The Week Ahead: It’s all about the WATER!

Castaway Island at TY Park interactive pool.

It is all about Water Play!

Coconut Cove Water Park in Boca RatonSummer is on it’s way, so lets map out our wet summer fun!

Most all the water parks in Broward and Palm Beach County open every day for the summer starting in June.  You can find many more of our favorite Splash Pads and Water Parks under the menu tab Events and Review, scroll down to Water Play.

 

 

Castaway Island

Dubois Park in Jupiter, FL
Dubois Park in Jupiter, Florida

 Coconut Cove

Patch Reef Park Splash Pad

Pirate Adventure

Pompano Beach Splash Pad

Duboise Park

Paradise Cove

Lion Country Safari Splash Pad

Palm Beach Zoo (Yup, they have a splash pad!)

 

Want to learn Piano?

There is an App for that!
pianomarvelI am a geek, I know! I have been obsessed with all things educational & technological! So what about Piano Lessons? Yup, There’s an app for that too! Piano Marvel is a completely online piano course that uses a midi interface with your piano to give you instant feedback on what you know! I have been using it to brush up on my extremely old skills and to supplement my child’s lessons! I am LOVING IT! I also negotiated a Coupon Code for you try it for free! If you buy a subscription you will get a discount too! You won’t believe what you get for about a quarter of the price of piano lessons!

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5 Tips for Hitting the Beach with Kids

Fort Lauderdale Beach with pier in distance

Child digging in sand in a Purple Hat at Beach With the Holidays in full swing, South Floridians, tourists and coastal dwellers everywhere will be spending more and more time at local beaches. It is important to make sure that this is a safe and fun event for the entire family.  By checking the warning flags and following these five tips beach goers will be able to make the most of a day at the beach with the family.

Tiip # 1:  Only swim at guarded beaches.  Chose a beach with a Life Guard and locate your family’s spot nFort Lauderdale Beach with Beach Comber Tracksear them.  Fort Lauderdale has two-miles of Ocean Rescue Tower Guarded beaches  from 1014 Seabreeze Boulevard to 1200 N. Atlantic Boulevard.  Palm Beach County has thirteen guarded oceanfront and inlet parks from Tequesta to Boca Raton. According to Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue “Most water-related fatalities occur in unsupervised settings distant from lifeguard towers.”

Tip # 2: Make sure to know what flags are flying.   Ocean Rescue fly flags at the beach to help beach goers avoid hazard.

GREEN FLAG – Low Hazard: Conditions are calm; normal care and caution should be exercised.
YELLOW FLAG – Moderately Hazardous Conditions: Moderate currents and/or surf are present; use extra care.
RED FLAG – Very Hazardous Conditions: Rough surf and/or strong currents exist; swimmers are strongly discouraged from entering the water.
DOUBLE-RED FLAG – Closed to the Public: The water and/or beach are closed to the public due to severe currents and/or surf, water pollution, the threat of lightning, or the presence of predatory fish.
PURPLE FLAG – Marine Pests: Jellyfish, man-of-wars, and/or sea lice are present. This flag may be flown along with any of the other flags

Fort Lauderdale Ocean Rescue page andPalm Beach County Ocean Rescue page will give you a detailed report on water condition and what flags are flying and be checked before leaving home.

In addition,  the Surf Report  can help you make sure that you will have a great day at the beach. The surf report will tell you the size of the waves hitting the beach so that you make sure that the waves are ones that your family can handle.

Tip # 3: Sun protection and hydration are key.  Drink plenty of water, slather on theToddlers having ice cream on the beach --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Toddlers having ice cream on the beach — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

sunscreen and wear a hat. In an article written by American Academy of Dermatology Amanda Friedrichs, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in private practice in Sycamore, IL states “People who get sunburned usually didn’t use enough sunscreen, didn’t reapply it after being in the sun, or used an expired product.”  The moral of the story here is not to be stingy with the slather, instead load it on!

Children are particularly susceptible to dehydration and will not always notice when they are thirsty so they must be reminded to drink often.  This is especially true when they are wet on the beach, they may not think about needing to drink the way we would..  There is some great swim gear that has built in SPF available now.  These suits are a little more expensive but are well worth it and they are an easy way to stay protected.   Don’t forget the hats.  Hats that tie under the chin are more likely to stay on the child’s head and can even be worn in the water, giving extra sun protection to those precious and sun sensitive eyes, face & ears.

Bringing umbrellas or small kids tents offer the kids a way to play in the sand and get out of the sun a little bit.  Staying out of the intense midday summer sun is also a good idea.  10:00  to 3:00 is the hottest part of the day so hitting the beach before 10:00 am or after 3:00 can go along way to keeping beach goers more comfortable and safer.

Tip # 4:  Know what to do in a rip current.  This is so important, most locals are familiar with rip currents.  However many people have no  idea of how dangerous they really are, especially vacationers.

Beach with child by KUWKA rip current is a powerful narrow current that can pull swimmers away from the beach.  Swimmers caught in one of these currents  can become exhausted trying to swim against it and drown in the process.  Experts recommend swimming parallel to the beach and out of the rip current.  The swimmer should then be able to swim back into the beach.

The United States Lifesaving Association estimates “that the annual number of deaths due to rip currents on our nation’s beaches exceeds 100.   Rip currents account for over 80% of rescues performed by surf beach lifeguards.”

I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand the power and danger that rip currents represent to swimmers. The combination of no lifeguard and rip currents makes things even more dangerous.  A 15 year old has already died this June (2013) when caught in a rip current at John U Lloyd State Park.  According to the Miami Herald red flags were flying, however the beach is unguarded.

To learn more about Rip Currents check out this article from the Miami Herald.

Fort Lauderdale Beach with pier in distance Tip # 5:  Be aware of Jelly fish.  Jellyfish can be a serious hazard for beach goers.  Jellyfish stings can be anything from uncomfortable to severe and can require immediate treatment.  So unless you are allergic they may not be deadly, but they will certainly take the joy out of a trip to the beach in a hurry. Anyone who has experienced a sting, knows that they are really not fun.

According to WebMD, victims of these floating menaces should rinse the inflicted area with ocean water not fresh water.  Fresh water can and will increase the pain caused by the sting.  Pour vinegar or rubbing alcohol on the inflicted area.   More severe reactions will include difficulty breathing and intense pain.  Ocean Rescue are trained to deal with emergencies like these and this is yet another reason for beach goers to visit a Guarded beach.  Remember that you can be stung long after the animal is dead, so where rubber soled water shoes while walking on the beach and use caution when digging in the sand near the water line.

Family outings to the beach in the summer are the part of our childhood, where we make memories for a lifetime.  With a little care, these memories are sure to be a little more idyllic for everyone.

The Week Ahead: More Summer Deals and Free Programs

Pondhawk Nature Area

This week we have even more summer fun for you to check out!  Keeping Up With Kids is your best resource for summer fun!  I have listed below some more making  the list of our favorite summer deals and places even longer!  This is the way to do summer on a budget!

I realized I left off Libraries on last weeks list!

Boca Library Kids Programs
Boca Library Kids Programs

In case you are looking for cheap, cool, fun, and educational opportunities for the kids this summer, don’t forget about your local library! Most libraries throughout Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have story times for young kids and even activities for tweens, teens and adults. Many of the Libraries offer shows by professional performers, these can include puppet show, magic shows, and storytellers among others.  Look up your local branch now and fill your calendar!  Even the smaller branches have shows and programs, so don’t miss out!

Think about it when you travel this summer too, we have been to free programs when we visit family out of town and never been disappointed.

Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University in Davie is one of my favorites.  Their PK and toddler programs are developed with pre-reading in mind.  They often have information available for parents to help you develop reading skills in your kids.  They also have a great kids section in the library with comfortable places to sit and do puzzles, color and draw, or read with your kids.  Computers are available with great software games as well.

Oakland Park Library is a great place to spend some time.  It is a small library, but they have professional puppeteers come in over the summer to do shows for the kids as well as other presentations.

Imperial Point Library does story time for the little ones weekly and reading programs for school age kids.  I love this library, they are always so friendly and it just has a great vibe.

Wilton Manors Library is a great one too.  They have special presentations for kids as well as summer reading programs.

Palm Beach County Libraries have massive and multiple programs going on around the county!

Splash Pad Playground at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton

Water Fun!  One of our favorites is Coconut Cove Water Park in Boca.  Most all the water parks in Broward and Palm Beach County open every day for the summer starting June 5th or 6th.

 

Castaway Island at TY toddler interactive pool
Castaway Island at TY Park is another favorite.  It is a bit cheaper and has a great fenced in kiddie splash pool, big kid slides, a rock waterfall and more!

 

 

Splash Pad A1A & Atlantic in Pompano Beach
Splash Pad A1a & Atlantic in Pompano Beach

Pompano Beach Splash Pad is another great day out!  Between the playground on the beach, the ocean and the splash pad, how can you go wrong?

You can find many more of our favorite Splash Pads and Water Parks under the menu tab Events and Review, scroll down to Water Play.

 

Schoolhouse Museum Train

Indoor Museums are the best bet for those days that you just can’t face the heat or the summer storms are making outdoor play tough.  Boca Children’s Museum is a great one for the little ones (Preschool) or Schoolhouse Museum in Boynton Beach is perfect for younger school age kids!  You can find more of our favorite museums under the menu tab Events and Review, scroll down to Museums.

 

Movies!  Imagine you get up on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning and just don’t know what to do!  Here is your answer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The South Florida location for Paragon Theaters is in Davie, please check here for more locations.

$1 Summer Movies at Regal Cinema’s

Click here for listing and movie times!

Kids Bowl Free Logo

Take the kids Bowling for free! If you sign up for free, your kids get to bowl (2 games a day) for free all summer long!

 

The Deals!
Need a good reason to visit a local (or not so local) museum this summer?  Here are several!

BOA Museums on US

Bank of America is offering it’s customers free admission to local museums all over the country.  It is usually the first full weekend of the month and you just have to present your bank card at the door.  We have been to Museum of Discovery and Science with the program.  Basically it means the adults are free (as long as you have a bank card for each person) and you just have to pay for the kids if they are over 2.

Click Here for the link to see other participating Museums in your area.

2014 Summer Savings Pass

The Summer Saving Pass!  We pick this Summer Saving Pass up every year. It is a great deal, you get unlimited admission to four different attractions.  The Museum of Discovery and Science, Lion Country Safari, Miami Seaquarium, and Miami Metro Zoo.

 

 

Adventure Pass
The Florida Summer Adventure Pass
is a new one this year!  It allows you to visit Everglades Alligator Farm, Flamingo Gardens, Jungle Island, Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Perez Art Museum Miami, Sawgrass Recreation Park, and Young at Art Museum as often as you like from May 15 through September 30, 2015.

How you can help keep this site running.
If you have found this site helpful and want to keep me writing please use the Donate Button on the right side of this page.  This helps us pay for our domain, ip address and hosting, maybe even a cup of coffee as I sit at Panera searching for more free events.  Some sites require membership fees in order to pay for their site.  We really want this information to be free and available to all. Thanks for your support!

Click Here for the full list of upcoming mostly free events!

Special Thanks to our sponsors for making this site possible!
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Castaway Island Water Park at TY Park in Hollywood

Castaway Island at TY Park interactive pool.

I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on Castaway Island Water Park at Topeekeegee Yugnee (TY) Park in Hollywood Florida!

I will start by saying that I can’t believe I have lived in South Florida for so many years and never been here before!  What was I thinking!  The park itself is huge and the Water Park is huge too!  There are 3 different sections a climbing slide area for everyone, a toddler pool with a slide and activities, and a huge pool.

I liked that it did not have the 2 hour time limit of some of Broward County parks, so you can pay the entry fee and spend the day there!  The pools were clean and well maintained.  It was not a super busy day when we were there, but then again it certainly was not empty either and the bathrooms were pretty decent for a water park.  I didn’t try the snack bar, but I saw people with all the usual pool snack bar items, the pizza smelled good and I am not really sure how we got out of the place without buying ice cream, but we managed.

It was pretty quiet for us in the morning, however about the time that we left (2:00 pm) a camp group came in and there were long lines at the slides.  This happens at all the water parks I have been to in the summer, The kids were good and there were no problems, however it was pretty packed then.  Not sure if you can call ahead and find out what time the groups are coming on the day you visit or not.  It is worth a try though, and worth the effort at any water park you decide to head out to.

Castaway Island at TY Park interactive pool.
Castaway Island at TY Park interactive pool.

The first interactive water playground area has all the required water park attractions, it has a dumping buckets lots of slides, and splash cannon areas on a climbing structure.  It is big enough to entertain most kids (maybe not teens, but then again……..I thought it was pretty fun!).

Castaway Island at TY toddler interactive pool
Castaway Island at TY toddler interactive pool

The part I really like is the toddler area.  There is a toddler interactive pool playground with slides and water cannons.  What is nice about this area is that it is completely fenced off from the rest of the water park.

 

Castaway Island water fall in the zero entry swimming pool.
Castaway Island water fall in the zero entry swimming pool.

The third area is the pool, and wow, it is truly beautiful!  This huge pool is zero entry on one end and the other is a beautiful rock waterfall.  Again, the place was immaculate!

All in all, this park is certainly worth spending the afternoon.  It cost us $8 each to enter and I think we had a great day!  You have to love all the amazing parks here in South Florida!

Castaway Island’s normal summer operating hours are 9:30 am to 5:20 pm, and is located at 3300 N. Park Rd, Hollywood, FL 33021.   Please check with the park for current prices and hours before you head over as they do change seasonally.

Coconut Cove Water Park in Boca Raton

Coconut Cove Water Park in Boca Raton

We finally visited Coconut Cove Water Park in Boca Raton at the end of the summer last year.  It is on my list of favoritesCoconut Cove Water Park in Boca Raton for sure!  It is pretty easy to get to in West Boca so that is always a good thing.  The water park itself is clean and pretty big too. In fact we liked it so much that we went back the next day!

I didn’t get great photo’s because, well, I was too busy enjoying myself with my daughter and friends, which is a good sign.

We spent most of our time switching between the  897-foot lazy river ride (I love these ), and the Children’s water playground.  The children’s area is very nice with all the normal water manipulation levers and cranks, dumping water buckets and slides. The kids loved it!

Coconut Cove Water Park in Boca RatonThere is a Lily Pad Walk where you can hold onto ropes above your head and “walk” on the “Lily Pads” across the pool as well as a couple of four-story high water slides.

My daughter was too tiny for the big water slide and the Lily Pads last summer so hopefully I will be able to get some more pictures this summer and update you on these.

Coconut Cove park also has a lap pool, locker rentals and showers, and of course a concession stand.  We are definitely going back there this summer so I promise to get better photos and update this post.

Coconut Cove Waterpark
located in Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park
11200 Park Access Road, Boca Raton, FL 33498
(561) 274-1140

March 24 – June 5 – Weekends Only*
Saturdays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sundays: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
*Open Fri, April 18: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm                    
*Open Memorial Day: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

SUMMER HOURS
June 6 – August 18
Open daily: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sundays: 11:00 am- 5:00 pm

FALL HOURS
August 19 – September 1 – Weekends Only*
Saturdays: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sundays: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Open Labor Day: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

2014 Ticket Prices
Prices do not include tax.

Adult Admission (12 & over)
$10.30

Child Admission (3-11)
$8.30

Toddler Admission (1-2)
$3.30*
*Fee includes water diaper.

Infant Admission (under 1)
FREE

Best Local Playground and Splash Pad at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton

Playground at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton

Playground at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton

We headed up to Patch Reef Park Playground and Splash Pad in Boca Raton, on our last day off from school.  Wow!  That about sums it up! Oh and it is free.  That never hurts either! This park definitely deserves to be on our best list!

Pirates Cove Playground

The Pirate Ship
Let’s start with the playground, well play grounds really.  Pirates Cove Playground has several different sections that are sure to make the kids happy!  The giant climbing structure is a pirate ship. My daughter quickly made somPlayground at Patch Reef Park in Boca Ratone new friends and they played Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  It was really cute to see this whole group of kids singing the theme song as they played.

Splash Pad Playground at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton
The Splash Pad
The pirate adventure is continued onto a splash pad with water spraying out of the fake palm trees and water cannons to spray at the “bad pirates” (because my daughter is always a good pirate, according to her).

 


The Electronic PlaygroundPlayground at Patch Reef Park in Boca Raton
If the kids get bored with these two areas (yeah, right) then there is the Electronic Playground.  Each piece of equipment is designed to challenge the kids strength, speed, climbing, and reflexes.  This section is very challenging and for slightly older kids in general.  I honestly didn’t really understand how the electronics worked, but the kids seemed to have a great time with them.

There are picnic tables and benches available, but they can not be reserved.  There is a fair amount of shade, in the summer it may be really a bit too much but in the winter it will be perfect!

Fitness Trail at Patch Reef Park in Boca RatonThe Fitness Trail

This is the nicest fitness trail I have ever seen!  We walked part of it, with me walking quickly and my daughter riding her razor. The equipment is brand new and you can scan the QR codes to see on your phone how to do each exercise.  I couldn’t figure out how long the fitness trail is, but I am guessing it is at least 2 miles.

All in all, this playground gets top marks!

2000 West Yamato Road (1/4 mile west of Military Trail)
Boca Raton, FL 33431

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures in Fort Lauderdale

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures on the New River in Fort Lauderdale

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures in Fort LauderdaleImagine cruising down the New River on your multi-million dollar luxury yacht, under blue skies and white puffy clouds.  You take a deep breath as you sip your wine, and inhale the salty smell on the cool ocean breeze.  Suddenly, out of the blue a shadow passes your eyes, is that a Jolly Rodger flag?  What is that noise?  Do you hear a pirate singing a sea chanty? Are those kids wearing eye patches, waving swords and yelling “arrrrrrrr” at you?

Well throw in a few water cannons and this is exactly what you can expect on the Bluefoot Pirate Adventure!

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures in Fort Lauderdale

This is one of the reasons we are so lucky to live in South Florida!  Bluefoot is an outstanding and unique kids adventure program like no other!  It really is brilliant!  When you arrive at the dock, the crew and the captain are waiting there to greet you and get you started on your adventure.  The kids get decked out with vests, eye patches, face painted tattoos or beards.  The crew are extremely friendly and helpful and it is clear they are proud of their business and what is more important, they enjoy it.

Once you are out on the river, the deckhand entertains the kids with stories and teaches everyone how to use the water cannons while the Captain offers the parental units fun facts about the amazing homes and boats along the river.

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures on the New River in Fort Lauderdale

Once the kids are fully ready to defend the boat, the Bluefoot is set upon by a “Smelly Pirate”  while the kids squirt him mercilessly with the water cannons.  Don’t worry, he gives as good as he gets and fights back a little with a super soaker!

In the end the kids save the key to the Pirate Treasure from the bottom of the Sea and go home with gold in their pockets, singing about Davie Jones and gratefully for us parents, might even fall asleep early!

This is a must see!  The Bluefoot is also available for birthday parties.  You need to make your reservations in advance.  Don’t forget to bring hats, sunscreen and sunglasses.  I was also very appreciative that the ship offers cold bottles of water very reasonably on board.  They do discounts on certain days of the week and there are often Groupons available.

 

Splash Pad in Pompano Beach (A1A & Atlantic)

Kids Playing at Splash Pad A1A & Atlantic in Pompano Beach
Splash Pad A1A & Atlantic in Pompano Beach

On the spur of the moment we shot over to Pompano Beach today to check out the new splash pad at A1A & Atlantic  It is really cute and we enjoyed it.  There is a huge artificial grassy area right next to it.  It really looks beautiful.

The pad itself is on the small side and  while it was fine for my relatively calm 5 year old, I think it might get kind of rough with many older kids.  My big complaint about it is there is no fence or barriers between the street and area.  I saw more than one Mom racing to catch a running 18 month old before they could get out to the street.  Every Mom knows how fast they can be at that age.

If you think you are going to sit in the shade and watch your child play, think again.  There is very little shade provided by the beautiful palms that encircle the area, and the artificial turf prevents you from sticking beach umbrellas in the ground.

Lastly, while it is within walking distance of the beach playground, but if you have an older child who wants to be on the playground while a littler child plays in the water you will be stuck. They are too far apart and you can not even see the playground from the splash pad.

Okay, so all that being said, it is really cute and will certainly be on list of things to do in a pinch.

Summer Saving Pass at Lion Country Safari

We headed out to Lion Country Safari with our Summer Savings Pass this last week.  We had a great time!

They have lots of camp groups come through, but Jennifer (Marketing Director) let us know that they are usually in the walk thru park between 11 and 2. We didn’t get their until late so we drove through the Safari first and then headed into the walk thru and saved the water park for last. There were still groups there, but the the park is so big that it doesn’t feel very crowded. By the time we got to the water park, we really needed it!  It felt so great!

They have added a new attraction to the walk thru part of the park.  It is called water wars.  Basically you get three of your best (or worst) friends and you get to have a water balloon fight with them. Only in this battle you use a sort of slingshot type of contraption.  It was loads of fun and a great way to cool off on these hot summer days!

This place is a full day! There is so much to do. Our favorites are always feeding the giraffes and petting / feeding and brushing the goats, oh and don’t forget the mini golf.  Thanks for inviting us Lion Country!  You are on Keeping Up With Kids list of great reasons to live South Florida!

Click Here for more pictures and details about Lion Country Safari.

DuBois Park in Jupiter is the best place to float in South Florida.

Dubois Park in Jupiter

 

A friend of mine convinced me to take a ride up to Jupiter to DuBois Park to have a float in the inlet.  It is located at 19075 DuBois Road, Jupiter, Dubois Park in JupiterFlorida 33477.  It is an area surrounded by mangroves off the inlet so there are very little waves and it’s generally pretty shallow.The day I went the tide was unusually high and the deepest place was up to my chest.  I am only 5’2″ so that’s  not too deep.  My friend who has been going here for years said she had never seen it so deep. You can wade from one shore to the other easily and down the inlet about 1/4 of a mile.  There is also a little “island” in the middle where the kids can catch hermit crabs and snails.  We had such a great day there, we intend to go back very soon.So get your floats and hang out in the water, cause you won’t find a better place to swim with the family in this Life Guarded little cove.  DuBois Park has a playground, picnic tables and bathrooms.  There is also an historic house on the property, but I couldn’t get my kid out the water long enough to investigate it!Oh, and the park has free entry and free parking. 

FYI – Check on the Dubois Website before you go as they do sometimes close without much warning http://www.pbcgov.com/parks/locations/dubois.htm#.VuqZh9DKuVQ

DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park
DuBois Park