Monthly Archives: October 2014

Cabin John Eye Spy Train

Cabin John Train
7410 Tuckerman Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
www.montgomeryparks.org
 

The Cabin John miniature train has always been a big hit with my girls. In the summer, we usually ride it once a week since it is so convenient to where we live and such an inexpensive activity. It’s also nearby the sprawling playground that is definitely one of the best in the area.

CJtrain2

Every October, the train runs its special Halloween themed “Eye Spy” train which makes the train ride even more thrilling for little ones. It is not scary at all, so you don’t have to worry about it giving your children nightmares. Its a fun and inexpensive activity (tickets are just $5/person, under 2 are free). The “Eye Spy” train is best enjoyed by children ages 8 and under.

CJTraingirls

Before boarding the train, children are given an “Eye Spy” card and a crayon to check off the familiar animals and friends that are hiding in the woods. Some of the characters to look for include Elmo, Clifford, Thomas the Train, candy corn, ghost, butterfly, Nemo, and a bunny. My 3 year old daughter was really into this year and would shriek with excitement when she found an item on the card.

CJeyespycard

In front of the train station is a small screen and projector where they show family-friendly Halloween movies. It’s a good way to entertain your kids if you have to wait for the train to depart.

CJprojector

The depot is also decorated festively for Halloween including a few of those painted boards that your child can peek his head through for a nice photo!

CJdecor

CJdecor2

A visit to the nearby playground is a must after riding the train. There are various play structures scattered throughout the wooded area that are appropriate for a variety of ages. Children can swing, climb, slide, sit in a play train, and even play a couple of instruments in one section of the playground.

CJplayground

I highly recommend taking your little ones for a ride on the “Eye Spy” train for some Halloween fun!

Good to Know:

•Tickets for the “Eye Spy” train are $5/person and children 2 and under ride free with a paying adult.
•Costumes are encouraged!
•I recommend buying tickets in advance at Parkpass.org to avoid waiting in lines. Many time slots also sell out.
•Bring canned food items to help neighbors in need. Donations go to Manna Food.
•Bathrooms are located near the top of the playground.
•Stroller parking available at the train station.
•Picnic tables located throughout the park.



Disney On Ice presents Frozen

Back in May, I saw a presale for Disney On Ice presents Frozen pop up on my Facebook news feed and I immediately purchased tickets without hesitation. Like most 3 year old girls, my daughter has been completely obsessed with Frozen since first watching the movie. This was our family’s first time at a Disney on Ice show and we were thoroughly impressed.

Frozengirls

Before the show starts, a couple of announcers come out and lead the audience in dance moves called the “snowman” dance. Then a whole cast of the most popular Disney characters make their way onto the ice including Mickey & Minnie, Ariel & Eric, Snow White, Cinderella, Nemo, Rapunzel, Timon & Pumbaa, and Buzz & Woody. They perform a fun and uplifting dance to the song “Your Love Keeps Lifting me Higher & Higher”.

FrozenMickey

Next, the Frozen performance starts and Elsa and Anna come onto the ice for the opening song, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”. The storyline continues mostly like the movie and all the songs are perfectly performed. The special effects add a magical feeling – from the snow falling, to the fog machines, fireworks, and lighting. The costumes, set, and props were all outstanding. My 3 year old and 1 year old were enthralled throughout the entire two hour show.

FrozenLetitgo

I highly recommend the show! It is great for children and adults! You can still catch a performance at the Patriot Center tomorrow and Monday. Then the show will be at the Baltimore Arena October 29th through November 2nd.



Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
6521 Holter Road
Middletown, MD 21769
jumbos.org
 

I had never heard of Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch until I saw a deal posted for it on Certifikid. After I looked it up online, I found that it was named one of America’s top ten pumpkin patches by msn.com in 2012. So when we had an afternoon free on a beautiful fall day I decided to take the girls to go check it out.

The Huffer family owns the 131 acre working farm and first purchased it in 1870. Jumbo’s was established in 1994 with a roadside wagon and 1-1/2 acres of pumpkins. They now have 30 acres of pick-your-own pumpkins, a 14 acre corn maze, and many other activities.

When we first arrived, we walked up to the big white barn, where I was excited to find out that there is no admission fee to get in. That just makes this place even better!

Jumbosbarn1

The girls spotted the animals and headed in that direction. Jumbo’s has sheep, pigs, calves, cows, goats, chickens, horses, and a very friendly dog.

Jumbosheep         Jumbosdog Jumbocalf         Jumbopig

Jumbo’s has all the festive fall decorations and has fun little signs sprinkled throughout.

Jumboshorsecarriage                     Jumbosmeasuresign

They also have a playground area with a few spring toys, a tractor structure with a slide, and some hay bales for climbing and jumping.

Jumboshay                                               Jumbosspringtoy Jumbosplayground

Near the playground area is a concession stand where you can get meals, drinks, and snacks. There is a large picnic pavilion where you can sit to eat and enjoy the view. This lovely rustic barn is just beyond the picnic area.

Jumbosrusticbarn

Jumbo’s normally doesn’t offer hayrides to the pumpkin patch on weekdays (except for Friday). However, there were several people who were all heading out to the patch at the same time, so a nice employee said he would give us a ride on the tractor. My girls were excited to get to go for a ride and I was happy not to have to lug a cart and two little ones all the way out to the pumpkin patch.

Jumbostractor

It’s a nice ride out to the pumpkin patch as you pass the 14 acre corn maze and some fun decorations like this hay stack chicken. The man who drove the tractor was so nice and offered to stop so Clara could sit on top of the chicken for a photo.

Jumboshaystack

Clara and Mae were very excited about looking for the perfect pumpkin.

Jumbosclara                                                       JumbosMae

The views at Jumbo’s are so spectacular, definitely the prettiest pumpkin patch we have been to so far. I mean, look at this view, so peaceful.

Jumbosview

We stopped at the big white barn before leaving to pay for our pumpkins and also picked up a few Halloween decorations and snacks for the drive home. We had a delightful afternoon at Jumbo’s and will definitely make it a yearly tradition to visit.

Good to Know:

•Admission is free.
•Open 10am-6pm through October 31.
•Corn maze is $5/person (ages 3 & up).
•Additional activities on the weekends include: face painting, pony rides, mini wagon rides, and horse-drawn wagon rides.
•Portable restrooms only.



Burke Nursery’s Pumpkin Playground

Burke Nursery’s Pumpkin Playground
9401 Burke Road
Burke, VA 22015
www.pumpkinplayground.com
 

Tuesday was such a beautiful day that I wanted to take the girls to do something outdoors, especially since I saw rain in the forecast for the following day. I was looking to find somewhere new and not too far away. So I did a little research during nap time and came up with Burke Nursery’s Pumpkin Playground for the afternoon outing. This was just a quick 25 minute drive from the Maryland suburbs.

The entrance is perfectly adorned with every type of fall decoration including mums, pumpkins, and corn stalks.

Burkeentrance

The entrance takes you through the market, which sells a lot of cute fall decorations, local jams, jellies, dressings and pumpkin carving supplies.

Burkemarket

Clara has been really into decorating our house for Halloween. We’ve been on the look out for some ghosts to hang on our front porch and were excited to find them at Burke’s.

Burkeghosts

After paying for admission in the market, we headed out to the playground area. There are several fun playground structures including a castle, monster truck, pirate ship, train, and a few more. Lots of various slides, swings, and old school merry-go-rounds.

Burketruck         Burketrain Burkepirateship         Burkecastle

There are also a bunch of those riding toys you see at malls or supermarkets that you normally have to put a quarter in to start but here you just press a button and the kids can ride as many times as they want.

Burkehorse Burkecarousel

There are a couple sets of giant slides; one set that is bigger and a smaller set that has a cute Wizard of Oz theme for the younger children.

Burkewizardofoz                                   Burkeslide

Included in admission is a hayride through a haunted forest where there are different spooky scenes with ghosts, goblins, witches, etc. The ride lasts about 10 minutes.

Burkehayride

There isn’t a pumpkin patch at Burke’s, but there are lots of little pumpkins to choose from before you leave and its also included in the admission price. They also have bigger carving pumpkins available to purchase.

Burkepumpkins

This is a really fun fall activity, especially great for toddlers and preschoolers. I would say Burke’s would be best enjoyed by children up to age 8. Its on the smaller scale for fall festivals so its much easier to manage if you have multiple little ones. It wasn’t too busy when we were there, which is always nice so try to go on a weekday if you can. My girls had a lot of fun and were entertained for a couple hours but could have stayed longer if we had the time. Hurry, it’s only open through October 31st.

Good to Know:

•Admission on weekdays is $9/person, weekends is $13/person, age 2 & under are free.
•Open from October 1 through October 31st.
•Hours: Mon-Thurs 9am-8pm, 9am-9pm Fri-Sat, 9am-8pm Sun
•Food and snacks are available to purchase and there are a couple of picnic pavilions.
•Pony rides and face painting are additional activities available on the weekends.
•Portable restrooms only.
•Diaper changing area available.



Sharp’s at Waterford Farm

Sharp’s at Waterford Farm
4003 Jennings Chapel Road
Brookeville, MD 20833
sharpfarm.com

We’ve been so lucky with amazing fall weather that we have had the chance to explore a lot of farms already this season. One that I hadn’t heard much about before is Sharp’s at Waterford Farm in Brookeville. It is a 530 acre working farm located in the western part of Howard County, family-owned and operated since 1903. I haven’t spent much time in this part of Maryland so I was eager to go explore a new place.

Sharpssign

The farm offers free hayrides to a pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkins right off the vine. When we arrived, the tractor was getting ready to take a group of visitors out to the patch, so we hopped right on.

Sharpshayride

It’s a relaxing and scenic ride to the pumpkin patch as you pass cornfields and a small pond. The pumpkin patch includes an area of sugar pumpkins, which are only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. I learned that the sugar pumpkins are better for cooking because of their firm, non-stringy, sweet flesh. They also make great painting pumpkins.

Sharpshayridegirls        Sharpspond

After the hayride the girls ran right over to look at the chickens and rabbits. The farm also has some friendly goats and cows. There is an animal feed vending machine by the goats if you want to feed them. Clara also enjoyed the observation bee hives.

Sharpscows                             Sharpschickens

Sharpsbees

Sharp’s has a 7-acre corn field that they cut every autumn and transform into a corn maze. The theme of this year’s maze is “Black Bears & Coyotes” and there is educational information about these animals throughout the maze. You will have to answer true and false questions to help lead you on the correct path through the maze. There is also a mini maze that is more appropriate for the little ones.

Sharpscornmaze

Inside this charming, bright red barn is where kids can make a scarecrow or get their face painted.

Sharpsbarn

You can pick your own popcorn in this field.

Sharpspopcorn

Sharp’s also has a country store where they carry jams, jellies, salsa, local honey, apple cider, baked goods and more. They also have a variety of fall decorations including wreaths, indian corn, hay bales, gourds, corn stalks, mums and decorative pumpkins.

Sharpsmarket1         Sharpsmarket

Also inside the country store is a small farm museum, displaying various historical farm tools and equipment.

Sharpsmuseum

It was really nice to visit a “low-key” farm where there wasn’t a crowd of people. It felt good for the soul to get out of the hustle and bustle of our area for a couple hours. My girls never get tired of spending time outdoors on a farm, so of course they had fun!

Sharpsclara

Good to Know:

•Open for the fall season on Saturday, September 27 and every weekend through November 2.
•No admission fee.
•The fee for the corn maze is $7 adults, $5 children, 2 & under are free. Mini maze is $1/person for unlimited trips through the maze.
•On the weekends, JZ’s brick oven pizza truck is onsite selling pizza, barbeque, and hotdogs.
•Sharp’s offers educational farm tours that are great for schools, daycares, scout troops, etc.
•There is a picnic area located by a scenic pond.
•There is a self-guided nature trail.
•Portable restrooms only.



The Capital Wheel at National Harbor

The Capital Wheel
174 Waterfront Street #215
Oxon Hill, MD 20745
www.thecapitalwheel.com
 

The Capital Wheel is a 180-foot-tall observation wheel at the National Harbor that opened in May 2014. It is positioned at the end of a new pier overlooking the Potomac river and has amazing views of the Capitol, National Mall, and Arlington National Cemetery. I was intrigued ever since I heard about the wheel coming to DC since it reminded me of the London Eye that I rode while studying abroad in college. The Capital Wheel is only half the size of the London Eye but is still very impressive. I decided to take the girls on a beautiful fall morning after visiting the National Children’s Museum and we all greatly enjoyed the experience.

CWpier

CWcloseup

The Capital Wheel has 42 climate controlled gondolas, so you can ride comfortably in any type of weather. They hold 8 people and also include music and an emergency call button if you need to stop and get out for any reason. Be careful not to bump your head when entering the gondola as they are not tall enough to stand up in…..I know from experience :).

CWclara

The wheel makes about 6 rotations, so the flight lasts approximately 12-15 minutes. We rode on a clear day, so we had great views of the city and watched planes fly into National Airport.

CWview                             CWgirls

CWpierview                                          CWclara+momma

After riding The Capital Wheel, we went over to The Awakening, a larger than life sculpture embedded in the earth at the water’s edge. The girls enjoyed running around in the sand and playing on the different parts of the sculpture. There are a few Adirondak chairs where you can sit to enjoy coffee or take in the beautiful view from this area.

CWsculpture                   CWfoot

CapitalWheel

While at the National Harbor there are a few other fun things to do with children. There is an Americana-themed carousel featuring whimsical creatures located at the north end along the waterfront. The carousel is open only on the weekends and tickets are $5 per child. The area housing the carousel also has a new playground, toddler play area, and picnic tables.

NatHarCarousel        NatHarplayground

Also while at the National Harbor you can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and pedal-boats.

NHboats

The National Children’s Museum is another attraction at the harbor and is just a couple blocks up from the waterfront. See my review here.

I definitely recommend visiting the National Harbor and going for a ride on The Capital Wheel. It is an easy drive from the city or suburbs and an activity that children will enjoy. I would love to go back sometime and ride the wheel at night for a different experience.

Good to Know:

•Tickets are $15 (ages 12-60), $11.25 (ages 3-11), $13.50 (over 60), free (2 & under). You can buy tickets online or at the onsite ticket booth on the pier.
•Take advantage of a Certifikid deal currently being offered now through November 14 – kids ride free with the purchase of a $15 adult ticket.
•Hours: Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 10am-11pm.
•Strollers are not permitted on the gondolas. There is a designated stroller parking area just in front of the ramp leading up to The Capitol Wheel.



National Children’s Museum

National Children’s Museum
151 St George Blvd
Oxon Hill, MD 20745
www.ccm.org
 

I decided to take the girls down to the National Harbor last week to visit the museum and ride the new Capital Wheel. Clara and I had been to the museum once before but this was baby Mae’s first time. The National Children’s Museum opened in December of 2012 with the goal of “Inspiring children to care about and improve the world” through interactive play. The museum is best enjoyed by children ages 8 and under.

NCMsign                                 NCMcookiemonster

The museum welcomes visitors with a giant map of the globe on the floor to help children determine where they are in the world. This area also has interactive touch screens and giant atlases.

NCMmap

From here, we first went the the My Town area that demonstrates how people connect to everything and everyone in the towns in which they live. In this exhibit, children can buy food at the general store, make pizza at the town’s pizza parlor, and play in the fire engine. There is also a town harbor with a crane that kids can use to move mini shipping containers.

NCMpizza     NCM

Next, we explored the World Cultures exhibit that supports cross-cultural awareness and interaction. It begins at the Arrivals area, where there is small airport luggage carousel with suitcases that you can peer into.

NCMluggage

Just beyond the luggage carousel is an area all about transportation, where kids can sit in a three-wheeled vehicle from Thailand. Mae loved this little car and sat in it for a good 10 minutes before I moved her along!

NCMcar

Also in the transportation area is a race track where children can build cars and test them by sending them down tracks with different terrains. This was one of Clara’s favorite parts of the museum.

NCMcars

At the center of the World Cultures exhibit is a Tanzanian marketplace, where kids can pretend to buy goods.

NCMtanzaniamarket

The How we Talk area is about communication and all the different languages spoken around the world. There is a table with chalkboards where older children can practice writing the words displayed on the table in different languages.

NCMhowwetalk        NCMchalkboards

Next, we looked at the What We Wear exhibit and my little fashionistas enjoyed trying on kimonos, scarves, and different clothes from around the globe.

NCMwear

Then we went over to the Where We Eat exhibit that features a kitchen with a row of different ovens to show how cooking is done around the world. This was another favorite section of the museum for Clara. She spent a lot of time preparing different meals for me.

NCMkitchen

Next we went to the 3 and under gallery. The NCM has a partnership with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization of Sesame Street, so the show’s characters have a presence in the museum, especially in the 3 and under section. This area was designed to encourage learning through play, movement, art, and discovery. There is a climbing area that challenges balance and coordination. Another area has a variety of toys where children can build and explore different objects to enhance fine motor and problem solving skills.

NCM3&under2                 NCM3&under1                  NCM3&under

In the Infant and Crawler Zone, babies ages 1 or younger have an enclosed area where they can explore different sights, colors, and textures including a fish tank and mirrors.

NCMinfantarea

A room behind this area is filled with little tables and chairs where children can make a craft. Clara was excited to make a “wiggle worm” on the day we visited the museum.

NCMcraftroom

The museum also has a 130-seat theatre where they offer a variety of kid-oriented productions and entertainers.

NCMtheatre

Overall, my girls had a great time at the museum and were kept busy and entertained for about 2 hours. The ticket price does seem a little high but it’s also a place that you would probably want to visit only once a year. We were at the museum on a Tuesday morning at 10am and there were only 2 other families there so we had plenty of space to ourselves. I think my expectations were too high the first time we visited because I was thinking that it would be much bigger being the National Children’s Museum. It seems fairly small compared to other children’s museums. That being said it still does have a lot to offer and children will definitely enjoy the experience!

Good to Know:

•Admission is $10 per adult and child. Infants under 12 months are free.
•Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-4pm, Mon closed, Sun 12pm-4pm
•The St George parking garage is located across the street from the museum.
•The museum is not accessible by metro.
•No food is allowed in the museum. Bottled formula and milk is allowed in the nursing area located in the 3 and under gallery.
•Strollers are allowed in the museum and there is a place to park them next to the restrooms and area where you can hang your coat.
•There are lots of restaurants located nearby if you want to get something to eat before or after visiting the museum.
•You can host your own private play date at the museum for $250.