Tip #1: Do a practice run.The idea of sleeping in a tent can be so
exciting for kids that the over stimulation may keep everyone from having a good
night. Families can build up a familiarity with camping by putting the tent up in their own back yard. Start out slow allowing the kids to play in the tent during the day. The next day
have dinner out in the backyard to prepare the kids for what it will be like to
have a campground dinner. Last but not least, spend the night in the tent. Do
this as many times as needed until everyone is comfortable with and can go to
Tip #2: Keep it close to home.It is easy to forget that there are great campsites within an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale. A first camping trip doesn’t have to be far away.
CB Smith Park, Markham Park, John Prince Park, and Miami Everglades Campgrounds all offer local opportunities for family camping. Camprate.com can help find a campground and give reviews of the grounds as well.
Tip #3: Keep it short. Don’t think a first camping trip should be a week long adventure.
Start out small and work up to longer trips. Pick a campground with lots to do and just stay one night. When the entire family learns how to work together and sleep well then make plans for that nice long camping vacation. State parks also offer facilities like water and restrooms. There is no reason to go completely rustic on the first trip out.
Tip #4: Be prepared with Activities. CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines has lots to offer to entertain and wear out the kids. There is biking, hiking, boating, and in the summer there is even a water park. Check out the local area surrounding your campground as well. Flamingo Gardens is a short 15 minute drive from CB Smith Park. These built in activities can help reduce planning time.
Another option is the Kampgrounds of America (KOA). We use the Kabins when we take road trips, check our KOA adventures in Asheville, NC and Savannah, GA. A local South Florida option is Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach. This campsite and zoo is an easy 40 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale and provides facilities that will keep the family happily entertained at all times. Lion Country Safari often offers specials for two free passes to the park with a night of camping, and it even has a pool. Jennifer Berthume, PR/Marketing Director of Lion Country Safari says “The thing I think is the
coolest about our campground is that you can sleep right next door to hundreds of animals from over 6 continents. You can hear lions and siamangs while camping!” No one will be bored at campgrounds like these, and parents won’t
have to exhaust themselves planning activities in advance.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground has just about everything you could ever need while camping. There is little need to even go into the parks at this campground there are so many built in activities!
Tip #5: Check the weather. Florida weather can be extreme, so make sure that it is not going to be too hot, too cold or too wet. There is nothing worse than a wet night in a tent. Especially if you are new to camping. Florida’s winter and fall generally have the mildest weather and are a great time of the year to camp. With a little background practice families can be prepared for exciting camping adventures that will provide children with memories for a lifetime.
We had the chance to go spend the day at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek the other day! I had not been in a few years and honestly, I had been putting it off because of the cost of the entrance.
I can tell you though that I thoroughly enjoyed my time there! The butterfly garden is a paradise, the Lorikeet feeding experience is amazing and the whole place is clean, serene and inspiring! I left wishing that I had a screened in patio to turn into a butterfly garden! My daughter loved it and I have never seen her stand so still with one finger in the air hoping that a butterfly might land on her finger. It was hilarious.
ATTEN: Auntie Carol – There are bug pictures below in the slide show. It includes a certain one you are not fond of so maybe you should stop reading now.
For everyone else, there is a building called the Bug Zoo that had walls of mounted with bugs including some amazing beautiful beetles. There was another room full of live bug exhibits including tarantulas, and some really neat stick bugs from all over the world. I was so fascinated I didn’t want to leave! We even got to see a bird eating tarantula that had just stepped out of his molt.
All in all, we give Butterfly World a 9 out of 10! It has a lovely gift shop and a little cafe for snacks. The bathrooms are immaculate (important for those with little kids) The only downside is the cost of entrance, although you can find coupons occasionally around town. I think however, at least for us it was worth it. If you are a photographer, plan to spend all day for sure!
There is a quick video clip at the bottom of the page so you can see how quick these little critters are!
Boca Community Center has a lovely shady playground with big, old mature tress. It is usually not too busy, but it’s well kept and clean. We love it! It is right next to the Community Center (which we are coming to love too!) where residents can buy beach passes and take all kinds of classes. My daughter took Yoga there, it was great fun! I love that this playground is completely fenced in, this is so important for those with really little Littles. The ground is mulch and soft rubber top, so no messy sand! (That is always a plus). It has plenty of seating, and the restrooms are not far away. There are basketball courts behind for bigger kids too.
If you get tired on the playground you can walk next door and watch the kids on the skateboard park. They are amazing, although I think they may be giving my girl idea about skating. Skateboarding with no pads looks pretty dangerous to me. The library is just around the corner as well as the Boca Children’s Museum. So you shouldn’t run out of things to do nearby. Anyway, Boca Community Center Playground is a great great little park for some shady fun!
Spanish River Sports Complex and Playground in Boca Raton is beautiful! We went out early last Sunday morning before the heat became too much. This is a great little playground and my only complaint would be that there could be more shade if you ask me. There was a little shade around the benches. No worries about your little runners at this playground, because it is completely fenced in!
If you do have little runners then you need to hit the path. I think the whole thing is over 2 miles, but we did just the portion around the lake. Next time we are going to go to the other side in front of the library.There are picnic tables along the path so you can stop and have a break.
The path goes under the road so you don’t have to cross Spanish River Boulevard. It is great for biking, running, skating, or razoring. (Wait, is razoring a word?) Anyway, the point is, it is beautiful and fun!
There are loads of picnic tables under a shelter with nice clean bathrooms and cold water fountains. Yes, I said cold!
Our adventure this day included a train ride! Tri Rail stations have free convenient park and ride parking lots at each of the stations. We usually go from Cypress Creek station and parking is always abundant. There are so many destinations to choose from too!
We decided to go to the Norton Museum for it’s Lego Exhibit. The Lego Exhibit will be there until October 20, 2013.
We got off the Tri Rail at the West Palm Station and took the Downtown Trolley. The drivers were very nice and helpful. We asked to get off near Palm Beach Atlantic University at Olive and South Dixie. The Norton is just a few blocks south on Olive, and it is a nice walk across the campus.
The Lego Exhibit was amazing and all the kids seemed to have a great time. We spent a good amount of time looking at the Lego buildings. Their favorite was the hands on room where the kids can build their own creations and put them on a shelf for others to see.
We also walked around the other museum exhibits. There are some great kids activities built in, just ask one of the docents where the activity sheet is for each exhibit. There are pictures of items and paintings on the sheets for the kids to walk around and find. I was surprised at how into the kids were.
It really was a fun day, the Norton was amazing! We took the Trolley back to City Place (with the help of the driver, because we had to change Trolleys) and had lunch.
We decided to walk back to the Tri Rail instead of taking the Trolley, it is only about 4 blocks. However if you do, please be aware of your surroundings as apparently there have been some problems in the neighborhoods surrounding City Place. We didn’t have any problems, but we did observe an arrest of what looked like an intoxicated person down one of the blocks.
The Henry Ford Museum is an absolutely massive and amazing place! There are two parts to the Museum, Greenfield Village and the actual indoor Henry Ford Museum. As I wrote this review I realized that there is simply too much to talk about in one review, so I will begin by reviewing the Village and will review the Museum in another post.
If you listen to nothing else I tell you, make sure that you have two days to see it. We had only one day, and I think we must of have only seen about 1/3 of the exhibits.You need one day in Greenfield Village and one day in the Museum.
After visiting Greenfield Village it becomes obvious that Henry Ford was some kind of genius madman! He meticulously moved historical buildings to this village. Which may be a bummer for the towns from which he moved them, but it does mean they are preserved to an extremely high standard. He paid close attention to the details; right down to having replica’s made of the china pattern that was used in his childhood home. The Model T’s zipping around the village certainly add the ambiance. You can, for a small fee ride a steam engine, take a carriage ride, or ride in one of those famous Model T’s.
There are several sections to the Village, Greenfield has lots of green spaces for kids to run, and fun reenactments of famous people and times. For example the famous Ohio brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright were energetically telling the neighbors about the success of their first flight from the front porch of their house. Oh and yes it was their actual house moved to the Village.
The Village was immaculately clean, even though it was quite busy. There were very few
lines for anything, and we even got on the train in a timely manner. If you live near here, this would be a great place to get a family membership in order to see everything. There are many shady areas that looked perfect for a picnic!
There are interpreters and presenters everywhere! These presenters and interpreters are some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of observing. They could certainly give Disney Character Cast Members a run for their money. The staff is friendly, polite and extremely knowledgeable, they are just incredibly impressive! Have I mentioned how cool it was to see the Model T’s zipping around the streets? I didn’t get to ride in one though.
The Historic Districts are as follows:
Railroad Junction Includes: The Edison Illuminating Company’s Station A and Smiths Creek Depot.
This section includes a steam-powered rail line and an 1800s small-town train depot. This is certainly worth doing, as it gives you a chance to see more of the park, than you otherwise would. You even chug by the Henry Ford Magnet School that is house in, you guessed it, a train! How cool would it be to go to school in a train!
In this area you also get to take a walk through an actual 19thCentury Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee Roundhouse. Kids who are fans of Thomas will flip out! It was pretty special to my Mom too, as her Dad worked in the Columbus Roundhouse for years and it was kind of special for her to get a feel for what he was doing during those long hours of work he spent away from them when she was kid.
Experimental Laboratory, Stony Creek and William Ford Barn.
Okay, the kids and I really liked this section and we were more interested in it than any of the others. This is a working 19th-century American Farm called Firestone Farm. It includes wagons, livestock and fields of vegetables and soybean. It is supposed to be a snapshot of scenes straight from the nation’s agricultural revolution. There are many demonstrations and presentations in this area to help visitors get a feel for how farmers lived off the land, without our modern conveniences.
Edison at Work Includes:Sarah Jordan Boarding House, Thomas Edison’s Fort Myers Laboratory, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Complex, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Glass Shed, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Machine Shop, and Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Office & Library.
I really liked this section as well. It includes a replica of Edison’s Menlo Park complex at about the time he began to develop the incandescent light bulb. Here you can see Thomas Edison’s workplaces, and the first buildings to be illuminated with electric light. Again, these are buildings that were meticulously taken apart, moved to Greenfield Village and then put back together!
Porches and Parlors District Includes:The Ackley Covered Bridge, Adams Family
Home, Chapman Family Home, Edison Homestead, Farris Windmill, Noah Webster Home, Plympton Family Home and Robert Frost Home.
Some of the houses in this area are as old as the 1650’s-1930’s. It’s pretty neat to show the kids a very different way of life from our Modern Cell Phone driven lives!
I was disappointed not to have time to investigate this section as it really appeals to me. I am fascinated by things like glass working, pottery and weaving. Next time maybe I will get to see some of these century old skills in action.
Main Street District includes: Eagle Tavern, Grimm Jewelry Store (which is actually a candy store), J.R. Jones General Store, Logan County Courthouse, Martha-Mary Chapel, Phoenixville Post Office, Town Hall, and , the Wright Cycle Shop (One of my favorites, I am fascinated by these guys!).
When you stroll down this street you can really get a sense of a busy little town with automobiles and carriages, events and amusements. Loads of scenic American history and heritage are to be found here. Make sure you try the Hobo Bread from the Grimm Jewelry Store. Yummy!
Henry Ford’s Model T District includes: Bagley Avenue Workshop, Ford Home, Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford Theater, Miller School.
This district follows the life of Henry Ford, industrialist and innovator. You will be amazed at the things he worked on and invented. His childhood home is here as well as a replica of the factory where he built his first automobiles.
Most importantly, this is the section where you can ride in a Model T. They really buzz through the streets of the town too! Just in case you are wondering, no, you cannot actually drive one, you are merely the passenger which is pretty exciting really!
I have included photo’s from the indoor Henry Ford Museum below as well. That area would take an entire 2nd day to explore. We tried to do it all in one day and missed an a whole lot of things.
Oh, and if you are photographer, this place is seriously fun!
The Week Ahead for 6/20/13 is super full of options. If you are bored this week, you certainly can’t blame anyone!
The heat is on and best place to beat the heat is your local library! We have already done several and had a great time.
Therefore, my Pick for the week is your local library programs. No matter where you are in the country local libraries offer great programs for all ages. (Even your teens and tweens.) Vacations offer a chance to pop into a new library for some free and fun educational activities. I added a few of our local ones to the list, but there are so many there is no way I could get them all posted. Pop into your local library to pick up a schedule or check them out online.
Tip #1: Kids love a present. Give the child a pair of binoculars or a kids camera, and a journal. These help a child feel like a professional and immerse them in the experience of spying and recording the birds they see.
If you can’t buy a pair of binoculars, the kids will have just as much, if not more fun with a homemade pair. Take two toilet paper tubes and tape or staple them together. Add a piece of yarn for a strap. It’s a great project to get kids excited about your adventure!
Older kids will love to use their new binoculars too and little ones will feel that they participating with a sturdy toy. The child can draw and/or write the name of the bird they see. Another option is a camera for a slightly older child to record their finds. This way they can go home and look up the bird to find out what they have seen.
Tip #2: Get them Reading. Head out to the library and pick up some books on birds. Reading about birds and identifying birds and nests in books will help prepare the child for the activity. Bed time reading is one of the best ways to set up for a fantastic birding experience.
Tip #3: Make it a sure thing. Take the kids to places where you are sure to see birds. Flamingo Gardens in Davie, is just a short 20 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale and has a huge aviary with mostly waterfowl. It is a marvelous place to be guaranteed to see lots of birds.
Tip #4: Bring a few Pictures. State Park and County Park websites usually have lists of the Flora and Fauna that are available in the parks so you can make sure to choose pictures that the children will be able to find. White Ibis, Heron, Brown Pelican, Wood Stork, Cormorant, and Common Moore Hen are likely to be found at most wetland parks. All of these can be seen at the Palm Beach Zoo. Google Image can be used to find pictures of these birds. Print them out and tape them into the child’s journal to be checked off as the child finds them.
Tip #5: Join the Audubon. The Audubon of Broward County, , meet conveniently at Fern Forest in Margate, and can offer a chance to learn more about South Florida birds. Some parents think they have to be expert birders in order to enjoy the activity with their children. The truth is kids will enjoy learning about bird’s right alongside their parents.
Well, we were as prepared as you can be when taking a road trip with a 5 year. At least that is what I thought. My darling child got sick so we will postponing our trip. Everyone is very sad. #KidsRoadTrip has been temporarily postponed.