Museum FREE days in Chicago / Milwaukee

If you’re in the Chicago/Milwaukee area and are looking for some free fun museums, here are some ideas for you:

Dinosaur Discovery Museum

The accredited Dinosaur Discovery Museum opened 2006 featuring the largest collection of meat-eating theropods on exhibit! Learn what dinosaurs looked like, ate and how they behaved. See life-scale replicas, discover the link between modern-day birds. Visit Carthage Institute of Paleontology’s on-site lab and newly discovered juvenile tyrannosaurus! Gift shop. Hop Kenosha’s electric streetcar and visit the main museum campus on Lake Michigan’s shore. FREE admission open year around! The new museum is a dino-mite success with over 40,000 visitors annually. 5608 Tenth Avenue Kenosha WI Zip: 53140 262-653-4450 Minutes from the Illinois Wisconsin border and Six Flags Great America Gurnee, Illinois in a renovated 1908 Beaux Arts historic landmark located in the heart of beautiful downtown Kenosha Wisconsin.

Civil War Museum

The accredited Civil War Museum opened in 2008 on Kenosha Wisconsin’s scenic lakefront campus. 57,000 Sq Ft covers American Civil War history like no other, offering the enthusiast a chance to learn about the contributions of the Upper Middle West – Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan. Already acclaimed for their 15,000 sq Ft permanent exhibit featuring life-scale, interactive exhibits, and audio and video technology. This gallery tells the stories of those whose were changed by the Civil War. Impressive! See significant Civil War artifacts important to the regional and how those people shaped the course of American history. Check online for videos and a calendar of new events, reenactments, lecture series and United States Armed Forces Music Concerts. The Museum includes a veterans memorial gallery, resource center, archives and gift shop and Kenosha’s electric streetcar. General Admission: Adults $7 Kenosha/Somers Adults $5, Members and Children 15 and Under Free 5400 First Avenue Kenosha, WI 262-653-4141262-653-4431 FAX

Kenosha Public Museum

The Kenosha Public Museum, accredited natural science and fine arts museum located in the heart of beautiful downtown Kenosha Wisconsin. Free General Admission every day, Permanent Exhibits: World class art by Chagall, Picasso and Dali. The Wisconsin Story, Kenosha County Woolly mammoth, Native American Village, Children’s hands-on Field Station. Changing exhibits and free family programs and events. Gift shop. Corporate events venue, weddings, birthday parties and group tours. The 2001 facility shares a Lake Michigan shoreline campus with The Civil War Museum and a working electric streetcar! Short walk to the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. 135,000 visitors annually from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. ADDRESS: 5500 First Avenue P: 262-653-4140 Minutes from Illinois Wisconsin border / Six Flags Great America.

All Things Family Carnival: Summer Vacation & Travel Edition

Family Vacation and Travel Articles

Welcome to the June 15th edition of the All Things Family Blog Carnival. We hope you’ll enjoy all the fun articles and get some ideas for summer vacation and travel with the kids.

Char Polanosky presents Summer’s Here – Our Chore Chart & House Rules posted at Raising A Healthy Family, saying, “Keep your sanity and preserve some semblance of structure in the kids’ summer!”

Char Polanosky presents 5 Family Road Trip Must Haves posted at Snackpicks, saying, “Essentials for keeping the kids happy on a roadtrip.”

Randa Clay presents Free Printable Games for Car Trips posted at FreeStuff4Kids saying, “these games and activities will cut down on the ‘are we there yet?’ questions.”

Shannon presents Celebrating a Birthday While Traveling posted at Partyelf, saying, “Don’t postpone a birthday celebration just because you are on vacation. Make it a part of the trip with these tips.”

Wendy Piersall presents Printable Reading Logs at Classroom Jr. saying “these will be useful for keeping track of reading for reading programs at the library, etc.”

Jen Goode presents Play Hopscotch Indoors or Outdoors at Projects for Preschoolers.

Heather presents Make Recycled T-shirt Alphabet Beanbags at Dollar Store Crafts.

Tracy Beach presents Did Daddy Text Me? posted at Math Learning, Fun & Education Blog : Dreambox Learning.

Phil Lopez presents 10 Family Flicks That Won’t Bore Parents posted at Christian Colleges and Universities.

Philip Dean presents Fun Food Creations posted at Random Acts Of Parenting, saying, “My wife, Kim, is a very creative person. Here are a few fun food ideas she has come up with to create some simple family fun.”

June Tree presents Best Travel Sites For Cheap Vacation Deals posted at The Digerati Life, saying, “Thanks!”

Joleen Parker presents Firework Centerpiece « Jobie’s Crafts posted at Jobie’s Crafts, saying, “You can make centerpieces with your kids for your Fourth of July Barbeque. The kids will beam with pride when the guests comment on how nice their centerpieces are.”

Rachel presents Father’s Day Free Stuff and Inexpensive Fun 2010 posted at Cha Ching Queen, saying, “Father’s Day Free Stuff”

Vickie Heully presents Camp Wannarunamok posted at, saying, “We put together our own at-home summer camp for kid-friendly summer fun!”

Linette G. presents Sand Bucket Cupcake Wraps posted at The Kid’s Birthday Fun Review, saying, “Fun cupcake idea for a day at the beach, or a beach theme party.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of all things family using our carnival submission form.

Fun stuff to do in Austin, TX

Austin Capitol Building at Night

If you live in Austin or plan to visit soon, you’ll want to check out the Austin Family Fun site. It’s full of fun stuff, including Art, Museums & Reading, Outdoor Fun, Water Fun and Food & Farmer’s Markets and other ideas the family will enjoy. Austin is a great city!

Cleveland: It’s Great on the Lake With Kids

When planning a trip to Cleveland, Ohio most people don’t plan on spending much time on or near the lake. This is unfortunate because many travelers are missing out on a number of family friendly activities that take advantage of the city’s lakeside setting. Listed below are just a few of the waterfront happenings that can be found in Cleveland throughout the year.

Headlands Beach State Park and Dunes

While this park and beach is located east of Cleveland it’s worth the drive to spend the day at a gorgeous beach. Headlands Beach has the longest natural sand beach in the state and offers plenty of space for swimming and sandcastle building. The Buckeye Hiking Trail is 1.5 miles long and is an easy hike that’s handicap accessible. Headland Dunes State Nature Preserve is located at the east end of the park and is one of the last Lake Erie beach and Dune communities in Ohio and it draws many migrating birds and monarch butterflies.

Cleveland Waterfront

Shooters on the Water

Shooters is a waterfront restaurant located in the Flats District of downtown Cleveland. It’s the perfect place to bring the family on a sunny afternoon and watch a myriad of boats chug by on the Cuyahoga River. Enormous freighters come so close to the dock you can almost touch them. An active train bridge that traverses the water is sure to capture your child’s attention as it slides up when boats pass under and back down for trains to travel over. The food is delicious too and the portions are large. Depending on the ages of your children you may want to sit on the deck to watch the sunset or call it a day as the restaurant slowly morphs into an outdoor nightclub. Also, throughout Cleveland’s harsh winters, when indoor dining is a must, Shooters has floor to ceiling windows which give the feel of eating on the patio without the snow and cold.

Goodtime III and the Nautica Queen

The Goodtime III is Cleveland’s largest excursion ship with four decks that can hold 1,000 passengers. It offers fascinating sight-seeing cruises on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie with tremendous views. Be sure to bring your camera and check the website for specials. Currently from Memorial Day through the 4th of July, kids ages 2 – 11 ride for $1.00 on their 3:00 pm cruise. The Nautica Queen is Cleveland’s favorite cruise dining ship. It offers a panoramic view of Cleveland complete with an unlimited buffet meal and live musical entertainment by disc jokey or a band. You’ll travel the Cuyahoga River and venture out into Lake Erie while eating and dancing the night away.

Cleveland Waterfront Cruise

Lakewood Park

There’s fun to be had for the whole family at Lakewood Park. The park offers unparalleled views of downtown Cleveland which can be seen from varied points in the park. For a memorable sunset view have a seat on one of the many multiple person gliders that overlook the lake. If you have small children take them over to the large wooden play structure where they can climb, jump, slide, and swing. There are numerous places to picnic throughout the park as well. Also, on some summer nights you can watch a local band perform and then watch a family friendly movie under the stars.

These are just a few of the lakeside activities that Cleveland has to offer. It’s a wonderful city and while many only remember it as the “mistake on the lake” the city is working hard to change that image. There are so many fun events and things to do in Cleveland, it really is great to be on the lake with kids.

This post was written by Tésa Nicolanti who writes a parenting and family travel blog at 2 Wired 2 Tired. She also authors Westside Cleveland Mom, a family-friendly Cleveland area events and activities blog.

10 Reasons Kids Love North Carolina

Photo by Danie Pratt

Photo by Danie Pratt

Did you know that North Carolina is home to the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers? And that at one time there were over 290 active gold mines in the state? From the mile-high swinging bridge atop Grandfather Mountain to the rare Venus fly traps found at Carolina Beach State Park, kids of all ages find exciting attractions in the Tar Heel State. But hands down, the most spectacular museums are in the Northern Piedmont. Read on to get the inside scoop on the 10 best family friendly, and fun, museums in the region.

1. Catawba Science Center, Hickory, NC

Kids experience the motion of an earthquake, climb an outdoor mountain wall, search for fossils in a brook and more, while learning and having fun. Start by interacting with live sharks in the Marine Touch Pool. Next, explore the Amazon to view butterflies, turtles and brightly colored poisonous dart frogs. Children love Energy Avenue, and the Inventors Workshop, where they explore the power of electricity, and design, build and launch rockets! Wind down in the planetarium exploring distant galaxies, volcanoes and even the human body. Discover the fun of science – Catawba style!

2. Lazy 5 Ranch, Salisbury

Grab a bucket of feed before heading out on this safari! Guest see, touch, and feed over 750 exotic animals from six continents while driving their cars on a 3.5 mile expedition. Kids (and most adultsJ) giggle as zebras, giraffes, oryx, llamas, emus and more, stick their heads and tongues inside vehicles searching for tasty treats. Other activities include a working blacksmith shop, petting zoo, playground, and horse barn. Technically not a museum, but no trip to the Piedmont is complete without visiting the Lazy 5 Ranch.

3. SciWorks, Winston Salem

Families discover the fun of science while touching horseshoe crabs, exploring the inside of an enormous tree, and connecting with amazing wildlife on a journey from the mountains to the sea. Kids create music on invisible strings and a giant keyboard and discover healthy dental habits by playing with enormous sets of teeth. Blast off to outer space in a 50ft domed planetarium before landing back on Earth to visit the Environmental Park where water fowl, sheep, cows, goats, donkeys and a miniature horse play.

4. Children’s Museum of Winston Salem, Winston Salem

Fantasies, folklores and fairy tales are encouraged and created here. Little ones ventures into the Enchanted Forest are rewarded with sleepovers at the home of The Three Bears, walks across the fabled bridge from The Three Billy Goat’s Gruff, and a chance to meet Jack when they climb his beanstalk. Children also learn how to make delicious Krispy Kream donuts (KK was founded in Winston Salem) and take turns designing and building forts with giant LEGOS® and Lincoln Logs.

Did You Know?

  • In 1903 the Wright Brothers made the first successful man-powered flight at Kill Devil Hill near Kitty Hawk.
    High Point is the Furniture Capital of the World.
  • Blackbeard frequented the town of Beaufort during the 1700s.
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest state university in America.
  • The World War II battleship ‘North Carolina’ is berthed on the Cape Fear River.
  • The Biltmore Estate in Ashville is America’s largest home.
  • Charlotte is home to the recently open NASCAR Hall of Fame.

5. Castle McCulloch Gold Mill, Jamestown

“There’s gold in them thar hills” and at Castle McCulloch! Families enjoy panning for gold and precious gems at this historic gold refinery turn medieval castle. Visitors walk across the drawbridge (please don’t swim the moatJ) to explore the Queen’s chamber, main hall and gold mill. Other activities include video tours of North Carolina’s mining history, a mineral museum that houses treasures from outer space, and excursions to a rock quarry – think modern day Flintstones!

6. Natural Science Center, Greensboro

Children love this combination museum, planetarium and zoo. Inside, they explore dinosaurs, amphibians, gems, and minerals in amazing touch labs that encourage learning by doing. Then race off to the planetarium to explore the vastness of oceans, black holes in space and view 3-D sea monsters and a laser light show. Outside, they find a zoological park – home to alligators, tigers, monkeys, and bears, all living in natural habitats. Little folks enjoy meeting animals up close at the petting zoo where they interact with donkeys, goats, and furry rabbits.

7. Greensboro Children’s Museum, Greensboro

Learning through play is the theme here. Children enjoy role-play in community centered exhibits designed to let them experience jobs that adults do. In “Our Town”, children enter a world of make-believe where they shop at a grocery store with real kid cash, tend to pediatric patients at the Health Center by assuming roles of doctors, dentists and nurses, and learn how homes are built in the Construction Zone. In the Media Room, kids morph into anchor women and men, before dashing over to the Transportation Gallery to pilot a real DC-9 jet and steer a Petty NASCAR Pontiac.

8. North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, Durham

Have you listened to a caterpillar munch a leaf? Or seen a black and white butterfly? Do this and more on your visit through a three-story butterfly house and insectarium, while getting a bugs-eye view of the world. On the second floor, kids learn that math is fun by creating rhythmic beats, and origami frogs. Outside, they explore the wild by digging for fossils, and using binoculars and telescopes to study black bears. Check out the wetland deck and lab where microscopes are used to zoom in on microbes. And don’t forget to ride the rails and tour the Farmyard, where children pet tame steer, pigs, turkeys and goats.

9. North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, Raleigh

From dinosaurs to ducks, mountains to sea, this is the premier place to explore North Carolina’s unique natural treasures. Meet Willo, the world’s only dinosaur with a fossilized heart, and chat with paleontologists who work there. Then move up one level to the Living Conservatory and Arthropod Zoo for a close-up view of insects, crustaceans and other living things that creep, crawl and wiggle. All kids enjoy the Coastal exhibit where they view incredible live creatures that reside in North Carolina’s coastal waters. Senses are engaged on every floor of this museum for free!

10. Imagination Station, Wilson

See, learn, and do at the Imagination Station. Through Jan 2, 2011, kids engage in hands–on activities that show how stuff is made. This interactive exhibit helps children understand the roles that factories play in making common objects they see and use: Van sneakers, crayons, traffic lights, baseball gloves and more. Kids also assemble golf carts, and miniature trolleys, “deform” metal, plastic and wood into new shapes, and view an “exploded” Cannondale bike. Permanent exhibits encourage exploration through play. Kaleidoscopes are used to look into “infinity and beyond”, a Bernoulli Blower balances the world in mid-air, and miniature worlds are discovered by looking through microscopes.

North Carolina Museum Map

Discover North Carolina – it’s the place families love to visit!

Written by: Nikola Hartmann is a thrifty gal that believes in “Living Well For Less”. Please visit her blog, Live Well For Less and follow her on Twitter.

Four Reasons to Get out of the House with the Kids

Happy KidsWe all know there are fun places to be explored both in our local communities as well as in neighboring towns, but your to do list is too long and you’re waiting for a good excuse to make the time. Well, wait no longer – it’s time get those kids off the sofa and put down iron for the afternoon. Here are four great excuses reasons to get out of the house with the kids.

You’ll learn something, and so will they.

No matter whether it is a hike into the nearby mountains (what wildflower is this, mom?) or a visit to one of the local museums you never managed to visit (dad, did you know…), the whole family can learn something on a day out. The funny thing is that the world is a big place, so the learning opportunities are endless. And any parent knows that it’s a lot more fun to learn lessons on a field trip than in a classroom.

Travel teaches manners and human interaction.

I’m not saying your children have manners, nor am I implying they can’t play with other children in the sandbox. But the families and children you meet from your neighborhood already kind of do the same thing. You’re all kind of similar. Some kids haven’t seen snow, and others haven’t seen a person with a different skin color. Meeting people of different walks of life is a very powerful lesson that you can’t learn at home.

Getting out of your comfort zone is good for you.

Everyone – myself included – loves comfort zones. The same foods, the same sofa, the same lousy television programs…. And getting out of that zone is kind of uncomfortable. But that’s good for you. The reality is life is full of unknowns and uncertainty, so getting used to that fear is really good for you. When you are comfortable with uncertainty and understand it, you make better decisions later in life because you can look at the facts, not just the emotions. That’s something you can’t teach kids – they have to feel it.

It’s good, clean fun.

Do you like to have fun? Do your children? YES! We all like to smile and laugh, and we can all raise our hands and say we’re guilty of being a bit boring at home at one time or another. Routines are good, but it’s nice to break them up a bit. Waffles for breakfast, hooray, but what about waffles at a hotel overlooking an amazing view you don’t have from your kitchen? Plus every foreign port has treats that everyone has to try, so why not have your kids save up their gold stars for a dessert they can’t even get at home? Now that sounds like fun to me.

The biggest hurdle is your front door – not the scary stuff on the other side. So, where are you headed?

Andy Hayes equally spends his time relaxing at home versus exploring the world. Join him and a community of travelers who want to travel more at his online travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Horsing Around at Disney

horse portraitWhether you’re a local resident or a guest at Walt Disney World, there are dozens of fun things to do that don’t require a park admission ticket. One activity that particularly appeals to younger children is a visit to the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, Farm & Stables, located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

Walt adored horses; they were often featured in Disney films and play many different roles at the parks and resorts. All the horses at Walt Disney World live at Tri-Circle-D and “commute to work” in trailers. Visiting the stables offers a chance to see some of these cast members on their days off! You might see a blacksmith at work, or catch a glimpse of the white ponies that pull Cinderella’s carriage.

There is also a petting farm for some hands-on animal activity with some gentle barnyard friends. For a bit more horsing around, children ages two to eight wearing closed-toe shoes can take a pony ride for $4.00. Older kids and adults might opt for a relaxed, 45-minute guided trail ride, departing from the Tri-Circle-D Livery at the main entrance of the resort. The trail rides are scheduled several times each day, can be reserved up to 30 days in advance, and cost $42 per person. There are also horse-and-carriage rides, wagon rides, even a “sleigh ride” during the holiday season.

You can purchase pizza or a fried chicken dinner from Trails to Go or enjoy a down-home lunch or dinner at the Trail’s End Buffet. At night, walk down to the beach for perfect views of the Electrical Water Pageant and the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom!

R. D. Gavel, CTC is the owner of Whimsical World Travel specializing in magical vacations to Disney Destinations

Hawaii, The Big Island – With Kids

We planned two years in advance for our trip to Hawaii. Yep, you heard me, two years. My husband and I with our four kids went to Kona, Hawaii for two weeks and can’t wait to get back. Although, it was expensive getting there, we found ways to save money by pre-planning far in advance.
Kona Hawaii Beach

How Did We Pay For it?

We started a vacation fund, were we had direct deposit to an account that we had to physically go to the bank to get the money out of. We booked a 2-bedroom condo with for just $550 per week. I checked fares everyday (remember to clear the cookies from your computer) until I got us airfare for $668 per person. I rented a van for $589 per week then pre-purchased the Hawaii Grand Circle tour and Kayak & Snorkel tour for all of us.

Reasons To Go

This was our first trip to the Big Island, and were awed and in love with the Mauna Kea Beach (Hapuna Beach Park), the white sands beach, and the black sand beaches (where the sand was actually not hard but fell through our fingers). Everywhere we drove it was a beautiful display of colors. There were black lava fields sprinkled with tawny grass, green volcanic mountains, and the lush countryside of Kona that was highlighted by the bluest sea and most awesome sunsets. If you like to see things that you don’t get to experience other places, this is definitely an experience worth taking. Also, there is nowhere else I’d rather go to see an active volcano than this Island hideaway. There was not much nightlife, but you can have a late dinner on Alii drive at various places that had live bands and such.

Best Way to Save On Meals

We went to Walmart and stocked up on food. We ate breakfast on the balcony each morning and a late dinner each night. If we went out, we usually packed a lunch in a cooler since we spent most of the time at the beaches. Oh, be prepared for high gas cost. The gas was $4.69 a gallon when we first arrived (ugh).

Fun and cheap things to do with the kids

Manta Ray Night at the Sheraton (for free). Get there by dusk to the observation deck. We saw manta rays as large as 12 feet wide and 10 feet long that were lit by underwater lights!

Hawaii Grand Circle Island Adventure (Bus) was $77. They picked us up at 7am and we didn’t get back until 7pm. My favorite was the Volcano Park, the rain forest, black sand beach and the waterfalls.

Beach TurtleBeach day we always packed a picnic lunch. Our favorite beaches were Pu’uhonua o Honaunau and Kauna ‘oa Beach @ mauna Kea Beach. There were huge turtles around a natural lava beach with snorkeling. The Point of Refuge is the museum part. You have to pay for it, but its good for the whole week.

Best place to eat breakfast was Splashes on Alii drive for breakfast. It was absolutely the best darn pancakes I have ever had, an awesome view and set us back $12 per person with tip.

Big Island Kayak & Snorkel tour $52.99 where we nearly killed ourselves kayaking with this young guy (it was only us and him) for 3 miles. It was supposed to be 4 miles so we could see the cliff divers, but we couldn’t do it. He didn’t mind, kept checking on us and entertained the kids while we tried to catch our breath.

Hawaii is a great place to take the kids. There is a lot to see that you can easily drive to and enjoy on your own without paying for a tour. If you pre-pay and plan in advance this trip is a once in a lifetime adventure.

This guest post is by LM Preston, author of The Pack and Explorer X-Alpha

Where can we go? Children’s books as field trip guides.

With daylight stretching out into longer days of summer, it is time to begin thinking about how to fill the hours usually taken up by the school day.  If your family is like mine, the question of Where Can We Go? can be a daily dilemma. When trying to come up with interesting activities for children, why not combine two of the best parts of childhood: books and field trips?

With today’s delightful children’s literature, if they are read like travel brochures, books can offer exciting ideas for places to visit and things to do.  You can use new books for inspiration or reread old favorites with an eye for discovery and critical thinking. For those not inclined toward curricular enrichment, the process needn’t be daunting.  Here are a few ways to explore even simple stories:

Where and when does the story take place?
Could you go somewhere like that?
What kinds of things are portrayed in the book’s illustrations?
Where might you go to see those?
What do the characters do in the story?
Could you do some of those things too?
What is the central plot of the story?
Where could you learn to solve a similar problem?
What else might the characters like to go?
Would you like to visit those places?
What is the artwork like?
Could you paint or color or take pictures like those?
When the story is over, what happens next?
Could you present a drama or make a movie sequel?

As you plan the outings inspired by your reading, use your community’s resources. Parks, museums, libraries, restaurants, retirement centers, specialty shops, neighborhoods, marinas and natural settings can all provide great enrichment opportunities.  Give your outings an extra boost by helping children make connections between history, science, math, creative writing, leadership, relationships, current events, values and spirituality. Every conversation can be a learning experience.

To give you a head start as a summer tour guide, I have selected several books from my own shelves of children’s literature. Here are three of my favorite titles with related activities:

Corduroy by Don Freeman

Visit a big store with a toy department to imagine a stuffed bear’s perspective
Ride an escalator
Buy interesting buttons and sew them onto cloth
Visit a fabric store to learn about silk and cotton and corduroy
Turn off all the lights and use a flashlight to find something
Visit a Build-a-Bear store
Save up to buy a stuffed bear with your own money

Stella Luna by Janell Cannon

Take a walk in a forest or anywhere outside after dark
Learn about bats and birds at the library or a museum
Watch bats fly at dusk
Eat some unusual foods, then treat yourself to fresh fruit
Hang from the monkey bars in the park
Take a ride in a plane
Fly a kite that looks like a bird or bat
Sleep upside down in your bed
Go someplace where you are different from everyone else
Have a group hug

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin & John Archambault

Find some palm trees to go see
Break open a coconut or eat flaked coconut
Climb a tree and then slide down
Sing the alphabet song or recite the book and dance
Put words in alphabetical order or play an alphabet game
Get some plastic letters and act out the story
Have a family reunion
Pile on top of each other
Put on funny bandaids
Watch a sunset
Watch the moon rise

The next time your family needs an outing, think of books! If you read them as travel guides, every children’s book offers dozens of experiences. This summer, check out your own bookshelves or visit your local library. I’ll bet the perfect activity is waiting for your family to discover it in the pages of a book!

Anne McCrady is a writer, storyteller and inspirational speaker whose company, InSpiritry, focuses on Putting Words to Work for the Greater Good. She has been gathering and sharing children’s books and stories for thirty years, and her studio shelves include two award-winning adult poetry collections of her own. She lives in Texas on six shady acres. You can read more about Anne and InSpiritry at

Survive a long trip- find the fun places along the way in advance

mcdonalds“Are we there yet?” — How many times have you heard this from the back seat of the car? Long car trips are hard on kids, which makes them hard on parents too. “Are we there yet?” quickly descends into “WILL YOU STOP TOUCHING ME!!!!???” and pretty soon, everyone is desperate for a break and a place to run around and get those wiggles out. When we reach this point, we often grab the GPS and look for the nearest McDonald’s or Chick-Fil-A. The only problem is, the GPS will not tell you which McDonald’s has a PlayPlace, so we have found that looking at our route in advance and checking the McDonald’s restaurant locator to find restaurants with a playground along the way.

This makes the ride much easier, because we can tell the kids exactly when we’ll be able to get out and they have something to look forward to. Of course you can always search the FunPlace Database for a playground along the way as well!

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