to fear though, your Mid-Atlantic Moms team is here with our favorite ways to beat the heat this summer.  Keep reading through our tips too, because we have an AWESOME family giveaway opportunity to share with you as well!
Learn more about Duke's Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland!

From Mid-Atlantic Mom Rachel (@prettyinbabyfood)While I am not really a hot weather kind of individual it seems like where I live it keeps getting hotter every summer. Haha! Usually we cool off in our own pool, but this year that wasn’t an option. Before school let out we would get out of the heat by going to the local library, but with school out for the summer the Library has been pretty busy. Haha! So, we have been trying to go to some water parks. Like Mid-Atlantic mom Kristi, we love to go to Duke's Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland, and to keep cool while walking around the park in the heat we LOVE to pack our rechargeable stroller fan and cooling towels. These two items have been a lifesaver on many occasions. They are great for any indoor/outdoor occasion where it will be hot. Our stroller fan can rotate to cool whoever is in the stroller, or the person pushing the stroller. The cooling towels can be used for hours once wet. Above all when out and about in the heat stay hydrated. Lots of water!


From Mid-Atlantic Mom Kristen (@genymama) - My favorite ways to beat the heat? I like taking my girls to the local pool club/splash pad, beach or water park! I also enjoy cool treats like ice cream or frozen yogurt while strolling on the boardwalk, (and an iced adult-beverage when we’re at a BBQ!) On super hot days nothing beats the cool, air conditioned rooms of a children’s museum! Loads of energy can be burned without anyone getting sunburned!


From Mid-Atlantic Mom Kristi (@dsnyrunrgrl) - Our family has become huge fans of beating the heat at water parks.  At 4 and 7, both of my boys love splashing, swimming, and sliding their ways to summer fun.  Many theme parks now have water parks as part of their attractions. It means one extra bag to pack of swimming clothes, but those water play areas can be really refreshing on a summer day!  One of our favorite spots at a theme park is Duke’s Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA. All of the attractions are perfectly sized for little ones to enjoy so no worries about bringing floaties or dangerous water depths for parents!  If it’s too hot to even go outside, a stay at an indoor water park resort like Great Wolf Lodge might be just the ticket! If you’re looking for us, we’ll be racing down the water slides!

Click here to learn more about Port Discovery!

And speaking of keeping cool, indoor activities are another great option to beat the heat - like Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore! Which brings me to our giveaway I mentioned earlier! I am so excited to share that we have a family 4-pack of tickets to Port Discovery Children's Museum that will be going to one lucky winner!!! Wanna win??? It's super easy!

  • Like the video and comment "I want to go to Port Discovery!"
  • You can even earn a bonus entry for each person you tag in the comments.
  • Giveaway entry period opens July 4th and closes at 9PM on Sunday, July 7th
  • Winner will be announced after the entry period closes!
So don't wait! Head over to Instagram and follow these simple directions. Don't forget, Port Discovery just opened some brand new exhibits in June so it's a perfect time to go and visit this great destination to enjoy a fun day with your kids! Good luck and stay cool this summer!

New Exhibits Setting Sail at Port Discovery

Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore's Inner Harbor has been delighting families for years with entertaining exhibits that foster creativity and learning.  Whether you are visiting for the day, taking a field trip, or planning a birthday party, there is a lot to see and enjoy at this Charm City destination.  It has long been a favorite of our boys and I was delighted to join the fun opening weekend of two new exhibits that have provided a dramatic facelift to the museum.

My family and I received complimentary admission into the museum to share the excitement of these new exhibits!  As always, opinions are honest and my own.

What's New - The two big updates to Port Discovery are Sky Climber and The Port.  You can't miss either exhibit as you enter the museum on the first floor.  Past visitors of the children's museum will remember the large KidWorks climbing and sliding structure that spanned all three floors.  While my oldest always loved playing in KidWorks, it made this mom a little nervous as it was hard to keep track of little ones in the maze of cargo nets, slides, and tunnels.  Parents will be happy to hear that Sky Climber is much easier to keep an eye on little explorers as there is one way up on each side and then everyone comes down the slide.  Kids will be happy to hear that this is a challenging and fun climb that goes up four stories before taking the super fast twisty slide all the way back down to the first floor.  Grown-ups can join the fun too in this exhibit - although I will warn from personal experience that there are some tight squeezes, especially earlier on, and the climb may leave you feeling every bit of your age!  Guests may only wear socks on Sky Climber so come prepared!  They also have socks you can use at the base of Sky Climber, but even though they have a spot for clean and dirty socks, I still have a weird thing about sharing socks with someone else.

Learning about navigating a ship!

The other new exhibit is The Port which is again a multi-level experience for children.  Little minds can learn about the various operations that take place in a busy port - just like Baltimore!  Here they load and unload cargo, navigate a ship, and go through port security. . .and that's just the start.  The boys loved loading cargo and watching it climb up the lift.  On the lower level of the exhibit, young guests can explore the engine room.  There were several Port Discovery staff members around this exhibit to help guests navigate the new area and make sure kids were able to see and enjoy all there was to offer.

Old Favorites - If you've been to Port Discovery before, you'll be happy to know that many of your favorite exhibits are back and feature some fresh updates.  Our boys have always enjoyed Tiny's Diner where they can cook food and serve it to us in a restaurant.  The jukebox is working and the kitchen has received some new items.  The Adventure Expeditions exhibit has also gone through a quick makeover - not changing the contents of the exhibit, but getting everything working again.  The other favorite place for the kids to play was in the Water Works area where they could have fun, practice some engineering, and, of course, get a little wet!  My kids have outgrown the Tot Trails area which is designed specifically for children 3 and under, but this used to be a regular hangout for Caleb and I while Brody and Dan would be off playing elsewhere.  This large room features several sensory friendly environment for children and recently was updated with a private nursing areas for mothers.  I think one of my favorite things about visiting Port Discovery is that each time we go, the kids find new things to enjoy!

Will these objects sink or float? Let's make a hypothesis!
Thinking About Visiting? - Here's what you should know!
  • Admission is $17.95 for guests 1 and over.  I know parents with young children might be used to children under 3 getting into places for free, but believe me when I tell you that your littlest family members will have just as much fun here as older explorers.  
  • Parking is available throughout downtown Baltimore, but I recommend parking at the Harbor Park garage which is located right next to Port Discovery.  You can also have your parking validated for a reduced rate inside the museum so bring your parking ticket!
  • There is no dining option inside the museum, but there is a designated area to eat snacks or food that you bring with you and vending machines are located onsite.  Within a block radius of the museum there are ample restaurant choices from sit down locales to quick service options.  We like visiting Blaze Pizza and then grabbing an ice cream from Lucky's located in the old Power Plant on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, right next to Phillip's Seafood.
  • Lockers are available at Port Discovery and are FREE to use - parents with diaper bags rejoice!  You can set a combination to lock your bags up for the day and enter / lock as much as you need throughout the day.  I will say the code locks were a bit fickle, but after a few attempts we were able to get them working just fine.  
  • Port Discovery takes family safety very seriously.  When you enter, your entire family will receive wristbands with a unique code for each member.  Upon leaving the museum, staff will check wristbands at the exit to make sure that no kid is leaving with an adult they didn't come with - love this!
  • I would plan on your visit taking at least two hours.  Anything less than that and I think you'll be missing out on some exhibits your family may really enjoy.  I would say at a maximum you're looking at 4 hours roughly here.  Beyond that, I believe your children would be running out of steam despite the many rooms to explore.  The more that your family wants to participate in story times, music classes, and such, the longer you'll want to plan for your visit.


I hope that you enjoy planning a visit to Port Discovery Children's Museum with your family!  It's a perfect destination for early elementary and younger to play, learn, and explore for hours of fun.  For more information on planning your visit, be sure to visit www.portdiscovery.org.    I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!  

Family Fun in Roanoke, VA

We recently spent a week visiting Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia and hit up nearby Roanoke on several occasions during the week.  While we have visited Smith Mountain Lake many times before, we spent more of our vacation in the city of Roanoke on this particular trip and enjoyed some new-to-us places.  The few attractions below are perfect for any family friendly adventures and a great reason to visit the Roanoke area!


Mill Mountain Zoo - This is the one place that we visited that was actually not new to us on this particular trip.  Mill Mountain Zoo has been a favorite of ours on each trip we have taken with the kids.  Nestled in the mountains, this zoo provides a picturesque view of the city of Roanoke and a secluded, natural feeling to your animal encounters.  The zoo itself is small, but with small children that's not a bad thing.  The small town feel of the zoo allowed for a lot of great interaction between the kids and the zookeepers at the chats and feedings.  Admission to the zoo also includes a small "choo-choo" ride around the perimeter which my boys really enjoyed.  There are no dining options inside the zoo, but you are welcome to bring in a packed lunch or snacks.  We typically spend between 1 1/2 to 3 hours here.


Splash Valley Water Park- We've had our eye on this water park during previous trips, but hadn't found the time in our schedule to visit until this summer. . .and we are so glad we did this time around!  The water park is part of a recreational center in Roanoke, so the size is not something that will wow you when you arrive, but believe me when I share that there is more than enough fun to fill the day.  We arrived when the park opened at 10 and stayed until about 5. There are two waterslides for older kids and adults to enjoy, a smaller slide perfect for the elementary school set, and a water playground with fountains and geysers.  There is plenty of space to swim in shallow water and a small current based loop that can serve as a lazy river.  We had to practically peel Brody off the smaller waterslide and Caleb loved the zero entry splash area.  My hubby and I even felt like kids again taking turns on the big waterslides.  The water park was busy with summer camps and families, but never felt overcrowded.  There was also a nice assortment of food - pizza, chicken tenders, hot dogs, fries, ice cream, chips, etc. - at the snack bar.  I saw kids of all ages enjoying themselves and I know we'll definitely be back in the future.


Kid's Square Children's Museum - We had several rainy days on our vacation which left us searching for some indoor fun.  On the way through town, we had picked up a brochure about Kid's Square and decided to give it a try.  The museum is located inside Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke which is home to four museums, a theatre, and a pretty cool aquarium display on the lower level.  You can purchase a combo ticket to visit all four museums or purchase admission separately.  With our boys being so young, we decided to stick to the children's museum.  It is located on the third floor of the building and at first glance looks like it might be something to occupy children for 2 hours or so.  However, once you begin exploring it is easy to get lost in all it has to offer.  Among the favorite attractions for our boys was the play bank, the TV studio, and the "sand" pit.  Plus, there is a roadway through the museum where kids can ride cars.  We spent the morning playing, went out to a restaurant across the street for lunch, and then came back for several more hours.  This was a great rainy day find and is perfect for kids 8 and under in my opinion. 


Spring Valley Farm - Located near Smith Mountain Lake, Spring Valley Farm in Moneta was another gem we discovered this trip.  On another cloudy, questionable day weather wise, we called up and booked pony rides for the boys.  The farm is absolutely beautiful and the staff couldn't have been nicer to meet that day.  Brody hopped right on the pony for his ride around the barn area.  Caleb was a little more shy, but the staff was patient and worked with him to get comfortable with riding.  After they were done the rides, the boys got the meet a few animals in the petting zoo area and were even introduced to a "zorse."  Yes - that's right - a zebra horse!  It was pretty awesome.  The morning was thoroughly enjoyable and we can't wait until the boys are a little older to visit again and take one of their trail rides!

Links are included above for each of these!  I received no compensation for visiting these places, just happy to share some great finds with those of you that might be traveling in the Roanoke area with kids.  Enjoy!!


Three Days in Washington DC

I've lived my entire life less than a 2 hour drive from Washington DC and have spent very little time inside of our nation's capital.  My husband and I always look for a getaway to celebrate our anniversary weekend and this year we opted to stay close to home and become tourists in a city that we often drive through, but never take the time to see.  We spent three days in DC and I've included a summary here of some of the things we did while there.

The Capital Hilton - As always, we opted to stay in a Hilton owned property where we could use our points to enjoy a free weekend.  Now I can never argue with a free hotel room, but I will say that this was one of the most underwhelming Hilton experiences I have had.  First off, you'll have to stomach $52 per day to park.  DC parking rates are CRAZY so my husband and I opted to park at the Shady Grove Metro Station and take the subway in.  The trip was $7.20 per person round trip and parking was $5.00 for all three days - much better than the over $150 we would have spent just to park downtown.  Then we get to the room.  When we checked in, we were greeted with a warm smile and a "Wow! It must be your lucky day!  You have one of our best rooms in the hotel."  Now I don't know if she was selling us a line, or if this seriously one of the best rooms, but it was small and had absolutely no view.  It was clean and comfortable, but certainly nothing to write home about.  I was also disappointed that there was no indoor pool to kick back and relax with an evening swim.  With all of that being said, the location downtown is fabulous.  Located near McPherson Square, it is only 2 short blocks to the White House and an easy walk from just about anything you'd want to do downtown.

The Newseum - If you love American history and government, you must check this out.  The website talks about spending 90 minutes to two hours here, but we spent two days!  There is so much to see and do here!  The exhibits on 9/11, the Vietnam War, and the First Amendment were my favorites as well as the documentary on American news coverage of the Holocaust during World War II.  While they have activities for kids and adults of all ages, I think kids 12 and over would be the best age for this museum in order to get the most out of it.  Just as a heads up, tickets are discounted if you purchase online instead of at the door and your ticket gets you free admission back into the museum on the following day - a great bonus!

Ford's Theatre - We purchased tickets online to tour Ford's Theatre.  The tour itself is free, but you can upgrade for $5 per person to receive an audio guide to help you as you navigate through the theatre.  My opinion - save the $5 per person unless you are clueless about the Civil War.  My husband and I both didn't feel like the audio added much to the experience since we had a lot of prior knowledge on the events that occurred before, during, and after the war.  The tour begins beneath Ford's Theatre with a walk through a museum about Lincoln's election, the history of slavery, the war itself, and then the plot to assassinate.  You are allotted roughly 25 minutes to explore this part of the museum and then your group is invited to enter the actual theatre.  Inside the theatre, a park ranger gives a theatrical monologue onstage about the events that took place on the night of the assassination.  It was very informative and well done.  Following the theatre, you cross the street to enter the house where Lincoln was carried after he was fatally shot and where he eventually died.  Here you can see the room where Lincoln died and then tour several exhibits on the aftermath of his assassination and the legacy of his presidency.  All in all, the tour is about 2 hours.  We opted to come back later that evening and pay to do a walking tour of downtown DC led by an investigator in the hours following the assassination.  The tour leads you to several key points as you collect clues on the co-consiprators and visit where attacks on other high ranking government officials occurred or were planned.  This was another almost 2 hour tour and again was very well done!  The tour guide stayed in character the whole time and sometimes you forgot that it was 2016!  I would recommend Ford's Theatre and the walking tour for kids middle school and up so that they can have a better appreciation and understanding of the events that happened that night.

The National Mall - We spent one morning walking the National Mall and visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.  Each of these were very poignant places for reflection.  If you haven't had the chance to walk and explore each of these, I would recommend it on your next trip.  These are amazing architectural monuments to pivotal points and people in our history.  They are a great place to begin cultivating a love of history in young travelers as you can tell them about each.  Since each monument allows you to be the storyteller with your family, you can really bring kids as young as you'd like to explore.  Just please remember that these are solemn memorials - not wading pools or climbing structures for play

Smithsonian Museum of American History - This was the second time I've visited the American History Museum and I was very underwhelmed.  Maybe it's because roughly half of the museum was under construction at the time, but I felt that the sections that were open were outdated and not very engaging.  They did have on the first floor, several interactive exhibits to engage young children.  In all honesty, I would skip this and spend time trying another Smithsonian.  The museum is free so you have nothing to lose if you decide to stop in.



The National Archives - We had to pop in here for a quick visit to see our founding documents.  The National Archives is famously home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  These documents are kept in a heavily secured area of the building and you are not allowed to take photographs.  The rest of the building features other primary sources.  One exhibit currently on display featured amendments to the Constitution that had been proposed and failed - highlighting the fact that only 27 amendments have been made to the Constitution due to the difficult process.  The National Archives is another free public building to explore in DC.

We loved our time in Washington DC and can't wait to go back with the kids to tour even more!